Why is my cat or dog not eating?
Dogs and cats are usually healthy eaters, known for their love of food and even getting into some foods they shouldn’t. But what happens when your pet suddenly stops eating? Many dogs and cats will stop eating at some stage due to fussiness or minor illness, and normally these episodes will correct themselves. However, if your pet continues to not eat this may require further investigation from your vet.
Is your pet fussy?
The most common reason your pet won’t eat is they don’t like the food. The simplest solution is to alter their meal times and give them higher quality food. However, if you are planning to change their diet, do it gradually. Rapid switching from a low-quality diet to premium foods like ROYAL CANIN® can cause short-term stomach upsets for cats and dogs. Over a period of a week, serve them a blend of old and new food that starts 25% new and slowly increase that percentage of new over the seven days until, by day seven you’re feeding 100% new.
Mixing up textures and switching between dry and wet food can be a solution - especially in the case of cats. If you’d like to know more, there’s a great article on serving cats wet and dry food on our blog.
Is your pet overfed?
If you are feeding your pet treats and other meals throughout the day, chances are your pet is too full to eat or finish their regular meals. So be mindful not to disrupt your pet’s eating routine with excessive treats. If your pet is in good body condition and has a stable weight, then they are probably getting enough to eat and this lack of eating is really just not being hungry. Your vet will be able to advise you if your pet is underweight or overweight or you can check out our weight triage tool.
Is your pet stressed?
Another common cause of loss of appetite is as simple as your pet not liking the location of where they are eating. It may be that mealtimes are in a busy part of the house and your pet likes to eat in peace, or possibly their food bowl is too close to their litter box. Consider where you are feeding your pet and whether the location is causing stress. Another issue may be with other pets in the house that steal food or bully your pet into not eating. Monitor all these and consider changing the setting of mealtime to make for a more pleasant experience.
Is your pet unwell?
Loss of appetite can be caused by illness or an ongoing disorder. If reluctance to eat is coupled with symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting or weight loss an illness may be to blame.
When to talk to your vet
Once you have ruled out fussiness, overeating and stress as potential causes of your cat not eating or your dog being off its food, then it’s worth having a chat with your vet.
After speaking with your vet about what’s going on, they may give you an integrated treatment program to help get your pet healthy again. Part of this program may include an elimination diet, where certain foods are removed from the diet in order to make sure they’re not part of the problem. Many vets use ROYAL CANIN’S® Anallergenic or Hypoallergenic diets as part of this program.