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Why Won’t My Dog Eat?

Our canine cardiologist told us if we ever needed to reach him quickly leave a message that says, “My golden won’t eat.” He says that’s never good as goldens are known to be hearty eaters.
Since loss of appetite in dogs can indicate illness, it is important to seek veterinary care if you notice changes in your dog’s eating habits. It is especially important to respond promptly to a refusal to eat in dogs that usually eat well, puppies, small dogs, and older dogs.

Reasons your dog won’t eat
Just like in people, there are a variety of reasons dogs might refuse to eat. These include:

1. Illness. A decreased appetite in dogs is often a sign of sickness, especially if your dog is exhibiting other symptoms at the same time. Although a loss of appetite in dogs doesn’t necessarily indicate serious disease, prompt veterinary attention is important because it could be a sign of significant illness, including cancer, various systemic infections, dental disease, pain, liver problems, and kidney failure.

2. Recent vaccination. Fortunately, vaccinations are available for many serious and contagious dog diseases. Although these injections have saved the lives of millions of pets in the past 100 years, they do sometimes have adverse effects. The majority of these are minor and brief, including a temporary loss of appetite in dogs.

3. Travel and unfamiliar surroundings. If your dog’s appetite was fine until you went on a trip with your pet or moved to a new location, it may be that your dog won’t eat because of traveling or the unfamiliar surroundings. Some animals may get motion sickness, and others become nervous or uncomfortable in new places. Our Maddie doesn’t eat well when we travel.

4. Pickiness or behavior issues. Some dogs are just picky, or their refusal to eat may be caused by feeding them in situations where they aren’t comfortable, such as around an aggressive dog or from a bowl at an uncomfortable height. Because a decreased appetite in dogs may be caused by illness, never assume that your dog is picky without investigating other possibilities first. One of our goldens, Cappuccino, would only eat dry food if you sprinkled romano cheese on it. That’s Italian!


1 valerie { 12.01.10 at 4:48 pm }

Pat, it’s amusing that you posted these two articles back to back!

2 Jenn Ross { 12.03.10 at 12:01 pm }

Sadly this was the sign that alerted me that my first golden Riley was ill. He was a grazer and ate when he felt like it ( he was never overweight). I noticed his bowl remained full and off to the vet we went. He had a large cancerous tumor on his liver. So I am like a jewish mother making sure my dog eats and big red flags go up if he doesn’t.

3 Doris Marquez { 06.19.18 at 3:53 pm }

Thank you for this article. It’s very eye opening. My Brandon will eat but sometimes it takes a few hours before hell eat it. I have tried changing brands but it hasn’t help too much. Otherwise he will eat any home treat l give him. That’s why l figure he’s tired of the brand. Any other advice will be received. I love my Brandon. We found him in the street 6 yrs ago. Gets yearly vaccinations. Thank you.

4 pat { 08.24.18 at 4:41 pm }

Please stop the vaccinations. Only vaccination an adult dog needs is rabies as required by law. Feed “human” food. After all, that’s what dog food is made of

5 Kat M { 02.19.19 at 6:42 pm }

I have 2 female GR’s both are picky eaters, but the youngest is 3 months old and I can’t get her to eat anything. I have tried numerous brands of dry food. Any ideas on how to get her to eat?

6 Pat { 02.21.19 at 3:58 pm }

Add healthy ingredients to their kibble such as cooked chicken, ground beef, turkey, canned pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, sardines

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