Why Is My Dog Not Eating?

A dog’s health and longevity are greatly influenced by their food–which is why pet parents become understandably concerned when their furry companion suddenly stops eating. While there are many benign reasons why a canine would refuse dinner, other causes might call for medical intervention. Discover common causes that may prompt a dog to skip mealtime below.

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Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Eat

For most dogs, food is one of the highlights of their day. This is why a canine that refuses to eat can be stressful to witness. Read on to explore the possible reasons man’s best friend turns his nose up at dinner.

Health Issues

An underlying health condition may be behind your fur companion’s sudden loss of appetite. Unfortunately, this symptom is linked to many health complications. A proper diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian after a thorough examination and blood tests.

Below are some common health issues that result in a reduced or nonexistent appetite in canines:

Gastrointestinal Problems

Issues with the digestive system can include intestinal blockages, pancreatitis, gastritis, or infections. This health condition is often accompanied by stomach discomfort and nausea.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease leads to an accumulation of toxins and metabolic changes that negatively influence a dog’s appetite.


Some tumors are known to have a negative impact on the immune system and the digestive tract.

Hormonal Imbalances

Certain hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism may result in a decreased appetite.


A canine with an undiagnosed injury such as a broken bone or arthritis could struggle with a loss of appetite due to pain. Lethargy is often another indicator that your canine is experiencing physical discomfort.

Liver Disease

Depending on the stage of this disease, it may result in a loss of interest in food due to physical discomfort, compromised bile production, a buildup of toxins, or metabolic changes.

Upset Stomach

Some health conditions, such as a mild upset stomach, can go away on their own with proper rest and hydration. There is no way to know the severity of a canine’s health status without an examination and tests conducted by an animal clinic. Addressing medical issues quickly could save your dog’s life.

Stress and Anxiety

A loss of appetite may occur when your dog is experiencing increased levels of stress or anxiety. A multitude of triggers can elicit this type of response in a canine. Below are a few common situations that could lead to heightened stress and anxiety in your dog:


Many dogs struggle to handle the loud noises and vibrations caused by fireworks. During this time, they may lose interest in food as they focus on managing their anxiety and stress.

Separation Anxiety

Canines have a unique bond with their pet parents and can develop anxiety when separated. This anxiety may result in a loss of appetite.


Dogs experiencing depression can display increased levels of stress as they struggle to cope with negative emotions. Symptoms of depression in canines include changes in appetite, lethargy and an indifference to their environment.

Traumatic Experiences

Previous negative experiences can alter a dog’s behavior in situations that trigger their trauma. Other signs that a canine is fearful or stressed include trembling, whimpering, barking, pacing and a loss of appetite.


If your furry companion refuses to eat during a thunderstorm, it could be due to stress and anxiety from the loud noises outside. Watch out for other signs that could indicate a fear of thunderstorms, such as hiding, shaking, or pacing.

Unfamiliar Environments

Your dog may experience increased levels of stress in unfamiliar environments. Sometimes, all it takes is an understanding of what triggers your furry family member into a state of fear before you can address their lack of appetite. Keep in mind, certain stressful situations require training to condition your canine to tolerate their triggers and regain their appetite.

Dental Problems

The discomfort caused by certain dental conditions might make eating a painful chore for a canine. Chewing and swallowing food may make their oral pain worse, causing them to avoid food altogether.

Other symptoms that could indicate dental issues include bad breath, inflamed gums, excessive plaque buildup and discolored teeth. It’s vital to have a vet treat dental problems as early as possible to avoid health complications that stem from poor oral health.

Dietary Changes

Abrupt changes in a dog’s diet can lead them to stop eating. Switching food brands overnight may result in diarrhea, an upset stomach and a loss of appetite. To avoid the adverse effects of new food, it’s important to make gradual changes to your dog’s diet. Consult your veterinarian for guidance on how to successfully transition your canine’s food based on their unique health profile.


Certain medications can result in a loss of appetite for your canine. Your veterinarian can confirm if this reaction is common for their prescribed medication.

Before administering any medication to your furry companion, ask your vet about common side effects to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Behavioral Challenges

Sometimes, dogs have been spoiled with table scraps and treats to the point of refusing to eat their designated food. This is a learned behavior based on their experiences and can be unlearned. It is the pet parent’s responsibility to ration treats and avoid the practice of offering table scraps.

To taper your canine off of table scraps, ensure that everyone in the household follows this new rule to create consistency. Reward your fur baby with affection and praise for practicing restraint.

Contact Arab Veterinary Hospital if Your Dog Isn’t Eating

By recognizing the most likely reasons your dog won’t eat, you can take the necessary steps to help them. An examination by a veterinarian is necessary for the most accurate diagnosis. It’s important not to allow more than a day to pass before getting medical help for your dog to avoid health complications. For more information, or if you would like to speak to a veterinarian, contact Arab Veterinary Hospital by calling (256) 586-3183.