It’s your pup’s favorite time of the day – meal time – but, as soon as he starts to nibble on his food, you can hear him crying. How is that even possible? After all, eating should be a pretty much effortless activity. It’s clear that your dog is trying to communicate something to you, so you should definitely not leave this untreated. There are several possible disorders that can cause your dog to start crying during or right after their meal. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons behind the behavior and the best solutions for each situation in particular.
The Root of the Behavior
Crying in dogs can have multiple causes, but crying when eating is something you should pay close attention to. There are many sounds dogs use to vocalize their emotions and expectations. Crying or whining usually expresses excitement, anxiety, frustration, pain, or attention seeking. Crying is instinctual, but it can also be learned. You need to be wise about differentiating his cries of seeking attention from his cries of physical pain. If your dog is crying while eating, this could mean he has a bad tooth, gum disease, or tonsillitis, which is also known as an inflamed, swollen throat and tonsils. Pay attention to his body position while he’s eating: do you notice any problems around the neck area? Sometimes, neck pain can come about with very subtle movements. It doesn't have to be a big jarring motion if the injury is already present, it may just be a little change in position.
Because it can be quite hard to diagnose, it’s best to address your veterinary provider, as it might also be related to a muscle strain or disc disease. At the same time, if you notice your pup is bending over to eat or if he happens to move his neck the wrong way, you can consider neck pain as a plausible cause. It’s also possible for him to suffer from esophageal acid reflux of stomach acid. This usually happens just as he gets ready to eat or while laying down. A dog who cries while eating will most likely suffer from a mouth or dental disorder or neck pain. This is different from the behavior of a dog whining in pain after eating, which could indicate problems with the dog’s esophagus, the presence of an abscess, laceration, or even dysphagia (a condition where a dog is having trouble swallowing).
Encouraging the Behavior
A visit to the vet will most likely resolve all your worries and get your furry friend on his way back to recovery in no time. Observing your dog’s body language can also help to establish a clearer diagnosis. Start by writing down all the symptoms that you find suspicious, from the position of your dog’s body to the actual sound that comes out of his mouth while eating. Recording them would even be better. If he has a painful condition in his mouth, for example, a loose or infected tooth, gingivitis, a wound in the mouth or in the throat, your vet can prescribe medication or treat his denture on the spot.
They can also perform X-rays to help search for evidence of any foreign items or masses. If there are issues of a painful stomach, your vet can prescribe antacids or in the case of an infection, antibiotics. Depending on the final diagnosis, your pup’s treatment may range from prescription medication to surgical intervention. On a lighter note, you should consider the fact that puppies have a tendency to cry while eating and it’s not something unusual at all. Wait for a few weeks to go by and they’ll probably forget all about it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
What if the problem is the food itself? Try feeding him good quality canned puppy food and see whether or not the situation improves. It could be that chewing larger kibble hurts his gums, so he will inevitably start to cry out, as hungry as he is. Your vet can also recommend meat-based baby foods as a temporary relief and supportive care for the little patient. Because they are soft foods, they will be easily absorbed and won’t cause as much gum discomfort as regular meals. If he cries with the soft food also, then it’s most likely an issue related to his mouth or throat.
Dogs can cry out of habit, fear, anxiety, pain, or just because they want more attention. It’s important to identify the reason behind the behavior, especially when the problem has to do with your doggie’s perk of the day: food. Take him to your veterinary provider and let them run a complete physical examination to help ease your pup’s discomfort and enjoy their treats as well as they should.