When thinking about some of the scariest times I ever faced as a dog owner, and I’m sure many of you have experienced this as well, my dog refusing to eat any food has to be one of the most frightening experiences that come to mind.
The problem is that, many times, you’re going to find it exceptionally hard to know whether or not you should be worried that your dog isn’t eating their food the way they’re supposed to and the way they always have because there’s something wrong with their health, or whether they’re just being spoiled, picky eating dogs that want to make themselves heard and want to get the most attention they can from you, their owner.
Either way, it’s never a good thing to have your dog go for prolonged periods of time without eating food as this can cause a whole world of problems that none of us want to have our precious little beings go through, which is why this article will let you in on some of the most common reasons why dogs refuse to eat food the normal way they always have been, and what you can do to get your dog back to eating their food the way they should be.
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Why Won’t My Dog Eat?
Not all cases of your dog refusing to eat warrant you getting overly worried about it and overly concerned about your dog’s health and well-being.
Sure, in some cases of dogs refusing to eat, there may be certain health complications involved that require immediately medical intervention in order to avoid the deterioration of your dog’s health.
However, in other cases it’s usually something much less serious than that.
So, why exactly won’t your dog eat their food? The following list discusses some of the most common reasons that drive dogs to not eat their food the way they’re supposed to in normal circumstances.
Seeking Attention: Many times, dogs refuse to eat their food only for a set period of time because they may want to have more of your attention.
This, similarly to certain behaviors such as destructive chewing, barking, whining and crying can be solved with the right positive reinforcement training techniques.
Food Not Tasty: If you’re trying a new recipe/formula of the same dog food brand you’ve always fed Fido, then this may very well be a reason why your dog is refusing to eat.
In such a case, it’s not that your dog is refusing to eat per se, it’s that your dog doesn’t necessarily like the smell and/or taste of this new recipe/formula of dog food you got for them and doesn’t want anything to do with it.
If you try to revert back to the old recipe/formula you’ve always fed your dog, then chances are that they your dog will get back to eating without any problems.
Oral Problems: How do you and I feel when we’re trying to eat something and we have some sort of cavity or tooth sensitivity that just won’t leave us alone?
It feels awful and the last thing in the world we want to do is to have to chew anything, and this is exactly the case with many dogs who won’t eat their food because of certain dental problems they’re suffering from.
This is one of the reasons why it’s always important to make sure that your dog’s dental conditions are in tip top shape, be that via brushing their teeth on a regular and frequent basis, having them medically checked up from time to time to make sure they don’t suffer from any dental diseases, etc ..
Sudden Change In Dog Food: The same holds true for when you change from one brand of dog food to another, and this is a very common occurrence that many dog owners go through, one they should be very aware of.
If this is the case with your dog, whether you’ve changed the recipe/formula or dog food brand altogether, then a very useful tip you should keep in mind is to gradually shift from one recipe/formula or brand to another over the course of 2-3 weeks, sometimes even a month’s time.
So, over the course of 2-3 weeks, gradually decrease the amount of the old recipe/formula/brand you want to move away from feeding your dog and gradually increase the amount of the new recipe/formula/brand you want to move towards feeding your dog.
By doing this, you’re giving your dog more than enough time to adjust with this dietary change and won’t face anywhere near the same resilience you would usually face from your dog refusing to eat after a sudden major dietary change that just happened out of the blue.
Dogs refusing to eat their food is very commonly observed with dog owners who make the switch to new formulas of whatever brand they usually feed their dogs way too fast, only to later find out that there was something wrong with the new formula itself that was driving dogs away from eating it.
This is a very common occurrence in the dog food market and dog food manufacturers recall different formulas of theirs all the time because of this and many other reasons, so do your due diligence and keep an eye on what other dog owners have to say about specific formulas before you go ahead and buy a bag for your dog.
Sickness: Sickness is also a very common reason as to why dogs refuse to eat any food for a specific period of time.
Think about it for a second, how do you and I feel when we’re sick and our digestive systems, along with all other bodily functions of ours, take a hit?
