Ask the Vet: Why Won’t My Dog Eat?

Aug 7, 2020 by

Labrador Dog With Bowl

As a dog owner, you want the best for your beloved companion. If your furry friend has been neglecting mealtimes or eating irregularly, you may be concerned that your pet’s health is at risk. While sporadic eating or skipping meals can point to larger underlying issues, it is actually fairly common behavior for a dog. Keep reading to learn more about the potential reasons that your pup is skipping meals.

Reasons Why Your Dog Will Not Eat

Dog Illness 

In general, the reasons that dogs do not eat are similar to the reasons why humans might choose not to eat. A passing virus or fever could be the culprit for your animal’s irregular feeding habits. Especially if your pet’s abnormal eating has only been occurring for a few days or less, the problem will often be resolved with time and TLC. However, if your dog is vomiting or having diarrhea as well as not eating, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. These symptoms could indicate a larger health issue. 

Food Types/Preferences

The explanation behind your dog’s sudden hunger strike could be as simple as his/her food preferences or perhaps the food has gone stale. Simply smell the bag or check the expiration date to confirm if the food is still good. If that is not the case, try switching it up. Search for dog food adapted to the age range of your pet — it is formulated differently for puppies versus elderly dogs. You can also experiment with a few different flavors to see if your pup has a preference. In any case, experts recommend changing your dog’s food fairly often, so they don’t get too set on one brand, refusing to eat anything else. 


“We do call it anorexia when they won’t eat, but this is a symptom of an underlying issue/disease. GI tract upset is a common side-effect for several medications including oral antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds, steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and chemotherapy drugs.” – Lucas White, DVM

Dog Food Bowl

Emotional Stressors 

Another probable cause of your pet’s decrease in appetite could be emotional changes. For example, a pet that has recently been re-homed or adopted could take some time to adjust to a new setting with new people. Alternatively, your absence during a vacation or extended trip could cause your dog an emotional upheaval that results in a loss of interest in food. Anxiety or even depression can affect dogs and consequentially, their eating habits. 


“Pet parents should also monitor their pets’ stool quality, their attitude, are they drinking water and are they keeping it down, are they limping or seem in pain. It never hurts to mention anything the pet parent thinks is abnormal. They are with their pet more than we are and I’d rather have too much information that can help us make a diagnosis than not enough.” – Lucas White, DVM

If you’re still not sure what’s inhibiting your dog’s appetite, it’s a good idea to consult a veterinarian. Sunset Veterinary Clinic would be happy to assist you and provide reliable consultations about your dog’s behavior. Contact us today for more information about scheduling an appointment and getting your furry friend back to full health in no time! 

Dog Not Eating Infographic


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