For most of us, our dogs are not the most discriminating food critics. On the contrary, most dogs will eat literally anything that is presented to them, and quite a lot of things that aren’t. Dead birds, manure, dog food, cups of tea, human food, bones, insects, grout, dirt… you name it. For most of us no trip to the kitchen is made alone without our dog following us close behind.
So when this all changes and our dog stops being interested in food – even their own food – then this can be a little worrying and of course might suggest that something is up. So what could be the problem?
Dogs are people too… sort of… and they can be affected by emotional problems just like we can. If you have introduced someone new to the household, if you’ve had another pet put down, if someone has left, or if you are arguing and the dog picks up on it – then any of these things can lead to your dog losing its appetite. Comfort your dog and ensure that you do your best to reassure them and you might find they start eating again. Try feeding them human food to begin with.
Listing every illness that can ruin a dog’s appetite would make for an awfully long article and like humans anything from a tooth infection to cancer can leave your dog without their appetite. Even something like fleas which you wouldn’t think would cause health problems beyond itching can result in your dog losing their appetite. The best course of action is to take your dog to the vet who will be able to better assess your pup. At the same time though you can also look out for other symptoms yourself. Are they itching? Are they acting themselves? Are they vomiting? Are they only avoiding certain foods? How is their stool? Blood in the stool or constant vomiting may suggest something serious, but it could be something as mild as a stomach bug.
Discomfort due to an injury can leave your dog without their appetite. If they are also limping, or yelp when you pick them up then they may have gotten into a fight or had a nasty fall. Feed them carefully out of your hand until they recover, because it’s important they eat to stay strong while they do.
Medications might help to address problems with your dog’s health, but they can also cause a range of side effects including a lack of appetite. If our dog has begun a new course of medication then consult with your vet and they might try to switch their prescription. This can also be a result of vaccinations.
Some dogs are plain picky and stubborn. If they have developed a liking for a particular brand of food, or a particular treat, then they might think you’re holding out on them and they might try and starve themselves in a result to bring it out. In such a situation you unfortunately have to be firm and hold your ground – eventually your dog will eat what they’re presented with.