When a pet dog refuses to eat, the problem is either physical or psychological. When a pet dog refuses to eat, his owner pleads with him and tries to tempt him with food fed by hand. If the dog is sufficiently neglected and bored he may try this to get attention. An intelligent owner will counter this common canine play by giving his dog companionship by playing with him and taking him for a daily walk.
How can you handle the problem of a dog that refuses to eat not because he is neglected, but spoiled? Simply remove his food bowl after half an hour, and present it again only at the next mealtime. Spoiled dogs are often obese too, so it will do no harm to skip one meal. Please do not serve him the same food, as it may be spoiled. It never occurs to some owners that their dog’s lack of appetite may be caused by unappetizing meals or just a dirty bowl.
Food that is unfit for humans is unfit for your dog too. Dogs also eye with suspicion of any new food, and they have marked individual preferences for meals that are dry or moist, finely chopped, or chunky. You can add taste appeal with a little chopped onion or garlic, or beaten egg yolk. Most dogs love liver and bacon, which either can be mixed into their regular feed in small amounts.
The most effective appetite stimulant is the aroma. If you have given your dog dry food and raw meat, it may smell better if the mean is seared or the dry food is moistened. A spoonful of brewer’s yeast sprinkled on his meal is another good appetite booster. Many dogs skip their noon meal entirely during hot weather. Let your pet follow his natural instinct. Fasting is an instinctive animal remedy for minor digestive disorders, however, if he refuses food for more than 24 hours, you should have your veterinarian examine him.
Chronic underweight or sudden weight loss may be due to a physical malfunction and is definitely a danger signal. A voracious appetite combined with a loss of weight is one of the symptoms of internal parasites. All of these symptoms require the attention of your veterinarian, for he alone is competent to diagnose the cause and to prescribe the treatment.
A young puppy that refuses to eat should cause immediate concern. A healthy diet is vital to his future well-being, and since his tiny stomach holds very little at a time, a missed meal is nourishment lost forever. Before you alert the vet or your puppy’s breeder, you should verify that his loss of appetite is not due to one of several easily remedied causes:
— Your puppy misses his brothers and sisters or mother. (Try keeping him company, and you may try hand-feeding him for a while, but do not make a habit of it, especially with toy breeds.)
— His feeding times do not coincide with his hunger. (Adjust your schedule to suit his appetite.)
— He is too nervous to eat. (Avoid the excitement of play and visitors, just before and after his meal times.)
— His food is too tough or chunky for his baby teeth to handle. (Chop it finely or soften it by soaking. Teething puppies often go off their feed and need a softer diet during this period.)
— He has problems with his food dish. (Young puppies eat most easily from a flat dish, like a pie plate. Later on, long-nosed breeds should be given a deeper dish. For long-eared breeds, there are special deep tapered bowls that prevent their ears from dragging in their food.)