If you watch a dog eat, you would notice that it has the tendency to eat whatever it feels is palatable. From peanut butter to hair-cream, dog’s appetite can reach such an overdrive that we humans would crave. This great appetite of a dog makes it quite noticeable and rather frustrating experience for dog owners when their dogs won’t eat.
Dogs won’t eat or drink sometimes because they just don’t feel like eating, they have had their fill or they’re stressed. However, a prolonged loss of appetite should raise concerns - a dog shouldn’t go beyond two days without eating something. There are many reasons why dogs would refuse to eat for a long time, from a slight illness to more severe cases - which may even be cancer.
A dog’s feeding routine depends on how you train it - once a day, twice, or “ad libitum”. When a dog deviates from the routine, you’ve trained it with for a long time, the dog is said to be experiencing anorexia - a decrease in or loss of appetite for food. There are a few things to watch out for.
When should you start to worry about your dog? You’ll get all the information you may need in this blog post.
1. The extent of Anorexia:
A dog may be willing to eat, but is unable to do so, in this case, the dog is said to have pseudo-anorexia. When a dog is unwilling to eat at all, the dog is said to have true anorexia. A dog not eating may indicate an extremely dangerous underlying condition that should not be taken lightly.
2. Check Your Dog For Dehydration:
The loss of appetite may be a sign of dehydration. As dogs go about their day, their activities can cause them to lose a lot of water through urinating, panting and evaporation of fluid from their paws. These often lead to loss of appetite, lethargy, panting, dry nose and gums. Skin of a dehydrated dog loses its elasticity.
A dog vomiting because it’s eaten too much, too quickly, or an unfamiliar food may look normal, but when your dog vomits for a longer period of time - up to a day, you should visit the veterinary. It could be due to more serious infections. Bacteria, viral infections, worm problems are common with dogs. Others include eating inappropriate foods or swallowing objects. Check for signs such as bloody vomit or stool, dark or black diarrhea, weight loss, and fever.
4. Weakness and Weight Loss:
Dogs may experience weight loss due to aging or a change in its exercise or feeding routine, but when the weight loss is sudden and accompanied by weakness, low energy levels, weakened immune systems, and lethargy, it may be due to intestinal worms.
Causes of Loss of Appetite in Dogs
The following are common reasons why your dog won’t eat its food
● Stress and anxiety
● Parasite infections
● Problems with Kidney
When you introduce a new treat to a dog’s meal, it may be prompted to get bored with its other foods. Many dogs are content to eat the same diet for as long as it's offered and wouldn’t mind if it’s unaware of other options when a dog suddenly decides he just doesn't want a particular food anymore; it could be that something really is wrong with the food. Perhaps the food is rancid, or a new ingredient has been introduced in it that the dog decides it doesn’t like.
Stress and Anxiety:
If dogs observe changes in its environment due to new a dog taken in, a new family member, or anything that changes its usual routine, dogs may feel anxious and it might affect the appetite for food. Loss of appetite that is related to stress is usually corrected within weeks and the dog goes back to its normal routine.
Problems with Kidney:
Case in point, the kidney is unable to filter toxins out of the body system and they are causing damage to the digestive tract, your dog may feel pain when eating, and will abandon the food as the cause of discomfort.
Tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms can be very aggressive; they can affect areas of the heart, liver, and kidneys, causing a devastating effect on the dog. The Intestinal worms feed at the expense of your dog, which causes rapid loss of weight. Untreated intestinal worm problem leads to the deaths of many puppies under six months. The deaths from intestinal parasites have reduced greatly due to dog owners taking early vaccinations for them.
Infections from parasites and virus are the usual causes of lethargy in dogs. As energy is being diverted to the immune response to fight off the infection. Other causes of lethargy include obesity, diabetes, anemia - in cases of severe fleas and tick’s infestation as they suck blood from the dog. There are many other causes such as cancer, obesity, hyperthyroidism, among others.
According to veterinary oncologist Dave Ruslander, 50% of dogs over age 10 will develop a form of cancer. In fact, nothing kills dogs naturally like cancer. Dogs with cancer can lose weight for several reasons. Typically, cancer demands significant nutrients from your dog’s body, which causes the body to lose fat and muscle tissue. Specifically, cancer starts to produce tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which affects the body in a way that cells consume more energy than normal and lead to the point that a dog has no appetite and begins losing weight.
