Why Isn’t My Pet Eating?

Whether it’s your first puppy, or a senior cat you have called family for years, there are few things that get your attention as quickly as their refusal to eat. The puppy should be gobbling up everything you put in front of him (and sometimes thing she shouldn’t!) your senior cat has a strict diet you keep them on for their health, whatever it is, as soon as they’re not eating like they should – trouble- is afoot! Here are some of the most common reasons for a pet to ignore their food!

Why Won’t the Dog Eat?!


Sure, this might not be that helpful but here’s the thing. No matter what illness is causing the lack of appetite, you want to get them into the vet! It will be especially clear that an illness is to blame when other symptoms are observed at the same time. Prompt veterinary care is critical to keeping your pup healthy and happy.

Teeth Problems

Another reason for the lack of eating doesn’t have to do with hunger. Dental disease, chipped teeth, an oral tumor, gingivitis, or a large cavity can all cause your pet pain when they chomp down on their kibble. Knowing this pain might hit any moment when they go to eat can see them taking it gently if at all. Take a look in their mouth and look for any obvious signs of dental problems. Like illness, a trip to the vet may be necessary.

New Surroundings

Are you in the midst of a move? Just travel cross country with your pup? A change in their surroundings can put your dog on edge and mess with their comfort. If they don’t feel at home yet, or not safe in their surroundings, they might not feel relaxed enough to settle down to their meal just yet.


Just like kids, our pets can be picky eaters. If you have recently switch food brands, or are finishing off a bag that’s been in the pantry for a bit, it could even be the smell is too strong. Sometimes pets just don’t like the food they are being given. It can be a head ache but getting them the food they are happy to eat may be all you need to do!

Recent Vaccines and Shots

Thankfully, for all the illnesses out there that can give us grief, there are a number of vaccinations we can give our pets to combat them. However, one of the common side effects after a shot can be laziness and lack of hunger. If you just took your dog to the vet and got their shots up to date, pay attention and give your dog some time. Their appetite might just be on pause as their body recovers from the shot.

How to Help Them Eat


If your dog is giving you the business, you’ll want to take them to get them into the vet to verify that it isn’t anything worse. If it’s an illness or dental problem, getting them the care they need right away can be just the thing to get them gobbling down food again! Otherwise, here are some tips to try at home to get them eating regularly.

  • Feed them at set times
    • If you have been the kind of person who fills the bowl whenever its empty, or you have an automatic feeder that keeps the bowl as full as can be – it’s time to stop! This kind of easy, 24/7 access to food can take your dog off any schedule (and create other problems down the line)
  • Cut back on treats
    • It can be hard to tell our best furry friends no but if they’re no hungry, they probably don’t need treats! Sometimes we overfeed them treats without even realizing it!
  • Walk before food
    • Sometimes all our pets need is a little jumpstart to the ol’ digestive tract! Take your dog for a walk before meal time to get things moving, the exerted energy can also make them hungry.


If your cat isn’t eating, for whatever reason (even if they’re just picky) you can try a few of these things to get them eating right.

  • Give kitty a cold cut
    • This might be a surprising one but offering your cat a deli cut of meat might be exactly what they need! The meat, preferably turkey, is close to what a cat should be eating in the wild and can give them the natural nutrition they need. Just be sure to stay away form overly processed and high sodium meats – those are a no go.
  • Bring out the kitten food
    • Swapping their standard kibble for kitten food might be just what the doctor ordered! Kitten food is traditionally high in proteins and fats that growing cats need! The higher protein and fat content also tastes and smells so much more powerful than standard kibble and can right the course for cats.
  • Warm it up
    • If your cat is eating canned food, try microwaving it for just a couple of seconds (removing it from the can first of course!) and it can unlock the smell in the food! For most cats the aroma is more preferable to the texture of what they eat so anything you can do to get them smelling it is a win.

If these tips don’t help, or you suspect something more serious behind your pets lack of appetite – make a vet appointment today! If you are in the Tucson area, give us a call at Acoma Animal Clinic and together we can get your pet on the right track!

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