Dog Food Insider

Some Common Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat

Reviewing Dog Food

Dog Wont Eat Many pet owners are used to their pets wolfing down their meals as fast as possible so when a dog won’t eat it can be very upsetting. Lack of appetite is called inappetance or anorexia (not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, the eating disorder in humans). It simply means that the dog has no appetite and won’t eat. This condition can occur for a number of reasons. Most of the time your dog will start eating again after he skips a meal or two. Here are some things to look for if your dog isn’t eating and what you can do to get him back to normal.



Temporary Gastrointestinal Upset

While dogs are carnivores, they are more than happy to scavenge whenever the opportunity presents itself, even in the home. Pet dogs frequently steal food from the counter, off the table, and eat things from the trash when they get the chance. Some dogs eat dog poop in the yard and other things that are tasty only to dogs. And if you take your dog to a dog park or other public place, he can have access to things like candy and other things left by visitors. The result is that dogs can sometimes eat something they shouldn’t.

If your dog won’t eat, it’s possible that he could have a temporary gastrointestinal upset. Look for signs that he has some diarrhea or notice if he has vomited somewhere. Your dog’s body will attempt to get rid of whatever he has eaten that has upset his digestion. In the meantime, he won’t feel much like eating. As long as there is no blood in the stool or vomit, you should allow your dog to expel the offending matter from his system, provided he doesn’t become dehydrated. If the vomiting or diarrhea lasts more than 24 hours, take your dog to your veterinarian.

Change In Routine

A change in routine can upset many dogs and make them stop eating. If you change the time you feed your dog, change the time you take walks or potty your dog, or make serious changes in your household such as adding a family member, a dog can easily stop eating. Taking a vacation or moving to a new home are other reasons why a dog won’t eat. Dogs like routine and anything that upsets what they are familiar with can make them stop eating, at least temporarily, until they feel secure again. It’s best to make any changes gradually and make sure that your dog feels secure and included in what’s happening in your home.

Behavior Problems

Some dogs may stop eating because of behavior problems. These problems are not always caused by the dog who won’t eat. If you have another dog or pet in the home, your dog could be reacting to that pet. For instance, if your dog won’t eat, it could be due to another dog who is stealing his food or growling at him while he eats. Sometimes a dog won’t eat if he is a slow eater and the other dog eats fast. He may prefer to eat alone so he can take his time. If you have multiple dogs, it’s often a good idea to feed them separately – in separate rooms or in crates – so each dog can eat in peace. Dogs will often start eating again when they are left alone with their food.

Senior Dogs

Sometimes senior dogs can stop eating because of age-related problems. Too often owners assume a senior dog won’t eat because he is getting old when in reality the problem could be something that is easily remedied. For example, a senior dog can have dental problems which make it hard for him to eat his ordinary food. He may be hungry and want to eat but the food hurts his mouth. A trip to the vet to examine your senior dog’s teeth can reveal the problem and allow the vet to fix it. Your senior dog should be able to eat normally afterward. You can also warm a senior dog’s food and heat it to make it smell and taste more appealing to him since the senses begin to fade as a dog gets older. Try topping the food with some stew or something else tasty.

Picky Eaters

Of course, the bane of all pet owners are dogs who are picky eaters. Dogs are not born picky eaters – owners make them that way. If your dog won’t eat and you are feeding him a good quality food that he normally likes, put the food down and leave it for fifteen minutes. If your dog has not eaten it in that time, pick the bowl up and put it away. Do not give your dog treats or snacks during the day. Do not feed your dog any other food until it’s time for his next meal. Your dog will eat when he gets hungry. If you feed meals at a regular time each day and monitor how much you feed, and how much your dog eats, and keep the treats to a reasonable amount, your dog will stop being a picky eater.

