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Loss of Appetite in Dogs: 7 Tips to Get a Dog to Eat

January 15, 2015

Loss of appetite in dogs is pretty common. But if your dog has stopped eating, and you’re used to seeing him gobble up his food, this might cause you to be concerned. Although a dog skipping a couple meals isn’t completely unusual, a loss of appetite in dogs is sometimes due to an underlying condition that may need veterinary attention.

In our previous blog, “7 Ways to Get Your Dog to Eat After Surgery” we discussed what to do when a dog won’t eat after surgery.  But loss appetite sometimes pops up even in seemingly healthy dogs. In this blog, we’ll discuss general loss of appetite in dogs, share some appetite stimulants for dogs and when to visit a veterinarian.

HOW CAN I GET MY DOG TO EAT? SEVEN APPETITE STIMULANTS FOR DOGS

Mmm, smell that? Your dog sure does! Dogs use their sense of smell to help determine if food is palatable. If the smell of your dog’s food is strong it helps entice your dog to eat. Watch the video for some greats tips on how to curb loss of appetite in dogs. 

LOSS OF APPETITE IN DOGS: WHAT QUALIFIES?

Loss of appetite in dogs can be short-term or or long-term. There are 3 different scenarios where your dog won't eat:

  1. Dog has lost interest in food- this occurs when a dog with a normally healthy appetite is suddenly eating a lot less or rejecting their usual portions. In these scenarios, dogs will often be open to eating boiled chicken or some of their “favorite” foods, but may reject their usual kibble.
  2. Dog has stopped eating altogether- when a dog completely stops eating, this is referred to as canine anorexia. Canine anorexia is very different from human anorexia, as it has to do with loss of appetite, not any kind of body dysmorphic disorder. If a dog won’t eat at all and this lasts more than 48 hours, this could be the indication of an illness and you should talk to your veterinarian right away.
  3. Dog not eating certain foods- some dogs are just picky but sometimes there are other factors at play, such as illness or tooth pain, that may prevent them from eating. You should never assume your dog is just being picky, as a loss of appetite is often a sign of an illness. If you notice a change in eating habits, you should consult your veterinarian.

WHY WON’T MY DOG EAT?

There are a number of causes that can contribute to loss of appetite in dogs:

Loss of Appetite in Dogs

  • Too much food- You could be giving your dog more food than is required for his weight. Just like we don’t want to eat anymore when we are full, your dog may be doing the same.
  • Bad eating habits- Do you often give your dog table scraps? He might be holding out for something better than his kibble. Dogs can get “trained” to expect certain foods and flavor.
  • Too many treats- Do you feel like eating a wholesome dinner after a bag of chips? Didn’t think so! Just like people that snack, giving your dog treats (which are often full of calories) in between meals might also be a culprit for a loss of appetite.
  • Upset stomach- If a dog has diarrhea or any kind of gastrointestinal illness, this is often accompanied by a loss of interest in food.
  • Environmental factors- Your dog might be refusing to eat due to an uncomfortable feeding situation, such as around an aggressive dog or from a bowl at an uncomfortable height.
  • Medical- If your dog has just had surgery and has been under anesthesia, this can often cause a loss of appetite. You can read more on our blog about a dog not eating after surgery.
  • Pain- Check your dog for mouth sores, broken or chipped teeth, or any other bodily injuries. If the dog is in pain, this will lead to a disinterest in food.

Skipping a meal or two isn’t a reason to panic. However, not eating depletes your dog’s energy which is necessary to help fight sicknesses and illnesses. If your dog hasn’t eaten in over 48 hours, contact your veterinarian, as this might be a sign of a more serious condition.

About the Author

Bevi Edlund, Blog Editor

Hi, I'm Bevi Edlund. I'm a graduate of communications and journalism from Cal State University, Fullerton. I am also an animal rights activist and a huge dog lover! I think there is nothing more comforting than coming home after a long day than to your furry best friend. Here at Bio-Rep Animal Health, I'll be in charge of writing posts about lifestyle, nutrition and connecting with all of our readers.