My Dog Won’t Eat!

by EcoWellDog– The Natural Leaders in Grooming & Wellness

At some stage, most owners become frustrated by a dog that refuses to eat. And often no amount of coaxing will entice him back to that food bowl! Although there are many reasons why a dog may stop eating, these tend to fall into one of two categories:

  1. Medical: Many conditions can cause your dog to stop eating. These can range from dental disease to chronic kidney failure or various forms of cancer. Even a recent vaccination or anesthetic protocol for a routine surgical procedure might be enough to leave your dog off his food for a day or two.
  1. Behavioral: When there is no evidence that underlying disease is causing your dog to stop eating, then you are likely dealing with a behavioral issue. Although owners are often relieved that there is no illness to worry about, behavioral problems can still be difficult to deal with – often because the owner also has to change their behavior to help resolve the situation!

What Do I Do If My Dog Stops To Eating?

It is important to first rule out any possibility of underlying disease that could be at the root of the problem. Sometimes you may see other signs that lead you to suspect a medical condition – maybe he is lethargic, or has vomiting and diarrhea. If so (or even if he seems otherwise healthy but you wish to be sure), you should visit your veterinarian for advice and any necessary treatment.

If, however, there is no underlying illness, then behavioral reasons must be considered for his refusal to eat:

What Might Stop Him Eating For Behavioral Reasons?

  • Environmental changes: The list of possible reasons here is long, but can include things such as the arrival of a new baby or pet, relocation, owners being away, a new dog sitter, or increased travel.
  • Dietary changes: If you frequently change his dog food for any reason, or have no routine for his feeding times, then these reasons may be enough to create a fussy eater. Feeding lots of treats too, or “people food”, are big offenders!

When your dog stops eating for behavioral reasons, one important thing to consider is your own contribution to the problem. Usually, behind every dog that is a fussy eater, there is an owner who enables him! Sometimes the most difficult behavior to change in these situations is our own. The frustration of the finicky eater can quickly leave us changing his food every few days, or hand-feeding him, or providing the finest peanut-butter in town to get him to eat just about anything. In some cases it’s no wonder they turn up their nose at regular dog food – there are boutique snacks at stake!

So it’s important to evaluate your situation, and determine what problems or triggers could be contributing to it.

Eight Tips To Try If Your Dog Refuses To Eat

  1. Keep a consistent routine (If you wish to feed him twice daily, do this at the same times each day)
  2. At mealtimes, leave his food down for a defined period of time (Remove it after say 30 minutes, even if he hasn’t eaten, and don’t put food down again until next meal time)
  3. Don’t change dog foods (Choose one, and stick with it)
  4. Don’t give him your food
  5. Don’t give any treats
  6. Don’t make a fuss if he won’t eat (But praise him if he does eat)
  7. Feed him separately from other pets (This can help if food aggression from other pets is a problem)
  8. Exercise him before feeding time (This can help to make him hungry!)

It can take some time to get to the bottom of problems like this, and many cases require assertiveness on your part – sometimes your behavior needs change in order to let your dog know who’s boss.

So in general, first rule out any underlying illness that may stop your pet from eating. Next tackle any behavioral or environmental issues that could be contributing to the problem. The most important thing to remember, however, is that if there is no medical reason preventing your dog from eating, believe me, when he is hungry – he will eat!

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