Why is My Dog Not Eating?

Have you noticed your dog losing interest in food recently? Is their appetite dwindling, or have they stopped eating altogether? A dog who is not eating usually needs prompt medical treatment, but there may be a variety of reasons that can contribute to this behavior in your pet, too.

Dog not eating

5 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Not Eating

In the article below, you’ll find out more information about why your dog might not be eating. You can use this list to help you narrow down the potential problems for your pet and decide when it’s time to talk to a vet or an emergency vet. 

Below are some common reasons that can lead to your dog not eating:


One of the most common causes of a loss of appetite in dogs is pain. If your dog is in a lot of pain, they will be unwilling or unable to eat, and they may stop eating altogether. Pain can cause a loss of appetite in dogs whether it is acute or chronic, and it’s important to look for other symptoms of pain to determine whether or not this is the issue for your pet.

Your dog may hunker down low to the ground with their tail tucked between their legs if they are in pain. They may hide under the bed, in the closet, or behind furniture, and they may become aggressive or fearful when you or someone else in the family tries to touch them. These symptoms all indicate that your dog is in pain and needs to see an emergency vet as soon as possible to determine the cause of the problem.


Illness is another reason that can lead to your dog not eating, and it’s actually one of the most common ones. Dogs who are sick do not feel much like eating, just like humans who get sick. However, if your dog is sick for more than a couple of days and cannot eat much, this can quickly become a serious problem and needs to be treated by the vet as soon as possible.

Watch for other symptoms of illness in your dog as well. Fever, lethargy, and hiding behaviors are all signs your dog could be sick. If you see any of these symptoms along with your dog’s loss of appetite, take her to the vet or emergency vet.


If your dog is very frightened, they may be unwilling to eat for a short time, until the source of the fear is resolved. For example, if you have had a lot of guests in your home recently and your dog is afraid of strangers, they may not want to eat until they’re sure their home is clear.

Fear-based loss of appetite should lessen quickly, and your dog should be able to go back to eating normally without much trouble. However, if your dog seems excessively afraid, they may need anxiety medication from the vet to get over the problem.


A bowel obstruction is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. If your dog is suffering from a bowel obstruction, they will lose their appetite because they are unable to properly digest the food she eats.

A bowel obstruction is caused when something your dog swallows gets stuck in the digestive system and causes a loss of blood flow to the rest of the digestive tract. In a short time, the affected parts of the digestive system may die off, which can cause serious organ failure in your pet.

If you suspect your dog has an obstruction, take her to the emergency vet right away.

Dislike of Food

Finally, unlike the other more serious problems on this list, some dogs may simply stop eating because they don’t like their food. If you have just recently changed your dog to a new type of food, they may dislike it enough to stop eating. Additionally, if they have been given a good treat or some table scraps recently, they may stop eating their kibble because they want the better tasting food again.

If your dog’s loss of appetite is caused by a dislike of their food, you can gradually introduce a new food to see if your dog shows more interest in eating. According to George Melillo, Chief Veterinary Officer and Founder of Heart + Paw, “Typically, you can add the new food to the old in gradual increased amounts, while gradually reducing the original food.”

Go to Heart + Paw if Your Dog Is Not Eating

Most of the time, if your dog is not eating, this is a sign she needs to see a vet. You can usually determine, based on their other symptoms, whether or not their condition is serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency vet. Although there are some cases in which your dog’s loss of appetite may be nothing to worry about at all, it’s usually important to get them to the vet as soon as possible when you notice this issue.

Your regular vet or emergency vet will ask questions about your dog’s behavior and perform tests to determine the underlying cause of her loss of appetite. From there, the vet will help you decide on a treatment option.

If you’re asking yourself, “why is my dog not eating?” or if you have any other concerns about your pet’s health, you should take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if the underlying cause isn’t an emergency, it’s still important to understand why your pet is behaving this way and what you can do to help. Your dog shouldn’t go too long without eating, so the sooner you can get them the care they need, the quicker they will be able to get back to normal.

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About Us

Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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