It’s not unusual for dogs not to eat their meal and leave the food untouched in their bowl. Although this is concerning for their owners, it’s not necessarily a sign of ill health, particularly if they are still bright and alert.
The weather can affect your dog’s appetite. If it is too hot, he might not feel like eating. He also may not need to eat as much because he doesn’t need to put energy into keeping warm.
Your dog may not like what you are giving him. The food may be a bit stale and not very appetising, or he may just have more gourmet tastes. You can certainly try offering him fresh food to see if it’s more appealing. If he is just fussy, then it will take some discipline on your part to teach him that you’re not going feed him chicken breast or lean steak, and he will need to get used to eating kibble!
Before you try the tough love approach, make sure there is no medical reason for your dog’s loss of appetite.
- Look in his mouth and check that there there isn’t any dental disease that may be making it painful for him to eat. Look along his gum line for any reddening or swelling, particularly in the area of those large upper molars. A sore mouth can make dinnertime miserable, because in most cases, your dog will want to eat but it just hurts too much. The same can occur with ulcers or abrasions inside the mouth, so while you’re looking at his teeth, check the roof of his mouth, inside his cheeks and as far back in his throat as you can.
- Loss of appetite can also be associated with an upset digestive system. Your dog may have eaten something a bit rotten, or be suffering from a more serious condition such as a stomach ulcer, intestinal obstruction or viral infection.
- Problems with internal organs, such as liver or kidney disease, can make your dog feel nauseous and therefore not interested in food. It’s likely that he will also show other symptoms such as excessive thirst, depression and possibly vomiting.
- Stress can put your dog off his food. Have there been any changes in his life recently? Perhaps you’ve moved house, or perhaps you have just had a baby. It can take some dogs a little while to adapt to such things, and they can stop eating, just as a person would if they felt unhappy.
If you can’t find anything wrong with your dog’s mouth, and he is bright and happy, it’s safe to wait a little while to see if he improves, before contacting your vet. Don’t offer him any food for 24 hours, and then start offering him small frequent meals of a bland food. Chicken and rice is ideal for this. If his appetite returns, that’s great; you can then gradually change back to his regular diet over a day or two.
If he is lethargic and appears obviously unwell, or if he shows other symptoms of illness, take him along to your vet for a check-up.
Our dogs are like family to us and so naturally it’s very upsetting when they become sick. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you knew how to give your dog a check-up, so you could spot a problem early? Before it became truly serious or even life threatening?