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Why My Dog Won’t Eat

You’re about to fill your pup’s food bowl for the day but notice that it’s already full. Strange, right? You find your dog lying in their bed with a tucked tail or an overall lethargic disposition. What’s going on here? We get it—it’s concerning when your best friend isn’t eating like they usually do. We’ll fill you in on why your dog won’t eat or drink and provide some tips on how to encourage them to have an appetite again.

Why Won’t My Dog Eat or Drink?

When we look at the list of reasons why a dog may not eat or drink, it’s quite long. Possibilities range from illness to anxiety, so it’s not always clear why your dog won’t eat. Here are the most common reasons.

They’re Sick

Do you remember the last time you got a bad cold or a case of the flu? Did you have much of an appetite? Chances are, probably not. It turns out, our dogs aren’t much different from us in that respect. When their bodies come down with an infection or pain of some sort, hunger is not a priority. The systems of the body are all working together to fend off whatever is going on, so one of the last things it wants to do is eat or drink (even though it should!).

Just a few examples of things that may cause a lack of appetite in your pup:

  • Toothache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis

If your dog isn’t eating, but otherwise seems to be feeling well, it’s fine to keep an eye on them for a day or two to see if anything changes. Not eating without any other symptoms could be driven by emotional stressors or dental disease. If your dog isn’t drinking water, or having any other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, pale gums, etc, that is cause for concern.

If you suspect your dog is ill, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Emotional or Mental Issues

If your dog isn’t physically ill, chances are, they’re not eating due to behavioral problems. Dogs are sensitive animals, so, if they experience trauma, fear or anxiety—it shows. If you notice your dog isn’t eating and they’ve got an all-around gloomy disposition, chances are, something behavioral is going on. Some of the things listed below can cause a lack of appetite due to fear, stress or anxiety.


Have you moved recently? Is this a new dog that’s now living in your home? Some people forget how difficult it can be for some dogs to change their environment. This is a totally new place for them, and they’re worried about what that could mean. So, with anxiety often comes a lack of appetite. Soon enough, though, as the dog becomes comfortable, the appetite will return.

Change of Routine

Have you switched up your daily routine? Did you get a new job that requires you to work in an office? Did you introduce a new baby to your family? Any number of things can cause a change in routine, and these can all be sources of stress for your dog. They will need to adjust to the new routine before returning to homeostasis.

You Got Another Dog

Like the introduction of a new baby, a new dog can cause additional stress and anxiety for your dog. This new excitement of the introduction can cause your pup to feel anxious or scared. Just as a change of home takes adjustment, so does the addition of a new member of your family. So, with this new stressor for your dog, the last thing on their mind is to eat. Give them a couple of days to adjust, and if they’re still not eating, you may want to visit an expert trainer.

How To Get A Dog To Eat

If it has been at least 48 hours and your dog has yet to eat anything but they are drinking water, here are some things you can do to try and jumpstart their appetite.

Bone Broth

If your dog isn’t eating their food, you can try mixing it with some warm bone broth to enhance the flavor and texture to entice them. The additional nutrients found in bone broth are both hydrating and nourishing because of the vitamins, minerals, and protein. If your dog is completely rejecting solid food altogether, pouring them a bowl of just bone broth may be the ticket to at least get some calories in their system.

Stop Giving Treats

We all love to give our best friend the tastiest treats, but in this instance, it may be doing more harm than good. If you cut back on treats, their appetite will grow and their regular food will interest them more.

Hand Feeding

When your dog isn’t doing so well emotionally, it may help them if you feed them by hand. This could be a bonding experience and help them rebuild their appetite and routine after experiencing whatever happened.

Visit Your Veterinarian

If none of the tips above help and your dog is still refusing to eat, you need to consider scheduling a veterinary visit. If it has been more than 48 hours, something else may be going on here. From internal bleeding to serious infection, there are several things that could be happening. If you would like to schedule an appointment, click here. You can also call us if it is an emergency.

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