Dog Loss of Appetite [Advice from Experts]


Has your dog stopped eating and doesn't show any interest in food whatsoever?
When your dog's appetite wanes and he begins to lose weight, it can be a worrisome time for dedicated pet parents.

Cindy Grant

If you are one of these people with this stressful situation, read on as we've checked with the experts to find out what could be causing a sudden decline in your pup's appetite. Plus, some other important facts on you will want to know.

Dog Loss of Appetite - What Could It Be?

There are a number of reasons why your canine companion may have lost his appetite. Some of these are more serious than others, so let's start with the more common and less dangerous conditions.

Change in Food

Some dogs can be very finicky about their food. If you have made a recent change to your dog's normal kibble, he may be just "turned-off" by your choice for him. 

When changing a dog's food, do so over a few days by mixing the two kibbles together. According to PetMD, a good rule-of-paw is:

Day 1 - Mix 20% new food with 80% old
Day 2 - Mix 40% new with 60% old
Day 3 - Mix 60% new with 40% old
Day 4 - Mix 80% new with 20% old
Day 5 - 100% new food

This method not only gives your dog's tummy time to adjust to the change, but also his taste buds.


A Recent Vaccination

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Dogs can lose their appetite as a reaction to the vaccination (Via

Have you recently gotten your puppy of dog vaccinated? Some dogs react to the shots by losing their appetite. This is usually not serious and most likely will clear up within a 24-hour period.

However, be sure to keep an eye out for more serious symptoms like swelling, difficulty breathing or severe skin irritation. These could the beginning signs of your dog having a more serious reaction to the injected medication (call your vet).

Travelling, a Move or Stress

Some dogs are very sensitive to traveling and may come down with motion sickness. This can include vomiting, diarrhea and of course, the loss of appetite.

If you've recently moved to a new home, your dog may be out-of-sorts due to the change in his environment.

Stress is also another reason why your pooch could be refusing to eat. This could include any of the above reasons, a new addition to the family (animal or human) or if the dog has been recently rehomed.

Your dog may also be refusing to eat if you've moved his food dish (for extremely finicky pups) or a more aggressive pet is intimidating the other and preventing him from feeling comfortable while dining.

A Doggy "Cold"

Sometimes when dogs or puppies get a cold (or Kennel Cough in vet terms) they will lack an appetite for food. This is primarily due to the fact that your pooch may not be able to smell very well at this time. Dogs explore their world using a whole lotta smell, so if he can't get a good whiff of what is in his dish, he most likely won't eat it.

Dog Loss of Appetite - When to Get Serious

As we mentioned earlier, there are more serious issues that can create a loss of appetite in our canine companions. These should be looked after by a veterinarian.

Dental Issues

Just like we can suffer from tooth pain, so can our dogs. Any soreness in your pup's teeth, gums or even tongue will make her lose her appetite. These can include severe gingivitis, broken/loose teeth and even oral tumors.

Once your dog feels pain when eating, she may associate her dental problems with the pain she experiences when chewing and therefore will avoid the food.


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Losing appetite by getting depression may be very dangerous when it lasts couple of days or more

Depending on the severity and length of time depression goes on, it can be serious. Dog's can suffer from depression for a number of reasons like the loss of a beloved human or another pet, or major changes in the dog's environment or daily schedule.

Some diseases also include depression and loss of appetite, so be sure to keep an eye on your pooch, especially if these conditions go on for more than a couple of days or are followed by new symptoms.


Kidney, Liver and Other Issues

A lot of other potentially serious conditions that pertain to the kidneys, liver and other major organs can all cause your dog to stop eating. Of course, these issues have many more tell-tale signs, so be sure to look beyond your dog's lack of appetite for further information.


Anorexia is a real condition in dogs. According to Vetary it can be brought on by both mental and physical problems. However, the outcome is the same; the dog will become so thin that it's bones are protruding and it has no energy.


How to Deal With a Dog's Loss of Appetite

Check out this video to get 7 tips to help your dogs overcome this tough situation:

Depending on what is making your dog reluctant to eat, will also depend on how you handle the situation. If your dog has been to the veterinarian and has been diagnosed with a serious problem, then your canine may have to go on a prescription food.

This food is usually not so tasty to a pooch that has been given lots of treats or people food, so he may be reluctant to eat it in the beginning. Be persistent with the diet, but don't starve your dog to eat the food.

Plus, try not to give into those pleading eyes for extra yummies. This will only give your dog the message that he doesn't have to eat the prescribed diet if he just waits long enough.

Loss of Appetite Due to Behavioral Issues

If your dog has lost his appetite due to a behavioral issue such as being overly picky about his food choices, here are some great tips to get him back to gobbling up his food.

  • Cut Back the Treats: Dogs that are getting a lot of treats during the day, may simply not be hungry when it comes to mealtime. Cut back on these nibbles to help him feel hungry.
  • Don't Go Off Schedule: Dogs can get very regimented in their daily habits, especially mealtimes. If your pup is being stressed by a change in his schedule, get back to it ASAP to help calm his tension levels.
  • Treat Toys: Many companies are now making toys that dispense treats. This can be when the toy is licked, dropped, rolled or dug at. These are a great way to alleviate your pet's boredom and also help spark his appetite. 
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A toy can be very useful for alleviating the dog loss appetite

  • Walk Before Meals: Just like people, if a dog sits around all day doing nothing, he will lack an appetite because he hasn't expended any energy. Take your dog for a walk or play a game of fetch before mealtimes to help him work up an appetite.
  • Change the Location: If your dog is too stressed to eat because another pet is making him anxious, change the location of where you give him his meals. A separate area away from the "threat" will most likely do the trick.
  • Add Canned Food: If your dog is on dry food only, try adding some good quality wet food. This not only gives your dog an added protein and moisture boost, but it is highly palatable and comes in many different flavors and textures to suit even the pickiest of pooches.

Conclusion to Dog Loss of Appetite

Never disregard your dog's lack of appetite. Find out the reasons behind his reluctance to chow down. Whether it's a passing one-time moment or if it requires a veterinary intervention, your dog should not go any longer than two days without food.

In addition, always be sure your pooch is taking in plenty of water, even if he has lost his appetite. Dehydration can take place in as little as 24 hours (depending on the individual circumstances) so always make sure your canine companion has fresh clean water available and is indeed drinking it.

About the Author Cindy Grant

A pet lover from Boston, USA who is extremely passionate about all cute little pets, especially puppies, kittens and birds. I created NolongerWild as a community where all pet lovers around the world can meet and share their passion with each other.

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