Reasons your puppy might not be eating

The first few months with your new puppy can be stressful as you’re constantly worried about whether or not they’re getting everything they need.

We all want our puppies to have a healthy diet and make sure they’re getting all the nutrients to keep them fit and healthy. Puppies usually love food, and when your puppy starts to lose their appetite, it can be very concerning. Here are some of the common reasons and lesser-known reasons why your puppy might not be eating.



One of the most common reasons that puppies can go off their food is that they’re sick. Just like humans, if you’re feeling unwell or a little under the weather, you may go off your food. In most cases, puppies can regain their appetite after they start to feel better. Medical conditions that can cause a loss of appetite in dogs of all ages include upset stomach, infection, parasites, or even depression.

But, if your puppy stops eating for longer and is either vomiting or having diarrhoea, it’s always best to consult your vet. In some rare cases, it could be a sign of illness, including cancer, various systemic infections, pain, liver problems, and kidney failure.

But don’t worry there are some things you can do to encourage your puppy to start eating and kick start their appetites:

  • Warm up their food in the microwave
  • Add a little broth or tuna water to their food
  • Pour a little water over their dry food to make it softer and easier to eat
  • Try hand feeding them – as social eaters sometimes just want attention
  • In some cases, your vet may prescribe some medication that helps to induce eating



If your puppy has recently been prescribed medication, it could be upsetting their stomach.



Surprising things can affect your puppy’s appetite, even things that seem quite inconsequential such as moving, changing jobs, or a break-up – any change or upheaval can upset your puppy.



Dogs are social animals and really enjoy your company. When you’re not at home, they’re waiting for you to come home so they can eat with you. Not having you around for large chunks of time can also be quite distressing for puppies and cause separation anxiety.



Some puppies can be quite particular about what time of day they eat. As long as your puppy has a routine, don’t worry about what time of day they prefer to eat.



It may be that your dog won’t eat because of travelling or unfamiliar surroundings. It could even be something very small like a new food bowl or feeding location that’s putting them off eating. Some animals even get motion sickness, and others become nervous or uncomfortable in new places. Even a change in weather has been known to affect a puppy’s appetite.



Don’t leave dry food out as it can go soft or stale.

In most cases, your puppy will resume eating, and it’s nothing to be concerned about, but it’s always a good idea to ask your vet for advice.



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 suggest, remember that these are only averages. Take a look at our puppy feeding guide.



Your puppy might not want to eat because something in their mouth is causing them pain. You can always check for broken or loose teeth.



If your puppy has recently had their vaccinations, they can sometimes have adverse effects. The majority of these are minor and brief, including a temporary loss of appetite in dogs.



Your puppy might have stopped eating because they’re eating something they shouldn’t. Check your houseplants, carpets, pet’s toys, and any items your puppy has access to.

If your pet has been spending time with other people during the day, find out if someone has already fed your dog, or been exposed to anything that could cause an upset stomach.



Puppies can get bored with food if they’re eating the same thing every day for months. After all, who wouldn’t get bored? Mix things up every once in a while by combining flavours and textures. Sometimes it just takes a little patience and trying different types of food.



And lastly, some puppies can just be picky. Some good things to try are:

  • Cut back on treats
  • Get a solid routine in place
  • Make mealtimes fun and rewarding
  • Take your puppy for a walk before mealtimes to build up its appetite
  • Changing your puppy’s feeding situation. If you normally feed your pet with other animals, try feeding them alone. Or try using different bowls or plates at different heights to see what your dog prefers. (You might even put a few pieces of food on the floor next to the feeding dish.)
  • Try a different kind or flavour of food
  • Try not to feed them low-quality food and choose an option with similar nutritional value


Another important thing to look out for when your puppy won’t eat is their water intake. Dogs shouldn’t go a day without drinking water. Your puppy should drink at least an ounce of water per pound of weight every day to prevent dehydration.

If your dog won’t eat but drinks water, give it a day or two. It’s possible that your pet just has an upset stomach. If you notice other issues in behaviour, always call a vet.

Your dog not eating and drinking water is a serious issue. Check for signs of dehydration, as well as vomiting and diarrhoea. If all three are present, consider it an emergency.

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