Perhaps your Labrador has stopped eating suddenly. One thing you should try is to completely change the dog food. If the dog food is not fresh it can cause the dog food to smell or taste bad.
Dogs can be very finicky sometimes and they may not like the taste of the food. Another thing you could try is to add ginger to their food.
This can help to clean out their digestive system. If you have tried everything and your dog is still not eating then you should take the dog to the vet. If you suspect that your dog may be sick it is important to get them checked out right away.
When a dog has gone off his food?
When a dog hasn’t eaten at all for around three days vets will refer to it as ‘anorexia’. Partial anorexia is when a dog eats, but not enough to keep him healthy and fit.
This is a medical term and doesn’t mean that your dog has a mental problem. There are many reasons why a dog or puppy might go off their food.
If a dog eats nothing for a few days or loses his appetite over a period of time this can be a sign of a serious illness. A mild illness, like a tummy upset, could cause him not to eat for a day or two.
Problems with his teeth or pain can also cause him to eat less – just like you would.
But there are other reasons for a dog to stop eating. Lack of appetite can be caused by changes in the environment or emotional upsets
Not eating can also be a learned response.
That’s right. Some dogs learn to get the food they prefer, by refusing to eat what’s on offer.
We’ll look at all this and more. But first things first. Let’s exclude serious emergencies.
Dog are Not Eating? Possible Causes and Appetite Solutions
Whether you’ve had pet dogs for years or you’ve just adopted your first puppy, it can be very distressing when your dog won’t eat. There are a variety of reasons for loss of appetite in dogs. It's important to determine the cause in order to design the best treatment plan.
The first thing to keep in mind is how you’re judging your dog’s appetite. If you’re concerned because your dog isn’t eating as much as the guidelines state on the food you purchase, remember that these are only averages. Many perfectly healthy dogs eat only 60% to 70% of the amount stated on the packaging.
Because loss of appetite in dogs can indicate illness, it is important to seek veterinary care if you notice changes in your dog’s eating habits. It is especially important to respond promptly to a refusal to eat in dogs that usually eat well.
Even though most dogs can go a couple of days without food with no significant bad effects, it is best to address the problem as early as possible.
Reasons your dog won’t eat
Just like in people, there are a variety of reasons dogs might refuse to eat. These include:
- Illness. A decreased appetite in dogs is often a sign of sickness, especially if your dog is exhibiting other symptoms at the same time. Although a loss of appetite in dogs doesn’t necessarily indicate serious disease, prompt veterinary attention is important because it could be a sign of significant illness, including cancer, various systemic infections, pain, liver problems, and kidney failure.
- Dental disease. Your dog may not want to eat because something in its mouth is causing pain. Have them checked for a broken or loose tooth, severe gingivitis and even an oral tumor.
- Recent vaccination. Fortunately, vaccinations are available for many serious and contagious dog diseases. Although these injections have saved the lives of millions of pets in the past 100 years, they do sometimes have adverse effects. The majority of these are minor and brief, including a temporary loss of appetite in dogs.
- Travel and unfamiliar surroundings. If your dog’s appetite was fine until you went on a trip with them or moved to a new location, it may be that your dog won’t eat because of traveling or the unfamiliar surroundings. Some animals may get motion sickness, and others become nervous or uncomfortable in new places.
- Pickiness or behavior issues. Some dogs are just picky, or their refusal to eat may be caused by feeding them in situations where they aren’t comfortable, such as around an aggressive dog or from a bowl at an uncomfortable height. Because a decreased appetite in dogs may be caused by illness, never assume that your dog is picky without investigating other possibilities first.
5 steps to find out why your dog is not eating
If it’s been two days or more since your pooch ate, take it seriously and determine the reasons why your dog won’t eat.
1) Observe your dog's behavior
2) Check the teeth and body of your pooch
3) See if there are any issues with the food
4) Check the environment
5) Re-examine your actions
Step 1 - Observing the dog’s behavior
When observing the dog’s behavior, check if your dog won’t eat anything or won’t eat some type(s) of food. You can monitor your pet’s food intake remotely through Petcube in case you are away.
See if your dog is behaving as usual or there are other changes in the daily routine. Also, pay attention to the dog's stool and urine. If all is normal, you can let your pet skip a meal or two.
If your dog is vomiting, has diarrhea, is lethargic and dehydrated, talk to a vet. If apart from reduced appetite, your pooch is hiding, sleeping all day, or losing interest in play and other usual activities, it can be a sign of dog depression.
Step 2 - Checking your dog’s teeth and body
If you notice broken, loose or bad teeth, or inflamed gums, this can be a cause behind why your dog is not eating.
When checking your pet’s body, look for parasites, changes in their fur and skin, and any lumps or injuries. If you find something suspicious, don’t hesitate to call a vet.
Step 3 - Checking for issues with the food
If your dog won’t eat the food, make sure there isn’t anything wrong with it. Check the label for the expiry date, check the color and smell.
