The dog does not eat and there is great uncertainty among mistresses and masters. Whether bad form of the day or a symptom of illness: unwillingness to eat in dogs can have many causes. Not every one is a cause for concern.
It is a simple rule: if the dog eats, the owners are happy. Food has emotional value for us humans. This idea is unconsciously projected onto the dog. While obesity is rarely recognized as a problem, a dog that does not eat raises concerns with many owners.
Because loss of appetite accompanies many clinical disorders, this concern is understandable. However, an illness does not always have to be behind the feed strike. We explain the possible causes and give tips on how you can make your dog taste good again.
Your dog does not eat because he is sick
A lack of appetite and sudden refusal to eat are common side effects in many diseases. Loss of appetite can occur in connection with other symptoms as well as the sole sign of an illness.
Does your dog not eat even though he emptied the bowl yesterday with an appetite? Then you should first clarify the physical causes and accompanying symptoms:
- Check your dog’s mouth for foreign objects, tooth damage and injuries to the palate or gums.
- Assess the general condition of your dog: lassitude, an increased need for rest and sudden weight loss are warning signals.
- Diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, which occur in parallel with the food strike, as well as a hard, bloated and / or pain-sensitive stomach should also be regarded as an alarm sign.
- Measure your dog’s body temperature: fever often causes unwillingness to eat and is associated with inflammatory processes in the body.
If one or more of the above points applies to your dog, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. It is only there that organ diseases, a foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract, potential poisoning and many other medical causes for your dog’s anorexia can be diagnosed and treated.
Your dog is not eating because it is stressed
Does your dog not eat even though he has no physical complaints? Then maybe the psyche is behind it. Unlike some people, dogs are not frustrating. They do not compensate for stress by eating, on the contrary.
Sensitive dogs in particular react in stressful situations with a lack of appetite. Unusual situations, sudden changes or hormonal fluctuations can upset the emotional balance. The following stress factors often spoil your appetite:
- separation anxiety
- change of environment, e.g. during a move or on vacation
- Changes in the “pack”, e.g. through family growth
- stress from loud noises, e.g. on New Year’s Eve
- heat and inconspicuity
- “Lovesickness” in males who smell the scent of a bitch in heat
If a stressor is behind your dog’s reluctance to eat, you should first identify the source of the disturbance and avoid or reduce it in the future. If in doubt, get the support of a dog trainer or behavioral therapist to take individual measures to reduce stress in your dog.
Your dog doesn’t eat because you taught it to
When it comes to lack of appetite, the cause can also be at the other end of the leash – i.e. with the dog owner. Bad eating habits are often unconsciously reinforced or the dog’s unwillingness to eat is misinterpreted. The most common mistakes include:
A dog’s apparent loss of appetite arises only in the dog owner’s head. The cause is wrong expectations. Many owners overestimate their dog’s actual food requirements and are concerned if the dog eats less than the amount of food recommended by the manufacturer. Treats are also often not included in the daily feed ration. It is so simple: the dog is full, period!
Learned loss of appetite
This problem behavior is particularly evident in dogs that have not had an appetite for a long time due to an illness and should be fed again. While the concerned owner is doing everything in his power to encourage the dog to eat, the dog misunderstands its human efforts. He combines his own “not eating” with the attention of his owner: the more hesitantly he eats and the more he turns to the bowl, the more attention he receives. A vicious circle that puts pressure on dogs and humans alike.
Variety in the bowl
Anyone who constantly offers their dog new foods – believing that it is doing him good – is attracting a fussy eater. The content of the napkin is often ignored – after all, a new taste experience is already on hold. A frequent change of feed sometimes also leads to digestive problems, since the intestinal flora has to constantly adapt to new conditions.
No feeding rituals
Especially during puberty, a dog will try everything to ascend within the pack hierarchy. This works particularly well with a refusal to feed, because nothing guarantees him attention from mistresses or masters more than an untouched bowl. Therefore, establish firm rules in terms of feeding at an early stage: Let your dog wait until you have filled its bowl and put it down and only then give you permission to eat. Establish fixed feeding times and clear the bowl after 15 minutes at the latest. Treats from the table should of course be taboo.
Shy dogs in particular sometimes feel that their owner is consuming the food. They feel insecure and do not know exactly whether they are allowed to eat or not. In such a case, it makes sense to leave the room briefly. Generally, a dog should be left alone while eating.
Your dog will not eat because of other factors
Apart from clinical, psychological and educational causes, the following factors can also make your dog not eat or only eat little:
- Weather conditions: Many dogs eat less than usual at high temperatures. Make sure you have sufficient fluids.
- Changing teeth: Dogs’ permanent teeth break through between the fourth and seventh month of life. Meanwhile, the food can be soaked to make chewing easier.
- Senior: A dog’s sense of smell and taste diminishes with age. Slightly warming the feed can help.
If the dog does not eat – conclusion
In general, it is better to go to the vet once than too little. If your dog consistently refuses all food and shows other symptoms of the disease at the same time, you should not waste time and consult a veterinarian.