We all know that a dog’s appetite knows no bounds, so when your pet suddenly turns his nose up at food, it’s natural to be concerned. Until you sleuth out the reason, however, there’s no reason to start panicking. Before you book an appointment at the veterinarian, there are several factors you should consider to determine what may be suppressing his usual appetite. To make an accurate judgement, it is important to have a firm grasp of your dog’s eating habits. You know better than anyone how much food your dog typically eats and when. Any anomaly in his normal routine can then be a possible warning sign of issues that should be taken seriously.
An obvious reason for a dog to suddenly or incrementally lose its appetite is a result of illness. Much like humans when we feel under the weather with a flu or stomach bug, illness can rob a dog of their appetite, causing them to decrease their caloric intake dramatically. In the case of a prolonged refusal or inability to eat, you should not hesitate to have your veterinarian do a complete examination. A thorough physical and lab tests will provide insights as to whether there is an underlying cause to blame such as a health condition which may include liver or kidney failure or cancer.
Choose a quiet moment and make an examination of your dog’s teeth and oral health. While it’s unlikely a visual inspection will provide any definitive proof that this is the culprit, simply touching around the mouth and opening the jaws may trigger a reaction which indicates pain or discomfort, especially if facial swelling is present. Depending on your dog’s breed, gum disease, cracked or loose teeth, infections and abscesses may be more common than you imagined. Data from veterinarian clinics indicate that say 85% of dogs over the age of 4 have some form of gum disease. Dental pain can be enough to put even the strongest off us off our food and dogs are no exception.
Just as in humans,your dog’s appetite can be seriously affected by emotions, whether they be based on changes to their environment, travel, a new pet in the house, or separation anxiety. Think back to when you first noticed changes in your dog’s eating behavior and try to identify what may have altered their normal disposition. If your dog is generally happy and carefree and now seems nervous, moody, or is avoiding interacting with you, he may be experiencing stress which can have a direct impact on appetite levels.
Very often dog owners make changes to their dog’s diet without a second thought. Perhaps you saw a new brand of pet food in the store, have added a different treat to reward good behavior of have switched up the home cooked foods you make. Simply the addition of a new ingredient, such as higher level of grains, or more protein can throw off the digestive system. Stomach upset, gas, and bloating will make many dogs eat less frequently, consumer smaller amounts, or avoid it altogether. Your dog may also be just plain bored with his diet. The same food day after day could be causing similar problems that would arise if you were on a highly limited and repetitive diet. Consider adding more variety and mixing in new, healthier “sides” to mealtime. It’s not uncommon for dogs to refuse food simply because they don’t like the taste or have become used to treats and titbits from our own meals.
If your dog’s appetite has decreased and yet is not attributed to any serious health conditions following a visit to the vet, there are step you can take to get your dog back on the right path to a nutritious diet:
Your dog’s relationship with food is an important part of their good health. For a long and happy life, an interesting and balanced diet is as important to your dog as it is to you. Take the time to read up on the latest research on canine dietary needs and strive to integrate the information you learn into his daily routine. Remember that changes in eating habits can be invaluable signs of health issues. Keeping a close watch on appetite and eating habits may one day provide you with an advance warning that could save your dog’s life.