If you suspect the food is spoiled, get rid of it and offer your dog something else.
Step 4 - Checking the environment
If your dog stopped eating, it might be because of eating something dogs shouldn’t have. Check your houseplants, carpets, pet's toys, and any items your four-legged friend has access to. Be extra careful if there are medications or chemicals within your dog’s reach.
If anything is missing, and your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, consult a vet right away.
If your puppy or a new dog won’t eat, maybe it’s due to a new environment. The same goes if you have moved recently.
If your pet has been spending time with other people during the day, find out if someone has already fed your dog.
Step 5 - Examining your actions
Have you been giving your dog a lot of treats or table scraps?
If you have, it can explain the loss of appetite. Or maybe your dog is just waiting for something tastier — like chunks of your dinner or doggy treats.
Let’s take a look at some reasons why your dog may not be eating:
1. Bored with Current Food
Dogs only have a fraction of the taste buds that we have. In fact, their sense of taste is only about one-sixth of the strength of humans. Instead, they use their powerful noses (which are up to a million times stronger than humans) to differentiate between various flavors.
This recent pilot study showed that untrained dogs even used their sense of smell to choose their preferred choice of food. 89% of the time, the dogs typically ate more of the food they initially chose, suggesting they did not need to taste each food when deciding.
But, just like humans, dogs can get tired of eating the same food every day! If your Lab slowly loses interest in eating, try adding some wet food on top of his dry food to change the palatability and texture, or soak his food in some warm water, or add unsalted chicken broth.
If this doesn’t work, try buying a different brand or type of food. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out my top article, Best Diet for Labradors. It has loads of info on nutrition, different types of diet, and exactly what your dog can and can’t eat.
You can also experiment to see if your Lab will eat some scraps of meat or treats, which can help you work out if the food itself is the issue! If your Lab is happy to take “people food” from you, then you know that the loss of appetite is behavioral. It’s funny how dogs regain their appetite when it comes to human food or tasty treats!
2. Senior Dog with Reduced Appetite
With age, dogs tend to lose their appetite and ultimately might lose a little weight. This is quite normal as aging can cause a decreased sense of smell and taste, changes in eating habits, and different nutritional needs. As your dog’s exercise needs reduce, he is likely to be less hungry.
Your Lab may benefit from a dog food appropriate for seniors, as this can significantly help with appetite issues. For example, older dogs require a lower calorie diet due to lower energy requirements and reduced metabolism.
However, not all senior dogs may benefit from this switch, but it’s definitely something you can try.
Make sure to choose a good quality brand with healthy ingredients, and in their correct proportions, as contrary to common belief, a reduced protein diet is not beneficial for a healthy older dog. In fact, it can contribute to even more muscle loss, so senior dogs mustn’t be fed a reduced protein diet.
Ensure you check the nutritional adequacy statement on the packaging, as per the Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO).
This statement determines the life stage of the dog for which the food is approved. However, there is no individual classification for “seniors,” so choose a food that’s labeled “adult maintenance” or “all life stages.”
You should also pick dog food intended for large breeds. Go for something like Hill’s Science Diet, Large Breed for Seniors from Amazon, or Purina ONE Smart Blend Vibrant Maturity Senior. Both are from reputable brands and have thousands of favorable reviews on Amazon.
3. Picky Eater
Dogs can become fussy eaters. They are pretty smart! But, are Labradors really picky eaters?
Labradors are generally not picky eaters, but they can definitely become picky if you allow them to be! There are so many different varieties and textures of dog food, and if you consistently feed him with variety, you may have inadvertently made your dog fussy.
You should be able to buy a large bag of kibble every month and feed it to your Labrador for years. Unfortunately, your dog might not be eating because you’ve turned him into a picky eater!
Also, don’t feed your Lab too many treats or “human foods,” especially between meals. If he’s used to getting treats or table scraps all day long, it’s no wonder he’s turning his nose up at his kibble! If you give treats to entice your Labrador to eat, you are turning him into a fussy eater!
You might find that your Lab prefers a specific type of food, such as wet food, semi-moist food, or raw. Once you have discovered what he likes, remain consistent with that type. Check out my top article for loads more info on this topic, Are Labradors Fussy Eaters? 14 Tips to Cure a Picky Dog!
4. Separation Anxiety
You and your Labrador are attached at the hip, but you know how anxious and nervous he gets when you’re getting ready to go out. He may show symptoms of whining, barking, pacing, and drooling.
If your Labrador spends long periods alone at home, his distress will continue. He may also suffer from other symptoms, such as destructive chewing and digging, peeing in the home, and not eating.
This is known as separation anxiety. It simply means that your dog cannot cope with being left alone, and it’s something you may need to address. I have a great post on how long Labradors can be left alone. This offers loads of useful guidance and alternative suggestions if your dog suffers from this condition.