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Dog Feeding Problems


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Most canines love food. They are happy to cooperate at obedience class for a treat or perform at an agility competition to get a reward at the end. Mealtime is a highlight of the day as well, eagerly waited for and enjoyed.

But sometimes, we see our dogs change their behavior when it comes to eating, and they develop dog feeding problems. Knowing why your dog is altering their attitude toward food is essential to getting them back to eating right. 

Feeding problems can differ based on the age of your furry companion. Let’s start there as we delve into the topic.

Puppy Feeding Problems

Your new puppy is most likely cute and pudgy like young dogs typically are. They toddle over to their dish and enthusiastically eat their kibble. There comes a day, though when your little dog sniffs the bowl and walks away.

What are the reasons that a puppy will refuse their food?

Your new furry addition may have a digestive issue. Puppies are chewers and biters, using this characteristic as a way of exploring their world. They may have eaten garbage or swallowed something that has caused an obstruction. 

Puppies should always have a visit to the vet when they first join your family. Deworming is a part of the visit as many puppies will have roundworm infestations, passed from their mom in the milk. If your furry buddy has not yet been dewormed, they may refuse food due to the parasitic infection.

Stress is another reason why a young dog will stop eating. If your pup has just joined your family, they may be still adjusting to being away from the surroundings that are familiar to them. Give them extra love on top of the affection you are already doling out, to see if that perks them up.

Middle-aged Dog Feeding Problems

You have had your dog a few years now, and they have always been a voracious eater. They eagerly look forward to mealtime and often give you a nudge to remind you of the schedule. One day, your companion doesn’t come to the call for kibble.

Why is my middle-aged dog not eating?

One of the most common reasons for dog feeding problems is illness. If your pooch takes a day off from food, monitor them for additional symptoms like diarrhea, pain, or lethargy. If they continue to refuse food, take them to the vet for a check-up. There could be a problem such as an infection of the intestinal tract, or an illness like Addison’s disease, caused by lower than normal hormone production. There are many disease processes that cause loss of appetite.

Dietary indiscretion is another cause for lack of appetite. Your dog may begin to have feeding problems if they are continuously allowed to scavenge in the backyard or dog park, for example, where they may come across toxic plants, dog feces, and garbage. Do not give your dog table scraps either; this practice can lead to health problems like pancreatitis.

As your pet grows, their feeding needs sometimes change. You may be overfeeding them and not eating is a way of indicating that they are not hungry. Keep treats for training purposes only and discuss cutting back on your furry friend’s food with your vet. The vet can also let you know about food alternatives appropriate for middle-aged dogs.

Senior Dog Feeding Problems

You may see your older dog slowing down and not making their way to their food bowl with the same voracity. Senior dogs can develop feeding problems as they age, and you should keep a close eye on the situation, getting them checked at the vet without delay if they go more than a day without eating.

Why is my senior dog not eating?

A dog who hesitates to walk to the food bowl may be experiencing bouts of pain due to arthritis. Try keeping your older dog’s food and water in close proximity to their favorite resting place. If you think your pooch is uncomfortable and walking as though in pain, talk to your vet about supplements or medication to ease joint stiffness and arthritis.

Older dogs will often develop dental problems such as gingivitis and tooth decay. Your dentist will examine your dog’s teeth at their annual check-up, but if you suspect an issue beforehand, have it checked before it worsens. Tooth pain or swelling of the gums can cause a dog to refuse to eat as a way of avoiding the pain.

Health conditions like diabetes and kidney disease are common in older canines, and a loss of appetite may precede other symptoms. A senior dog who has developed feeding problems should always be checked by the vet sooner rather than later. When disease in the kidneys, for example, is caught early, treatment can help by slowing the process down.

Tips To Avoid Dog Feeding Problems

Always feed your dog high-quality food. Cheap kibble is full of low-cost fillers that don’t have the nutrients your dog needs to be healthy. Inexpensive food can leave your dog feeling hungry, causing stress and anxiety.

Food with too many carbs and starch are not good for your dog. Your companion can become overweight and experience joint pain caused by carrying the extra pounds. A heavier dog finds it easier to lay around than exercise, leading to a loss in appetite.

Feed your dog at least two times per day, and if you find they function better on a few small meals a day as opposed to two, split the mealtimes into more. This way your pup will not suffer from hunger tension, which can lead to behavior problems.

Always Consult the Vet

No matter what the age of your canine companion, dog feeding problems should be discussed with your pet's primary health provider to address underlying illness, parasitic infection, or conditions like joint soreness. 

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