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Why Won't My Dog Eat?

Is your dog skipping meals and treats? It's understandable to worry, but today our Laguna Woods vets share a few of the possible reasons why your dog is not eating, and what you should do.

Help! My Dog Won't Eat

You want the very best for your canine companion, so if your dog isn't eating regularly you are bound to be concerned.

There are a number of common reasons why dogs will refuse to eat. Here are just a few:

Your Dog Feels Unwell

Much like humans, when dogs aren't feeling well they will often stop eating. If your dog is not eating it's always best to contact your vet for advice. In the meantime, there are a few tricks you can try to coax your pooch to start eating:

  • If you feed your pup wet food you could try warming it slightly in the microwave.
  • If your dog eats dry food (kibble) you could try pouring some warm water or broth over it to soften it a bit and make it more appetizing.
  • Try feeding your pup some kibble by hand to see if they will eat it.

If your dog is also showing other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, as well as not eating, it's time for a trip to the vet.

Your Pet Is Feeling Down

Much the way major changes play on our emotions and affect our eating habits, your dog's eating habits can also be negatively impacted by change. 

A move to a new house, being re-homed with new people, or the loss of another pet in the house can all lead your dog to lose their appetite. Be patient and kind as your pooch adjusts to their new life circumstances, and speak to your vet if your dog refuses to eat for more than 24 hours.

Your Pooch Misses You (or Another Key Family Member)

Some dogs are social eaters or anxious, only eating if they know that their primary caregiver (or a particular favorite family member) is safe and sound at home with them. Remember that dogs are pack animals, wired to hunt and eat together. If a key member of their pack is absent it may lead them to hold off on eating until their pack is all together again.

It's Not Your Dog's Preferred Time to Eat

Like ourselves, it's not unheard of for dogs to have a preferred time of day to eat. Maybe your dog chows down first thing in the morning and fasts for the rest of the day, or maybe they wait until the sun goes down in the evening before devouring their dinner. Many dogs choose to eat just one big meal a day.

Whatever your pup's favorite mealtime is, as long as they are getting all the nutrition they need at that meal, it's likely not a problem. Your vet will be able to calculate your pet's caloric requirements based on their size, breed, age and lifestyle to provide you with accurate guidelines regarding what and when to feed your dog.

Your Animal Companion Doesn't Like Their Food

It might surprise you to learn that even if you always buy the same dog food for your pup, the formulation could change. While many brands will indicate a change (New & Improved etc) often these changes in the formulation are only reflected in the list of ingredients and the nutritional information.

It can be a good idea to feed your dog a couple of different foods right from day one. That way, if one food's formulation changes in a way that your dog doesn't like, you have an alternative food readily available that you know they will enjoy. At that point, you can begin the process of introducing a new food.

To avoid stomach issues bloating, gas or diarrhea, it's best to ask your vet for advice on how to introduce your four-legged friend to a new food.

When Should I Be Worried?

Good question! Our beloved animal companions are unable to tell us how they are feeling, so we always recommend consulting your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting behaviors that worry you. 

When it comes to not eating, if you have tried the tricks above but your dog is still not eating after 24-48 hours a trip to the vet is a good idea, if only to rule out anything serious. 

If your dog is not eating and is experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or an uncharacteristic lack of energy, contact your vet right away to schedule an examination for your dog.

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 dog's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.

If your dog's lack of appetite is concerning you, don't hesitate to contact our Laguna Woods vets to book an appointment for your canine companion.

New Patients Welcome

Laguna Hills Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our vets are friendly, experienced, and passionate about caring for the health of the cats and dogs in Laguna Woods. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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