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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 Lexington 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 dog refuses food, it can be very concerning. Is an upset stomach a minor concern or a sign of a more serious underlying issue? If your dog misses a meal but is otherwise healthy, there is probably no reason to take them to the vet. However, if you have any concerns, consult 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

Below, we'll list the most common reasons why a dog won't eat.


If your dog exhibits other symptoms in addition to a persistent decrease in appetite, it may indicate an underlying illness. Pets may lose their appetite due to a variety of illnesses, including cancer, infection, liver issues, and kidney failure. If your dog consistently refuses food, you should take them to the veterinarian.

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

Dogs benefit from having a consistent routine. When traveling, moving, or adopting a new pet, it is common for dogs to change their appetite as they adjust to their new environment. Be patient with your dog, and try these tips to help them eat!

Their Food Has Changed

Have you tried a different food brand or seen the phrase "new and improved" on their usual food? Perhaps your dog dislikes their food, which explains their reluctance to eat. Typically, a dog will skip one or two meals before succumbing to hunger and trying the new food. They usually adjust to it without issue. Keep an eye on the situation to ensure it is resolved, and contact your veterinarian if the problem persists.

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. 

Even if your dog has no other symptoms, it is critical that you seek medical attention if he misses two or more meals. It is critical to prioritize your companion's health and seek advice 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 Lexington vets to have your dog checked out.

Emergency Care

Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for advanced diagnostic appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

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Contact (859) 268-7604