We feel as if the entirety of our appetite has gone with the wind, and that’s exactly how dogs feel when they’ve fallen ill as well.
This is why if you know your dog is sick for whatever reason, the best course of action you can take to get them to eat their food again is giving them proper medical veterinary care they need to get back on their feet (paws, in this case), feel good again and get back to their normal eating habits.
You also want to have your dog medically checked up on right away if they’re feeling sick anyways because you don’t want the illness to get worse with time and turn from something minor to something major.
Anxiety: Dogs that are anxious and not feeling good about something going on near them tend to have a suppressed appetite because of greatly increased fear and stress, which translates to your dog not eating their food like they normally would be.
So, make sure that no sudden changes have been implemented to the environment that your dog has always been used to.
Are you suddenly finding yourself forced to be away from home for long periods of time? This could be one of the reasons why your dog is getting separation anxiety and is refusing to eat their food, after they’ve grown used to you being at home next to them throughout all these years.
Or, did you get a new dog house or dog crate that you want Fido to spend the majority of their days in?
In such cases, your dog may be having difficulties adjusting, which translates to anxiety and a greatly decreased appetite as well.
So, pay special attention to such small details and make sure that no sudden changes have been implemented on your dog’s day to day life, ones which may impact their eating patterns as well as many other aspects too.
My Dog Won’t Eat, How Can I Solve That?
Supposing that the reason your dog isn’t eating their food like they normally would isn’t because of a sickness or health problem they’re suffering from, here are some of the most common tips you could implement to get your pooch back to their normal eating habits.
More Meals, Less Volume: Instead of trying to cram down all your dog’s food for the day into one or two meals that you require them to eat at once, try to space out your dog’s food into smaller, yet more frequent meals throughout the day.
An automatic pet feeder will go a long way in helping you perfect this task with minimal hassle and time consumption required on your part.
Proper Exercise Routine: Not only is implementing a proper exercise routine in your dog’s day to day life very important for their health and well being, exercise also goes a very long way in increasing their appetite if they weren’t feeling their normal selves for some reason. An accomplished dog is a dog that feels great, inside and outside.
After How Much Time Of My Dog Not Eating Should I Be Worried?
So, exactly how much time can pass by without your dog eating food and without you having to be worried about it?
Scientifically speaking, dogs are able to go well for around two to three days without eating any food and still survive.
However, does that mean that you should just sit back and relax for two to three days without taking any sort of action on your dog not eating their food? Probably not.
The sooner you can take necessary action to solve this problem for whatever reason it came up, the better.
But, we’re just putting it out there that there’s no reason to panic right away after your dog refuses to eat a meal or two of theirs.
Dr. Robert D. “Jake” Tedaldi suggests that you take your dog to the veterinarian if 24 hours have passed and your dog still refuses to eat anything.
What To Do When Your Dog Won’t Eat
The first and most important course of action you should take when you notice that your dog’s eating habits have taken a serious hit and greatly decreased to the point where they’re barely eating any of their food anymore, sometimes even not eating at all, is making sure that they’re not suffering from any sort of sickness or illness to begin with.
You don’t need to get in immediate contact with your veterinarian about the issue right away, as this might be due to anyone of the many non-health related reasons we mentioned in the list above, such as sudden change in dog food formula/brand/recipe, crying for attention, etc ..
Getting in contact with your veterinarian about this issue becomes of greater importance when your dog suddenly starts refusing to eat their food out of the blue, without any conditions that may have paved the way for this to happen earlier on.
In other words, when no variable factor at all has changed in between the period of time when your dog was eating their food very normally, to the period of time when your dog stopped eating.
And, if your dog not eating their food the normal way they should be is coupled with a few other symptoms such as diarrhea, loose stools, vomiting, pale gums, fatigue, behavioral changes, etc .. then having your dog checked on by a veterinarian is a must at this point, as there may be a much more serious underlying health condition that your dog is suffering from, one that should be addressed as soon as possible.
One specific symptom you should keep a very keen eye on in particular when your dog isn’t eating like they usually would is blood in your dog’s stool or blood in their vomiting, in which case you should also get into immediate contact with your veterinarian about.