We are looking for qualified veterinarians to add to our team. We would love for you to apply on our Careers page!

Loss of Appetite in Dogs: Why Your Dog Isn’t Eating and What You Can Do to Help

puppy eating
Picture of Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

You scoop some kibble out of the container and dump it into the bowl. As you go to place the bowl on the floor, you’re hoping tonight is different. The last couple of days, your dog hasn’t had much of an appetite.

Whether you just got a puppy or you’ve loved your dog for years, it is very stressful when they won’t eat. There are lots of different reasons why your dog may have lost their appetite, so it is important to closely monitor their behavior and reflect on any environmental aspects that could have contributed to the change.

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we aim to ensure your pets are happy and healthy. We know that making sure your dog is properly nourished and doesn’t have any underlying issues is a top priority. We value the ability to educate dog guardians as to why your dog’s eating habits have changed and what you can do to help.

What Causes Loss Of Appetite In Dogs?

A dog’s genetics and their surrounding environment can both contribute to your dog’s loss of appetite. A handful of common reasons that dogs won’t eat are:

  • Illness: If your dog has a loss of appetite and also displays other symptoms, it is likely that your dog is battling some illness. Some significant illnesses that may be causing the loss of appetite are liver and kidney problems, infections, and cancer.
  • Social and Emotional Stress: Major changes to your dogs surroundings can be a contributor to a loss of appetite. If you’ve recently moved, there’s different people in your house, or you got a new pet, your dog may be too uncomfortable and stressed to eat.
  • Medications or Vaccinations: New medications or a recent vaccination can cause your dog to not eat. Oftentimes medications and vaccinations can upset your dog’s stomach or make them feel drowsy and lethargic.
  • Dental Issues:  Whether it’s a painful tooth or infected gums, you dog may stop eating due to discomfort and pain in their mouth. There is also the possibility that an oral tumor is causing pain.
  • Absence of Owner: Sometimes, your schedule can influence your dog’s eating habits. Because dogs are pack animals, it isn’t uncommon for them to wait for you to come home to eat.
  • Food Preferences: Some dogs will eat anything and everything you set in front of them, while others seem to lose their appetite when not given foods that meet their preferences.

Loss of Appetite in Dogs: Signs and Symptoms

If you are concerned that your dog has lost his appetite, be sure to keep track of any signs and symptoms your dog is displaying, including:

  • Eating less than usual
  • Not eating at all
  • Only being able to eat a partial meal
  • Choosing not to eat treats
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Low energy

If these problems persist and continue to affect your dog’s day-to-day activities, you need to take your dog to your local vet to get checked out.

What to Do When Your Dog Won’t Eat

When you take your dog to the vet, the reason why your dog isn’t eating will be determined by your veterinarian. This reason will dictate your next course of action.


If your veterinarian deems illness the reason why your dog has lost their appetite, then a prescription diet may be recommended to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, while also allowing the illness to be treated. If your dog’s case is more severe, some different options will be suggested, including a liquid diet, tube or syringe-feeding, or appetite-inducing medication.


If the loss in appetite is a behavioral issue, opposed to a medical problem, then there are some steps you can take to encourage your dog to eat, including:

  • Limiting the amount of treats
  • Walking your dog before a mealtime
  • Establishing a consistent meal schedule
  • Test out different kinds of dog food
  • Use toys or food dispensers to make mealtimes fun

Alternative Ways To Encourage Your Dog To Eat Again

There are many different natural supplements that can be used to encourage your pup to eat again. These Appetite Stimulants for Dogs can encourage them to eat and allow them to regain their strength whether they have a medical issue or a behavioral issue. Be sure to consult your veterinarian regarding the combination of natural supplements and prescribed medications to avoid any issues.

Alternative Dietary Options

Additionally, you can always try different foods and see if your dog responds better. For a list of veterinary-approved dog, foods visit our dog resources page.

Dog Not Eating? | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

If your dog’s eating habits have changed, it is important to schedule a visit with your vet as soon as possible to determine the cause. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we offer wellness exams and lab work that allow us to help your pet get back to normal. Don’t wait for the problems to worsen. Contact us today and we’ll provide compassionate care to restore your dog’s health.

Share This Post

a picture of a vet clinic

we are hiring vets!

Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.