Mealtimes are usually the most exciting part of a puppy’s day so when you have a puppy that isn’t eating, it really is concerning. It might simply be that your puppy doesn’t like the food you’re giving them. However, loss of appetite in puppies is sometimes a sign of something much more serious. There are many things that can stop your puppy from eating. These include injuries and/or obstructions, changes in food or routine, worms, stress, illness, and just not liking their food. A loss of appetite alongside other symptoms can be due to serious illness. In this article, find out when you need to see a vet, learn the most common reasons why puppies don’t eat, and pick up some tips to encourage your puppy to start eating.
When Should You Worry That Your Puppy Isn’t Eating?
If your puppy is otherwise acting normally and isn’t showing any other symptoms, missing one meal isn’t anything to be immediately concerned about. Keep an eye on your puppy until their next mealtime. If they show no interest in their next meal, you should get ready to take them to the vet.
When to Take Your Puppy to the Vet
If your puppy shows no interest in their food after skipping two meals, you need to take them to the vet even if they don’t seem unwell. Puppies that don’t eat for 12 hours can develop long-term health problems. If your puppy isn’t eating and is showing other symptoms, such as diarrhea, a bloated stomach, or vomiting, you should take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. A lack of appetite alongside other symptoms can be a sign of serious illnesses.
Common Reasons Why Your Puppy Won’t Eat
The reasons why a puppy won’t eat vary from some that are relatively easy to solve to a few that can be life-threatening. Here are the most common reasons behind a puppy not wanton to eat:
A Recent Change in Food
It’s common for dogs of all ages not to eat something new to them. Rescue dogs often need to be ‘taught’ to eat dry food if they haven’t encountered it before. Any change to a dog’s mealtime routine can cause stress which may result in them not eating. If you have recently changed the brand or type of your puppy’s food, switching back to what they’re used to might work. You can then gradually mix in the new food with the old until they get used to it.
A Recent Change in Feeding Routine
Another thing that often causes stress around mealtimes is eating when there are other dogs around. If you have other dogs and feed them together, your puppy might not be eating due to intimidation and fear. Allowing your puppy to eat away from your other dogs will make mealtimes calmer. If you have a crate, try feeding your puppy while they are in it. Feeding your puppy at the same time each day is always recommended.
Many animals, and humans, will stop eating or lose their appetite when they experience stress and dogs are no exception. I’ve talked about how changes in routine can make your puppy feel stressed but non-food-related changes in routine can also put your pet off their food.
Injury or obstruction
Dogs love getting to know things by chewing on them. This can sometimes cause dental and mouth injuries that would make eating uncomfortable at best and impossible at worst. If there’s a chance your puppy has eaten something they shouldn’t, a bowel obstruction could be preventing them from eating. A bowel obstruction is when an object or objects gets stuck in the intestines.
Young dogs pick up worms easily so if you’ve not yet treated your puppy for worms, they could be the culprit of their appetite loss. Dogs suffering from roundworm infection will often show changes in eating. A clear sign of having worms is when dogs scoot their butt on the floor so if you see your puppy doing this, a visit to the veterinarian is needed.
Lack of appetite can be a symptom of serious illness in puppies. Dogs can be born with viruses and can easily pick them up when they are young and haven’t yet been vaccinated. Canine viruses and infections can cause a range of health issues and diseases that can affect vital organs and put their lives at risk. If your dog isn’t eating and you notice any other symptoms, you must take them to a veterinarian to be examined immediately.
Side Effect of Medication
If your puppy has just been vaccinated or has had any other medicine, their lack of interest in food is likely to be a side effect that will wear off.
How To Encourage Your Puppy to Eat
If your puppy has no symptoms of illness, worms, or injury, there are a few things you can do to encourage them to eat. Encouragement is the key here – never force your pet to eat. You can try:
Warm & Soften Dry Food
Adding water to dry food not only softens it so it’s easier to eat but makes it super smelly and nearly always irresistible. Give it a while to cool and make sure the temperature isn’t too hot before giving it to your puppy.
Eggs in small amounts are a healthy snack for dogs every now and then. Never give your dog uncooked eggs – this can give them Salmonella. Boiled eggs are preferable because they don’t require any oil to cook. Unseasoned cooked chicken is another snack that might tempt your puppy to eat. Only feed them white chicken meat without any bones (which can become lodged and cause further problems). Like eggs, feeding your dog uncooked chicken carries the risk of Salmonella.