Having a new fur baby at home is fun and exciting.
But this joy can be instantly replaced with worries…
Once your pup doesn’t want to eat or drink much.
Why does this happen?
Continue reading to find out:
- If it’s natural for a new puppy to not eat or drink much.
- What makes them refuse their meals and forget to drink.
- 5 easy tips for bringing back their appetite and normal water intake.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
- Why isn’t my new puppy eating or drinking much?
- 9 reasons why your new puppy isn’t eating or drinking much
- 5 tips on what to do when your puppy isn’t eating or drinking much
Why isn’t my new puppy eating or drinking much?
Your new puppy isn’t eating or drinking much because of anxiety or separation issues. This could also be due to pain from teething, injuries, and digestive problems. As well as intestinal worms or infections. But sometimes, puppies may also refuse to eat after having a lot of treats before mealtime.
9 reasons why your new puppy isn’t eating or drinking much
#1: They’re still adjusting
How many days have passed since you brought your new puppy home?
If it hasn’t been that long, it might be because they’re still in the ‘adjustment period.’
Like us, dogs’ appetite can also be affected by stress and anxiety. This is why they’re reluctant to eat and drink.
Think about it.
Your puppy’s in a new environment all of a sudden. Where everything is unfamiliar to them – the people, sounds, and odors.
Plus, they’ll feel lonely and alone. As they probably miss being in the litter with their siblings and mother.
So, it’s quite normal for puppies to experience this during their first few days.
“How long does it take for a puppy to adapt to a new home?”
Some say that it’ll take them:
- 3 days – to relax.
- 3 weeks – to adjust.
- 3 months – to finally be at ease.
Although this will still depend on your dog. As well as on how you’ll make them feel at home.
Interesting fact: Experts reveal that dogs still recognize their mothers after being separated. And vice versa. Which is thanks to the scent cues that are stuck in their memory.
Don’t forget to check out: Why is my puppy so aloof?
#2: They have separation anxiety
Does your new pup follow you everywhere? Even when you’re about to sleep?
And don’t they eat or drink much whenever you’re not around?
It’s a condition observed in 5% to 21% of dogs, according to a study.
The attachment of dogs to their humans is said to be similar to the bond between parents and kids.
So canines might suffer if they’re separated from their humans for too long.
However, pups who have this anxiety will act paranoid even if they don’t see their parents for a minute. So they’ll bark, whine, and destroy things.
As well as lose their appetite and ignore their thirst.
“What may have caused this?”
Research says that puppies who are separated from their litter earlier than 8 weeks are prone to anxiety. As well as attachment issues.
This is because they didn’t get to observe their mother and littermates enough. Which is crucial in building their confidence and learning skills.
What’s more, dogs also go through ‘fear periods.’ Which are stages in their lives where they tend to be more scared.
The 1st stage will be around 8 to 11 weeks, AKC says. This is usually the age where pups are adopted and brought into new homes. Which can even add up to their anxiety.
While pups who came from shelters and had bad experiences also have high chances of getting this.
Note: Separation anxiety is treatable by anti-anxiety medications. But, it’ll only be successful if mixed with behavioral modification.
We’ll get to that later. 🙂
#3: They’re in the teething stage
Chew here. Bite there.
“Why are they like this?”
This might be due to teething.
It’s when pups’ baby teeth will start to grow. Because of this, your little fur buddy will have discomfort due to their sore gums.
Which can explain their reduced appetite. And sometimes, decreased water intake.
“How long will this last?”
Merck Vets say that this may occur as early as 3 weeks. And continue up to 4 months.
What to do?
Provide safe and long-lasting teething toys for your puppy. Like this one. Which is soft but durable, as it’s made of natural rubber.
These will help soothe their aching gums and relieve stress. Plus, steer them away from destroying your stuff and nipping at you.
#4: They have their own preferences
Your new puppy doesn’t touch their meals and water.
