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Why Won’t My Dog Eat Their Food?

Has your dog suddenly stopped eating the same food they used to enjoy? There are many reasons why this might happen, ranging from minor behavioral problems to serious health issues. Thankfully, there are a lot of methods you can try to encourage your pup to finish their breakfast. And if you believe there might be a larger issue to address, your local PetWellClinic is nearby to help!

In this blog, we will cover:

  • How to figure out why your dog isn’t eating
  • Reasons why your dog isn’t eating
  • Ways to encourage healthy eating habits for your dog

Steps to Find Out Why Your Dog Isn’t Eating

Did you know that anorexia is a common disorder in animals? However, the definition varies from anorexia in humans. Anorexia in animals simply means a loss of appetite, as opposed to not being hungry. Typically, appetite loss arises from illness, diet, or injury.

If your dog has always been a good eater and suddenly refuses to eat, it’s important to consider the following steps to discover why they may not be eating, and, if needed, to bring your pet to the vet for a physical examination to prevent malnourishment and dehydration.

Observe Your Dog’s Behavior

One of the quickest ways to uncover a health problem with your dog is by paying special attention to their behavior. Health problems often go hand in hand with changes in appetite and behavior. If you notice that they are behaving differently or acting out of their normal routine, this could be a sign that something is wrong.

Check Your Dog’s Mouth & Body

If your dog is a heavy chewer or has jagged chew bones, make sure to check their teeth and gums for anything abnormal that may be causing them pain. It’s important that you also check your dog for parasites, changes in their fur or skin, or any lumps.

Check Your Environment

It’s not uncommon for your dog to eat something they shouldn’t have, which can cause them to feel uncomfortable. Check your houseplants, carpets, and pet toys to make sure nothing was ingested. Look for medications and chemicals that may have been in your dog’s reach as well.

Examine Your Own Actions

We know how hard it is to refuse the puppy dog face. However, it can do more harm than good to feed your pet anything other than their treats and food. In fact, it could be the reason they have stopped eating. If your dog has gotten used to eating human food, they could have developed a preference for it. It’s best to avoid slipping some table scraps to your four-legged friends completely.

Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Eating

Mouth-Related Problems

Broken or loose teeth or inflamed gums is a common reason that dogs stop eating their food. It might also be something more serious related to poor dental hygiene and disease that will need further diagnosis and treatment.

While PetWellClinic doesn’t offer dentals for dogs, your local PetWellClinic veterinarian can recommend a veterinarian who does! If you think your dog may have dental issues, stop by and consult your PetWellClinic team today.

Sudden Food Sensitivity

It’s also possible that your dog may have developed allergies or food sensitivities. If you just switched your dog’s food to a new brand, you might also have unintentionally provided them with ingredients they’re unable to digest well. If this is the case, one option is to try a food elimination diet to determine what they may be allergic to! Bring your pet by PetWellClinic as we will be able to recommend a food elimination diet for your dog to get a better understanding of exactly what they’re allergic to.

In general, changing your dog’s food constantly can upset your dog’s digestive system and cause nausea. But if you need to switch brands, do this by mixing old food with the new one until you run out.

Change in Environment or Routine

If something that your pooch might consider stressful has happened recently this could also be a cause. Moving to a new environment, a family member leaving, or a significant change in schedule are common stressors which can lead to a decrease in appetite.

Feeding Your Dog Human Food

Feeding your dog your own food can cause a lot of problems for both you and your pet. Make sure that your guests never feed your dog anything without your permission! By rewarding their begging, it teaches your pet to wait for your more interesting food instead of eating their own.

There are also a lot of foods we eat on a daily basis that can be very harmful to our pets. Avoid giving your dog any food meant for humans as a general rule in order to ensure their best health!

Don’t’ feed your dog anything but their own food

If you have been doing any of the below, this could be a reason why your dog has started refusing their food:

  • Giving your pet a lot of treats or scraps
  • Changing their food constantly
  • Feeding them your food

If your dog is vomiting, having diarrhea, or showing signs of dehydration, take them to the vet immediately. However, if your dog is drinking water but not eating this could be a sign that they’re just a picky eater. If this behavior persists, it’s still a good idea to get them checked out by your local PetWellClinic veterinary team.

How To Get Your Dog To Eat

Sometimes your dog just needs a little extra cajoling in order to eat their food. Whether they are a stubborn and picky eater or you are trying to un-train bad behavior, it’s important to stay patient and consistent.

Never pick up an unfinished food bowl and replace it with something more appealing because this will teach your dog to refuse their normal food. Stick to a daily scheduled feeding routine and don’t rely on treats or scraps to replace their normal meal. Another tip is to feed your dog and let them eat before you prepare your own meal.

More tips to entice your dog to eat:

  • Mix chicken broth into their normal food
  • Take your dog on a walk before mealtime to improve their appetite
  • Add raw vegetables to the food to provide extra flavor and enrichment (carrots are a great chew-toy alternative to bones)
  • Warm the food and hand feed

There are also a variety of training methods to teach your dog that they must eat their own food. One example of this is a “now or never” method.

You do this by:

  • Setting down the food bowl for 20 minutes
  • If your dog doesn’t eat during that time frame, take away the food bowl
  • When it’s time for them to eat again, repeat the process

If none of the above reasons seem to be why your pet has started refusing their food, bring them to PetWellClinic for a physical exam. We can diagnose any behavioral or medical issues your pup may be experiencing and provide you with a course of action.

PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. Talk to your PetWellClinic veterinarian if you still have concerns about your pet’s oral and gum health.

PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet any time! No appointment necessary.

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