Dog Tips

Loss of Appetite in Dogs

There are a lot of days when we, humans, don’t feel like eating. Probably because we feel sick, or our lovers have been hurting us or just because no mood. And this leads to a loss of appetite if the feeling is prolonged as our stomachs get used to it. Now this same thing can happen to dogs as well. The reasons can be emotional or physical. They can very well lose their appetite and it is completely normal. But there are also chances that the same loss is happening due to a significant illness, including cancer, various systemic infections, pain, liver problems, and kidney failure. Since dogs may not be able to exactly communicate the feeling to us, it becomes important for us to take them to a vet and get them examined to find out the reasons for the loss of appetite.

Loss of Appetite Symptoms in Dogs

Common signs that can be seen when the dog is experiencing a loss of appetite are –

Common Reasons for Loss of Appetite in Dogs

There might be a lot of reasons ranging from common to severe for a dog refusing to eat. These include – 

  • Illness – Just like we humans don’t like to eat much when we’re sick, goes the same for dogs. This is most often the reason for loss of appetite if the dog is exhibiting other symptoms as well. Loss of appetite couples with other symptoms can be a sign of significant illness, including cancer, various systemic infections, pain, liver problems, and kidney failure.

  • Dental Disease – If chewing or swallowing is causing pain, you should have your dog checked for a broken or loose tooth, gingivitis or even an oral tumor

  • Vaccinations – Yes, they are necessary from saving your dog from a lot of diseases including fatal ones. But modern-day vaccinations also come with a few side effects. It also includes a temporary loss of appetite. Nonetheless, there is nothing to worry about if there are no other symptoms

  • Unfamiliar geography – This is common for humans too as the environment, air, water changed, our insides do experience a discomfort at times or might take some time to adjust. The same can happen to dogs when you take him/her to a trip. Talking about trips, motion sickness is also a cause of it. 

  • Pickiness – Some breeds are just picky when it comes to certain types of food. This can be around uncomfortable surroundings like being near an aggressive dog or an unfavorable human. But make sure you don’t conclude on pickiness before investigating other reasons like sickness

When to become more concerned about loss of appetite in dogs?

A lot of times the reasons are common enough for a loss of appetite in dogs which can be taken care of with some home remedies. But, there can be times when the signs shown by the dog are not a small issue and can become or has already become a severe one. These signs include –

  • An enthusiastic dog looses its will to eat

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, increased thirst – If these or some of these signs are displayed by the dog along with a loss in appetite then it usually is due to kidneys not filtering the toxins out of the system which can cause damage to the entire digestive tract

  • Viral infections – Such as distemper and parvovirus coupled with lethargy are usually an indicator of liver or heart problems. This happens due to most of the energy and immunity produced by the dog’s body is being utilized in fighting the infection off.  

What to do when a dog won’t eat?

Firstly, it is important to diagnose and understand the underlying reason behind the loss of appetite in your dog. 

  • Common Illness – If the cause concluded by the vet is an illness for the loss of appetite, then the vet may recommend a tailored diet for the next few days. There might be a problem with the taste of these diets, especially for the pets used to eating more treats and human foods. The solution here is not to starve the dog but to ask for alternatives from your vet in case your dog won’t eat that diet you got for him/her.

  • Severe Illness – Appetite-stimulating medications are now available which can be given to the dog if recommended by your vet. Syringe-feeding a liquid diet, or inserting a feeding tube are 2 other options in cases of severe illness to improve the appetite

  • Behavior – If discomfort or unfavorable geography is the reason for the loss of appetite then there are a few things which can be done to improve the situation. These include 

  • Cutting down on treats

  • Regularizing the food schedule (Usually twice a day)

  • Fun-meals – You can use toys that dispense food or you can reward your dog for doing a trick

  • Changing feeding environments – There is a possibility that the dog is refusing to eat in front of other people or dogs under feelings like consciousness, fear, etc. Try and change that. Try feeding him alone or in a different room

  • Do the dishes – Introducing a new bowl or plates can get the dog excited to eat or using his favorite ones can also help. Sometimes, putting some pieces on the floor besides the bowl could also help. Just make sure it’s clean enough to avoid any allergies

  • Change the food – You can try different variations like canned food if your dog has been only eating dry foods since a while

  • Warm up – A little bit of warm water in the dog’s kibble also provides comfort to the dogs and makes the food more appealing

  • Get smarter – One can use the smart technology available like a ‘FitBark’ to track the energy levels and any signs of lethargy in your dog. If unusual readings are seen then one of the above methods can be applied


Loss of appetite is a common condition which can be a temporary one causing due to a situation or geography or even due to some chronic illness like liver or heart diseases, kidney failures etc. Just watch out for symptoms and contact your vet as soon as possible to diagnose and understand the underlying reason for your pup’s loss of appetite and perform the recommended remedy at the earliest.

Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo and lots of Love and Licks to you! 


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