Solving Loss of Appetite in Dog
1. Visit The Veterinary at Least Once Annually:
It is quite unfortunate that dog owners would refer to it as a member of the family, but are unwilling to go the extra miles for it. Most dog owners would only visit the vet when the dog has a critical illness, and disregard the recommendations to visit the vet sometimes, even when the dog is healthy. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dog visits to the vet have slipped 21 percent since 2001 and cats have even a worse record dropping 30 percent.
Our pets age faster than we do. An animal skipping one annual veterinary visit has been similar to a human not visiting the doctor for more than 5 years.
Finally, Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (C/F), CEO of AAHA says, “It’s really very simple: If we can get people to see veterinarians once or twice a year pets would be healthier and live longer, and overall pet owners could actually save money.”
2. Stay Calm yourself:
Dogs are masters of body language. If your dog becomes anxious, then you can only help out if you remain calm yourself. Dogs pick up on our emotions and if we don’t control it and get upset along with them, they won’t learn and stop behaving badly. Also, be cautious of giving them food or treats in an attempt to soothe them. You wouldn't want them to associate the behavior of being insecure with a right to a reward of some kind.
3. Change diet for Kidney Treatment:
As much as kidney disease isn’t a desirable diagnosis, many dogs live comfortably for years with the disease. In this regard, the veterinarians may be able to detect it early enough and treat it appropriately. Feeding your dog with the formulated diet can have significant effects on its chance of survival. The nutritional changes that need to be made depending on the severity of the kidney disease, but in general, dogs with kidney disease should be fed diets reduced in phosphorus, protein - because kidneys are responsible for getting rid of the waste products from protein in the diet - sodium and supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. The most important of these nutrients for most dogs is phosphorus. It is important to feed a low phosphorus diet to keep the dog’s blood phosphorus low, which is thought to slow the progression of kidney disease and improve survival.
4. Correct Picky Dogs:
● If you are able to detect that the reason why your dog refuses to eat is intentional and because it is only being picky. You should establish your authority by sticking with what you want it to eat and the preferred eating routine, even if the dog won’t eat for three days. You should consistently serve your dog with what it is refusing until it understands that you want it to be less picky.
● Do not spoil your dog with treats. This reduces excess calories and establishes treats as more of a rarity, it makes it more effective when you deprive your dog of it and even more effective when you use it to reward your dog
● Establish a rotation of different foods. Just keep in mind it's usually best to switch food types no more than once a week. Otherwise, your dog may detect the routine and wait it out for the next time you serve that one it loves.
5. Remove Potential Source of Stress and Frustration:
● You may also consider desensitizing your dog to the source of its fear. Try introducing them to smaller, less intimidating animals, especially less-threatening females, in a closed and controlled setting.
● Crate training is a great practice, especially when it comes to safely transport your pet, but it also provides them a safe haven. Just like a den for wolves in the wild, this dog-friendly space makes them feel comfortable in their own space at home.
● Special treats and personal toys also provide comfort for stressed-out pets. Try to use items that already contain our scent, perhaps a towel or blanket, which will make canines feel even more secure.
● Spending more quality time with your dog will also provide positive results. Just knowing you’re there with them is tremendously comforting and can reduce stress overall.
Exercise your dog before meals. Routine exercise can help to improve its metabolism and stimulate appetite. But give her a break before eating—you don't want to feed her when she's still excitable and cooling off.
● One of the most effective ways to reduce a dog’s stress is through regular, daily exercise. Walking, playing, trips to the dog park, swimming, any form of physical activity will not only reduce your dog’s daily stress level, but it also helps them to live a much longer and healthier life.
● Providing mental stimulation is just as effective as physical exercise and the two can also be combined. Think about different types of toys available that entice a dog to work for a treat or reward.
Improve Food Quality:
When your dog abandons its food you can help by enticing it with a more palatable diet. This can include a diet higher in fat or protein to the previous ones, a food with a different form or texture, food with more moisture or raw meat pieces added to the diet.