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why is my dog not eating

Why Is My Dog Not Eating? [Reasons & How To Stimulate Appetite]

Your dog never says no to a treat and has never met a meal they didn’t like. So it can be confusing and concerning when your dog is suddenly unresponsive during mealtime. Are you wondering, “Why is my dog not eating?” We have included some of the most common reasons dogs refuse to eat in this article and how to bring your dog’s appetite back.

Every dog is different and has their own specific reason for not eating. But there are some common reasons why dogs will lose their appetite, including illness and anxiousness. If your dog isn’t eating, read on to find out what you can do to stimulate their appetite, including some natural solutions that will improve your dog’s overall well-being.


Why Is My Dog Not Eating?

Your dog usually scarfs down food (and anything else they can find), so what gives? When your dog stops eating, it can be very concerning since they’re usually begging for food any chance they have.

When your dog’s eating habits change, it’s often a symptom of something bigger, whether it’s an illness, pain, or behavioral issue. Here are some common reasons that your dog’s appetite has seemingly disappeared.

golden retriever not eating food



A decreased appetite can make your dog is experiencing some type of sickness, whether it’s temporary or a serious condition. While a loss of appetite isn’t always serious, it’s important to contact a veterinarian when you notice your dog avoiding meals just in case it’s cancer, liver problems, or kidney failure.

General Pain

Dogs experiencing discomfort will often become lethargic and lose their appetite. It’s in a dog’s nature to attempt to hide their pain, so always look for symptoms that your dog is uncomfortable, including limping, refusing to walk or play, or acting agitated.

Dental Disease

A very common reason that dogs avoid food, especially kibble, is pain in their mouth. Eating will be highly uncomfortable if your dog has a broken tooth, loose teeth, gingivitis, or an oral tumor.

Vaccination or Medication

Sometimes dogs will experience adverse effects from medication they are on. While usually minor and brief, the effects can sometimes lead to your dog being lethargic or having a temporary loss of appetite. Vaccinations are important, but always monitor your dog after a vaccination and keep your vet updated if you notice anything concerning.

Big Changes

Sometimes dogs can become discombobulated and disoriented if their routines are disrupted. Dogs are creatures of habit and get used to eating at the same time and place every day. When you move to a new home or take your dog on vacation, they can sometimes lose their appetite while trying to get used to the changes. Your dog may also have motion sickness and need a break after a car ride before they can eat again.


While dog owners often recall their four-legged pup digging in trash cans and stealing table scraps off your plate, some dogs are pretty picky. Dogs will sometimes grow tired of their food or suddenly not enjoy the taste, similar to us.

Behavioral Issues

Dogs experiencing stress or anxiousness can often lose their appetite. This can be a persistent condition your dog has or a situational problem, such as an aggressive dog around their food bowl or a stranger in your home that your dog is afraid of.

Is It Common For a Dog to Stop Eating?

It’s not very common for dogs to suddenly stop eating. If your dog appears uninterested in food, this is often a behavioral issue that will sort itself out, but monitor your dog closely. If your dog is not eating and vomiting or having diarrhea, contact a veterinarian within eight hours.


How Long Can A Dog Go Without Food?

Dogs can go three to five days without eating, according to most veterinary hospitals. But this is not ideal for dogs. After two days of not eating, you should contact your vet right away to make sure nothing is seriously wrong with your dog and ensure they get the nutrients they need as soon as possible.


Tips To Help A Dog Eat Its Food

While you should always contact a vet if your dog isn’t eating, there are some things you can do at home to encourage your dog to eat while you wait for the appointment.

white fluffy pup eating kibble


Warm Up Dog Food

If your dog is not eating due to a possible illness, there are some things you can do to make the food more appealing and palatable for your dog.

  • Warm up your dog’s food in the microwave.
  • Pour some broth on it, like chicken, beef, or even tuna water.
  • Pour warm water over the dry food to make it softer.

Switch Your Dog’s Food

If your dog is bored of their food or being picky, you can try switching up the dog food to possibly appeal to your dog. Pique their interest by switching to a different flavor. You can also try changing to canned food if your dog only eats kibble and vice versa. Canned food often has a stronger, meatier smell which can excite your dog.

Give Your Dog CBD

CBD is a natural compound found in hemp that can encourage your dog to maintain a healthy appetite. CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it won’t get your dog high. Instead, it interacts with your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which controls your pup’s overall well-being and balance.

The ECS includes your dog’s digestive system. When your dog digests CBD, it will reduce symptoms of an upset stomach, encouraging your dog to eat. CBD also reduces discomfort in general, helping your dog feel less uncomfortable and lethargic. Without an upset stomach and with decreased pain, your dog’s eating habits may return to normal.

Healthy Petables carries a variety of CBD products that can encourage your dog to eat while you await a vet visit. This includes CBD treats and calming chews that your dog will find enticing due to their natural flavors. Or you can simply drop CBD oil into your dog’s mouth if your dog won’t even budge for treats.

Change the Time Your Dog Eats

Try feeding your dog during a different time of the day. If your dog is refusing to eat a meal when you’re not home, try feeding them in the morning before you go to work. This may encourage them to eat. Just try to stick to the same schedule going forward since dogs thrive on routine.

Give Them a Treat

If your dog suddenly stops eating, try encouraging them to chow down with some treats. Pick a flavor your dog usually can’t resist. You can also try human food, but make sure it’s something that’s healthy and safe for your dog. This could get your dog eating in no time.

Play With Your Dog Before Mealtime

Stimulate your dog’s appetite by throwing in some exercise before their usual mealtime. Try bringing them on a long walk or playing a game of fetch. Movement can definitely give your dog an appetite. Of course, if your dog seems to be in pain or sick, don’t push them too hard, or they can end up feeling even worse.

Hand Feed Your Dog

Sometimes your dog just needs a bit of encouragement. As social animals, having you be a part of their mealtime can comfort your dog and inspire them to take a bite. Try petting them and giving them some scratches to further soothe them.


Final Thoughts – Why Is My Dog Not Eating

It’s quite alarming when dogs stop eating but don’t panic right away. Your dog could simply be reacting to an environmental change or feeling a bit queasy. But when your dog misses a few meals in a row, it can start to concern most owners.

When your dog stops eating, contact a veterinarian to set up a consultation. They will figure out the underlying reason your dog is refusing its meals and provide medication and a treatment plan if needed.

Meanwhile, there are luckily some ways to encourage your dog to eat while you wait for the appointment. This includes CBD oil and treats, changing the time you feed your dog, and switching their food. Your dog will be eating again in no time!