Dog Not Eating? Our Vet Explains Possible Causes & Dog Appetite Solutions

Dog Not Eating? Our Vet Explains Possible Causes & Dog Appetite Solutions

Alpha Paw Sale
Jan 03, 2024

Why is my dog not eating his food anymore?

The technical term for a dog not eating is anorexia. There are a lot of different reasons why your pup could be turning their nose up to food. These can range from minor issues to major underlying health issues. If your dog is experiencing any other symptoms with a decreased appetite including vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, these are all signs that there is some underlying illness affecting your dog. If your dog seems otherwise well, the decreased appetite could be caused by stress, or they might just not like the food they are eating anymore. Only your veterinarian will be able to determine if the lack of appetite is a cause for concern.

What causes loss of appetite in dogs?

If your dog won’t eat, there are several underlying reasons this could occur. The following are the most common causes of a dog not eating food that I diagnose as a veterinarian.

1. Sickness

Dogs that are sick will often refuse to eat. If your dog has a fever, they will feel bad and refuse to eat. In addition, a variety of chronic or serious medical conditions can cause decreased appetite. Some of the most common illnesses that can cause lack of appetite include:

2. Stress

If your veterinarian has ruled out medical conditions as the cause of the loss of appetite, one other cause to consider is stress. A dog not eating food may be under a lot of stress. Have you recently moved, traveled, or had any changes in the household? Often, these events may cause a dog to not want to eat. Dogs that are stressed can go on a hunger strike, though usually, this will only last a day or two.

Dog not eating? Our vet explains possible causes & dog appetite solutions

3. Pain

A dog not eating food may be painful. Back and neck injuries are a very common cause for a dog not wanting to eat. Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common condition in dogs that can cause back and neck pain. In addition, mouth pain or tooth pain can cause a dog to refuse food. If your dog is in pain and having a hard time getting on and off the couch, check out Alpha Paw’s Paw Ramp which may decrease the risk of your pet hurting themselves as they are getting on and off the furniture.

Other signs that your dog may be in pain include:

4. Medication Side Effects

Have you started your pet on a new medication? According to the AKC, many medications can cause your pet to not want to eat. Certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and pain medications can cause a dog to refuse food. If you think your dog won’t eat because of a side effect of a new medication, contact your veterinarian.

5. Food Preference

Some dogs who are picky eaters may refuse to eat simply because they do not like the taste of the food. Slowly transitioning to a new diet or new flavor of food can be helpful if you think your dog doesn’t like the food you are giving them anymore.

Elevate Canine Appetite: Top Products for Boosting Dog Hunger

Encouraging a healthy appetite in your dog is essential for their overall well-being, and there are effective appetite boosters designed to stimulate their hunger. Explore top-rated products that can revitalize your dog’s interest in food, such as specially formulated appetite stimulants and enticing flavors.

