While most healthy pups enjoy chowing down on their food, if your pooch's appetite seems to be waning or he's looking a bit thin, you can try to encourage him to eat more. Proper nutrition is important, especially for growing pups, and without enough food, your little one can develop many health issues. Before doing anything, bring your dog to the vet to see if a medical cause is to blame for his poor appetite.
Rule Out Illness
The most common reason that a pup will experience a lull in his appetite is an illness, such as an endocrine issue, neurological disease, poisoning, autoimmune disease or gastrointestinal issue, warns petMD. Your vet can examine your pooch and perform diagnostic tests to determine whether he is ill. Once he's properly diagnosed and treated, his appetite should return to normal. Note that sometimes a puppy's appetite may wane for a day or so after he's vaccinated or after the stress of a trip to the vet, according to the Dogwood Pet Hospital website. If his appetite is poor for a longer period of time, consult your vet.
Change the Diet
If Fido gets a clean bill of health, he may just be unhappy with his current diet, which is why he's not eating enough. Try changing the type or brand of food he's eating. If Fido is currently on a diet of dry kibble, give him some canned food instead or mix it with the kibble. Most pups prefer the soft texture of canned food and find it much more palatable than dry food, according to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. In addition, young pups might prefer the soft texture better, especially those who have recently transitioned onto solid food or those who are teething and in pain when they chew too much.
Make Meals Appealing
Encourage your pup to eat by making his meals irresistible. Heat his canned food in the microwave for a few seconds before serving. This enhances its aroma, making it more appetizing for your pooch, according to the Pet360 website. Add a bit of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to the food to make it taste better. You can also sprinkle some tasty dog treats, pieces of cooked meat, eggs or other yummy-smelling edibles over the food to attract your pup to it, according to S.J. Delaney in an article in the Nov. 2006 "Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice." Taper off the treats once your pup's appetite increases to a suitable level.
Things to Consider
Make your pooch's eating area pleasant. Feed him in a quiet, low-traffic area of your home away from other pets, whose presence may discourage him from eating. Take your pup out on a brief walk before meals to increase his appetite. Have him spayed or neutered, recommends Dr. Ron Hines on 2ndChance.info. Leave dry kibble out between meals to give your pup a chance to eat more food when he wants. Avoid feeding your pooch table scraps or other people food regularly, because this can make him into a picky eater who won't want to eat his dog-specific food, warns WebMD.
- WebMD: When Your Dog Is a Picky Eater
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: What to Do About a Finicky Eater
- 2ndChance.info: What to Do When Your Dog or Cat Won’t Eat -- Anorexia in Pets
- Pet360: Why Won't My Dog Eat His Food?
- petMD: Loss of Appetite in Dogs
- The Veterinary Clinics of North America, Small Animal Practice: Management of Anorexia in Dogs and Cats
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Anorexia
- Dogwood Pet Hospital: Anorexia in Dogs
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.