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Help! Why won't my dog eat?

Help! Why won't my dog eat?

Today our Parrish vets discuss some common reasons that may cause your pup to skip a meal, what to do if your dog isn't eating, and the indicators that it may be an emergency situation. 

Why isn't my dog eating?

It can be a stressful situation when your dog doesn't want to eat. Is it a simple upset stomach or a more serious underlying issue? If your dog skips one meal but otherwise seems healthy, it probably doesn't warrant a trip to the vet. However, you can always check with your veterinarian if have any concerns. 

If your dog hasn't eaten in over 12 hours with no obvious cause or is exhibiting any other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy this may be an emergency situation and you should call or bring your dog in for emergency care as soon as possible. 

Reasons your dog may not be eating 


A persistent decrease in appetite in dogs is often a sign of sickness, especially if your dog is exhibiting other symptoms at the same time. Some common pet illnesses that can cause a loss of appetite are cancer, infection, liver problems, and kidney failure. If you notice your dog regularly refusing food it is time to visit the vet. 

Dental disease

Oral health issues can cause your dog to lose their appetite because it hurts to chew. If you notice broken or loose teeth, swelling, bleeding, or excessively bad breath, it may be that poor oral health is the cause of your dog's refusal to eat. Make an appointment with your vet for your pup to have a full dental examination and cleaning. 

Recent vaccination

While vaccinations are an essential part of your dog's long-term health, they can cause your pup to temporarily feel a little under the weather. It is normal for your dog to have a slightly decreased appetite for a day or two after being vaccinated. If their loss of appetite persists for more than two days you may want to give your vet a call. 

A change in routine or location 

Dogs enjoy routine. If you are traveling, have recently moved, or have gotten a new pet, it is normal for your dog's appetite to be thrown off as they adjust to their new settings. Be patient with your dog and try some of the tips below to help your pet eat!

Their food has changed

Have you noticed the words "new and improved" on their regular food, or are you trying a new brand? Your dog's refusal to eat could be stemming from a dislike of the new food. Typically this will only cause a dog to skip a meal or two as eventually their hunger will win out and they will try the new food (and will usually adjust to it just fine). Monitor the situation to be sure it resolves and contact your vet if the problem persists. 

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Eat

If there's an obvious cause to your dog not eating (such as the first night in a new home) and you don't notice any other symptoms, there are a few things you can do to try and make your pup's food more appealing to them. 

  • Warm up your dog’s food in the microwave
  • Pour chicken broth, beef broth, or tuna water over the food to make it more appealing
  • Pour warm water over dry food to make it softer.
  • Feeding your dog dry food if they usually only eat wet food or vice versa
  • Try hand-feeding, as social eaters sometimes just want attention

When should I worry about my dog not eating?

If you notice a persistent change in your dog's appetite or any other concerning symptoms, from vomiting to swelling in the mouth, your dog needs emergency medical attention. 

You should also seek medical attention if your dog skips two or more meals, regardless of whether or not there are any other symptoms present. When it comes to the health of your companion, it is always best to err on the side of caution and consult a veterinary professional. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed a change in your dog's appetite? Contact our Parrish vets today to book an examination for your pet. 

New Patients Welcome

Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (941) 776-1100