One more word: if you change dog food frequently, your dog will be picky about his food. It’s better to find a good food and stay with it. The more you change dog foods, the more likely your dog is to suffer from gastrointestinal upsets, which will lead to missing meals, which you will blame on the new food, which will make you want to try another food – it’s a vicious circle. Find a good food that your dog does well on and stick with it, even when you hear about new foods. If your dog is healthy and happy on a food, there’s really no reason to change. Remember that dogs don’t like change.

These are the major reasons why a dog won’t eat, barring illness. If your dog won’t eat after 24 hours, you should take him to the vet. It’s possible that your dog could be sick and your vet will need to check him out and start looking for more serious reasons why your dog is not eating. He or she will ask you about any other possible symptoms your dog may be exhibiting, so be prepared to discuss your dog’s overall health.

Dog Food Recall Alerts!

Summary
Article Name
Some Common Reasons Why Your Dog Won't Eat
Author
Description
Dog won't eat? Don't be alarmed, you're not alone! Find out some common reasons why your dog won't eat and see if this is just a minor issue or not.
  • Tribulation Blues

    revelation12.ca it is well worth your while…

  • Monica Tobias

    Thanks for the information. Our Australian Cattle Dog recently quit eating (we have had him for about 3 weeks} he is a 7 month old puppy who wolfed his food down until a day ago. He suddenly was totally uninterested in food. We had started feeding him outside instead of inside and he wouldn’t touch it. I am going to try to start feeding him inside again (we had put it out back so e could eat while we were gone for a few hours). Hopefully he will eat again when he is fed inside.

  • Mike

    Hi Monica – This actually isn’t all that uncommon and most likely isn’t cause for alarm. I would indeed begin feeding him back inside again. Something as simple as an environment change could cause a dog or puppy to stop eating. What I would do is leave out breakfast for 15 minutes in the morning and dinner for 15 minutes in the evening. You don’t really need to encourage him and you certainly don’t want to punish him if he doesn’t eat. If he doesn’t touch his food in that 15 minute period, he’s “lost his chance” so to speak and you should take the food away until the next meal time. He will soon learn that when food is put out, he needs to eat it then. If he doesn’t eat after about 2 to 3 days (4 to 6 meals), I would take him into the vet just to make sure nothing serious is going on, but the vast majority of the time dogs will not go more than a couple days without eating. I would also avoid feeding him treats or any other food until he begins eating his kibble again, otherwise he will learn that he can just “hold out” for something even better.

    If he is showing no other signs of illness or discomfort, this is most likely just a temporary thing. Just about all dog owners go through some periods where their dog simply doesn’t want to eat anything. Otherwise, if your dog is showing signs of discomfort or illness, bring him to the vet right away.

    Best of luck and I hope your boy starts his normal eating routine again soon! Keep us posted!

  • Anne

    Bailey, beagle terrier mix, 2.5 years old – trying to follow instructions of just giving her dry food and nothing else however she will barely eat for 4 days. She seems to be very healthy-still plays and has a shiny coat. She will eat a little out of our hands but that’s it. She doesn’t seem to be sick but she tries to eat grass. She has had an issue of vomiting when she doesn’t eat so we give ‘spice up’ her food so that she will. We are just tired of doing this. How long do we hold out?

  • Mike

    Hi Anne, sorry to hear Bailey isn’t eating much! If she has gone 4 days without eating, I would consider taking her into the vet just to make sure nothing more serious is going on. Other than that, I would not use anything in the kibble to make it taste better as she will then not want to eat without the spice up. This would fall into the “picky eater” category. Many dogs will refuse to eat if they know they will get something *better* if they refuse their regular food (treats, people food, etc). A healthy dog will never starve themselves, so I would continue to simply leave her regular food out for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. If she doesn’t eat within that 15 minutes, take the food away and do not feed any treats that day. But again, if she goes 4 days without eating, I think a quick trip to the vet is in order.

