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Help! My Dog Doesn't Want to Eat

Today, our Statesboro veterinarians talk about some common reasons why your dog might skip a meal, what to do if your dog won't eat, and the signs that it might be an emergency.

Why isn't my dog eating?

When your dog refuses to eat, it can be a stressful situation. Is it a simple upset stomach or something more serious? If your dog misses one meal but otherwise appears healthy, a trip to the vet is probably unnecessary. If you have any concerns, you can always consult your veterinarian.

If your dog hasn't eaten in over 12 hours with no obvious cause or is exhibiting any other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy this may be an emergency and you should call or bring your dog in for emergency care as soon as possible. 

Reasons your dog may not be eating 

You might get wondering 'why doesn't my dog want to eat?" Here are some of the most common reasons as to why your dog won't eat.


A persistent loss of appetite in dogs is often indicative of illness, especially if your dog is also exhibiting other symptoms. Common causes of appetite loss in pets include cancer, infection, liver problems, and kidney failure. If your dog consistently refuses food, it's time to take him to the vet.

Dental disease

Oral health issues can cause your dog to lose their appetite because it hurts to chew. If you notice broken or loose teeth, swelling, bleeding, or excessively bad breath, it may be that poor oral health is the cause of your dog's refusal to eat. Make an appointment with your vet for your pup to have a full dental examination and cleaning. 

Recent vaccination

While vaccinations are an essential part of your dog's long-term health, they can cause your pup to temporarily feel a little under the weather. It is normal for your dog to have a slightly decreased appetite for a day or two after being vaccinated. If their loss of appetite persists for more than two days you may want to give your vet a call. 

A Change in Routine or Location 

Dogs are creatures of habit. It's normal for your dog's appetite to fluctuate as they adjust to their new surroundings if you're traveling, recently moved, or adopted a new pet.

Their Food Has Changed

Are you trying a new brand, or have you seen the words "new and improved" on their regular menu? Your dog's refusal to eat could be attributed to a dislike of the new food. Typically, a dog will miss one or two meals before their hunger overcomes them and they try the new food (and usually adjust well). If the problem persists, monitor it and contact your veterinarian.

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Eat

If your dog isn't eating for no apparent reason (such as the first night in a new home) and you're not seeing any other signs, there are a few things you can try to make their food more appealing to them.

  • Warm-up your dog’s food in the microwave
  • Pour chicken broth, beef broth, or tuna water over the food to make it more appealing
  • Pour warm water over dry food to make it softer.
  • Feeding your dog dry food if they usually only eat wet food or vice versa
  • Try hand-feeding, as social eaters sometimes just want attention

When should I worry about my dog not eating?

If you notice a persistent change in your dog's appetite or any other concerning symptoms, from vomiting to swelling in the mouth, your dog needs emergency medical attention. 

If your dog misses two or more meals, regardless of other symptoms, seek medical attention. When it comes to your pet's health, it's always best to be cautious and consult a veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed a change in your dog's appetite? Contact our Statesboro vets today to book an examination for your pet. 

New Patients Welcome

Statesboro Bulloch Regional Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Statesboro companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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