There’s nothing worse than a dog who has lost interest in their food especially if they are normally gulping it down at super-speed as soon as it’s dinnertime.
We all want our pooches to enjoy their meal times, and seeing them turn their nose up at food can raise concerns. There are many reasons why your dog might have a loss of appetite and it’s often nothing to be too worried about. We’ve looked at the what causes lack of appetite in dogs and how to remedy it.
1. Poor Choice of Food
Poor food choice is the main reason your dog may be uninterested in its dinner. Let’s face it; if we had to have rice and beans every night, we’d get pretty bored. While dogs aren’t necessarily after gourmet dining, they do need to have the right nutrients.
Some foods are bulked up with grains to make them cheaper to produce. These foods often don’t have enough protein in them and aren’t going to give your dog the energy it needs throughout the day. As well as that, if your dog’s food contains too many grains, it might have a hard time digesting them.
The build-up in your dog’s digestive system could lead to stomach problems and make life very uncomfortable. If we realised we were gluten-free, we would naturally cut gluten from our diet. Your dog avoiding its food could be a sign that something in it is making it sick.
Think about slowly introducing your dog to a grain free diet and see how it reacts. Despite the choices being a little more expensive, they are full of higher grade ingredients that will keep your dog rushing back for more.
Another reason for appetite loss in dogs is an illness. This will usually be accompanied by other symptoms such as sickness or diarrhoea in which case we strongly recommend taking your dog to the vet.
As we said above, a dog that’s not eating the right food might develop stomach problems. Take a look at this blog for the best ways to identify and treat stomach problems in dogs.
Injuries in dogs might not always be easy to spot. Think about if you fell over and hurt your hip, while you’d be in pain you may not have blood gushing from you. To an outsider, you would look totally fine.
Look out for signs your dog is injured such as limping or wincing when you touch them. It may be that it got into a scrap with the naughty neighbour’s dog or he knocked something off a shelf he shouldn’t have and it hit him.
In cases of minor injury or bruising your dog’s appetite won’t be gone very long, and they‘ll be back to their usual self.
If you think the pain is getting worse or it’s lasting longer than you might expect, visit your vet for a checkup.
As dogs get older, their digestive systems get weaker. This means they can’t eat as much or the same foods as they could when they were young.
If your dog is getting on a bit and you’ve noticed it struggles to take all of its food, try reducing the portion sizes so as not to be wasteful. This doesn’t mean underfeeding your dog; it just means regulating the amount that goes in, so they aren’t overwhelmed.
Older dogs can often require supplements in food to keep them active and healthy, take a look here for what you might need to add to their food as they get older.
Grain free dog food is excellent for older dogs, especially as their digestive system can’t often cope when being overrun by grains that provide no nutritional value to their diet.
5. Eating Bad Foods
Certain foods are much worse for dogs than others. If your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t have it could well be putting them off their meals. Dogs will happily eat anything that smells tempting, and that can even mean things that aren’t good for them such as rubbish.
Some of the most dangerous foods for dogs are:
Especially dark chocolate, this can cause heart tremors and even death so if you have any indication your dog has eaten it take it to the vet immediately.
Raisins and Grapes
Many people don’t realise, but these can be seriously harmful to dogs. They can result in kidney failure very quickly. These foods crop up more towards the holiday season, so be extra vigilant and ensure you don’t spend Christmas at the emergency vet office.
Certain nuts have much worse effects than others. For instance, macadamia nuts and walnuts have been known to cause rapid heart rates and even paralysis in dogs if left untreated.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are particularly harmful to your dog’s stomach. Think about things you might feed them forgetting about the contents such as leftover pasta or pizza.
Unlike humans, dogs can’t express vocally if they are stressed out. They could be experiencing stress for many reasons, from moving house and getting used to a new environment to welcoming another new dog into the family.
If your dog is adjusting to a new situation, it may need some time to settle at which point their appetite should return. If the loss of appetite is ongoing and you worry your dog isn’t returning to its usual self we always recommend seeking the vet’s advice.
Puppies will need vaccinating at 6-9 weeks old and then some boosters at about 15 months. Not only can the stress leading up to the visit cause your dog to lose his appetite (particularly if he knows it’s coming).
But after the vaccination, it can leave some dogs feeling a bit listless and not fancying their food. This usually goes away pretty quickly, but if it persists, it makes sense to ask your vets advice as they could be reacting to the vaccine.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you are travelling with your dog, there’s always a chance they’ll get travel sick. If they aren’t used to being in a car, it makes sense to ease them into it.
We wouldn’t recommend driving from Manchester to Cornwall with a dog who hasn’t been in a car since you owned it. The best way to prevent car sickness in dogs is to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible, put some blankets down and stay in the slow lane, so they don’t fly around all over the place.
9. Pickiness or Behaviour Issues
One of the most frustrating reasons your dog isn’t eating could just be plain old fussiness. Maybe you’re feeling the pinch and decided to change to cheaper food, and your dog isn’t having it. Pickiness in dogs can come as a result of owners feeding them table scraps or too many treats.
To prevent this, make sure you are vigilant at feeding times and that your dog is getting a healthy balanced diet with plenty of nutritional value.
If you get worried, you can always ask the vet for advice, but we find that cutting out human treats and taking your dog’s food away if he doesn’t eat it usually works.
10. Dental Reasons
The final reason on our list is dental problems. I’m sure lots of us can understand the irritation a sore tooth can cause, and how ice cream and soup seems like the only thing we can digest.
The same goes for dogs except they don’t have the choice to switch up their kibble for something softer when their mouth is hurting. This will lead to them avoiding the food altogether.
If you think something in your dog’s mouth is preventing it from eating as normal, have him checked out for oral disease or broken/loose teeth. It’s wise to make sure your dog is getting the right nutrients in his diet to keep its teeth strong and healthy.
Don’t Rush To The Vet if You Don’t Have To
While this list is not exhaustive, it should give you some indication of where to turn if your dog stops eating. It may not be necessary to run straight to the vet when you can try some remedies such as introducing a new food or being strict with mealtimes.
Don’t forget if the appetite loss is ongoing then it really is something to be taken seriously! You can’t keep taking your dog out and expelling all it’s energy if it has nothing to refuel on.
Having your dog on a grain free diet is likely to keep them fuller for longer, as well as give them the best nutrient value to ensure they are happy and healthy.