  • Anne

    Thanks Mike! She has eaten a treat or two BUT we are stopping that now. AND we have hand fed her. I will do exactly as you instructed starting tonight and get back to you WHEN she eats! Stubborn!!! And that cute little face! It’s hard to be tough.

  • Mike

    I hear you Anne! Most dog owners go through this from time to time. I’ve been through it myself. Yes, those faces just cut through our souls. It’s their main tool of manipulating us humans and they are experts at it. LOL!

  • Nick

    2 year old malamute that won’t eat. Never has been big but it’s getting to the point where his hips are so bony you see the outline of his bones. I give wet dog food and he still refuses. Doesn’t have worms and is healthy as far as the bet says, but it makes me scared to see him that skinny

  • Shelby

    My dog is named Casey, he’s a miniature pinchure/dacshund. He is about 9 and a half years old. We used to feed him the same healthy weight dog food everyday because he tends to weigh on the heavier side. Almost 7 months ago we switched to a different brand of dog food because we noticed he was excessively farting, then one day peed in the house. We looked up the dog food and found out it had been killing dogs and making them ill. After the switch he continued to eat the new food and his farting decreased. We have stayed on the same food brand that we bought as soon as we found the other one to be a problem. Now he hardly touches the kibble. He’s not one to not eat. Usually he scarfs it all down as fast as he possibly can. Now he will sniff it then walk away. We don’t know if it is something to be concerned with or not. Last time we took him to the vet, he said that Casey was in decent shape for a dog his age, starting to develop to cataracts, teeth getting a little bad (just brush them more often), and a bit overweight, but no health concerns to worry about too much. If anyone has any clue what could be causing this sudden change in his hunger, please let me know soon. Thank you!

  • Mary Ann

    I am glad to see that I am not alone. I am beside myself trying to get my dog to eat. He is 1.5 year old Shih tzu. The second day I had him home as a pup, he got very sick and almost died. He was on a human food diet and I have struggled this past year to get him to eat anything. I tried all the food down, food up games. No treats, long walks. It is driving me crazy. I spend $500 at the vet last month and all his tests and xrays are normal. I don’t know what to do anymore. It is too the point that I believe he is starving himself, which is breaking my heart. :(

  • Alice Stingo Romano

    omg I have a 5 yr old shihtzhu and I went on vacation for 5 days to come home to a skinny dog who stopped eating the day I left and now im home and she still wont eat… took her to the vet and she was put on med been on meds for 2 days and still not eatinig I am going nuts… she is like my daughter I don’t have me and her are the only girls in the house… she is wasting away what can I do

  • Mary Ann

    Alice, I called the vet yesterday and of course the first suggestion was a $450 ultra sound. I refused and she gave me a “appetite stimulate”. I asked her what it is and she said it is an antihistamine, but it makes dogs eat. Well within an hour he was trying to eat anything he could get. Day two and he is still eating, but he is looking at me all the time as if I should be feeding him. It is one extreme to the other. Ask the vet for this kind of med. They gave me Pepcid first for his tummy, but that didn’t make any changes.

  • Chris

    I have a 10 y/o husky that just started peeing blood and her stool is soft and has an orange tint. Took her to vet hospital and she has 105 degree fever . The vet prescribed trams doll and clavamox 625 mg. the blood work they did showed mildly elevated liver enzymes and low red blood cell count. Now today we can not get her to eat anything at all and after first dose of meds she still has 104 degree temp. Please help. What can I do next to try and get her to eat and get well again

  • Mike

    Hi Alice, I’m so sorry to hear about your poor girl! You know, when dog owners say their dog is like their son or daughter, most people who have never owned a dog simply roll their eyes. But believe me, I understand EXACTLY how you feel! Me and my boy are the only boys in my house. 😉

    With that said, a change in routine or even a change with the person who is feeding the dog can sometimes cause a dog to stop eating. Is she eating at all? Even treats? Going 5 days without eating does indeed warrant taking your dog to the vet, so I’m glad to see you did that.

