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Why Won't My Dog Eat?

Why Won't My Dog Eat?

It can be scary when your dog refuses to eat, but it isn't always an emergency. Here, our Los Angeles vets discuss some reasons your dog might not be eating, what you can do to help, and when you should be concerned about it.

Why isn't my dog eating?

It can be stressful if your dog is avoiding their food, but owners don't always know if it requires a visit to the vet. Your pup could just be experiencing a brief tummy upset. 

If your dog hasn't eaten in over 12 hours, or they are additionally experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, this may a medical concern. Call or bring your dog in for emergency care as soon as possible in this scenario.

Reasons your dog may not be eating 

"Why doesn't my dog want to eat?" Our Los Angeles vets have a few possible answers to this common question:


A persistent loss of appetite in dogs is often a sign of illness, especially if your dog is also displaying other symptoms. Cancer, infection, liver problems and kidney failure are all common causes of loss of appetite in pets. It's time to take your dog to the vet if you notice your dog refusing food regularly.

Dental disease

Oral health issues can cause your dog to lose their appetite because it hurts to chew. If you notice broken or loose teeth, swelling, bleeding, or excessively bad breath, it may be that poor oral health is the cause of your dog's refusal to eat. Make an appointment with your vet for your pup to have a full dental examination and cleaning. 

Recent vaccination

While vaccinations are an essential part of your dog's long-term health, they can cause your pup to temporarily feel a little under the weather. It is normal for your dog to have a slightly decreased appetite for a day or two after being vaccinated. If their loss of appetite persists for more than two days you may want to give your vet a call. 

A change in routine or location 

Dogs are creatures of habit. It's normal for your dog's appetite to be thrown off as they adjust to their new surroundings if you're traveling, recently moved, or adopted a new pet. To help your dog eat, be patient and try some of the suggestions below.

Their food has changed

Are you trying a new brand or have you noticed the words "new and improved" on their regular food? Your dog's refusal to eat may be due to a dislike of the new food. Typically, this will only cause a dog to miss one or two meals before their hunger overcomes them and they try the new food (and will usually adjust to it just fine). If the problem does not go away, keep an eye on it and contact your veterinarian.

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Eat

Here are some at-home methods you can try to entice your pooch into eating:

  • Warm-up your dog’s food in the microwave
  • Pour chicken broth, beef broth, or tuna water over the food to make it more appealing
  • Pour warm water over dry food to make it softer.
  • Feeding your dog dry food if they usually only eat wet food or vice versa
  • Try hand-feeding, as social eaters sometimes just want attention

When should I worry about my dog not eating?

A persistent change in your dog's appetite on top of other medical symptoms is a cause for concern, and you should pursue veterinary care immediately.

If your dog misses two or more meals, regardless of whether or not there are any other symptoms, you should seek medical help. When it comes to your pet's health, it's always best to err on the side of caution and seek advice from a veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you've noticed a change in your dog's appetite and you're unsure what caused it, contact our vets at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital today to book an examination.

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Our veterinarians are passionate about caring for Los Angeles companion animals. Get in touch today to request an appointment for your pet. 

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