Dog Won’t Eat? 7 Ways to Overcome Loss of Appetite in Dogs
How to Increase Appetite in Dogs
Dogs won't always eat their kibble or wet dog food. This can be caused by stress, picky eating, or lack of exercise. Luckily, there are tricks to increase your dog's appetite and encourage eating. However, if your dog continues to refuse food or shows signs of fatigue or pain, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Look for the cause.There are many relatively minor reasons the dog might be eating less. These may clear up on their own, but you can still try to help them through it. If none of these issues fit your dog's situation, you may need to contact a vet or .
- Some dogs get motion sick when traveling. Others have trouble eating in new surroundings following a move.
- Some dogs dislike being fed in an uncomfortable situation. Try to keep the dog's bowl in the same place, at a comfortable height, and away from other pets that try to eat the dog's food.
- Dogs may react to the departure or arrival of another pet or a family member.
- The cause may even be something small, like changing furniture or having house work done.
- Some dogs don't eat because they want attention from their owner. If the dog ignores its food and looks to you for attention, ignore it. When you feed the dog, put down its food for 10 minutes, ignore it, and throw away whatever doesn't get eaten.
- The dog may simply happen to be picky about the type of food he eats.
Cut back on treats and table scraps.Most dogs would much rather eat that piece of steak and mashed potatoes than dog food. He'll love you for giving it to him, but over time it can make him a finicky eater and a beggar at the table.
- Keep careful watch on your kids — they aren't always the best about cooperating with this rule.
Exercise the dog.Regular exercise will stimulate your dog's appetite and encourage him to eat more. To really boost the appetite-improving effects of exercise, take him for a walk before each meal. It won't take him long to associate the walk with mealtime, giving him a positive association for both activities.
- Although some types of dogs require more activity than others, ideally, your dog should be getting exercise every day or at least several times a week.
- If you aren't capable of participating in physical activity, there are plenty of other ways to have your dog exercised for you. Take him to a doggie day care center, hire a dog walker, or go to a dog park and let the other dogs tire him out.
Changing Eating Habits
Feed at the same time every day.Feed your pet twice a day at regular times, or as recommended by your vet. Some dogs prefer eating later in the day.
- If the dog is healthy and energetic, but gets distracted before finishing, set his food down and walk away. Come back in a half hour and pick his dish up, even if he hasn't eaten all of his food. It won't take him long to realize he needs to eat when he has the chance.
Make mealtime fun.Have the dog play with a toy with food hidden inside. Teach your dog new tricks and offer healthy treats or food as a reward.
Make the food tastier.To make the dog's food more palatable, you can stir in a few spoonfuls of canned dog food or pour a little warm water or broth over the top.
- Alternatively, use dog gravy. You can buy this from pet stores. These are just granules that you mix with dry food and warm water that can make the food far more tasty for the dog.
Change your dog’s feeding situation.If the dog still won't eat, try these variations. It may take a little time for your dog to adjust to the change, but they may help in the long run:
- Feed your dog away from other pets.
- Use a different bowl or place it at a more comfortable height.
- Feed directly on the floor instead of in a bowl.
- Some dogs get distracted by activity and have trouble focusing on their meal. Make sure your dog's food and water dishes are in a quiet spot where he can eat in peace.
Switch foods.Try a different brand, or switch from dry food to wet food. Make the change gradually over a week: mix 1/4 new to 3/4 old for a few days, then half and half for a few days and so on. This will be much easier on his digestion.
- Changing a dog's brand of food suddenly can cause obnoxious gas and diarrhea.
Keep food fresh.Make sure all food products are fresh and stored in a closed container to keep moisture and pests out. Check the expiration date on foods when you purchase them and check often when they are stored.
Handling Serious Appetite Loss
Visit a vet if appetite decreases without reason.If your dog usually eats well and decides to stop, it is imperative that you seek vet attention. Problem teeth, sores in the mouth, or more serious health issues can affect your dog's appetite.
- Your veterinarian can also weigh your dog and give you a goal weight to aim for.
Check for signs of illness.If the dog is acting tired, lethargic, excessively thirsty, in pain, or if he has a distended belly, dull coat, or rumbling noises from his stomach, take him to a vet. Seeing worms in the dog's stool is an obvious sign of parasites, which require vet attention.
Inspect the dog for torsion.Torsion is when a dog's stomach twists into a knot. This is very serious and can lead to the death of your dog within hours. Look for common signs of torsion like looking at the stomach, groaning, pacing, and gagging without vomiting. Any unnecessary agitation on the dog's part may indicate torsion and should be checked with a vet immediately.