    Sorry for the late response as I saw you posted this a couple days ago. Have you made any progress? I would love to hear if your girl is getting back to normal and how you were able to achieve that.

  • Mike

    Hi Mary Ann, I’m super sorry for the late response on this, but I’m glad to hear your boy is eating again, that’s great! How is he doing today? Back to normal I hope!

  • Mike

    Hi Shelby, how is Casey doing? Are you still having issues?

    If he has been eating the same dog food for almost 7 months and then suddenly one day there was a change in his eating behavior, I would wonder if some ingredients were changed in the food you are using. That can be enough to cause a dog to stop eating, at least temporarily. What is the dog food you have your dog on currently and do you remember if you opened a new bag of food when this started?

  • Mike

    Hi Nick, are you still having any issues with your dog eating? If your dog is getting really underweight, I would plan a trip to the vet so they can run some tests.

    By chance, when you let your dog out, does your dog attempt to eat a large amount of grass?

  • Mike

    Hi Anne, how are things going Bailey? I hope she’s back to normal!

  • Mike

    Hi Chris, I am SO sorry to hear about your poor girl! Unfortunately, I know through experience how helpless you can feel when your dog is in a situation like this.

    I wish I could offer you some solid advice, but at this point, I wouldn’t be able to offer any advice that your veterinarian hasn’t already given you. I would be very curious as to why your dog is showing signs of blood in her urine and stool. That can certainly be cause for concern. Have they taken an ultrasound or done any additional testing? If she is experiencing a lot of discomfort, especially in her stomach or digestive system, it could prove very difficult to get her to eat. Figuring out how to resolve her current health issue would most likely resolve her eating issue.

    As for her fever, 104 isn’t quite as bad as it sounds. The normal range for body temperature in dogs is 99.5 – 102.5 and a dog must have a body temperature of 103.5 to be considered as having a fever.

    Have you tried sprucing up her food at all? You should of course run everything by your vet before you try anything, but you might want to try adding some canned pumpkin to your dogs food. It’s tasty and can help to sooth a dogs stomach.

    I hope your dog feels better soon!

  • Mary Ann

    Hello Mike, No, not normal, he is not eating today. I wonder why giving him meds makes him eat, but without it, he doesn’t eat. They want to ultrasound him, but the x-rays were very clear. I am starting to think it is behavioral. I just don’t know how to fix it. :(

  • Mike

    Hmmm, well that certainly is perplexing and I can see your dilemma. You could pay all that money for an ultrasound only for it to show nothing… Or it might show something. That’s a tough decisions and one only you can make. This is one of the many reasons I have pet insurance through Trupanion. It does cost me about $40 per month, but when things happen, I don’t have to worry as much about taking finances into consideration. Thank goodness I had that when he got bit by a rattlesnake several months ago. Fortunately he’s fine now and Trupanion paid 90% of my $4,000+ vet bill. Yikes! Anytime the vet wanted to run a test or do something I could immediately say “yes” without any hesitation.

    In the meantime, if you think this is more behavioral based, you can try to “ride it out” by only giving him a chance to eat for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. If you do this, in the vast majority of cases, a dog will start eating again after a couple days. It might take some reinforcing over the next week or two (good days and bad), but once your dog learns there is a small window of time to get some grub, it could help longer term. Only then should you begin to GRADUALLY increase giving out treats between meals.

    I hope things start improving soon!

  • Anne

    Hi Mike! Still a battle but we only feed her dog food – dry!. She knows us too well. She holds out so we did a work around as I can’t have her vomiting (she did that on my feet in bed! YUCK!) We only fed her dry food but we started by hand – NOT going to work that way – stopped that. Now, we are measuring her food and NO treats by themselves. We cut up her treats (kind of like bacon bits-LOL!) and put them in her food. Much much much better-she actually will eat. I would like to hold out but she does vomit when she doesn’t eat and that won’t work – on the hardwood floors – ok but no way on the carpet or me! Thank you for reaching out! Much appreciated.

