As your dog grows older, it may start experiencing behavioral and physical changes. In the beginning, the changes may be a little hard to notice, and you may see your senior dog drinking a bit more water. Generally speaking, a dog takes in about a single cup of water per 4 kilograms (or 10 pounds) of its weight. Since many dog owners do not measure the water their dogs take daily, it may not be easy for them to notice when the issue develops.
The start of increased water intake could indicate that a health condition is brewing under the dog’s skin. So, get the dog to the vet as soon as you can. But before that, this read will inform you what you can do apart from the usual going-to-the-vet option.
As long as the dog keeps drinking its water, it can go for up to five days without food. Many vets think that some dogs can go up to nine days, but the subject is still debatable. As long as the dog keeps drinking its water, you have nothing to worry about it if it’s only a few hours or a day, or even two.
The Ins And Outs Of Your Dog’s Lack Of Appetite
This section will focus and give attention to some of the reasons why the dog is not eating and still drinking. With this information, you can diagnose the problem and say when you get to the vet.
Anorexia or inappetence are the words used to describe appetite loss in dogs. You should know that, unlike with humans, anorexia with dogs kicks indifferently. A dog can either have partial or complete anorexia. If your dog is picky about eating – munching on kibble and refusing table scraps – we can call that partial anorexia. As you may have already figured, total anorexia is when a dog eats nothing. Another condition is pseudo-anorexia (or fake anorexia), where the dog wants too much of something but cannot because of something else, like a toothache.
When your dog keeps drinking lots of water and does not eat, here are some of the steps you need to make:
1. Engage In Keen And Detailed Observation Of Your Dog’s Behavior
This step is supposed to help you establish the specific type of anorexia affecting your dog. You can use connected technology such as Petcube (if you are away). Take about three days on this step to monitor every eating activity that your dog is engaging in.
Apart from the meals, monitor the urine and fecal matter to see if you can get any clues. If everything is okay, there won’t be a problem letting your dog skip one or two meals. If you notice any diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, or lethargy, you may be looking at a severe medical condition. That may need you to talk to a medical expert.
During your observation, you should also look at other behaviors like all-day sleeping, lack of interest in play, and hiding. If all those are happening together with the anorexia, you could be looking at a depressed dog.
2. Check Your Dog’s Body, Skin, And Teeth
If you notice any inflamed gums, flawed, broken, or loose teeth, one or all of those things could be the reason behind the dog’s inappetence. As you run your hand through the dog’s coat, you should check for injuries, lumps, parasites, or any changes. Anything suspicious should be reported to a vet.
3. Check The Dog’s Food For Any Problems
This one applies if you feed your dog with commercial food. If the dog isn’t eating it, check the packaging details to see any problems. Check the smell, color, and expiry date. If the food is a few days shy of expiring, you should get rid of it and prepare something fresher for the dog.
4. Check The Dog’s Environment
If partial or total anorexia has kicked in, your canine may have eaten something that dogs should not eat. Check any toys, houseplants, and any other items that are within reach of the dog. If there are any chemicals or medications within reach of your dog, you should be careful. If any of those drug items are missing, you should get to the vet.
If your new pup or dog is not eating, it could be because of the new place. Also, if it spent time with others during the entire day, it could be that it ate there and is already full.
5. Examine Anything That You May Have Done
Have you given the dog table scraps and lots of treats? If so, that could be the reason why its appetite is lost. What your dog may be waiting for is the doggy treats or your dinner meal.
Explaining Appetite Loss In Canines
Loss of appetite in our furry canine friends could be because of many things. Some of them include behavioral issues, environmental problems, medical complications, food-related problems, and separation anxiety. Let’s take those reasons down one by one.
The following table captures the medical conditions that may cause the dog to go into full or partial anorexia:
|The Conditions Themselves
|Problems with tongue, gums, or teeth
|Internal organ issues, specifically kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart
|Neurological diseases and autoimmune ones
For the captured problems to be treated, you need to take the dog to a vet.
Environmental Or Behavioral Reasons
Separation anxiety is probably the main item of focus. Your dog may be used to getting fed by someone or eating when someone is watching. When it does not have that kind of environment, it may eat with a little enthusiasm or fail to eat at all.
Some other changes could be recent stress, changes in the feeding plan, presence or absence of a pet or another family member, or recent traveling. Others even stop eating when you get them new bowls.
If you left your dog at home and it did not eat the entire day, you could be looking at a case of separation anxiety. By monitoring the dog closely using items like Petcube, you will know when the canine goes crazy. Then, you will follow that up by treating the anxiety problems.
