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by Dianna Ranere

When Your Puppy Won’t Eat: Why and What to Do

Photo: Pexels 

If your puppy who’s been healthy all along, has refused to eat, it can be worrying, but sometimes, the problem resolves itself. Before taking any action, observe the pet for some time to determine whether it’s sick. If you did your homework well and got a healthy pet from an expert breeder like https://chocolatelabradorretriever.ca/lab-puppies-for-sale, you are assured that the puppy has had all the necessary vaccines and you have someone to reach out to when in need of assistance or tips. Healthy pets live a long and healthy life and don’t have serious issues, but sometimes, problems arise. When your puppy refuses food, here are the reasons.   

                              Photo Credit Binyamin Mellish from Pexels


Just like human babies lose their appetite when sick, puppies may not want to eat when not feeling well. You may notice other symptoms such as reduced movement, less play, loss of excitement, whimpering in pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Call your vet immediately when the puppy is sick and won’t eat.

Common illnesses include poisoning, upset stomach, parasites, infection, autoimmune conditions, tumors, or recent vaccination. Also, check the mouth for broken teeth, swollen gum, or wounds on the tongue. Immunization can lead to loss of appetite, but this resolves itself after a few days. Unless you notice the dog is in pain, you may want to wait for two days but if the puppy is vomiting and has diarrhea, get immediate help to prevent dehydration.

When it’s not a sickness, you may want to observe your dog more, to understand its actions.


Behavioral Problems

Your puppy was probably used to being hand-fed, eating with other family members, or getting many treats. Check if there is anything that has recently changed. Do you usually leave the house and come back in the evening and find the puppy’s food not touched? Maybe the pet doesn’t like eating alone. You may also want to check if it’s eating anything else before its meals, which can cause a reduced appetite. If you’re going to reduce the treats, do it gradually. Some dogs also like eating alone, so if you’ve brought a new puppy home, check if this is the issue.

If the puppy’s primary caregiver or friend is away, the pet suffers from separation anxiety, leading to a loss of appetite. To make your dog feel better, spend more time together, take it for a walk and offer treats and new toys.


Environmental Changes

If you’ve traveled or just brought the pet home, it might take some time before it gets used to the new environment. New faces, plus missing old friends and food, can cause anxiety, and it takes time before things get back to normal. Know the foods the pet likes or is used to from its previous owners. Try to keep a consistent schedule, including feeding time, and give it time to get used to its new home. Also, the absence of a pet friend or recent stress such as sickness can lead to appetite loss. Take time to understand the cause, which will help resolve the issue and strengthen your bond.


Change in Diet

Your dog may be used to certain foods, and when you introduce new ones, the change may not go well. For instance, if the puppy ate home-cooked foods, but you’ve decided to change to kibble, it might not like the taste or smell, or even the texture. Try to stick to the home-cooked food, mix or gradually introduce the new food. Also, check expiry dates of store-bought pet foods. Stale food will smell and taste differently, causing the pet not to eat and may lead to stomach problems.

Another reason may be a change in brand taste or texture. Your dog is used to particular food tastes and smells, and when fed a new version, even when it’s the same food, it might take time before adapting. Make sure to introduce the improved versions of the foods gradually.

Also, your puppy may refuse foods that are too dry, too hot, or cold. They may even dislike a food they’ve eaten for too long. Try to change the diet and stick to quality foods.

Photo by Bruno Cervera from Pexels


When Your Dog Won’t Take Water

If the dog doesn’t eat but drinks water regularly, it probably has an upset stomach, which may go away in a few days. But when it doesn’t eat or drink water for more than a day, consult a veterinarian. When it eats but doesn’t drink water, the issue can be a bladder infection, diabetes, or kidney disease. Also, watch out if the puppy is drinking too much water. Medical conditions such as kidney stones and diabetes can be the cause. Other times, your dog may not take water simply because you offer more wet foods; therefore, they often don’t get thirsty.

If the dog is not sick, you may try to

  • Cut the treats- probably it likes the taste of the delicacies and would rather have them than real food
  • Offer more home-cooked meals
  • Go out more often. The walks can stimulate the appetite
  • Get a professional dog trainer
  • Don’t feed your pets off the table
  • Don’t feed dry, cold, or hot foods. Regulate the temperature and add warm water, or broth to the kibble
  • Keep a feeding schedule

You may also try to understand whether the puppy likes eating when you are around or away. Some dogs feel they have to protect the home when their owner is away or are too lonely and sad to eat.

If your dog doesn’t eat because of a sickness, try to understand, offer broths and baby food. If you have to force-feed, don’t use dry foods such as kibble but baby foods and soups. You can use a needless syringe, but don’t force the food down the throat but let the puppy swallow.

Sometimes it’s not easy to decode the reasons your pet is not eating. You can talk to your vet, spend more time with it and try different varieties. However, most issues resolve in a matter of days.