My dog won't eat - what do I do?

As a dog owner, you will certainly do everything to ensure that your dog is well. You provide daily walks, a good and comfortable bed, delicious treats, good food, and lots of love. Therefore, it can also be incredibly frustrating when you find that your dog does not want to eat no matter how much you try.

Although a lack of appetite may be normal for most dogs, it is still worth investigating what is causing it. In this blog post, you will learn more about why your dog is not eating and what you can do to get him to eat again.

Why won't my dog ​​eat?

There can be many reasons why your dog is not eating. Sometimes the dog just doesn't want to eat the food that is served, other times the dog may have problems with his teeth so that it hurts to eat, and sometimes there are more serious reasons behind the loss of appetite.

That is why we also come up with a good rule of thumb: if your dog has not eaten within 24 hours, you should take it to a vet so that the dog can be examined. At Anicura , who specialize in the treatment and care of all kinds of pets, you can read more about what a vet examines when you come in with a dog that is suffering from loss of appetite.

Here we collected the five most normal reasons why your dog does not want to eat.

Your dog is not hungry

The first – and not alarming reason – is that your dog is simply not hungry. If you have perhaps become a little too good at giving the dog treats, this may be the reason why it is not hungry when it is time for a proper meal. Your dog simply does not manage to gather an appetite.

Your dog is sick

If your dog is ill, it will often lose its appetite and thereby eat less – and sometimes stop eating altogether for a period of time. Loss of appetite is just as common a sign of illness in dogs as it is in humans. If your dog is ill, it is always a good idea to contact a vet.

Your dog is in heat

If you have a bitch, she will come into heat at some point. Here, the dog is affected by hormones, and as a result the dog may lose its appetite or experience a reduced appetite. It happens as a result of the changes that occur in the dog's body when it comes into heat.

Both during heat and for up to two months afterwards, it will be normal for your dog to eat less, because the high hormone level gives rise to what is called 'false pregnancy', where the dog's body will prepare to have puppies .

If you have a male dog, he can also be affected by hormones and experience loss of appetite if there are bitches in heat nearby.

Your dog is stressed or experiencing anxiety

If your dog experiences anxiety or stress, the appetite will naturally decrease. This is because a fight-or-flight response is activated in the dog's brain - actually the same response that is also activated in humans if we experience anxiety or go through a stressful period.

During this period, the dog will not focus on very basic needs, such as eating regularly, and therefore the dog may also have difficulty feeling hunger. Your dog may, for example, become frightened if fireworks are set off on New Year's Eve or if a huge thunderstorm rolls in on a hot summer day.

There are also many reasons why a dog can become stressed or show symptoms of stress, one of which is reduced appetite. Maybe there have been changes on the home front. It could be that you have had a baby at home or a new dog that the dog has to deal with. It may also be that you have had a day with many guests and more. A dog often loses its appetite if something changes in the home.

Your dog is picky

Another – far more harmless reason for your dog not eating – is that your dog is simply picky. In other words, you've got yourself a dog that knows what it wants - and what it definitely shouldn't have. It can be difficult to adjust to, but of course there is a solution to the problem.

How to get your dog to eat again

Dog eating

Once you have found the reason why your dog does not want to eat, you must take proactive measures so that the dog can slowly regain its appetite and get some food into its body. We have taken as our starting point the five previous reasons why your dog is not eating, and guide you here on how to solve the problem as best as possible.

Cut back on treats

You know it well yourself. If you snack all day, there is rarely room for the larger meals – the same applies to your dog. It is therefore important that you avoid giving your dog too many treats during the day, so that it does not have time to build up an appetite.

If you don't give it treats, you may have a sneaky dog. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep an extra eye on your dog if he is not eating as much as he usually does. A good way to promote a dog's appetite is with good long walks. If the weather is cold, you can warm your dog with a soft fleece suit .

Take a trip to the vet

If your dog is sick or you have tried everything but your dog still won't eat, you should take it to the vet. Here, the vet will examine your dog and find a reason why it is not eating, so that you can find a solution together.

Play with your dog and calm him down during the race

If your dog is in heat, there is not much you can do to change the hormone levels, thereby promoting appetite. However, you can ensure that you give your dog a lot of attention and stimulate it through play and walks. Another good piece of advice is to calm your dog down if it is in heat - it can often be a difficult time for the dog, as there are a lot of hormones running around in its body.

Make sure to create a routine for your dog

If there are changes on the home front that cause anxiety or stress in the dog, it is important that you create a routine and ensure that you adhere to it. This means that you ensure that the dog eats at the same times every day and that the dog goes out for its daily walks at the same time. If you go for walks in the rain, you can use a drying blanket afterwards so that your dog always feels warm and dry.

In addition, it can be a good idea to remove the dog from the stress factor, and or make the introduction slow, so that the dog can get used to the new thing - a slow introduction can be a good method to use if, for example, you get a new pet , which the dog must get to know. Here you must give both parties time and peace.

Change feed and be patient

If you have a picky dog, you have to work a little extra. Some dogs just know what they want. Here you must try to replace the food if it does not want to eat, but remember that there is always an adaptation period, and you must therefore not give up completely if the dog does not want to eat the new food the first time it is served.

When should you take your dog to the vet?

If your dog just won't eat at all and you've tried everything, you should take a trip to the vet. Here are four good rules to remember when you should leave:

  • If your dog is not eating at all. If the dog suffers from a reduced appetite, you can tell by the time, but your female does not eat at all, it is time to visit the vet.
  • If your dog has not eaten for more than a day, you must also contact the vet.
  • If your dog loses a lot of weight or is vomiting and seems lethargic.
  • If the loss of appetite persists and you have tried everything.

You know your own dog best

In the end, you know your own dog best, and you can also sense if there is something completely wrong with your dog. Therefore, there is no need to panic that your dog loses its appetite for a period of time and eats a little less. This is because it is very normal, and often it is not harmless either, as long as it extends over shorter periods.


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