If you notice your dog not eating but only drinking water, it could be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
Loss of appetite in dog
When dogs lose their appetite, it means that something is bothering them, and it is important to assess that immediately before it worsens.
Won’t eat and drink water only
Hyporexia is a condition known as “a decreased appetite in your dog that goes on for more than a couple of days.” This condition can be caused by stress, nausea, dental disease, gastrointestinal issues, and change in the environment. The loss or decrease of appetite in dogs is uncommon but not impossible to correct.
An increase in water consumption, though may seem good especially if your dog cannot take any solids down, can also be a cause of concern. If you notice your pet drinking a lot of water more than normal, this might be a sign of kidney failure or other diseases like diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s syndrome, or dehydration. Monitor their food and water intake and consult a veterinarian if any odd behavior persists.
First sign of illness
If you notice your dog loses appetite and won’t eat their bowl even though they used to wolf it down in seconds, it’s possible that they may have an upset stomach. Try to recall what food they ingested beforehand and see how their bowel movements changed. If they are still able to drink water with no issues, that is a good thing. They may just be feeling nauseous or stressed at the moment. Give it a few days to see if it will change, and if not, consult your veterinarian right away.
Aside from an upset stomach, a gastrointestinal infection can also be a factor as to why your dog won’t eat. An inflammation of the GI tract, also known as gastroenteritis, can cause discomfort to your dog so that could be why they are not eating. Some common symptoms of gastroenteritis are frequent bowel movements, lethargy, restlessness, abdominal pain, and nausea. Check in with your veterinarian if you think your dog has a gastrointestinal infection.
Related to recent vaccine
One of the common side effects right after getting vaccinated for dogs is an upset stomach. So if your pup recently received a vaccination, they may feel nauseous and may feel inclined to vomit. Loss of appetite is common in this scenario so there is no need to panic. If nausea and vomiting persist, consult your veterinarian.
The simplest answer sometimes is your dog is just a picky eater. Maybe they were used to eating a specific brand, or a certain type of food, and switching it up made them not want to eat. If you really want to change their diet, do so gradually. Mix the new food with their old one until they slowly get used to it.
However, just because you think they are being picky, does not mean that there are no other underlying issues for the loss of appetite. If they are refusing food altogether, even their favorite treats, then this is more complex than being a picky eater.
Separation anxiety is another form of stress your dog goes through, especially if they are left in an unfamiliar place. This uneasiness can manifest in a loss of appetite. They may refuse to eat when their owners are not home or in the same room as them. Some pets only eat when their owners are around them—this motivates them to eat comfortably because they do not feel threatened. This behavior can come from how they were brought up as puppies, or if they are new to the environment and cannot trust anyone.
Though this is not something that is a big concern, it will still help you and your pup to do some training so they can feel more comfortable in the future.
Similar to separation anxiety, dogs who are newly rehomed or adopted can feel uneasy with their new surroundings. If you got yourself a new puppy, it’s best to accompany them during meal times until they become comfortable. This also applies to dogs who move to a new place or have had a drastic change in routines. This adjustment period affects their appetite and as owners, your responsibility is to make sure that they become well-adjusted.
What to try
1. Give your dog a treat
If your dog is refusing to eat the food in their bowl, try offering them a treat and see if they will like it or not. This way, you can assess if they are not eating at all or if they just do not like their meal. The treats are also good to satisfy their hunger for the meantime until you sort out the food situation.
2. Try gravy topper
If they are being picky or if you think they are bored with their food, try a food booster or a gravy topper! This will give their meals more flavor and nutrition, making their mealtime more worthwhile!
Luckily, Dogsnob has two delicious gravy toppers perfect for your pup! Our Smoked Turkey and Steak & Salmon multivitamin gravy toppers are not only tasty, but they will also feed your dog with proper nutrition that’s missing in a regular kibble!
3. Add broth to the food
To help your dog eat better, you can add broth to their dry food. Use non-sodium chicken or beef broth and let it soak for several minutes until it softens. Not only will this add flavor to their food, but it will also help them chew and digest it better.
4. Change the food brand
If all else fails and you think your pup simply dislikes their kibble and kibble only, then it is time to switch brands. See if that works, but if they still refuse to eat after much effort, consult with your veterinarian just in case it is something deeper than them acting picky.
5. Read the instructions of the medication
Did your dog recently undergo medical surgery? Were they put under sedation or anesthesia? If so, then it is common for them to feel queasiness and have a decreased appetite. Your veterinarian may also prescribe your dog pain medications or antibiotics that will affect their appetite. Adverse side effects that come from new medications like loss of appetite, nausea, and/or lethargy are common in this case. Read the instructions of the medication to fully inform yourself of what to expect, but also make sure to monitor your pet in case the side effects worsen. Call your veterinarian immediately if something out of the ordinary happens.
When to take your dog to the vet
So you tried everything—changed their food, sat with them during mealtime, read their medication (if they have any), added broth and gravy toppers, enticed them with treats, and yet, nothing worked? Then maybe it’s time to ask for professional help. If you have done everything you can to make your pet eat but to no avail, they still look uninterested except for their fresh bowl of water, then there must be an underlying cause that needs immediate attention. Take your dog to the vet when it stopped eating completely for two days or more.
Loss or decrease in appetite and an increase in water intake can be a sign of something bigger than them being picky eaters. This type of uncommon behavior may be the first sign of illness like an upset stomach or gastrointestinal infection. Otherwise, it could be from a recent medical appointment like getting vaccinations, undergoing surgery, or getting prescribed medications. A change in diet and routine will also make them act this way.
As an owner, it is important to take note of these things and assess which reasoning is most plausible and act upon it accordingly. If you still don’t know why your dog isn’t eating properly, then consult your veterinarian immediately.