When you leave the dog alone, it may feel inclined to guard the house till you’re back. So, it will remain alert throughout the entire time and forget to eat its food.
As mentioned elsewhere in the read, you need to look at the food the dog is eating. The first detail you should check is the expiry date to see if the dog’s food is spoiled or not. If not, look at whether you introduced some new food. The dog is likely to refuse food if you keep moving between kibble to home-cooked meals, wet food, and then back.
The other crucial thing you must look at is the content ingredients of the food. If your dog is either allergic or sensitive to any of them, it will not touch the food. You may also be dealing with a pickier-than-picky dog that doesn’t want to be overfed or eat some food.
The other noteworthy thing about it is its temperature. You may feed the dog food when it is too cold or too hot, and it may not like it.
Did you make any changes to the diet that your dog is used to? If you did, your dog might not be liking the food that you’re currently offering it.
If you haven’t made any changes, it could be that the dog is bored with what you offer it. Sometimes, dogs behave just like us when they’re used to the same thing. The solution to this is simple – try out a new commercial food like the Hill’s Science Diet, and the dog will surely like it.
How To Get Your Dog Eating
Although rare, some dogs may go for up to 72 hours without having anything to eat, and still, they will not suffer any health impact. It is worrisome and frustrating for a dog owner when you have to deal with a dog that refuses to take in anything. In some instances, a myriad of health issues (as captured in the table) is to blame, and thus, you should get the dog to a vet.
If you’re not dealing with an ill dog, you can look at making the eating environment a little bit more comfortable, depending on the dog’s personality. Sometimes, you may need to take a tough-love approach if the dog is just picky. This section will bring to your attention the best methods of getting your dog to eat.
Getting Mealtime To Be As Comfortable As It Can Get
1. Give Particular Focus To The Feeding (Or Eating) Environment And Ensure That It Is Aligned To The Dog’s Personality
If your dog is the reserved and anxious kind, it may not like eating near people or even other animals. If it is the opposite, you know, sociable and highly active, it won’t enjoy eating in an isolated, quiet location. So, you need to switch things up during feeding to help them be more eager to nibble down something.
An anxious dog should be fed in one corner of your kitchen or a separate room. This will help it to get all the calmness it needs to focus on its meal. On the flip side, a hyperactive, friendly dog can engage in play as it eats. You can use a toy that can dispense food and play a shooting game, the actual eating session.
2. Always Do The Feeding Business In A Cooler Place If You Think The Dog Is Warm
Like people, dogs tend to have reduced appetites when they are sweltering. Try moving the bowl to a comfier, cooler place to help the eating desire to kick in.
Instead of giving the food near a warm, sunny window, you can pull the bowl to a cool corner. Also, increase the circulation of air using an open window or ceiling fan, and indeed, it will help. A dog that loves eating outside should be provided with a breezy, shady location.
3. Switch Out, Lower, Or Raise The Bowls To Suit The Size Of The Dog
A short dog will find it incredibly uncomfortable to eat from an oversize bowl and a tall one from a tiny bowl. To that effect, you need to make the switch and get something that will better suit the dog, making it easier to get the food.
Many dogs like eating while standing straight and with their head dipped down. If the dog needs to crane its neck upward, stretch, or lie down, it may be uncomfortable for them.
If possible, either use ceramic or metallic bowls. The problem with plastic bowls is that they crack and then chip, opening up the dog to food mixed up with the plastic.
4. Engage The Dog In A Walk So That Its Appetite Gets Spurred
If your dog is energetic and hyperactive, it may need to take a walk. The movement will help it calm down and make it focused on the business of eating. As you take up this option, you should know that the energy involved in walking makes the dog hungrier. If you’re dealing with an older dog, walking will help it feel a little less lazy – it will get the shot of energy need to go on with the eating business.
Other dogs, however, may become too worn out after walking to the point that they don’t want to eat. For such cases, it is better if the walk happens after eating.
5. After You Get The Best Routine, Stick To It Consistently
Many of our furry canine friends are okay with eating their meal – whichever it is – at the same place and time every day. Therefore, your goal should be to find a routine that will work for the dog breed you are dealing with. Once you do, stick to it without failing.
Remember that routine changes and fresh, unfamiliar settings may make the dog feel a lack of appetite. With that in mind, you should be ready to establish a temporary or a new routine for the canine to take up.
Also, you need to be aware that boredom can kick in and that a particular routine or food can piss them off. So, always be ready to make adjustments until you get the just-right routine.
