My Dog Has Stopped Eating and Drinking – What Could be Wrong?

Picture of a black lab laying down

If you’ve noticed that your canine friend hasn’t manifested a particular interest in eating and drinking water, it’s time to ask yourself some questions and then take him or her to the vet.

Naturally, not all problems can be considered emergencies, and in this article, we will do our best to let you know about some probable causes, several symptoms you should be on the lookout for, and even a few suggestions in terms of appetite solutions.

Medical Issues

Of course, it would be a lot more helpful for us to simply tell you what’s wrong with your pooch, but as you might expect, things are never that simple. One can’t make a diagnosis only based on two symptoms, meaning the lack of appetite in food and the absence of any interest in drinking water.

There are several medical issues that can have these two clinical signs, though, and they are severe infections, organ failure, or cancer. In any case, cancer and organ failure don’t usually show up announced, which means that you can typically notice other symptoms, too, not just your dog’s lack of appetite for food and water.

Should your dog’s lack of appetite be associated with other digestive symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, it should be obvious to you that indigestion or some sort of other digestive distress is affecting your canine companion.


Some dogs are a lot more anxious than others, and they will become stressed because of anything from being scolded to sharing their home with several other canine friends. They can also avoid eating when there are humans or (dominant) dogs in the same room. While they do take time to deal with, these behavioral problems can be solved with a lot of support, as well as patience.

If you’ve recently moved to a new house or you’re traveling with your Fido, you should know that most dogs become uneasy when they are forced to live in new places. It takes time for them to become accustomed to them, and sometimes, the solution can be simpler than you might expect, and it could be solved by moving the food dish to another room.

Boredom, Pickiness, Bad Habits, or Just a New Routine

If you’re under the impression that dogs are meant to eat the same type of food day in and day out, you’re actually wrong. Although they can’t compare to cats when it comes to being picky about food, dogs will have preferences and will manifest them quite obviously. However, if you feed your canine friend the same thing every single day, things can get old rather fast. Try to mix dry food with canned food if you’ve always fed your dog dry kibble, for example.

You might be creating bad habits for your dog without even realizing you’re doing so. Not too many people can resist those infamous ‘puppy eyes’ that your dog uses every time you’re having your supper, and enticing smells have gotten in every corner of your home and more importantly, deep down your dog’s nostrils.

A new routine in terms of the times you feed your dog every day can also be a bit challenging to handle, in that your Fido might feel a tad uncomfortable and might refrain from eating altogether until he understands that this is the way things are going to be from now on. By the way, it’s much better to feed your canine buddy several times a day than to do it once as you can avoid bloat and other digestive issues.

Dental Problems

As obvious as it might be, it takes time for us to tell whether our dogs have any problems with their teeth. You might think that Fido is just being picky, but the truth is that he or she might be suffering from things like periodontal disease, gingivitis, or even oral tumors. All of these can cause pain when eating, so in such cases, your dog can avoid chewing on anything, including food and toys.

Medication or Vaccinations

It’s absolutely normal for your canine friend to feel a little weird after getting vaccinated, and you should understand that sometimes, he or she can be under the weather for as long as 48 hours. However, if more than two days pass after your dog has gotten the vaccine and you’re still noticing a lack of appetite in food (and more importantly, water), take him or her to the vet as soon as possible.

Some medications can cause an upset stomach (especially anti-inflammatory drugs), so your dog might want to treat this symptom by not eating for a day.


Dehydration can set in within eighteen to twenty-four hours, which could mean that by the time you notice that your dog doesn’t have an appetite for water, it might already be a little late. If diarrhea or vomiting are present, your canine friend is losing a lot more fluid than you might think. But how can you tell if your dog is dehydrated and you simply must take him to the vet?

There are some symptoms that are easily discernible. You can start by testing your dog’s skin elasticity. As you know, our canine companions’ skin is made to be elastic, so it should immediately flatten out if you pinch it at his scruff. If your dog doesn’t have enough water in his or her body, though, it won’t flatten out immediately – it will take some time, and the skin will keep the so-called ‘tent’ shape for a few seconds before it gets back to normal.

What can you do if you’re suspecting that your dog is dehydrated but he won’t drink water? In that case, maybe your dog might feel more inclined to drink chicken broth or even vegetable broth (with as little sodium as possible) simply because they are more palatable than water. And besides, any partially healthy dog will manifest an interest in drinking chicken broth because it also has a bit of fat.

Some clear juices (aside from citrus juices) can also appeal to your dog. Furthermore, the natural sugar in them might be able to at least partially combat your dog’s hypoglycemia. In any case, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from dehydration, you need to take him or her to the vet as soon as possible. Sometimes, even a few hours can make a difference in saving your friend’s life.



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