What Causes the Loss of Appetite in Dogs?

What Causes the Loss of Appetite in Dogs?

What Causes the Loss of Appetite in Dogs?

You’re used to your dog having a voracious appetite, so when your pooch isn’t interested in their food, you have good reason to be concerned. There are several explanations as to why your dog might not be eating, and you need to explore all possibilities if you want to get to the bottom of the issue. 

If you’re asking why is my dog not eating and you need some help identifying the issue, then keep on reading. 

First Thing’s First: Consult a Vet 

When your dog’s health is at stake, it’s always best to consult a professional veterinarian. If your dog is experiencing ongoing appetite issues, or if pushing the bowl away is accompanied by symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, it’s best to make an online or in-person appointment. Make sure you ask what foods are toxic for dogs in the event your dog has eaten something it wasn’t supposed to. You don’t want—my dog isn’t eating—to turn into something more serious!  

#1 A Common Cold or Illness 

Illness can be a sneaky culprit behind the loss of appetite in dogs, but it’s tricky to identify since so many types of canine diseases can lead to your pup not feeling well. If you suspect your dog’s loss of appetite might be caused by an illness, it’s even more important to make a vet appointment. 

At the worst, a lack of appetite can be a symptom of: 

  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Systemic infections
  • Dental problems

It’s unlikely that just not eating well would be the only sign of the above conditions.  With that being said, we highlight the above list to make you’re aware of the serious problems that could (potentially) lead to a loss of appetite and be the first sign of a concern. 

If you have any doubts or concerns, your veterinarian will be able to address the issue(s), allay your fears, and provide a proper course of treatment. 

#2 Medications and Vaccinations

Medications and vaccinations are essential when it comes to protecting your dog’s health. However, they can also have an adverse effect on your dog’s physiological systems. Has your pup had any recent vaccinations? How about a change in medication? 

If so, it’s important to keep an eye on how they’re reacting to any changes in their wellness routine and diet. This could be one of the underlying issues that’s causing your dog to have trouble eating. You may want to look into what to feed a dog with an upset stomach to help the situation.

Side effects from vaccinations are (usually) temporary, so communicate with your vet about the changes you’re seeing, as they might want to alter their medication regimen. 

#3 Tooth Troubles

When you think about issues related to your dog’s appetite, you might assume they’re linked to a problem with their stomach or digestive system. But if your pooch isn’t eating, the issue might be closer to the bowl than you think. 

To that end, have you checked your dog’s teeth lately? Tooth decay, tooth rot, a broken tooth, and periodontal disease can all negatively affect your dog’s ability to chew and eat their food. If they’re in pain while they eat—despite still having an appetite—they might forgo their food out of fear. 

Once again, if you suspect this is the issue, contact your veterinarian. 

#4 Emotional (Non) Eaters

When you go through a stressful event like starting a new job, moving, or dealing with a breakup, you might reach for the closest pint of ice cream, or you might not want to eat at all. Either way, you know that your emotions can affect your appetite. Dogs are no different when it comes to the connection between food and feelings. 

Investigate what’s going on in your pup’s life and think about the following potential triggers:

  • New family members (both human and non-human)
  • Traveling
  • Isolation
  • Home renovations
  • Moving 

Part of being a proactive dog owner is staying privy to the behavioral patterns of your pup. If they’re adjusting to a new environment or if you’re both in a period of transition (moving, a new work schedule, adding another pet to the homestead), then do your best to help them acclimate. 

This can be as simple as spending a bit more time with them or changing their food regimen (treats, anyone?) in order to entice their appetite. You can also try interactive toys like Kong or trick training.  Over time, your dog’s appetite should stabilize. Just know that it could be directly tied to emotions, so perhaps your doggie just needs a bit more love. 

Once more, if the problem continues, seek the help of a professional. 

#5 Picky Pups

Humans tend to assume that dogs will eat anything you put in front of them (and manage to get a hold of things that aren’t), but this isn’t always the case. If you notice your dog not eating food, it might boil down to the simple fact that they’re just a picky eater. You may want to try introducing interactive food toys like Kong.  Make sure your picky eater is getting enough exercise by plenty of walks and playtime, participating in training classes with your pup, enrolling in doggy daycare, or having a dog walker come in the middle of the day.   

Did you know that some dog breeds are naturally picky eaters? If you happen to own any of these dog breeds

  • Bulldog (English and French)
  • Golden Retriever
  • Beagle
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • German Shepherd
  • Yorkshire Terrier 
  • Boxer 

…then your pup might be the quadruped equivalent of a food snob! Jokes aside, if your dog tends to be a picky eater, then consider doing the following: 

  • Changing dog food brands slowly over a 21-day period
  • Adding in canned, freeze dried or fresh food topper to the kibble food
  • Spicing up their kibble with kibble toppers or low sodium bone broth

A Fed Pup is a Happy Pup

Monitoring your dog’s food intake is a great way to ensure they stay happy and healthy. Now that you understand what causes loss of appetite in dogs, you’ll be ready to take action as needed. Whether you need to start adding a food topper, or you need to spend more quality time with your fur baby, your dog will be running to their food bowl before you know it.

But if you’re still unsure why your dog hasn’t seemed to find his or her appetite, our licensed veterinarians are here to assist. On staff and on call 24/7, reach out to us today and we’ll help you determine the next best steps and preventative care for your pup. Your dog needs its nutrients, and we’re here to find you a solution.

That’s AskVet.  

What Causes the Loss of Appetite in Dogs?