Giving Assistance To A Sickly Dog
1. After Two Days Of Not Eating, Go To A Vet For A Diagnosis
It may experience phases of little to not eating for up to 72 hours throughout a dog’s life. Those times should not scare you, and they are not at all health concerns. However, you should be alarmed when the dog gets to the 48th hour without having eaten anything. If that is the situation, you should start talking to a vet and more if signs like diarrhea, vomiting, pain, weakness, and lethargy kick in.
2. If Recommended, Stick Feeding The Dog A Prescription Diet
When the vet tells you that the dog is suffering from this or that disease, they may guide you to feeding it with a specific diet. Although the dog won’t be eating much, the prescription diet will ensure that it received all the nutrients it needs.
Typically speaking, the diet given will be specially-formulated canine food that you can either get at a pet supply store or from the vet. The vet may also advise that you mix the prescription food with the dog’s regular food so that the canine finds it attractive. When things don’t go well with the diet, talk to your vet.
3. Ask The Vet If You May Need Drugs To Stimulate The Dog’s Appetite
Sometimes, you may need to use some drugs like Entyce to get the dog eating. However, this decision is best made by the vet; they will look at the dog’s overall health and illness before they determine whether or not to use the drug.
If the vet chooses an appetite-stimulating drug, ensure that he or she tells you how to deliver it and how often. Ask them to demonstrate how to either give the pill or solution via an oral syringe.
Another important thing is that you should know the side effects to look out for. Moreover, note the ones that are severe enough to warrant the vet’s attention.
4. If Necessary, Use A Feeding Tube Or A Syringe To Get The Dog Eating
If the dog keeps refusing food, you may need to get some liquefied foods and deliver them orally. Your vet will help you get the best diet to give through a syringe. Also, they should be able to tell you the most effective way of feeding the animal.
Because many dogs will not like the feeding style, you may need to be compassionate and supportive. Before, during, and after all the feeding, you need to give them a lot of praise.
The last resort for you will be to get the dog connected to a feeding tube, which will help it get the needed nutrients. However, this will not happen at a vet’s office – maybe at an animal hospital.
Picky Eaters – Changing Their Food
1. Ensure That The Food You’re Giving Has Not Yet Become Stale
Your dog will become picky if it finds out that the food is stale. Both dry and wet foods can go rancid, but wet food goes bad three days after it is opened.
What you need to do is smell the food before you give it. When you do, you will find out if the food is eatable. The stale smell should stick in your system, and you will compare it with others in the future.
2. Get Some Other Food (Like Cat Food) And Add It To The Dog’s Regular Food
A picky dog just needs to get a little excitement before it switches up. You can try getting some boneless chicken, cooked eggs, or even cat food. The protein in cat food may make it attractive to the dog.
3. Try And Get A Different Type Or Brand Of Food For Over 14 Days
If you are going for a food brand different from the one the dog eats, do not change a sudden one. You should get the food mixed with the old one for over some days so that the transition is easy. Many dogs will not appreciate the abrupt change, and by going slow, you will also prevent them from developing GI problems.
4. If Your Dog Is Older, Stick To The ‘For-Seniors’ Food
When your dog is getting older, it may not be too interested in eating up. When age kicks in, you may need to inject extra energy and encouragement to ensure that the dog eats. You can do pre-eating walks and give the dogs a lot of praise to set them in the eating mood.
What happens, for the most part, is that old dogs lose their sense of smell. The eagerness to eat dies, and the foods that used to excite them become bland. In that case, therefore, you need to go for food meant for older dogs. To make up for the reduced olfactory sense, these foods have strong flavor and scent profiles.
Tough Love For The Picky Kind Of Dogs
1. While The Dog Is Eating, Exit The Room
If you remain in the room and keep staring at the dog, the dog will become anxious about your anxiety of their lack of appetite. To prevent that from happening, exit the room for about 10 minutes. After that period goes, come back into the room. If the dog has eaten, praise it a lot, and if it hasn’t, ignore it. Do not fuss over or try to hand-feed the dog.
2. Remove The Unnecessary, Excess Treats Together With Table Scraps
A picky eater should not be treated all the time. You should only feed it during the designated mealtimes. Let other periods go on – exercise, play, rest, etc. – without having to throw in the extra meals. You should only give them during training and rewards for good behavior.
I’m Christopher Benjamin, a dedicated Animal Nutritionist at Ethos Veterinary Health with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Michigan State University. My lifelong passion for animals led me to establish AnimalsData.Com. Here, I share expert advice, educational resources, and inspiring stories to empower fellow pet lovers worldwide. Join our community as we celebrate the beauty and diversity of our beloved animal companions!