Help! My Dog Has Stopped Eating..

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

Some dogs barely stop eating, but others sometimes lose interest in their food. If your dog has stopped eating, follow this helpful advice.

If your dog has stopped eating it can be a very worrying and distressing time. However, there is often no need to worry. Most dogs are able to go for a few days without eating without any negative effects. However, addressing the problem rapidly is always advisable.

Why Won’t My Pet Eat?

There are different reasons why humans stop eating, and there are just as many reasons why dogs refuse to eat. These could include:

· Illnesses – if your dog has a decreased appetite, he may be unwell. This is especially likely if your dog has other symptoms. Refusing to eat doesn’t necessarily mean your pet has a serious disease, but seeking advice from your vet is always wise.

· Dental problems – some dogs don’t want to eat when they are experiencing pain in their mouth from gingivitis, or loose or broken teeth.

· Vaccinations – although vaccinations are vital to keep your pet safe from contagious and serious canine diseases, they sometimes have an adverse effect. Luckily, most of these side-effects are brief and short-lasting and a lack of appetite is one of those effects.

· Unfamiliar surroundings – some pets avoid eating when they are travelling or in unfamiliar surroundings. Feeling uncomfortable or nervous in a new place can deter your pet from food while others may suffer from motion sickness that stops them from eating for a while.

· Behaviour problems and pickiness – there are some dogs, like humans, who are picky. Others won’t eat when they feel uncomfortable in a certain situation. Perhaps they don’t want to eat when they’re around another dog, or perhaps the bowl isn’t at the right height for them. Others prefer to eat certain foods and try to hold out until they’re given the treat they enjoy most.

Dealing With A Picky Dog

Dogs are intelligent and are able to manipulate their owners pretty well. They understand that, when they refuse to eat, their owner will often offer them something else that they may like better. When you’re trying to switch your pet to a raw diet you may find that your dog suddenly starts refusing his meals. This is sometimes because he is hoping you’ll go back to feeding him his old diet. Rest assured, if your pet is drinking water, going to the bathroom regularly and is bright and lively, you don’t need to pander to him.

Top Tips For Picky Eaters

Don’t encourage your pet to eat. Rather, ignore him, leave the room, or focus your attention elsewhere. Avoid making eye contact. Instead, put the food down, allow him around 15 minutes to eat it, and then take it away and put it in the fridge ready for the next mealtime. Whatever you do, don’t give your pet a snack or alternative meal. Yes, you’ll sometimes need to throw food away, but keep offering the meals you want your pet to eat, replacing with fresh food if your pet continues to refuse to eat over several days.

You may want to try presenting the food in different ways. For example, putting the food into a puzzle toy could help. Often, dogs like working for their food and they appreciate the mental stimulation that these toys bring.

Remember, dogs can be just as stubborn as humans, but as long as your pet isn’t suffering and isn’t unwell, he won’t starve himself. If you’re concerned, take your dog to the vet, otherwise keep persevering!

Has Your Dog Gone off Raw?

When it comes to raw feeding for dogs it is not unusual to hear reports from an owner that their dog has gone off their raw dog food or won’t eat it anymore. Often, the dog has been on a raw diet for a while seemingly loving it at first before becoming increasingly “fussy” and appearing to “favour” certain options over others. This can limit the range of proteins that the owner starts to order. It can even go as far as dogs refusing to eat and owners throwing perfectly good raw away!

This situation can be extremely concerning for dog owners. A typical response is to try another raw brand or food type (treats or kibble) which the dog seems to miraculously want to eat instead! Many owners assume it is the fact their dog doesn’t like the old food any more when this is not actually the case. Often, the answer is quite simple having absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they have gone off their raw food or developed preferences! In fact, you may be surprised at the real reason why the food that you put down for them isn’t being eaten.

The dog is just not hungry

“How is that possible?” you might ask. Well, if you analyse how much you feed your dog and how many treats they get in a day versus what they should actually be eating, you may well find that you are overfeeding them. Of course, we do this with the best of intentions and sometimes without even realizing but you would be surprised at the number of owners that contact us to say their dog won’t eat only to discover that this is because they aren’t actually hungry. This is especially common around 9 or 10 months old when growth rates slow and puppies no longer need as much to eat.