  • Nick

    I’ve been to the vet and they’ve ran tests on him twice. Came back saying he’s a ok, but he still is extremely thin. He never eats grass or anything, he just won’t eat food for some reason. It’s just making me worry is all

  • Mike

    Well I’m glad to hear you’re making progress! The things we do for our furchildren… LOL!

  • Mike

    Oh believe me I totally understand! It’s so hard when our dogs can’t communicate to us and tell us if something is wrong. At least the vet was able to rule out some health issues so we mostly know it’s a behavioral thing. Also remember that just like humans, obesity is a HUGE issue in dogs these days, so even a slightly underweight dog can seem extra skinny to our eyes. Sorry I can’t provide you with some better advice, I wish I could, but I think as long as your dog is proving to be healthy (even if he’s underweight) he will be just fine. Fortunately it sounds like he has a loving and caring owner. :)

  • Jessica Montoya

    My 5 year old shih tzu hasn’t been eating very much at all. Last Thursday he had gotten sick during the day while I wasn’t home (and my mom was watching him and said he didn’t get into anything) that whole day he didn’t eat or drink anything. Same thing deal with Friday still no eating or drinking, and continued to vomit yellow bile in the middle of the night. Come Saturday after his grooming appointment I stopped by the vet to see what she said. While she didn’t know why he wasn’t eating, she gave him a 24 hour anti nausea shot and put him on a three day bland food diet. When we got home he gobbled up an entire can of the bland wet dog food and drank a bit. Come today, he refused to eat and drink again. It’s quite frustrating. Because he will eat his treats, and I even got him to eat just a tiny bit of the bland dog food but he won’t get near it now.

  • Mike

    Sorry to hear about that Jessica! If the vet said everything checks out and he is also eating treats, it sounds like he might be playing the “picky eater” game. Sometimes dogs will learn that if they refuse their food, they will end up getting something tastier. This, combined with his recent change in atmosphere (being at your moms place), could be causing the issue.

    What you might want to do is try leaving the food out for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening without any chance for treats during the day. After a couple days of this, he should start to learn that food is only available for a short period of time, and he’ll want to gobble it up. This may need to be reinforced over time with good days and bad, but hopefully it will help longer term. Unfortunately, this will do little to help with his vomiting as that is a common side effect of a dog who isn’t eating.

    You can also try to feed him after a light play session or walk. Many times an excited dog will be much more motivated to eat, but this isn’t always the case.

    I sure hope you’re able to resolve this issue quickly! Best of luck!

  • Sandra

    My 3 year old Springer Spaniel used to wolf down down his morning and evening meal as soon as it was put down. Now, he just walks away from it!! He has no other eatables during the day, no tummy upsets, runs about daft in the park as normal…….just seems to have no appetite!

  • Karm

    My heart aches for you, I really hope everything goes well, maybe it’s nothing, I would check if he doesn’t get dehydrated, once my dog had an episode like that, I gave him electrolytes (pedialyte) it keeps from dehydrating. If your vet saw him then it’s probably nothing alarming. Meds can do that to dogs, and I know, we feel so helpless when they’re sick!!!!

  • jennavencia one

    Please some advice. I recently got this 7 month old Blue Pit. We got the same food as he was eating witb his last family. Now he wont eat the foods. He will eat his treats and drink water, also he loves ice cubes. What to do? He is active and playfully.

  • Cheri Goes Donaghy

    I am dog sitting for my daughter while she is on vacation. He will not eat (which is normal when we dog sit), but now he is pulling out hair. He liked treats, but is very picky about what kind I get. We will have him for another week. What can I do to entice him to eat.

