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Many times, as pet owners, we are used to our pets gobbling down their meals as quickly as they can. Therefore, when your dog isn’t wanting to eat, it can be quite bothersome. A lack of appetite is referred to as inappetence, or anorexia, (this is not to be confused with the eating disorder found in humans known as anorexia nervosa. This simply means that the dog won’t eat because he/she has no appetite. There are a variety of reasons why this might occur. In many cases, after skipping a meal or two, your dog will go right back to eating again. Following are a few things to think about if your dog stops eating and some tips on what to do to get them back on track.

Gastrointestinal Upset

While it’s true that dogs are carnivores, they’re also pretty happy to do some scavenging when the opportunity is there- even at home. You’ll find that often, pets will steal food from your counters, tables, and even the trash when they get the chance to. In addition, some dogs will eat poop from the yard and other things that only dogs find to be tasty. If you ever take your dog to public places such as dog parks, he/she has access to things such as candy and other things left by other visitors. The result of this is that they sometimes eat things that they don’t need to.

If you find that your dog is not eating, it’s quite possible that he/she may have an upset stomach- known as gastrointestinal upset. Pay close attention and try to determine if he/she is vomiting or has diarrhea. Their body is a lot like a humans in that it will try to expel the thing that has caused the upset. Meanwhile, he/she may not necessarily feel like eating a whole lot. As long as you are not seeing blood in their stool/vomit, just allow him to get the offensive item out of his system. As long as he does not become dehydrated and it does not last more than 24 hours, everything should be fine. If, on the other hand, he does become dehydrated and the diarrhea and vomiting continues longer than 24 hours, seek medical attention.

Routine Changes

When your dog has a typical routine and there are changes to that, it could upset them and cause them to not eat. For example, changing the time that you are feeding them, taking walks/out to potty, adding a family member, taking a vacation, moving, and many others- are common reasons a dog will stop eating. After all, like many humans, dogs thrive on routine and get upset when changes are made. They will most likely not eat until they begin to relax and feel comfortable again. It’s best if you can make gradual changes and be sure to involve the dog in anything that is going on in the home.

Problems with Behavior

In some cases, your dog may quit eating due to behavioral issues. These are not necessarily caused by the dog that is not eating. For example, if you have another pet in the home, it could be that your dog is simply reacting to them. It could be that the other pet is stealing food from his bowl or being aggressive when he is trying to eat. In some cases, you may have a dog that won’t eat because he’s a slow eater and the other dog is a fast eater. He may want to eat his food alone so that he can eat slow. If you do have multiple dogs, you may consider feeding them separately so that they can eat in peace. Most of the time, when left alone with their food, they will start eating again.

Age-related Issues

In some cases, dogs that are older may stop eating due to problems related to their aging process. Most of the time, owners believe that an older dog won’t eat simply because of his age- when in most cases, it’s actually something that can be fixed. For example, sometimes, older dogs have trouble eating their food because of dental issues. He may want to eat, but the food causes discomfort, so he avoids it. A simple trip to the vet will help you find out what the problem is and possibly fix it. After that, your dog should be able to eat normally. Since their senses begin to fade as they age, you may want to consider warming their food, which makes it smell and taste much better. You may even want to top it with something else tasty such as stew or gravy of some sort.

Picky Eaters

Of course, then again, there are the picky eaters. Dogs are not born this way, their owners make them this way. If your dog stops eating and you’re feeding him good food that he normally likes, put it down and leave it for 15 minutes. If he has not eaten within that time period, pick it up and put it away. Do not give snacks/treats during the day. Do not give him anything else until it’s time for the next meal. He will eat when he decides that he’s hungry. If you are feeding him at regular times and paying attention to how much you are giving him, he will stop being so picky.

Keep in mind that if you do regularly change your dogs’ food, he will most likely become picky about it. Find a good one and stick with it. The more often you change foods, the more likely he is to experience stomach upset- which leads to missing meals, which you will blame on the new food. This means you’ll try something else- creating a vicious circle. Find one that your dog enjoys and stick with it, even when you hear about something else that may be better. As long as the dog is healthy and happy, there’s no reason to change it- remember, they like routine.

These are a few of the major reasons that a dog will stop eating, unless of course, he’s seriously ill. If you have a dog that won’t eat for more than 24 hours, it’s a good idea to head to the vet’s office- there may be something more serious going on. The vet will ask you about any other symptoms the dog may have, so be ready to discuss overall health of your dog.