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Puppy not eating? 4 common reasons why and 8 easy things you can do to help

You got your puppy the cutest food dish money can buy and thoroughly researched proper diet and nutrition. You confirmed with your vet that you were doing everything right to provide your puppy with the best, most nutritious start to life. Then, suddenly, your puppy stops eating. It can cause new puppy parents to panic — you love your fur baby, and appetite is often a sign of good health. Plus, your puppy needs food to grow and ensure she has plenty of energy to walk and play with you.

If your puppy is not eating much (or at all), there may be several causes. Here are the most common and what you can do to get your little one’s mealtimes back on track.

a Dalmation puppy sitting on the floor

Why is my puppy not eating? These are some of the most common reasons

Unfortunately, pups can’t tell us with words why they aren’t eating. However, experts like vets have observed a number of reasons over the years, including:

Your pup is stressed

When humans are stressed, we often change our eating habits. Dogs may do the same, according to Preventative Vet. Think about what may be causing your dog to feel a bit anxious. Some common puppy stressors include:

  • Trouble adjusting. Moving to a new home can throw anyone for a loop, especially a dog who is only a few weeks or months old. Your pup may need some extra patience and snuggles to get used to her new pad.
  • Another pet. Perhaps you already have a fur baby in the family. The other animal may be scary to your new little one.
  • Changes in routine. If you’ve had your pet for a while, you may think she’s adjusted well. However, perhaps you’d been working from home but are now going back to the office. Such changes may be stressful and be a reason why your puppy is not eating much.

You introduced a new food

Maybe your local pet shop didn’t have your pup’s usual brand, so you substituted it with another. Though the change may not seem like a big deal to you, your puppy may not like the taste or texture and reject the meal, particularly if you aren’t transitioning the food over a period of days.

Your pup is ill or has parasites

Stomach aches, parasites, and infections can often cause a puppy to stop eating. Though it’s important to get a formal diagnosis from a vet, you can check if your puppy has a fever or recently swallowed something not meant for dogs.

Your pup is teething

Puppies — they’re just like toddlers. If your pup is teething, it may hurt to eat food. This cause is temporary.

Dachshund on a downed tree

What can I do if my puppy stops eating? Should I be very concerned?

There are several courses of action you can take to help your little one get back to chowing down. Experts suggest you:

See a vet

It’s important to rule out underlying causes, such as parasites, GI troubles, or infections. These problems are often treatable with medication or temporary dietary changes. However, left untreated, they can get worse. Your vet also can give you tips for how to encourage eating.

Give it time

If your puppy is having trouble adjusting, she may just need some time. Be patient and try to make her feel as comfortable as possible. A cozy crate, fun toys, and designated playtimes can help her feel at home.

Warm food up

Puppies are finicky eaters. Warming up their meals, particularly if you are feeding them wet food, may help. Trial and error can help you figure out your pet’s preferences.

Transition dog foods slowly

If you need to change foods, experts suggest transitioning over the period of 10 days to help puppies adjust. On day one, use about 10% new food, 90% old food, and work your way up from there.

Mix it up

If your pet is having trouble eating, you can try mixing in some table food, such as chicken broth or peanut butter. Ensure that the peanut butter does not have xylitol, which sugar-free versions often do. Trying a mix of canned and dry food instead of simply kibble may help, too.

Make meals fun

Food shouldn’t be stressful for you or your puppy. Try making the experience more engaging, such as by using food dispensers or puzzles.

Establish a routine

Like some people, puppies can thrive on routines. It helps them know what to expect, which may be particularly beneficial if your pup is stressed. Try designating a mealtime and feeding your puppy at the same time each day.

Limit treats

Training (and a pet’s overall cuteness) can cause pet parents to load up on rewarding their puppies with tasty treats. However, if your puppy isn’t eating, you may want to pull back on the treats.

Your pup will get on track

Food helps puppies grow big and strong. A good appetite is often a sign of good health. As a result, pet parents may start to panic if their pup suddenly stops eating as much (or at all). First, breathe. Sometimes, puppies stop eating because they are stressed, and they may pick up on your anxieties and get even more worked up. A vet can rule out any health conditions and provide you with guidance. Figuring out your puppy’s stressors, transitioning foods slowly, and offering different foods also can help encourage eating. Try feeding your pup at the same time every day and avoid overdoing it with treats — you want your growing dog to have enough room for a well-balanced meal.

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