My Dog Won't Eat: What Should I Do?

A balanced diet is crucial to keep your furry friend healthy and happy. However, there may be times when your dog refuses to eat. Skipping a meal or two is normal, but prolonged loss of appetite can be a cause for concern. In this article, we'll discuss some possible reasons why your dog may not be eating and provide some tips for encouraging them to eat again.

  1. Health Issues: When to Consult with Your Veterinarian A loss of appetite can be a sign of underlying health issues. Several medical conditions can cause a dog to lose interest in food, including dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, infections, liver or kidney disease, cancer, and more. If your dog is not eating for more than 24-48 hours, it's time to consult with your veterinarian. They can perform a thorough physical exam and run some diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of your dog's loss of appetite.

In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe medications or recommend a special diet to help stimulate your dog's appetite. They may also recommend hospitalization or supportive care, such as fluid therapy or nutritional supplementation, depending on the severity of your dog's condition.

  1. Changes in Diet or Environment: How to Help Your Dog Adjust Changes in your dog's diet, routine, or environment can affect their appetite. For example, introducing a new brand of dog food, switching to a different feeding schedule, or moving to a new house can cause stress and anxiety, leading to a loss of appetite. To help your dog adjust, try the following:
  • Gradually introduce new foods: If you're switching to a new brand of dog food, mix it with the old one and gradually increase the proportion of the new food over several days. This will help your dog adjust to the new taste and texture of the food.

  • Maintain a consistent routine: Dogs thrive on routine and consistency. Stick to a regular feeding schedule, and make sure your dog gets enough exercise, playtime, and rest.

  • Provide a comfortable and familiar environment: Make sure your dog has a comfortable and familiar place to eat, away from distractions and noise.

  • Avoid common feeding mistakes: Feeding too many treats, changing food brands too frequently, and offering table scraps can discourage your dog from eating their regular meals.

  1. Appetite Stimulants: When to Use Them and What to Look Out for In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe appetite stimulants to help encourage your dog to eat. These medications work by increasing the production of certain hormones that stimulate hunger. Some commonly used appetite stimulants include mirtazapine, cyproheptadine, and dronabinol.

It's important to use these medications under veterinary supervision. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate dosage and frequency based on your dog's health status and medical history. Some possible side effects of appetite stimulants include lethargy, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  1. Homemade Remedies and Tricks: How to Encourage Your Dog to Eat If your dog has a mild loss of appetite or is picky, you can try some homemade remedies and tricks to encourage them to eat. Here are some ideas:
  • Add chicken broth or low-sodium beef broth to your dog's food to make it more appealing.

  • Offer high-value treats, such as small pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, or beef, as a reward for eating their regular meals.

  • Use puzzle feeders or treat-dispensing toys