A dog not eating can be worrying. Clearly, a dog who does not want any food is not the healthiest of animals. But what is wrong? In this article we look at some of the possible causes of a dog not eating and what you should do.
Like children, dogs often lose their appetite when they are sick. This actually helps the body to recover because it can concentrate all of its resources on the illness without having to handle digestion of food at the same time. Any kind of minor bacterial or viral infection may cause this to happen.
If the dog is also coughing, it may have infectious bronchitis, also known as kennel cough. This is a very common mixture of viral and bacterial infection that is easily passed from dog to dog. The symptoms are a lot like flu in humans, including fever and lethargy or depression, but may last for up to a month.
There is no complete treatment for kennel cough and in most cases you just have to keep the dog home and let it rest. However, you might want to have it checked by a vet. Sometimes antibiotics are necessary to prevent pneumonia. As with flu in humans, kennel cough can sometimes be serious or fatal, especially in old dogs or those with impaired immune systems.
Lyme disease is a more serious infection that is passed on to dogs from ticks. A dog with Lyme disease will often have painful joints and may limp. It will probably also have a fever and bad breath. Lyme disease must be treated as soon as possible to prevent serious complications from developing.
A puppy not eating may be suffering from red or demodectic mange. This is a parasite that lives on virtually all dogs and many humans, but only causes problems in puppies up to one year old or adult dogs with depressed immunity. The skin becomes itchy, reddened or scaly and the puppy loses hair in circular patches.
Another possible cause of a dog not eating is that the dog has an abdominal obstruction. This means that they have swallowed something that is causing a blockage somewhere in the digestive system and will not pass out. It could be a bone or anything that they swallowed that is indigestible. These obstructions can cause serious problems and you should see the vet with your dog to check this out. Surgery is sometimes required to remove the obstruction.
More rarely, loss of appetite in a dog may be caused by rabies, heart disease or heartworms. Of course, these are serious conditions that will have other symptoms too.
In summary, there may be many different reasons for your dog’s loss of appetite. It would not be possible to be sure what is wrong without seeing the dog. However, you can be sure there is something. Dogs do not stop eating for no reason at all. Therefore, it is important to take your pet along to the vet’s office so that the problem can be investigated and the vet can discover the cause of the dog not eating.