There is a reason why dogs are considered man's best friend. These furry friends work their way into your lives and hearts and quickly become more like a family member than a pet. They are there to greet you at the door every day, comfort you on your worst day, and snuggle with you when you are sick. Dogs don't care what you look like, what kind of car you drive, or if you made that last promotion at work. So when your best friend gets sick, you want to take care of them the same way they care for you.
One of the main signs that your dog is not feeling well is a change in their diet. If your dog suddenly stops eating, it can be quite alarming. However, if your dog seems otherwise healthy and is still active and behaving normally, then it may be something very minor. Your veterinarian can quickly assess the problem so that you can alleviate the cause of distress for your canine friend.
Common Causes of Change in Diet
You need to consider changes in your pet's environment that could be causing the problem. Stress can be a huge factor in the diet of your pet. If your dog has recently had a huge disruption in their schedule -- such as owners going on vacation or loss of another pet -- then this could cause your dog to not eat. When humans are stressed they respond the same way, by either overeating or not eating at all.
If you have recently changed your dog's food, then he may be suffering from a food allergy. Also, frequently switching dog food brands, or switching from one food to another too quickly could cause digestive upset. The solution to the problem could be as simple as switching to a more appropriate food option for your dog's digestive health.
Dental disorders may also be causing your dog to not eat. A broken tooth, gum disease, or other oral discomfort can easily be taken care of. Once the problem is eliminated, then your pet will typically continue with their normal eating habits.
A wide variety of other disorders – from very mild issues to more chronic ailments – can also lead to a loss of appetite. A urinary tract infection, worm infestation, or disorders of major organ systems can also be to blame. Pain can similarly be causing your dog to stop eating, either from a minor injury -- such as a strain or pulled muscle – or a more serious issue. However, if the causing factor is more severe, then your dog is most likely going to exhibit more symptoms than just lack of appetite.
Whatever the cause of your dog's lack of appetite, if they have not eaten in 24–48 hours, it is essential that you take your friend to the veterinarian's office for suitable treatment. Without proper nourishment and hydration, your pet's health can deteriorate quickly. Smaller breeds are affected more quickly by lack of food and water.
Best Options for Increasing Appetite
If your dog refuses to eat their regular dog food, and you have eliminated all causative factors, there are some tricks that may help increase their appetite.
- Dogs love peanut butter. While it is not necessarily nutritious for them, it is also not harmful. Peanut butter can, however, stimulate your dog's appetite. If a dog will not eat anything else, they usually will still eat peanut butter. You can offer your dog a spoonful of peanut butter, and then once you get them eating, offer additional food options.
- Try pouring chicken or beef broth over regular food to make it easier to eat and more appealing.
- If your dog is not feeling well or exhibiting mouth pain, softer food options may work better. Substitute dry dog food for the same brand of wet dog food. It is usually more enticing for your dog than bland, dry kibble.
- If all else fails, dogs love human food, especially meat. Offer your four-legged friend some healthy, fresh meat options. Pulled chicken breast or high-quality ground beef are easy to eat and great selections for your pet. This is not meant to become their regular diet, but just to encourage them to eat.
Remember that certain medications may also cause loss of appetite. If your veterinarian has given your pet a prescription medication, then this may contribute to their lack of appetite. Pain medications, sedatives, and chemo medications can decrease the urge to eat. If your dog is taking any kind of anti-inflammatory, it is important that they eat something with the medication to eliminate stomach upset. If decreased appetite continues, contact a veterinarian like Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital immediately. They may be able to prescribe a specific diet or medication to help increase your dog's appetite.