To add further confusion to the issue, a dog who is refusing to eat old raw may be drawn initially to a new raw or alternative food source at first as it smells new and enticing. This will be short-lived however as if it’s a new source of raw the same will apply and the dog will eventually behave the same refusing the food again. Many owners can find themselves going through every raw food on the market until they give up or figure out that the dog is just not hungry.

It’s time to re-calculate what your dog is eating

If you refer to our raw feeding guide and calculate what your dog should actually be eating against what they are actually eating, you can then work out if you are feeding too much. We get used to feeding based on what is eaten and not what should be consumed. Once this becomes routine it seems perfectly natural to carry on giving them the same amount of food at each mealtime. Eventually, you may start to notice an expanding waistline. When you know how much your dog should be getting, stick to it and make sure that any treats are included in this daily food allowance.

Also, feeding guides are exactly that – GUIDES! There are no hard and fast rules as to how much a dog should eat. A common-sense approach should be taken. For example, most Bulldogs need approx. 1.5% of their “ideal body weight” to stay lean and healthy. Their breed is prone to a slower metabolism and bulkier composition so they need less food to stay trim and athletic. Now, most raw feeding guides say 2-3%, but in our experience, this is almost undoubtedly too much for the British Bulldog. This will also apply to elderly or overweight dogs, or dogs that have reduced appetite. It is simply that they are NOT HUNGRY and that’s why they are leaving food. Don’t be concerned – simply skip a meal and then reduce the amount you feed them going forward.

Concerns about your dog not eating

If you have a dog that is refusing their raw food, at this point you may be worrying that they haven’t eaten their last meal and that they are going to get hungry. Do not worry! If a dog is hungry it will eat, whatever you put in front of them. The only exception to this is if there is an underlying issue or illness in which case, you will want to rest their stomach and get professional advice if it is an ongoing concern.

Be strict with their feeding regime

If you want to get your dog back into their normal feeding habits then here is what you should do:

  • At their next meal time put out the correct amount of the food you want them to eat – in this case it is their raw meal.

  • Do not start preparing special meals, giving them treats and trying to get them to eat anything other than what they should be eating. You will only encourage picky eating habits.

  • If they clear their bowl of the reduced amount don’t be tempted to feed more. Stick to the plan!

  • Put their food down and leave it. If they haven’t eaten after 20 minutes, pick it up and put the food away again until their next meal time.

  • At the next meal time do exactly the same again!

  • Stay strong and don’t give in to your dog and don’t feel guilty that your dog hasn’t eaten and start to panic.

A hungry dog will eat and as long as energy levels are normal and water is being consumed, they will be fine. If, after following the above steps, they still don’t eat consider the fact that they may just be having a rest day and try again tomorrow. Some days a dog will want to eat more than others. You shouldn’t panic if they don’t eat at all one day. In fact, it is advisable that you rest their digestive system once a week with a fast day.

The benefits of regular fasting

Fasting dogs is a well-researched and highly recommended part of the raw feeding process. It is also how nature works! Remember, a wild dog would not eat daily and when you take a dog back to a natural diet they often mimic natural eating habits, including periods of fasting. The burden of canine digestion demands all of the resources of the immune system. In order to strengthen immunity and give the dog’s digestive system a chance to recover, it is important to fast your dog regularly.

Improving digestion and immunity

Now, this may seem like a tall order when faced with a dog that expects their food at a certain time. As owners, you feel obliged to feed them at their expected meal times daily. You feel cruel, mean and like you are starving your dog but the truth is you are doing them a whole world of good. Regular fasting can help the immune system detoxify. It will restore the normal homeostatic balance and help their immune system to stay in peak form. But how often should you fast your dog? It is widely recommended to fast on the 7th day. Feed them their normal recommended allowance of food for six days then give them nothing on the 7th.

A new routine will improve their feeding habits

Once your dog is eating again, start the new regime of feeding for 6 days and fasting for 1. Remember to keep an eye on the amounts you are feeding and the weight of your dog. If you notice a difference either way in their weight then adjust how much you feed accordingly and remember to include treats in their daily allowance. Your dog will no longer be fussy about what they eat and when and they will benefit from much-improved digestion and a stronger immune system.

Follow the advice before considering other issues.

If the problem persists and the dog has not eaten for a few days or more then you can start to consider other issues that may be going on. In the majority of cases though we find that, by following the above guidelines and advice, the issue normally rectifies itself after 2 to 3 days and the dog will happily go back to eating the raw food that you put down.

'Article partly taken from Prodog Raw's Blog'

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