A dog that doesn't eat enough can be a real source of worry and concern. When you are accustomed to seeing dogs rush to their dish at mealtime and eagerly clean up every last morsel, a dog who doesn't show much interest in eating, and who may even be a little underweight, can leave you feeling anxious.
Whether your dog's change in appetite has been a long-term problem or seemed to develop overnight, make a trip to the veterinarian the top of your priority list. Your veterinarian can check your dog over and make sure there are no physical reasons for your dog to have trouble eating. Problem teeth, sores in the mouth and many other health issues can affect your dog's appetite. Your veterinarian can also weigh your dog and give you a goal weight to aim for.
If your dog doesn't seem to care for his food, you may want to switch brands. To prevent digestive upset make the switch slowly, over at least two to three days, gradually adding more of the new brand and less of the original food until you have him switched to the new food. Don't switch his food often, dogs don't require a varied diet, and generally do much better when you stick to the same food, according to the Pet Place website. Also, make sure all food products are fresh, and stored in a closed container, to keep moisture and pests out. Check the expiration date on foods when you purchase them, and check often when they are stored.
It may be tempting to ply your dog with treats between meals to encourage him to consume more calories, but this will likely increase your feeding issues. Once he learns he can get special treats or extra attention from you, he will likely eat less, rather than more, of the food in his dish. To make his food more palatable, you can stir in a few spoonfuls of canned dog food or pour a little warm water or broth over the top, but include these treats in his regular meals, not as a separate snack.
Regular exercise will stimulate your dog's appetite and encourage him to eat more. To really boost the appetite-improving effects of exercise, take him for a walk before each meal. It won't take him long to associate the walk with mealtime, giving him a positive association for both activities.
Some dogs get distracted by activity and have trouble focusing on their meal. Make sure your dog's food and water dishes are in a quiet spot, where he can eat in peace. Set his food down and walk away. Come back in a half hour and pick his dishes up. It won't take him long to realize he needs to eat when he has the chance.
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