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My Dog Doesn't Want to Eat. Why?

While skipping one meal usually isn't cause for concern, you do want to monitor your dog closely if they aren't eating for a long time. Today, our Harrisburg vets share some common reasons for a dog not eating and what to do if your dog won't eat. 

Why isn't my dog eating?

When your pup refuses food, it can be quite concerning. Is the upset stomach a minor concern or a potential indication of a more significant underlying problem? If your dog misses a meal but is otherwise in good health, there's likely no need to take them to the vet. However, if you have any concerns, it's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian.

If your dog hasn't eaten in over 12 hours with no obvious cause or is exhibiting any other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy this may be an emergency situation and you should call or bring your dog in for emergency care as soon as possible. 

Reasons your dog may not be eating 


If your dog is showing other symptoms along with a persistent decrease in appetite, it could be a sign of an underlying illness. Pets may experience a loss of appetite due to various illnesses such as cancer, infection, liver issues, and kidney failure. If your dog consistently refuses food, it's important to take them to the vet.

Dental disease

If chewing food is painful for your dog it may cause them to refuse food. 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 lack of appetite. 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 unwell. 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 should give your vet a call. 

A change in routine or location 

A set routine is typically ideal for dogs. When traveling, moving, or getting a new pet, it's common for dogs to experience changes in their appetite as they adapt to their new surroundings. Have patience with your dog and give these tips a try to assist your pet with eating!

Their food has changed

Have you experimented with a different food brand or observed the phrase "new and improved" on their usual food? Perhaps your dog is not fond of their food, which could explain their reluctance to eat. Usually, a dog will only skip a meal or two before their hunger takes over and they give the new food a try. They usually adapt to it without any issues. Keep an eye on the situation to ensure it gets resolved and reach out to your vet if the issue continues.

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Eat

If your dog is not eating due to a clear reason, like being in a new home for the first night, and you don't observe any other signs, there are some steps you can take to make your pup's food more enticing.

  • 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?

If you observe any persistent changes in your dog's appetite or other worrisome symptoms, such as vomiting or swelling in the mouth, it is crucial to seek emergency medical attention for your dog. 

If your dog skips two or more meals, it's important to seek medical attention, even if there are no other symptoms. It's important to prioritize your companion's health by seeking guidance from a veterinary professional. 

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.

Have you noticed a change in your pup's eating habits? Contact our Harrisburg vets today to book an examination for your dog. 

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Colonial Park Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(717) 540-7140