- Do not play rough, go for a run, or do strenuous activity for at least an hour after eating. Doing so can lead to torsion.
Look at the dog's teeth.Pull the dog's lip up gently to check his teeth, if any are missing, or if they look very brown, stink, or have visible buildup, he is probably in too much pain to eat well. Take him to a vet if any teeth are loose, badly chipped, missing, or falling out.
- The vet can teach you how to clean your dog's teeth regularly.
Feed vet-prescribed food.Your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet to address your dog's health issues. Your dog may not enjoy the diet, but it's important to make sure it eats enough to meet its nutritional needs.
Talk to the vet if nothing works.If the dog refuses to eat its special diet, or its health declines further, visit the vet right away. Your dog may need further medication or a liquid diet.
QuestionMy dog is 19 years old and is generally very healthy. Due to a protein deficiency, he gets "crooked" on days he doesn't eat. How do I make him want to eat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMaybe try adding some of his favorite treats, or a special treat, like meat, into his food.Thanks!
QuestionMy 4-month-old puppy just came home three weeks ago. He's very tired, won't eat, and has bloody stool. We took him to vet but they only prescribed food. How do I get him to eat it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could try mixing some ground meat or some treats he likes with the food, if that's okay with your vet. If the bloody stools continue, you may want to get another opinion.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog is three months old and it just lost its appetite out of the blue. For two days now it hasn't eaten well, and is now losing weight. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou need to get the dog to a vet, so whatever is wrong can be fixed.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog vomited most of the day yesterday and today has no appetite. What should I do?CoffeeBean107Community AnswerTake it to the vet, depending on the age of the dog it could be suffering from many different things.Thanks!
QuestionMy 13 week old puppy is recovering from distemper. She is thin and not unterested in eating. She has been at the vet for almost two weeks. Would part of a scrambled egg or some rice be good for her?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBoil some rice and microwave a sweet potato. Take the skin off the sweet potato mash it and roll it in a small ball like a meatball. Then roll it in the rice. You can make these up ahead of time so you can offer them to your dog a few times a day. She may only eat a couple. Try putting a couple of the sweet potato balls rolled in rice on a plate with a couple of pieces of chicken from a can.Thanks!
QuestionMy 10-year-old dog has just gotten over diarrhea and vomiting, we've been to vet, and it's nothing sinister, but she will not eat except for bits of things we feed to her. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerShe's probably still getting over whatever she had, and may be a little traumatized from the vet visit as well. Give her a little time, if she's still not eating regularly in a week or so, you might want to take her back to the vet.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog won't eat her food, she only eats human food. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStop feeding her human food. When she is hungry enough, she will eat the dog food. If you don't want to do it this way, mix in a small amount of dog food with whatever you normally feed her, and gradually up the ratio until you're feeding her almost all dog food with just a little human food, and then no human food at all.Thanks!
QuestionMy German Shepard has aspergillosis and now doesn't want to eat. Any suggestions on stimulating his appetite?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry giving him wet dog food if he normally eats the dry kind. He may also like fresh veggies, like green beans. Talk to your vet for advice.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog has been to the vet twice and has been given antibiotics and other medicines for her stool, but she still doesn't want to eat. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake some rice and microwave a sweet potato. Mash the cooked sweet potato. Roll the rice and sweet potato into small balls, like meatballs. Make them ahead of time and offer them to your dog frequently, by hand. You can also try a sliver of apple, some chicken, and the sweet potato balls with rice on a plate.Thanks!
QuestionAfter suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, my months old puppy has yellowish teeth and skin. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou need to get to a vet. When in doubt, consult a vet.Thanks!
What should be the ideal weight of a 7 month old boxer? How much gram of boiled chicken can be fed to him? He generally eats 6 to 7 chapatis mixed with the boiled chicken spread over 2 meals.
All broth/stock made for human consumption contains onion., please justify your repeated recommendation for dogs?
To increase your dog's appetite, try adding canned dog food or warm broth to its food before you feed it, which will make the food more appealing. You can also try taking your dog for a walk before each meal to help stimulate its appetite. If your dog still isn't interested in its food, try changing brands or switching from dry food to wet food. If you do switch foods, do it gradually so your dog doesn't have any stomach issues.
- Although feeding your dog table scraps is never a good idea, there are many "people foods" that are perfectly healthy for dogs and make great treats, such as plain rice (white or brown), cooked chicken and eggs, peanut butter, and many fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, and pumpkin. Keep in mind that these foods should be given to your dog in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
- A great way to bulk up an underweight dog is to feed it satin balls. They are a high fat content food that can easily be made at home out of hamburger, wheat germ, eggs, oil, and a few other ingredients. There are many recipes online.
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