Most pets have favorite foods and treats, as well as preferences in ingredients that they gravitate to whenever available to them. In general, though, your furry one should have a good appetite unless they are ill or dealing with an emotional stressor. There are times when a pet just won’t eat their food, and this is distressing for many pet parents.

Since this is a common concern among our readers and clients, the team at Town and Country Animal Hospital is here to address the causes of pet inappetence and what you can do to help.

Lack of Appetite in Pets

Most cats and dogs seem to live for mealtimes, but there are some furry friends who have problems with getting enough nutrition in their diet each day. Whether they are sick or stressed, There are several reasons why a pet may lack appetite.

  • Illness – Many diseases and illnesses can cause decreased appetites in pets. This may include pancreatitis, basic stomach upset, toxicity, bloat, parasitic or bacterial infections, and so on. If your pet is also experiencing lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms, they will need to be seen right away.
  • Stress and anxiety – If your pet is experiencing any level of stress, this may lead to a loss of appetite. Noise anxiety, separation anxiety, and major changes in the home, from moving to a new house or having a baby, can all set your pet up for fear.
  • Food preferences – Yes, many pets can be picky about their meals. If you have adjusted your pet to people food, they will naturally want that instead of their own kibble. Certain pets have food allergies that cause them to lose interest, while others just prefer specific ingredients, like poultry over beef or seafood.
  • Not enough exercise – If you and your pet have been major couch potatoes, increasing their exercise may increase their hunger. Encourage your pet’s appetite by giving them at least 30 minutes of activity and attention each day.
  • Medications – Some medications cause stomach upset and a lack of appetite. These include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and cancer treatment drugs.

Increasing Your Pet’s Appetite

The first thing to address, when your pet isn’t eating their food, is whether or not there is a health condition at work. If your pet isn’t eating for more than 12 hours at a time and is having corresponding symptoms of illness, they should be examined. Some inappetance can be linked to medical conditions or even an emergency situation like bloat in pets or poisoning from ingesting a toxic substance. Even if it is simply an upset tummy, your pet will benefit from being examined and given a clean bill of health.

Once you have had them examined, the following steps can help encourage your furry one to eat more of their meal.

  • Change up their diet by giving your pet a few foods to choose from, to see which ones they enjoy.
  • Mix in tuna water, wet food, low sodium chicken broth, rice, or shredded chicken breast in with their kibble to entice them to eat.
  • Some pets have food preferences, such as beef or seafood over poultry, or potatoes over rice. Try to isolate the ingredients that cause your pet to turn their nose up.
  • Exercise your pet for at least 30 minutes per day to encourage hunger and good health.
  • Minimize stress in the home by keeping routines and schedules for your pet consistent.
  • Avoid overcompensating them with treats and table scraps, since that can become another set of problems (obesity, toxicity, pancreatitis).

Help for When Your Pet Won’t Eat Their Food

If you would like additional suggestions for helping when your pet won’t eat, please contact us. Your fussy friend may just need their diet switched to something more appetizing for them, and we can help provide recommendations and tips. We look forward to speaking with you and seeing your furry loved one soon.