  • Sheralyn Taylor

    My 15 year old Springer hasn’t eaten anything for at least a 2 weeks now, only drinking water. She had a urine infection & was on Synulox Antibiotics for 2 weeks & have now finished them. 4 weeks ago we had to put to rest her brother (same age) so they have been together since birth. I know she is missing him, but I have now tried everything she could possibly eat, freshly cooked, Chicken , Fish so many different dog foods but she just sniffs it & walks away. She use to do that with her Brother & he would eat hers…she is getting so skinny & weak, her back legs are starting to give way, some days better than others ! Is this anything to do with her grieving for her brother because he was the Top dog in her eyes, or has she just given up, all she wants to do is sleep, she still wags her tail & loves attention. I know 15yrs is a great age for Springers, her brother wasn’t ill, he just had a accident running in from the garden & slipped on the patio door step, knocking is back leg & damaged his main knee ligament, he couldn’t walk anymore & the vets couldn’t do nothing for him, because of his age, so after 4 weeks of him not improving or being able to walk we sadly had to put him to sleep. He is buried in our garden with his Mum. She does keep going outside sniffing around his grave & just seems so lost. They were both great family dogs, just not sure what else to do for her now.

  • Ruby Gutierrez

    My dog is a labrador female. She used to eat dog food without problem from the time I got her at 2 months old. She is now around 5 years old. However, for about a year now she started eating table food which she really loved. She gained so much weight. But now I wanted her to go back to dog food. I noticed for the last 2 days she hardly touched the dog food and I’m afraid she might get sick. What must I do?

  • Stephen Shirey

    Hello, I have a 5 month old Alaskan Malador. She was fine and then she suddenly won’t touch her food. I’ve tried everything wet, dry, even tried a barely cooked hamburger Patty. She’s still drinking and peeing. She has thrown up a couple of times. The next day she seemed fine even ate wet canned dog food. And now today she won’t eat again. And it seems like she doesn’t have her normal energy level. She hasn’t pooped that I know of. I’m concerned and can’t really afford vet bills at this time. Can anyone give me an idea of what it may be and how can I get my girl back to her old self?

  • JBeaman

    My neighbor gave me her dog because she can’t care for her anymore…..i had her 2 days now and she won’t eat… She eat the treats with no problem but won’t eat…im trying to home train her….how do i get her to eat….

  • john fraley

    However, I have 4 dogs and they have all quit eating. Two large dogs and two small dogs.

  • Shane Algarin

    I wish I knew. My dog normally eats the minute I fill her bowl. But I had to cut a vacation short because my dog wouldn’t eat. Now I only do short vacations.
    Good luck!

  • Kathi

    I have a 2-3 year old Llewellin Setter (rescue). Two days after I gave her heartworm chewable tablet (Iverheart) , she quit eating. She drinks water and is not vomiting. It has been 5 days now. She will take her bedtime treat (frosty paw), but that’s it. She normally eats dry food. Her activity level is fairly normally..in and out doggy door all day. This morning I added about a tablespoon of canned food to her dry food. She turned her nose up and walked away. I just took another one of my dogs, 14 year old cocker spaniel to the vet last week to the tune of $407. He was anemic. I can’t afford to take her in this week. I’ve tried the feeding her alone without the other 2 dogs..to no avail. Any suggestions?

  • Corazon

    hi my puppy iss just 1 month and a half she starts eating when she was 1 month and a 1 week she has been eating very well but now she wont eat no change at all in home and she doesnt want to eat nothing i feed her with our food and sometimes with dog food put she doesnt wont to eat anything even water when she is veryyy thirsty she is a my baby and is so small plz help me

  • ness

    Stop giving the dog treats,I made that mistake coz my pup wouldn’t eat,he’s on n off his food still but I don’t give him treats we need training aswell as dogs

  • Gabby Cruz

    Hi my dog is a yorkie she’s 9 months she has all her shots..but for 5 days she’s being real picky on eating her food she doesn’t want to drink water as well and she is vomiting as well every time she drinks water..any I deal what can be the proble.?#helpChiquis