My Dog Won’t Eat! Spontaneous Quibbles or Warning Signs?

The dog won’t eat and the insecurity among mistress and master is already great. Whether it’s a bad form on the day or a symptom of illness: a dog’s lack of appetite can have many causes. Here you can find out what they are.

It’s a simple rule: if the dog eats, the owner and owner 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 not eating is a concern for many owners.

Since the loss of appetite accompanies many clinical disorders, this concern is understandable. However, an illness does not always have to be behind the food strike. We explain the possible causes and give tips on how you can make it tasty for your dog to eat again.

Your dog won’t eat because he’s sick

Loss of appetite and sudden refusal to eat are common side effects of many diseases. Loss of appetite can occur both in connection with other symptoms and as the sole sign of an illness.

Your dog won’t eat, even though he emptied his bowl with appetite yesterday? Then you should first clarify physical causes and accompanying symptoms:

  • Check your dog’s mouth for foreign objects, damaged teeth, and injuries to the palate or gums.
  • Assess your dog’s general condition: exhaustion, an increased need for rest and sudden weight loss are warning signs.
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea that occur parallel to the feeding strike, as well as a hard, bloated, and/or pain-sensitive stomach should also be taken as alarm signs.
  • Measure your dog’s body temperature: fever often causes a lack of appetite and is associated with inflammatory processes in the body.
  • Have you noticed any other behavioral changes in your dog?

Physical changes can also indicate pain or illness. For example, a shiny coat stands for health, while a dull coat or unusually severe hair loss can indicate a disease. Unusual discharge from the eyes or nose can also be a warning sign.

If one or more of the above points applies to your dog, you should take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Only there can organ diseases, a foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract, potential poisoning, and many other medical causes of your dog’s loss of appetite be diagnosed and treated.

Your dog won’t eat because he’s stressed

Is your dog not eating even though it has no physical symptoms? Then maybe the psyche is behind it. Unlike some people, dogs are not frustration eaters. They do not compensate for stress by eating, quite the opposite.

Sensitive dogs in particular react in stressful situations with a lack of appetite. Unfamiliar situations, sudden changes, or hormonal fluctuations can upset the emotional balance. The following stress factors often spoil the appetite of dogs:

  • separation anxiety
  • Change of environment, e.g. during a move or on vacation
  • Changes in the “pack”, e.g. due to family growth
  • Stress from loud noises, e.g. on New Year’s Eve heat and pseudopregnancy
  • “Lovesickness” in males who smell the scent of a bitch in heat

If there is a stressor 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, seek the support of a dog trainer or behavioral therapist to take individual steps to reduce stress in your dog.

Your dog won’t eat because you taught him to

When it comes to a lack of appetite, the cause can also lie at the other end of the leash – i.e. with the dog owner. Bad eating habits are often unconsciously reinforced or the dog’s not wanting to eat is misinterpreted. The most common mistakes include:

  • Overfeeding
    A dog’s apparent lack of appetite arises solely in the head of the dog owner. The reason is wrong expectations. Many owners overestimate their dog’s actual food needs and become concerned if they eat less than the manufacturer’s recommended amount of food. Treats are often not included in the daily feed ratio. It’s so simple: the dog is full, period!
  • Learned loss of appetite
    This problem behavior is particularly evident in dogs that have lost their appetite for a long time, for example, due to illness, and need to be fed again. While the concerned owner does everything in his power to encourage the dog to eat, the dog misunderstands his humanitarian efforts. He connects his own “not eating” with the attention of his owner: the more hesitant he eats and the more often he turns to the bowl, the more attention he gets. A vicious circle that puts pressure on dogs and humans alike.
  • Food paranoia
    Shy dogs in particular sometimes have the feeling that their owner is claiming the food for themselves. 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 for a short time. In general, a dog should be left alone while eating.
  • No feeding rituals
    Especially in puberty, a dog will try everything to rise within the pack hierarchy. This works particularly well with a refusal to feed because nothing ensures attention from mistress or master more than an untouched bowl. Establish firm feeding rules early on: let your dog wait until you have filled its bowl and put it down and only then give permission to eat. Establish fixed feeding times and put the bowl away after 15 minutes at the latest. Delicacies from the table should of course be taboo.
  • Too much variety in the bowl
    Anyone who constantly offers their dog new types of food in the belief that they are doing him good is cultivating a fussy eater. The contents of the bowl are often ignored – after all, a new taste experience is already waiting in the queue. A frequent change of feed sometimes also leads to digestive problems, since the intestinal flora has to constantly adapt to new conditions. Variety yes, but only to a certain extent!

Your dog won’t eat because other factors are influencing him

Apart from clinical, emotional, and educational causes, the following factors can also ensure that your dog does not eat or only eats a little:

  • Weather conditions: Many dogs eat less than usual when the temperature is high. Make sure you drink enough fluids.
  • Change of teeth: Between the fourth and seventh months of life, the permanent teeth of dogs break through. Meanwhile, the food can be soaked to make it easier to chew.
  • Senior: As a dog age, their sense of smell and taste diminish. Slightly warming the lining can help. Read here how to feed an old dog properly.

If the dog doesn’t eat – conclusion

There can be both harmless and dangerous causes behind a dog’s food refusal. In general, it is better to go to the vet once too many times than not enough. If your dog consistently refuses any food and shows other symptoms of illness at the same time, you should not waste any time and consult a veterinarian.

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