Royal canin canine health nutrition adult beauty loaf in sauce canned dog food, 5. 2 oz can (case of
  • Puppy dog food tailor-made for small-breed puppies up to 10 months old with an expected adult weight of 4.4-22 lb.
  • Optimal energy levels support a puppy's growth and development.
  • Formulated with a complex of antioxidants to support a developing immune system. Beet pulp, fish oil, and highly digestible proteins support a developing digestive system.
  • Stimulates a puppy's appetite with a highly palatable formula that is moderately high in fat and energy density.
  • This wet puppy food can be fed alone as a complete and balanced diet or mixed with Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food.
Tomlyn nutri-cal malt-flavored high-calorie nutritional gel for dogs, 4. 25oz
  • Supports and boosts a healthy appetite: irresistible taste that is ideal for picky eaters and sickly pets that are off food
  • Great for active, hunting, or working dogs. Also beneficial to sick or stressed dogs, dogs with a suppressed appetite, or pups that need extra vitamins added to their diet
  • Concentrated formula — packed with carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids (omegas 3, 6, and 9)
  • Veterinarian formulated for adult dogs
  • Palatable gel is easy and enjoyable to administer
Wellness bowl boosters tender toppers for dogs - protein superfoods - lamb salmon recipe (8 ounces)
  • Ideal as a food topper for your sidekick’s next mealtime.
  • Crafted with superfoods to support whole-body health and formulated using only premium, all-natural ingredients.
  • Features high-quality chicken and turkey, which are rich in nutrients and flavor to deliver the whisker-licking taste even the pickiest pups will love.
  • Crafted without any added grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten, artificial colors or flavors.
  • Proudly made in the USA with the finest globally-sourced ingredients.
Instinct raw boost mixers freeze dried raw dog food topper, grain free, 14 ounce (pack of 1)
  • All-natural, minimally-processed, real raw nutrition makes an excellent topper to kibble.
  • Made with protein-packed, all-natural beef and beef organs plus non-GMO fruits and vegetables.
  • Raw, whole-food ingredients are freeze dried to gently remove the moisture and lock in nutrients and flavor.
  • Supports proper digestion, a healthy coat and skin, and energy and vitality with the finest ingredients from around the world.
  • Made in the USA with no grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal or artificial colors or preservatives.
Holi beef liver dog food topper - single ingredient, human-grade - freeze dried protein and flavor e
  • Proudly sourced and made in the USA with human-grade, small-batch protein from local farms.
  • 100 percent, single-ingredient, lamb liver meal topper is easy to digest and offers plenty of healthy protein without gluten, soy, grains, additives or preservatives.
  • Adds excitement and good nutrition to your picky pup’s meal—simply mix with kibble, or add some warm water to make a drool-worthy gravy.
  • Freeze-dried meal topper retains all the nutrition, flavor and texture of raw meat without the mess and safety concerns.
  • Comes in a resealable, portable pouch that’s paw-fect for meals on the go and maintaining everyday freshness.

When should I worry about my dog not eating?

Anytime your pet has an unusual symptom, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian. If your pet is usually a very good eater and never skips a meal, the decreased appetite is a very concerning symptom. If your pet is normally a picky eater and regularly skips meals, the decreased appetite may be less of a concern. If your pet misses more than one meal or is exhibiting any other symptoms, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.


What do you do if your new dog won’t eat?

If your dog won’t eat one meal and is otherwise feeling normal, try offering food later in the day. If your pet continues to refuse food especially with no obvious explanation, this could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated. You should contact your vet so they can help you figure out why your dog is not eating.

Dog not eating? Our vet explains possible causes & dog appetite solutions

What can I give my dog with no appetite?

If your dog won’t eat, you should first contact your veterinarian. There may be an underlying cause for your dog not eating food that needs to be treated by your veterinarian. There are medications that veterinarians can prescribe that can help boost your pet’s appetite. Entyce Oral Solution for Dogs is a prescription medication that your veterinarian may consider prescribing to boost your dog’s appetite.

Your veterinarian may recommend trying a few tricks to encourage your dog to eat including:

  • Add some warm water to the food to soften up the kibble
  • Feed plain chicken breast pieces that have been boiled
  • Offer cooked plain white rice
  • Trying the canned version of your dog’s food
  • Feeding your dog by hand

What do I do if my dog won’t eat or drink?

If you have a dog not eating or drinking, this is very concerning. Your pet is at risk of becoming quickly dehydrated. If your dog won’t eat or drink, then I recommend contacting a veterinarian immediately so they can assess your pet to determine the underlying cause of your pet’s symptoms. Early treatment for conditions that cause decreased appetite may improve your pet’s chances of healing faster.

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If you enjoyed reading this article, head over to our Vet Corner where more articles can be found.

Alpha Paw Sale
author image

Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced companion animal veterinarian who lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and currently practices in the central Kentucky region. Dr. Addie has special interests in preventative care, dermatology, and diseases, and she enjoys creating helpful educational resources related to these topics to help pet parents keep their four-legged family members happy and healthy. We love Dr. Addie’s passion for providing reliable veterinary insight and medical advice to help pet parents like us give their pups the happy & healthy lives they deserve!


The medical, nutritional, or behavioral advice we provide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our editorial content is not a substitute for formal or personalized medical advice from a veterinary professional. Only board-certified veterinary specialists who have examined your pet should diagnose medical conditions, provide personalized treatment, or prescribe appropriate medication. For questions regarding your pet’s health, or if your pet is exhibiting signs of illness, injury, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.