Help! My Dog Doesn't Want to Eat

Today, our Los Angeles veterinarians talk about some common reasons why your dog might skip a meal, what to do if your dog isn't eating, and the signs that it might be an emergency.

Why isn't my dog eating?

When your dog refuses to eat, it can be a stressful situation. Is it a simple upset stomach or something more serious? If your dog misses one meal but otherwise appears healthy, a trip to the vet is probably unnecessary. If you have any concerns, you can always consult your veterinarian.

If your dog hasn't eaten in over 12 hours with no obvious cause or is exhibiting any other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy this may be an emergency and you should call or bring your dog in for emergency care as soon as possible. 

Reasons your dog may not be eating 

You might get wondering 'why doesn't my dog want to eat?" Here are some of the most common reasons as to why your dog won't eat.


A persistent loss of appetite in dogs is often a sign of illness, especially if your dog is also displaying other symptoms. Cancer, infection, liver problems and kidney failure are all common causes of loss of appetite in pets. It's time to take your dog to the vet if you notice your dog refusing food regularly.

Dental disease

Oral health issues can cause your dog to lose their appetite because it hurts to chew. If you notice broken or loose teeth, swelling, bleeding, or excessively bad breath, it may be that poor oral health is the cause of your dog's refusal to eat. Make an appointment with your vet for your pup to have a full dental examination and cleaning. 

Recent vaccination

While vaccinations are an essential part of your dog's long-term health, they can cause your pup to temporarily feel a little under the weather. It is normal for your dog to have a slightly decreased appetite for a day or two after being vaccinated. If their loss of appetite persists for more than two days you may want to give your vet a call. 

A change in routine or location 

Dogs are creatures of habit. It's normal for your dog's appetite to be thrown off as they adjust to their new surroundings if you're traveling, recently moved, or adopted a new pet. To help your dog eat, be patient and try some of the suggestions below.

Their food has changed

Are you trying a new brand or have you noticed the words "new and improved" on their regular food? Your dog's refusal to eat may be due to a dislike of the new food. Typically, this will only cause a dog to miss one or two meals before their hunger overcomes them and they try the new food (and will usually adjust to it just fine). If the problem does not go away, keep an eye on it and contact your veterinarian.

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Eat

If your dog isn't eating for no apparent reason (such as the first night in a new home) and you're not seeing any other signs, there are a few things you can try to make their food more appealing to them.

  • Warm-up your dog’s food in the microwave
  • Pour chicken broth, beef broth, or tuna water over the food to make it more appealing
  • Pour warm water over dry food to make it softer.
  • Feeding your dog dry food if they usually only eat wet food or vice versa
  • Try hand-feeding, as social eaters sometimes just want attention

When should I worry about my dog not eating?

If you notice a persistent change in your dog's appetite or any other concerning symptoms, from vomiting to swelling in the mouth, your dog needs emergency medical attention. 

If your dog misses two or more meals, regardless of whether or not there are any other symptoms, you should seek medical help. When it comes to your pet's health, it's always best to err on the side of caution and seek advice from a veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed a change in your dog's appetite? Contact our Los Angeles vets today to book an examination for your pet.