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Here’s How to Help a Puppy That Won’t Eat

A puppy that won’t eat can be a pretty scary emergency. Puppies that are less than three months are all predisposed to having juvenile hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when they don’t eat enough. 

If your puppy isn’t eating, we’ve put together 4 steps to help you out!

Find Out Why

Before you can solve your dog’s eating problem, you need to find out why they’re not eating in the first place! Occasionally, a puppy may just have less of an appetite than usual. Sometimes, however, a puppy may not eat due to a serious or even life-threatening cause, such as:

Parasites

Viral Infections

Intestinal Infections

Bacteria Infections

Toxin Ingestion

Upset Stomach from Diet Change or Table Foods

Eating Out of the Trash

Eating Spoiled Food

Ingestion of Indigestible Materials (Toy, Socks, etc.)

Issues That Affect Organs (Heart Defects, Liver Shunt)

 


Check Your Puppy for Symptoms


Carefully check your puppy for symptoms besides the low appetite, keeping an eye out for any additional symptoms or external causes. 


Vomiting

Diarrhea

Worms in Stool 

Fleas or Ticks 

Fatigue or Weakness

Trembling, Twitching, Seizures

Limping

Pain or Discomfort

Coughing or Breathing Trouble

Pale Gums


Feeding Tips


Here are some tips to help encourage your puppy to eat.

  1. Offer regular food to your puppy - if they don’t eat, try the next step. 
  2. Moisten the food with water or chicken broth to make it more appealing.
  3. Offer different canned puppy foods to stimulate their appetite. The best way is to add a little bit of canned food to their regular food, as it has higher water content and is more palatable.
  4. Feed your puppy a bland diet, like a boiled hamburger with rice. These bland meals can either be purchased or cooked with a recipe found online.
  5. Heat the canned food in the microwave for a few seconds, careful not to make the food hot to the touch. A few seconds of heat will release the aroma, getting your puppy interested.
  6. Offer your puppy some baby food, like chicken-flavored food.
  7. Mix either canned food or baby food with water and gently feed with a syringe. Sometimes, getting a little bit of food into a puppy will make them want to eat more.
  8. Feed a small amount of food at a time to make sure the puppy tolerates it.
  9. Encourage your body to drink plenty of fluids. You can do this by adding an ice cube to their water bowl, letting them lick water from your hand or finger, or giving them small amounts of low-sodium chicken broth.

If, after all of this, your puppy still won’t eat, the safest option is to take your puppy to their veterinarian. If they start to seem weak, cannot stand, or are twitching abnormally, this could mean low blood sugar and is an emergency. To help with low blood sugar, rub some Karo syrup on your puppy’s gums and call your vet.


Things to Avoid

Once you find the reason your puppy isn’t eating, do your best to avoid the cause in the future. For example, avoid their exposure to trash if they get into it, and if they have worms, be sure to have the proper prescribed treatment.

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