What could be wrong if your dog won’t eat?

Refusing Food

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]our dog may go off his food for a number of different reasons. It may be a physical reason – he may be sick, in pain, have an infection, parasites, a gastric upset – or it may be an emotional one. Stress is a big factor for dogs going off their food. Intact male dogs may become stressed and stop eating if there is a bitch in heat close by. Dogs who have lost their human or animal companions may pine and not eat for several days. Even a new addition (human or animal) can cause a dog to go off his food.

Fussy eaters may simply refuse to eat if you change your dog food brand. Vary your dog’s diet and offer some treats, but remember the opposite is also true. If you give too many titbits and different foods, your dog may become so fussy that he won’t want to eat a balanced meal.

Sometimes dogs do skip a meal. It is common in nature, where they ‘starve’ themselves for 24 hours as a cleansing process. Most will eat with gusto the following day. The key is to watch your dog. See your veterinarian as soon as possible if: your dog refuses to eat anything at all for more than a day; his tongue, gums and eye membranes are pale; he drinks a lot of water but won’t eat; he is vomiting, in pain, or has a fever or a wound.

If he has no other symptoms and seems himself, wait a day. At his usual meal time give him something tasty to eat. If he eats poorly for a day or two and there is no obvious emotional cause, rather see your vet. If there is an obvious emotional cause and his poor appetite continues for more than three days, a check-up is warranted. Keep a close eye on your pet. If he seems weak, his energy levels are very low or he collapses, you must treat this as an emergency and see your vet immediately.

Small animal veterinarian


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