5 Things That Can Cause Loss of Appetite in Dogs

October 11, 2016

appetitite loss in dogs

By Laurie Darroch

Most of the time our dogs act like ravenous beasts who devour any food that comes their way, although admittedly there are some dogs who are picky eaters. Puppies eat as if they haven’t been fed in weeks, even not long after they’ve already eaten. Most adult dogs really do look forward to every meal and every treat. There are times though, when a dog can lose his appetite no matter what type of eater he usually is. The reasons vary from dog to dog, but here are 5 things than can cause a loss of appetite.


The most obvious reason a dog can lose his appetite is simply because he doesn’t feel well, the same way we react when we feel ill or are in pain. Illnesses of all kinds can cause loss of appetite in dogs. Bacterial or viral infections, urinary tract infections, kidney failure, cancer and other illnesses or diseases can make your dog pick at their food or lose their appetite altogether.

If they are not eating after a couple days and you notice they are not drinking much water either, you’ll need to take your dog to the vet to find out what is wrong. No matter how much you cater to your dog, some causes of appetite loss are not treatable by you alone and need veterinary care to get your dog well and restore his appetite.

Eating Something They Shouldn’t

Loss of appetite in a dog can be caused by chewing something they found foraging in the garden that upset their stomach. Dogs will often consume anything that smells tempting, including things from the garbage if they can get to it, or bugs and insects, and these things can make them feel sick. Getting into foods that are dangerous for them to eat, such as chocolates left on the coffee table, can make dogs lose their appetite as well. Sometimes what tempts them can make them very sick. They don’t know the difference between something edible and something spoiled or toxic.


Depending on the type of injury, the medications they are taking for pain, or how intense the pain is, injury or disability can affect a dog’s appetite. Even the accompanying depression-like behavior some dogs exhibit when injured or in pain can affect how much they feel like eating, as can the limits in their function because of injury.


If your dog is getting older, you may see a change in their eating habits. Aging can bring physical changes and diseases that affect their appetite. An older dog may get less exercise and burn off less energy. Your dog may get more finicky about their food. They may need a change to a food more suited to older, more sedentary dogs, such as CANIDAE Senior Dog Formula with fresh chicken. Choosing a food appropriate for their age and the changes they are going through can help with appetite issues.


Dogs can react to stressful changes in their surroundings. They like everything in their environment to fit their own sense of order. Being in new surroundings, adding a new human or canine family member to the household, or any kind of unusual stress in the home environment can make your dog agitated. That in turn can lower their appetite until they feel secure or at ease again.

Even though dogs instinctively search out food wherever they are, any dog can lose his normally healthy appetite. Being aware of the different causes can help you solve whatever problem is causing their appetite change and get them back to eating healthy. You know your own dog best, so pay attention when you see any change in his appetite.

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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  1. Grace Chavez says:

    My sweet, kind, loving and the most passionate way she express’ how much she is my fur baby and I’m her mommy completely. My father passed away in August 2005 he had his Chiquita, the other lady he loved almost as much as my mom. His chiuhauhua. After he passed away, my mom and sister did not feel they could take care of her. I became her Mom. Unexpirenced I was blessed with her and later her 5 bundle of joys. Alexandrea, (Ali),lonnie, simon,sweet keyda, and my number 5 baby, Andrea (andy). My life became their’s 2006 to now 2019 +.
    Ali is my1st born and my last still with me. Through more than any one can handle. Ali will be 14 in 2 days., Oct.1,2019. The last few months she has aged Phyically ,weight, sleeping alot, her eatting picky,eats less does not react to me trying hard to
    get her to atleast acknowledge me but she doesn’t. I am so, so Scared I’m sadly, aching that I am soon going to lose my baby.the way she stares at me with a hard look. But I have so
    much love and attachment I can’t even fathom Ali gone, out, away ,not in my every moment, each peice of my life ever again. She , I feel is going through the stages especially her not eating like before. This scares me undefinedably. My precious baby my friend, Ali Cakes

  2. Shanti Fernando says:

    Since we lost our dog who was her friend 8 years senior to her she refuses food & milk. Is there anything I could give to get her apetite back.

  3. Jim says:

    Have a chow mix, have had for 14 years. He was dumped in the desert in AZ during the hottest time of year. A friend was horseback riding and found him and his sister. He looked like a bear cub do named him Bear. Been great dog even with the chow attitude. Two weeks ago my son found a female dog couple years old but couldn’t keep and ask if we wanted so we figured we would get a mate for bear for his later years. He slowly stopped eating, seems beside himself, just not the same. Wife cooked him burgers and wouldn’t eat. I had to go out of town for work but hearing this am heading home to see what’s going on. Any ideas, he’s my baby and am worried.

