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Dog Stopped Eating? 15 Possible Reasons and What to Do About It

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By Nicole Cosgrove

labrador watching his food

Whether you’ve been a pet parent for years or you’ve just brought home your first puppy, it can be a super stressful situation if your pooch won’t eat.

While dogs are typically voracious eaters that will gladly gobble up anything you put in front of them, there will be times when your pet won’t eat. Also referred to as inappetence, little to no appetite in your canine companion shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The first thing that you need to do is try and determine the cause of your pet’s lack of interest in food. Here’s how to do exactly that:

  • Observe your pup’s behavior: Check to see if your pet won’t eat anything at all or won’t eat certain kinds of food. If you can’t be at home, you can monitor your dog’s behavior remotely from a pet webcam. Additionally, pay attention to your dog’s urine and stool. If he seems lethargic, dehydrated, or has diarrhea, contact your vet right away.
  • Check his body and teeth: A broken or loose tooth could be to blame for your dog’s lack of appetite. You should also check his body for parasites, changes in his coat, lumps, or injuries.
  • Check the food and environment: Check to see if there is anything wrong with the food. It may have spoiled. Also, check your home to see if your pet consumed something that he shouldn’t have, including a house plant, carpet, or toy.
  • Re-examine your actions: Did you feed your canine companion a lot of tasty treats or table scraps today? This may explain his loss of appetite.

If you’ve done these four things and still don’t know why your dog won’t eat, here are 15 common reasons for his loss of appetite.

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The 15 Possible Reasons Your Dog Stopped Eating

1. Medical Condition

sick dog laying in bed
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

There are a variety of medical reasons that can be attributed to your pet not eating. These can include allergies, depression, infection, parasites, poisoning, issues with the internal organs, pain, or an autoimmune disease.

If you think your pet is experiencing any of the aforementioned issues, take him to a vet right away.

2. Separation Anxiety

French Bulldog
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

Is Fido not eating when you’re leaving him home alone? It could be separation anxiety. This is feelings of stress and panic when a pet is left alone for periods of time. The best way to determine if your canine companion is suffering from separation anxiety is to invest in a pet cam to monitor his behavior. If your dog starts going bonkers when left alone, you should learn about the different methods to treat his separation anxiety.

This could involve making a “safe space” for your pet where he feels comfortable, using an over-the-counter calming product, or investing in training with a doggie professional.

3. Issues with His Food

Coon Hound Eating
Image Credit By: SillyDogPhotos, shutterstock

If your pet refuses to eat, always check if his food is spoiled. You wouldn’t want to eat bad food, would you? Neither does your dog.

If you recently introduced your furry friend to new food, he may be turned off by the new tastes or smells. Try mixing his old food in with the new food for an easy transition.

Another thing that you should consider is the ingredients in the food. If your pet is sensitive to one or more of them, he may not touch his meal. Switch it out for natural food that is specially made for sensitive canines.

4. Dental Issues

Dog teeth
Image Credit: Freepik

If your pup is having trouble with his teeth or gums, he may leave his dinner untouched because eating is causing him discomfort. Schedule a vet visit to see if he has a loose or broken tooth, an oral tumor, or severe gingivitis.

5. Recent Vaccinations or New Medications

dog vet injection
Image Credit: Photographee, Shutterstock

Fortunately, healthcare for our dogs has dramatically improved over the last several years. Innovative new medicines and vaccines make it possible to keep diseases and illnesses at bay. However, some of these vaccines and medications can come with bad side effects.

Certain medicines will make your pup lose his appetite. Often, this adverse reaction will only last about a day or so. If he still hasn’t eaten after this period of time, contact your vet.

6. A Vacation or Unfamiliar Surroundings

holiday vacation jack russell dog waiting in airport terminal_javier brosch_shutterstock
Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

If you’re traveling or recently moved, your pet may not be acclimated with his new surroundings yet. He may feel nervous or stressed, causing him to have a lack of appetite. If he was recently on the road with you, he may simply be suffering from motion sickness.

As with dogs with separation anxiety, it’s important to help make your dog feel as relaxed as possible in order to eat.

7. The Time of Day

dog waiting on the window
Image: Pikist

Some of our furry friends are picky when it comes to the time of day that they eat their meals. Maybe your pooch likes to chow down in the morning, or perhaps he eats only after the sun sets.

Ensure that your pet is eating at the same time every day.

8. An Upset Stomach

dog sick
Image credit: ewka_pn, Pixabay

Sometimes dogs get into things they shouldn’t have, be it the trash or your leftover Chinese food. The offending snack could cause your pet’s stomach to become upset, resulting in an untouched bowl of food.

Keep a close eye on your dog. He may eat grass, become nauseous, or have diarrhea. If he starts to experience more severe symptoms, take him to a vet immediately.

9. A New Routine

man and dog walking
Image Credit: Audrius Vizbaras, Pixabay

Dogs are definitely creatures of habit. They love having an established daily routine and sticking to it. If you change their routine, even subtly, it could cause Fido to become uncomfortable.

If you do decide to make changes, ensure that you do it slowly in order to help your pet not get nervous. Sudden changes in their daily lives can cause them to not touch their food until confidence and comfort are regained.

10. Boredom

Bored Giant Black Schnauzer dog is lying next to the robotic vacuum cleaner_frank11_shutterstock
Image Credit: Frank11, Shutterstock

Like us, dogs will get bored of the same food if you’ve been feeding your pet the same flavor or brand for months or even years. It’s always a smart idea to mix things up once in a while. Top his meal with some wet food or gravy to entice your pup’s senses.

11. Bad Habits

dog eating whipped cream
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

While spicing your dog’s dinner up every now and then can be helpful, too much of a good thing can become a problem. Feeding your pooch a lot of snacks or tasty tidbits meant for humans can cause him to avoid his normal kibble.

Keep treats and human food to a minimum.

12. Recent Illnesses

Dog vomit in the living room on the floor_cunaplus_shutterstock
Image Credit: Cunaplus, Shutterstock

Has your dog become sick after recently consuming his dinner? He may be avoiding his food to avoid discomfort.

Be patient with your pet and consider slowly switching him to a new food.

13. Overfeeding

dog eating chicken grain free food
Image Credit: Tatjana Baibakova, Shutterstock

As we discussed before, treats should always be given sparingly to your dog and should account for no more than 10% of their daily calorie count. While it may be tempting to show your pet how much you adore them by giving them yummy treats, your dog will come to depend upon them for sustenance instead of his regular food.

14. Age

Senior dog during snow
Image Credit: baxtertatt, Pixabay

Your dog’s senses and body and senses will change with age. He may start not eating due to bad teeth or finding his regular kibble unappealing.

To ensure your pet is getting the vital vitamins and nutrients he needs in his golden years, feed him a softer food specially formulated for older dogs that has more flavor.

15. Behavioral Issues

poodle chewing on paper
Image Credit: Boryana Manzurova, Shutterstock

Like separation anxiety, a myriad of behavioral issues can cause your pet not to eat. These problems can develop over long periods of time and typically stem from past negative experiences.

Give your pet time and plenty of support to help feel comfortable again.

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Final Thoughts: Why Dogs Stop Eating

There are many reasons for your dog’s lack of appetite. However, if he continues to reject his food, you should schedule a visit with your vet as soon as possible.

See also: Dog Won’t Eat Their Food But Will Eat Treats? 5 Possible Reasons

Featured Image: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

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