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
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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