  4. YiMar says:

    My dog(GSD) is 6 months old now but his back legs feel in disease called hip dysplasis. Now he becomes loss in appetite. He don’t eat anymore the food which he had eaten heartily. However, he eats dog snacks. I don’t know how to do to gain again his appetite. Please help me.

  5. Patricia says:

    I have a16 years old dog. We took him to vet
    For booster injection.
    And now he can slowly walk. This one day he is no appetite to eat and we get some cream to put around the ear.
    I was wondering whether he would eat.

  6. Beth says:

    I have a 10 yr old female shepherd who up until a month ago was in excellent health. She started limping and stopped eating so we took her to the vet. He did xrays and blood work, said she had a little arthritis in her ankles but otherwise was fine. Gave us loads of tummy pills, pain meds and an anti inflammatory. The anti inflammatory gave her the runs and she is not cleaning herself, will not lift her tail at all now, doesn’t wag even. They stopped the anti inflammatory and gave us pills for the runs and MORE tummy pills, plus gave her a sedative because she is constantly pacing and panting (from pain I am guessing). Well, the vet keeps saying there is nothing wrong with her but my dog is not right! She is sad, lethargic, panting, pacing (even with the sedative!) will not eat anything and will not lift her tail at all. Plus she is still limping. I don’t know what to do because the tests show nothing yet this dog isn’t well!

    1. Tina says:

      Hi Beth,
      My dog is currently experiencing small bumps all over, limps on rt rear leg, blood shot eyes, panting, and cries all night. she cant walk up or down stairs anymore either. The vet did blood work and a stool sample. Says shes fine. Shes so NOT FINE!! I need help

  7. Kimi Williams says:

    I have a 11 year old Pomeranian she is so feisty even right now she goes outside and runs and jumps and she is so happy I took her in to have 6 teeth removed and they clean her teeth now she won’t eat at all she acts scared to death of food if I call for the cat or another dog she’ll jump up and guard her food and eventually eat it but I’m having big trouble getting her to eat it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen seeing her act this way she absolutely looks scared to death of her food and this is not right could they have hurt her clean her teeth and one month she has lost one pan is that a lot of weight to have lost please help me

  8. Heather says:

    My puppy is 10 months old – a month ago my other doggie of 8 years died of lymphomia – she passed away within 7 days.
    Could my puppy be mourning / missing her Friend?
    The puppy does not want to eat and all I can temp her with is cat pellets.

  9. marie says:

    my dog come home Thursday from the dog groomers he didn’t eat much Thursday really didn’t want to eat Thursday night and then Friday he would need nothing or do anything just hide and Saturday is the same he’s been to the vet twice they did x-rays and bloodwork and everything is fine but he still not eating

  10. Amy says:

    My 10 year old GSD Spy used to be very enthusiastic when it’s time for her meals. Of late, she shows disinterest and only when we coax her does she eat. When it comes to treats, she perks up.
    Otherwise, she seems slow of late and lethargic. She recently had blood work done and results are fine.
    What do you suspect is Spy’s problem

  11. Joyce gill says:

    I have a lab mix with pit an I guess he was 6 week old I got an he been with me 3 week now he would eat or drank water 2 day later he drank an eat it up then yesterday was Friday 7 he would vomit 3till4 time if he eat but he would drank water an laying around now he has black runs off stool an is loosening weight now if he eat or drank it come up like? What should I do he know his name an he will look at me

  12. Prince says:

    I have 2month old cockar spaniel puppy she refuse to take meal since 1day what can I do plz help me

  13. Hyren bi says:

    Hi i have a 11 months old pomaranian spitz, she’s lossing her appetite for almost a week but she’s very energetic. Is my dog sick? What should i do?

  14. Arun says:

    My dogs are not eating food and some died .Main symptoms that they show are heavy breathing,weakness,loose motion.

  15. Victoria salas says:

    I have a nine month old pit bulland he’s losing his appetite.and i’m worried what should i do.?

  16. Brinda Atencio says:

    July 1,2018 8:42 pm. Hi my name is Brinda A. I have a female shitzu mix she is 12 years old she just recently lost appetite and she’s losing a lot of weight she had threw up her food and the smell was like almost death. She is eating once a day she’s drinking water but she’s gotten so skinny I actually could feel her ribs. Her legs are really shaky when she stands. If I go outside she will fall over and lay on the grass she’s just not herself very perky. her food almost looks like it stays up in her upper stomach.

  17. Halyn Torres says:

    Hi! I have a chihuahua and he has allergies. Could that cause him not to eat a lot? Thanks.

    1. Racharl says:

      My puppy is 8 weeks old will not eat or drink acts as though he is hurting I need help here . Thank you Rachael

  18. Chipangho says:

    4 months old puppy boerbod he refuse to eat and he is vomiting after drinking clean water help me guy, l love my friend

  19. Elizabeth says:

    My dog is an 8 year old greyhound and last night he would not eat his dinner .. would eat treats, cheese, etc., but not his normal food…..this morning he ate 1/2 cup of his kibble for breakfast + the corners of my toast, and he will eat treats [liver, etc.] and he has lost interest in water as well. Tonight I’ll mix some cottage cheese in is kibble to see if he eats/drinks.

