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A puppy not eating can certainly be cause for concern for new pet parents.
What happens if your puppy suddenly stops eating or seems less willing to eat?
How serious is it?
In most cases, reduced appetite is normal and doesn’t tend to last very long.
But there are times when it might require you to take action.
Let’s look at why your puppy might stop eating and what you can do to fix it.
What Could Make a Puppy Stop Eating?
Every puppy is different, but all puppies need to eat.
If your dog doesn’t eat for a day or two, it likely isn’t a cause for concern.
However, if the issue persists, it’s time to start looking at the possible cause of the puppy’s change in appetite.
Here are a few reasons your puppy might be less hungry than usual.
– Adjusting to a New Home
Moving into a new home can be traumatizing, especially for puppies forced to leave their mom and siblings.
Such a significant adjustment can lead to a lacking appetite, which is entirely normal.
Don’t worry if your puppy won’t eat for the first couple of days after you bring them home.
Allow for some time to adapt.
– Changes to a Puppy’s Routine
Just like that first move can affect a puppy’s appetite, so can any other significant change.
Perhaps you’ve returned to work after being off for the first few weeks.
Maybe you’ve met someone who’s started coming over to visit?
It may seem minor, but puppies quickly become attached to their routine.
Any disruption can affect their desire to eat.
– The Puppy Is Overfed
Whenever a puppy doesn’t finish its meals, it is also worth considering that you might be overfeeding!
Dog food usually comes with feeding instructions, but no two puppies are the same.
Do some additional research to see what a suitable amount is for a puppy, the size and age of your dog, and adjust it if your puppy never seems to finish their meals.
You can also try splitting up the total amount into smaller portions.
– Stress and Anxiety
It can be tempting to play with a new puppy non-stop, but puppies need a lot of rest.
If the home environment is stressful, with constant stimulation and noise, the puppy’s appetite could take a toll.
Look at your home environment objectively. Could your puppy be stressed?
– A New Family Addition
Many dogs are affected by new family additions, such as a new baby, partner, or if someone moves out.
If there has been any such change since your puppy joined the household, it could explain why a puppy doesn’t want to eat.
– Your Puppy Is Picky
Some puppies are pickier and might either dislike the food or be dogs that like to change it up.
For these dogs, you can always try wetting the food to bring out the flavor or consider rotating dog food flavors as long as it doesn’t seem to cause stomach upset.
– Weather Changes
Has it been hot outside lately?
On hot days, dogs usually eat less than they would, which is not unique to puppies.
The hormonal changes that come with hotter weather slow down metabolism.
– Medication and Vaccinations
Is your on any medication, or did you recently visit the vet for puppy shots?
Both can lead to decreased appetite and are almost always considered normal.
If the puppy refuses to eat for more than a day or two, contact your veterinarian for help and advice.
– An Upset Stomach
It’s not unusual for puppies to get an upset stomach, which usually passes on its own.
Puppies have sensitive stomachs that could be affected by eating something they shouldn’t, eating too fast, or being a little more worked up than usual.
– Other Medical Issues
While there are many reasons a puppy doesn’t want to eat that aren’t a cause for concern.
There are also things that need to be checked by a professional. Is your puppy drinking water?
If not, you could have a bigger issue since puppies dehydrate quickly.
Puppies that stop drinking or won’t eat even after you’ve tried a few of the tips provided here below should be seen by a veterinarian to rule out medical issues.
What to Do If a Puppy Isn’t Eating Properly
None of the following solutions can or should replace the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, but it could be worth a try if it’s the first day your puppy isn’t eating.
No solution works with every puppy, and it’s important to know how to read your dog and to pay close attention.
Consistent Feeding Times
It is no secret that dogs like routine and your puppy likely needs it to thrive.
Make sure you have a set feeding routine where you feed your puppy at specific times throughout the day.
This will help your puppy to know when it’s time to eat and make it easier for such a small body to adjust to the correct amount of food.
Spread Out the Portions
While you can get away with feeding an adult dog once or twice a day (preferably twice to aid metabolism)—puppies need to eat a lot more often.
Instead of feeding big meals, try dividing the daily amount into smaller portions.
Reduce the Snack Intake
Training a puppy is a must, but when you use treats for puppy training, chances are your dog won’t have any room left for actual food!
The best way to get around this is to use kibble as training treats and to count it towards the daily amount.
This makes eating more fun and ensures you don’t accidentally overfeed.
Introduce Enrichment Toys
Speaking of fun: Skip the dog bowl and use enrichment toys and activities to feed your dog!
Try a kibble dispenser or food puzzle, but pick easy toys your puppy can master.
The idea is not to frustrate your dog but to provide fun and stimulating feeding activities.
You can also try to scatter feed, where you throw the kibble directly onto the floor or into the yard.
Add Water to the Food
A simple trick to making puppy food more appealing is to add some room temperature water.
Let it sit for a few minutes to soften the kibble, bring out all that delicious flavor, and then serve to see if it makes a difference.
This is also a good trick for young puppies who might be reluctant to eat hard kibble.
Switch It Up
Puppies that are picky by nature might need extra motivation.
Try experimenting with food toppers or different kibble flavors until you find something your puppy likes.
The downside is that your puppy might get used to change and continue to demand it, but if it’s a risk you are willing to take to get your puppy to eat—it is worth a try.
Consult a Veterinarian
Last but not least: Your veterinarian knows best. It is normal to feel worried when a puppy doesn’t eat the way we expect, and while there is no reason to be concerned most of the time, it is always best to follow your gut.
It is vital to have a trusted veterinarian to turn to with these issues and someone you can reach out to for guidance.
Puppies that go days without eating should always be checked by a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.
There is a lot to say about puppies and dog food.
There will be days when the puppy won’t finish their meals or eat according to your expectations, and the smartest thing to do is to be prepared and ensure the puppy continues to drink water.
Our best advice is to purchase quality puppy food that is good for your dog, provide a stable and calm home environment for your puppy to settle into, and keep a close eye on your new family member.
If you are worried—contact a veterinarian for assistance.