Why is my puppy not eating?

We hear you. Sometimes they lap everything up, sometimes they’re not even interested. Puppies sometimes go off their food – there’s nothing unusual about that. 

If your puppy seems fine in themselves, skipping a meal isn’t a major concern – just remember that for recently weaned puppies, it’s important they eat regularly as they’re prone to low blood sugar. However, if your puppy seems unwell, and they don’t eat for longer than a meal or two, you should always contact your vet for advice. So you don’t spend your time worrying, we want to put new puppy owners’ minds at rest.

Possible reasons your puppy’s not eating

Puppy not eating
Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

From overfeeding to stress and new routines, there are a number of reasons why your puppy might refuse to eat.

  • Overfeeding – Too much food at mealtimes or being over generous with the treats could mean your puppy’s simply not hungry.
  • Pickiness – Just like us, some dogs prefer different flavours – could be chicken, fish or beef. If you’re feeding lots of treats or you’ve recently switched foods, your puppy may be holding out for something better.
  • Weather – We tend to eat less when we’re feeling hot and bothered. Same goes for our pups. The heat in summer can curb your puppy’s appetite for the short term.
  • Illness – If your puppy’s feeling unwell, this can put them off their food. Anything from a simple stomach upset, to dental problems can cause appetite loss.
  • Stress – Stress and anxiety caused by people, other animals or the environment can affect your puppy’s desire to eat. For example, this could be due to separation anxiety, a noisy washing machine, or another pet they don’t get along with.
  • Routine or environmental changes – A change in your puppy’s routine or new surroundings can leave your puppy feeling out of sorts and off their food. Examples could be a new baby at home or a recent house move.
  • Medication – If your puppy is taking a new medication, or they’ve had their vaccinations, this may affect their appetite for a little while.

Related blog: How to keep your puppy at a healthy weight

What to do when your puppy won’t eat

To get your puppy eating again, it’s best to figure out what’s causing the problem first. Do a quick health check on your puppy. Look for cuts and scrapes, any problems with their teeth and gums, eyes, ears and paws. If you can’t see anything obvious, it’s sudden and lasts a few days, check in with your vet for advice.

  • Regular mealtimes – Feed your puppy at the same time every day. Growing bones, muscles and brains means they need to eat at least 3 times a day.
  • Limit treats and snacks – If you often feed treats, they may not have an appetite to eat their normal meals. Cut back on the snacks so they have a chance to feel hungry.
  • Serve smaller portions – If you suspect the problem is overfeeding, try reducing your portion sizes. Measure out a lesser daily food amount and split this up into smaller portions. Following the guidelines on the packaging is a good place to start.
  • Change their feeding station – It’s normal for your puppy to get distracted by everything going on at home. Choose a quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle, children and other pets.
  • Exercise – Take your puppy out for a walk an hour before meal times so they can work up an appetite.
  • Tough love – If your puppy doesn’t touch their food within 20 minutes, take it away and try again in another hour or so. 
  • Make it fun – Make mealtimes challenging and interesting by serving it in treat toys, or doing some trick training. 
  • Make it appetizing – Add some wet food, low-salt gravy or heat it up in the microwave for 10 seconds to release those tasty aromas.

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13 thoughts on “Why is my puppy not eating?”

  1. My puppy has stopped eating this food after 2 meals. She just walks straight past it after a quick sniff at it. She has been unwell recently and is just finishing a course of antibiotics. She eats treats ok. I would expect this food to be as tasty as her treats, due to cost etc. Any ideas why she wont eat this food. I have tried your tips and still not good.

    Reply
  2. I’m puppy sitting and for the first 2 days she was eating her meal, but the last 2 days she just smells it and walks away. I’ve cut down on treats and have done your way of taking the food away then putting it back down, but nothing is working. She is active .

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  3. My dog is a 5 month old pup. She loss her 1 tooth last couple of days and now she is not eating. Is this something to be worried about?

    Reply
    • It’s been very warm recently which can have an impact on your dog’s appetite – if you’re concerned, give your local vet a quick call 🙂

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  4. I love the ideas you’ve given especially warming up the food to make it smell more appetizing! My mom mused to make a brother of leftover veg, chicken carcass etc and then strain the liquid out to serve over our dogs dried food. The broth smelt so good that even we kids were tempted to try the dogs dinner 🙂

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  5. My puppies are ok but I see one not looking good? I just don’t my other puppy’s to get like that just worrying about them now I don’t know what to do for them

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  6. My dog now 9 months a rescue dog when he was 6 months I was having trouble feeding & was hopeful Tails.com would be the answer. Teddy still not ate a full meal he will not eat any dry food .now he eats a little wet food then leaves the rest. I keep putting the wet food down but all he does is try & bury it. What am I doing wrong

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  7. My puppy doesn’t want to eat anymore she has been really sad and she don’t play anymore like she did
    .

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        • We’re sorry to hear this, Marlene. If you think it may be due to them not enjoying their food, please send us an email at hello@tails.com, and we will help in any way we can. If you are however concerned about your pup’s health, we’d advise taking them to the vet for a checkup.

          Reply

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