My dog won't eat, what could be the problem?

Dog won't eatAnorexia

Anorexia simply means a loss of appetite but this can be an indicator of serious underlying disease.  Your dog will be diagnosed with anorexia if he changes his eating habits and consistently refuses to eat.  If your dog is showing signs of anorexia or his appetite has increased or decreased from normal you should consult your vet.

Why isn't my dog eating?

There are many possible causes that can lead to your dog losing his appetite.  For example, pyometra and kidney or liver problems can cause an animal to eat less or stop eating altogether. Dental problems, pain and internal obstructions will also cause your dog to lose their appetite.  In some cases, there is a behavioural reason your dog has lost his appetite such as stress.

Diagnosis 

Your vet will ask you about your dog’s recent medical history and whether you have noticed any other signs, such as weight loss or vomiting.  It is important to try and work out if your dog is hungry but not managing to eat for some reason (in these cases they will show interest in food and sometimes attempt to eat, but then give up or sometimes run backwards) or if they have no interest in food.   It is likely your vet will need to run some tests, for example blood tests to check for disease. 

Treatment

This will depend on the underlying reason your dog has lost his appetite.  If he has dental disease and sore teeth, he made need some teeth extracted under general anaesthetic.  If your pet is anorexic due to disease, treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

It is important to get your dog eating again as soon as possible. If your vet has advised you to tempt your dog to eat, here are some tips:

  • Warm the food up
  • Offer strong smelling foods
  • Try different brands of pet food
  • Try hand feeding and check that his nose is clean (the smell of the food helps to stimulate their appetite).

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.