When Your Dog is Not Eating: Emergency or Not?
Most dogs love to eat. Changes in appetite can be concerning and may be your first clue that something is not right with your pet’s health. Sometimes, though, there are other reasons for Bella skipping breakfast. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital can help you sort out whether you have cause for concern the next time your dog is not eating.
Deciphering Your Dog’s Eating Habits
Understanding when to be concerned about your dog’s appetite has a lot to do with what is normal for them individually. Some pups would never miss a meal, while others are too busy to be bothered at times. Paying attention to your pet’s day-to-day habits will help you recognize aberrations quickly.
Being in tune with your pet’s normal habits is also one reason why our staff members are big fans of measuring your dog’s food at each meal and not leaving their kibble down for them to graze on. This helps you to know how much your dog is eating and recognize missed meals more accurately.
If your dog is not eating their food normally, there can be quite a few reasons that range from no big deal to emergent. Some of the more common reasons your pooch might pass on a meal include:
- Having eaten too many extras or treats (has there been a recent trash raid or visit from Aunt Barb who likes to slip extras to your dog?)
- Holding out for something different or extra (are you guilty of topping your pet’s meal with people food or offering something different?)
- Food quality issue (is it a new bag or are there potential storage issues?)
- Gastrointestinal upset or nausea
- Problems with chewing or swallowing (dental care is important!)
- Intestinal blockage
- Systemic disease such as kidney disease, pancreatitis, or cancer
- Anxiety or stress
- Food aversion (when pets get scared or sick after eating something, they may try to avoid it in the future, just like that one time you got sick after going out for Chinese)
- Side effects to medications
It can be hard to tell why your dog might have skipped a meal, but by thinking about possible reasons, you may be able to narrow down the problem.
When Your Dog Not Eating is an Emergency
So when do you turn a blind eye to a missed meal, and when is your dog not eating an emergency?
There are some good rules of thumb to follow when deciding whether to contact us or not.
- Is my pet drinking water? (not drinking or vomiting water right away raises some red flags))
- Will your dog only eat treats? (if the answer is yes, likely they are either filling up on extras or have an aversion to their normal diet)
- Is your pet avoiding dry food only? (this might indicate oral discomfort)
- Is there something stressful or anxiety-inducing going on in your home?
- Is your pet vomiting or having diarrhea? (if the answer is yet, medical attention is likely indicated)
- Is your dog very old, very young, or very small? (If so, a missed meal is a big deal and medical intervention is advisable)
- Is your dog acting normally otherwise? (If yes, then you can breathe a little easier)
It is always a pet emergency if your dog is acting ill, seems weak, has vomited or had diarrhea more than twice in the last 24 hours, or they haven’t eaten in 24 hours (12 for very small puppies).
Not every missed meal is serious, but it is always better safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s care. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you have concerns.