  20. Judy m o l n a r says:

    My dog is 14 years old and for the last five days he refuses to eat and I’ve tried chicken I tried beef I tried what dog food will only eat a dental stick in the morning he throws up a little bit yellow bile is drinking water but he just won’t eat and he’s losing weight what could be the problem he’s not in any pain and still loves going for his walks but I can’t get in to eat

    1. Have u thought of pancreatitis

  21. Aroha Rupapera aroharupapera6#gmail.com says:

    I wonder if my dogs lack of appetite is more from the fact that he wants my company when eating. He is fine when walking and his treats to encourage good behavior. Its only now when he thinks I am leaving.

  22. Lauren. says:

    I just heard of a product called Entyce its the first appetite stimulant for dogs coming out. My vet says it will be available November 1st 2017. I placed an order for a bottle.
    I will try it. It’s an oral liquid. It can save my dogs life. I wish I had it last year when I lost my other baby to no eating.
    I looks it up on YouTube it looks amazing. It gives me hope.

    1. kim says:

      Hi, Did you need a doctors script to buy the Entyce? If not, where do you buy it? Thanks!

  23. SD pitt says:

    I have a 9 year old pitt, he did have a cancer taken out from his neck last year but he was eating fine with that lump. lately he has not been eating good. I feed 2x a day and now he is only eating 1x a day and not all his food, however he has no issues eating your food. should I be concerned. he is drinking, bit never was a good drinker so not sure what to do

  24. Nick says:

    Our 7 yr old dog just stopped eating. We give can foods he eats ok at times we need to spoon feed him. Now we noticed his leg is swelling. He is drinking a lot of water tho.. 2 weeks now

    1. Gautam phukan says:

      I hv one female retriever ,aged about 4 .since a week she is not eating herself but she drinks plenty of water…her weight is 28kg.how to improve her appetite?

  25. Audrey says:

    My dog is a Labrador female. She is 1.5 years old. We feed her twice a day at 12.30pm & 7pm. We gave her mixture of rice, dog biscuits and dog meat. If we were to give her only biscuits she won’t eat. She happily ate all without fail. Lately, we noticed that she has lost her appetite. She did not finish the food in both meal times, only sometimes she finishes the food during evening time only. We need to know your advice before we send her to the vet because the fee is not cheap. We will see what we can do from here.

  26. Elizabeth M says:

    We have a 14 week old pup who up to this point has been very active, eating well, drinking water good, sleeping well. This week him and his brother got out of their pen and tore up the house, we didn’t notice anything had been chewed on or anything but now he is not eating, and has lost some weight. He will drink some water but that’s about it. The vet can’t fit him in is there anything else we can do, or what might be the cause? He’s drooling and gagging, when something comes up it’s full of mucus.

    1. Karen says:

      I hope your Vet fit him in, it sounded like an obstruction, my dog had this and can be fatal if it doesn’t clear

  27. Denise A says:

    My dog threw up not a lot and she’s not eating right now so I’m thinking she just has an upset stomach she’s on antibiotics I called the vet because I thought her tongue was swollen he told me to give him Benadryl in her antibiotic later but I put food out and she didn’t eat it

  28. Jessie says:

    Thank you so much for this. This made me feel better. I was thinking the worst possible reason but I think my dog is only having trouble with his food and environment. I’ll make sure that everything ill be alright for him. Love lots xx

  29. My puppy is 2months old. Oreo is a male shih tzu. He usually eat too much, mostly 4 times a day. He is playful. He loves to play with our other dogs. Then suddenly i notuce hes not eating well. I observe the whole day and he didnt finish any single meal. But he eat a little. Then the next day i went to the vet. But they said he has normal temp. He is playful again. But then he is still look tired.always sleeping. I fed him the processed dog food. He love it. But he didnt take too much.im really scared. I dont know what to do. Help me please.

    1. Holly says:

      I really hope someone has gotten to you before me at this point. If he checked out physically at the vet, and is back to behaving as I’ll, I hope you took him back to do a double check on distemper and parvovirus just to rule it out.
      If all still came back as normal, perhaps as he is growing, he simply is getting his appetite reset and does not need food offered four times a day anymore. Perhaps cutting out a meal and making the mid meal half as much will help you see more empty bowls.
      If the vet has given him a clean look over. It’s likely just a behavior change as he continues to grow and his body is developing its own pattern for food.
      (For instance babies skip night time feedings as they are able to go longer bewtween feedings… typically fewer, more spaced out larger feedings)
      It could also be whatever your food of choice is, upsets his tummy or gives him painful gas and he can’t tell you that.