My Dog Has Stopped Eating! What Do I Do?

My Dog Has Stopped Eating! What Do I Do?K9 Magazine Animal Advisory Panel (K9MAAP) tackles the worrying issue of a dog who suddenly stops eating.

Dear K9,

I am very worried about my dog, Karen. She is a 5-year old Golden Retriever and just lately she has simply stopped eating properly.

She has shown absolutely no signs of illness, quiet the opposite she is in fact virtually hyperactive.

I have tried a number of different food, meat, scraps etc.

I’ve even tried taking her food away for a day with no success. She just leaves the food in the bowl, she is not even bothered when I offer her raw meat such as sausages or bacon, occasionally she’ll eat it but usually she just ignores it.

I’ve had her to the vet who says there is nothing medically wrong with her but I’m sure you can appreciate how worrying it is for me and she has lost weight.

Previously I would describe her as a fair eater, not greedy but certainly not as apathetic toward food as she has become recently. Any advice would be welcomed.

Response from K9 Magazine Animal Advisory expert Patricia Barry BA(Hons), Dip CABT, APDT 475

A) There are quite a few clues in you letter that scream out to me take this dog back to the vet and insist on a thorough check up including blood tests and thyroid panel, not just a quick medical with a stethoscope.

She is five years old and has only just gone off her food; you state that she was always a fair eater before. But you don’t state how long it has actually been since she has eaten, I guess it is a while as she is losing weight and is hyperactive, and she turns her nose up at high value food – all signs of an underlying medical condition.

Discount all other causes first. Has she swallowed something that could cause an obstruction and so she can’t eat – are there any of her balls or small toys missing? As the vet for an X ray.

Have you have trained her to be picky with her food? – I think we can discount this as you have offered her higher value food in the way of raw sausage, bacon, meat and scraps and she still will not eat.

No dog will intentionally starve itself of food.

This is where you would usually see how a dog has been trained to ignore their own food and wait for something better on offer but she has turned this down. You have withheld her food for twenty-four hours and she still is not eating.

There are food appetisers available from vets that you can try – you sprinkle it on top of your dog’s usual food to try and make it more appealing to your dog, but she has already turned down more appetising foods.

You mention that she is a bitch but you do not mention whether she has been spayed or not. If she has not been spayed could she be expecting pups or is she having a phantom pregnancy, sometimes the first sign of either is loss of appetite.

If you can discount all the above and her appetite has always been healthy before then I would go back to the vet again and again – as mentioned I too would be worried about her hyper activity, weight loss and lack of eating.

[notice]K9MAAP Expert Bio: Patricia has a diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour and Training as well as a Puppy Class Instructors Certificate accredited by the Open College Network. She also has certificates in Advanced Pet Nutrition, Think Dog and Think Dog Advanced with the Animal Care College. She works solving many behaviour problems during the day besides running training classes.[/notice]


  1. Dear K9
    My dog is 12 years old and is a german shepherd/border collie. She is being sick (white frothy stuff) and has purple poo. She is not eating but drinking water. She really isn’t herself and looks unwell. I am taking her to the vets first thing in the morning but wondered if you might know what is wrong with her?

  2. Hi my collie has recently gone off her dog food an gone really picy she will eat ham an that’s about it she is still happy an playful but just won’t eat dog food any suggestions she is just reaching 1yrs old we have never had this problem before

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