Your dog’s used to be the hungriest creature at home, but these days he or she’s barely touching the food. What happened? Why is my dog not eating? As the parent to your furry friend, this matter certainly can’t be simply overlooked. Read on to find out all you need to know about why your dog hasn’t been eating.
Why does my dog suddenly not want to eat?
There are so many reasons why your dog isn’t eating. To simplify the list, we have categorized the issues into food issues, medical conditions, and mental conditions.
Sometimes the underlying issue of why your dog refuses to eat is because of the food itself. Consider checking first whether it’s spoiled or smells bad. If there are no problems with this, ask yourself whether you recently introduced your dog to this food or not. Sometimes new food can smell or taste differently than what they used to eat in the first place.
The transition from the type of food can also pose significant changes in dogs’ appetite. For instance, you used to serve them home-cooked meals and then switched temporarily to dry kibble due to practicality preference.
The ingredients incorporated in dog food can also affect your dog’s appetite. There’s a chance that they’re actually sensitive to specific components there or getting fed up with eating the same thing over and over.
Food served too cold or too hot can also stop them from eating. If this happens, it’s probably because the food temperature hurts their teeth, gum, or tongue, which can belong to the next category.
Medical conditions are something you shouldn’t overlook. Some of the most common issues that cause dogs’ loss of appetite are:
- Recent vaccination
- Oral health issues
- Upset stomach
It’s also possible that the problem your dog’s experiencing is deeper and more dangerous:
- Neurological diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Internal organ damage
One thing we can advise is that you shouldn’t make a diagnosis on your own. Always refer to the vets or professionals who can recommend the best solutions for your dog’s medical conditions!
Dogs are just like us: something is going on in their mind, and they can experience mental issues as well.
Depression in dogs, for instance, is a real issue. Bonnie Beaver, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, mentioned that veterinarians don’t really know if dogs suffer from depression the same way people do. “It’s hard to know because we can’t ask them.” However, you can rest assured that dogs rarely suffer from long-term depression.
There’s also a condition called separation anxiety, where your dog can go anxious or restless whenever you leave them at home. Besides feeling lonely, it’s also possible that your dog naturally thinks that he or she needs to guard the house. Hence, they won’t eat until you’re back.
How long can a dog go without eating?
It largely depends on their health conditions. Generally, it’s safe to say that most dogs can eat no food for about 3 to 5 days. Some can even go longer than that (granted that you still give them water), but it already seems worrisome enough. Your vet will probably recommend you bring them for a checkup when they don’t eat for more than two days.
Food is definitely different than water because a lack of water intake will even pose a shorter survivability period for dogs. Without drinking water, your dog can go for about 2 to 3 days. However, he or she already suffers dehydration, which is going to lead to many more health issues when going unchecked.
What’s worse is if your dog’s in unhealthy condition! He or she can survive for up to 5 days with water and no food. Meanwhile, without water, three days is the longest it can survive. With this in mind, please always pay attention to their daily meal and water intake.
How do I get my dog to eat?
Rather than forcing him or her to eat, we suggest you naturally stimulate your dog’s appetite by:
- Offer his or her favorite food
If what your dog loves is considered pretty unhealthy or not nutritious when consumed often, incorporate some healthy ingredients into it. For instance, you can shred rotisserie chicken or dice some cooked carrots into bite-sized pieces.
- Warm the food up
Dogs are just like us. Who likes cold food when it’s supposed to be warm?
- Offer strong-smelling food
You can do this with a tiny amount first and observe their reaction after 24 hours. If they seem to be okay with it, gradually increase the amount as per your vet’s suggestion.
- Check your dog’s nose
You can do this with a simple check to see whether his or her nose is clean. When it’s dirty or clogged, sometimes your dog has a harder time to smell the food.
- Try different brands
Take your time to read over the ingredients on other dog food brands. You can experiment, but make sure not to stray too far away from what your dog usually eats.
- Try hand-feeding
You’ll never know. Perhaps your dog only misses being fed by its lovely owner!
Using pharmaceuticals is recommended only after you have consulted your vet. Even natural options like acupuncture or herbal medicines should be with their professional examination first if you don’t want your dog to end up getting sick.
The safest solution is indeed to bring your dog to the vet. They’ll help examine the root of the problem and prescribe you the best solutions to get your dog’s appetite active again. If the issue turns out to be emotion-related, then it’s up to you as the parent of your dog. Remember: your dog needs you just as much as he or she needs food.
There you go: all the information you need to know to answer the central question: why is my dog not eating? You can match the current situation your dog’s experiencing with one of the reasons mentioned above. However, for a more accurate and reliable answer, you should bring your dog to the vet and get it examined.