But, they beg under the table and focus on you while you’re eating.
If your situation is like this, you might have a fussy eater.
Dogs love food. (And so do we!)
But this being said, some puppies can also be picky during mealtime.
They may have their own food preferences. As well as eating habits.
These might be inherited. For example, Labradors are known for their big appetite.
While toy breeds have small tummies. And sighthounds are often lean and eat less than others.
These could also be developed in the early stages of their lives. Say, your puppy might be used to a certain dog food brand, texture, flavor, or scent.
And when it comes to water, their bowl’s material may be unfamiliar to them.
Dr. Jerry Klein shared with AKC how to know if your puppy is a ‘picky eater.’ They’re one if they don’t finish their food within 20 minutes.
Note: Be careful. Being a fussy eater can also be a sign of an illness – I’ll discuss this next. So, better rule out any medical conditions first to be safe.
#5: They’re in pain
Puppies are often hyperactive.
They’re also extremely curious. And love exploring their world.
So, they’re also injury-prone.
Dogs who are suffering from pain might refuse to eat or drink as well. As moving or bending over causes more discomfort.
This could be due to:
- Broken tooth.
- Bone disorders.
- Dental diseases.
- A foreign object stuck in their mouth.
- Growing pains (common in fast-growing puppies).
Note: See if there’s any problem in your puppy’s mouth. Also, gently press each area of their body. And watch their reaction to know if they feel any soreness.
#6: They got digestive problems
Your new pup was eating and drinking normally before.
But now, they don’t finish their food. As well as their water.
If this continues for days, it might be a digestion problem.
Like I said earlier, puppies are still in their ‘exploration stage.’
And they may have eaten things which they shouldn’t. Like rocks and trash. Or ingested a piece of their toy. Which can cause an intestinal blockage.
Puppies may swallow some small rubber or plastic parts of their chew toys. If the parts are tiny, they should pass without causing any problems.
To be on the safe side, check your pup’s poop. If the swallowed parts appear there, then there’s no issue. But if a few days pass and your pup doesn’t poop, you should take them to the vet.
Another culprit for a pup’s upset stomach could be feeding them table scraps.
If your dog’s stomach is feeling unwell you’ll notice:
- Abdominal pain.
- Straining to poop.
Warning: The abovementioned signs are alarming. So, it’s best to call your vet right away if you notice any of these.
You might also like: Why do dogs lick blankets and furniture?
#7: They have intestinal parasites
Does your new pup have a potbelly?
It might look cute.
However, it could also be a sign of intestinal worms. Oh-oh!
And those parasites can be the reason for your pup’s:
- Weight loss.
- Stomach ache.
According to vets, worms are common in puppies.
In fact, they might be born with roundworms. As they may get these while inside their mother’s placenta. And hookworms can be passed on through her milk.
While they may get the other types through:
- Flea or mosquito bites.
- Ingesting an infected soil, water, or poop.
Warning: Most worms pose danger for your pup. They can cause anemia, heart failure, and even death. So have your pup checked by an expert immediately.
#8: They suffer from an infection
Aside from nasty worms…
Puppies might also get infections. Say, after contact with infected feces.
And the most common is canine parvovirus.
PetMD says that dogs who have this will also vomit. Along with diarrhea and fever.
This is also fatal. Especially for unvaccinated puppies and adults.
Upper respiratory tract infections are possible as well. Such as kennel cough.
#9: They had too many treats
Lastly, you may have also inadvertently given your pup a lot of goodies.
Because well, dogs love treats. And people can’t easily say no to those ‘puppy eyes.’
Although it’s good to reward them…
Too many treats can make their tummy full. So when it’s already mealtime, they’re not so hungry anymore.
This is a common mistake most dog parents make. But don’t worry. Now you know.
Just cut back those extra snacks. Making sure they’re only 10% of your pup’s total daily calories.
And try not to give in to your furbaby’s puppy eyes. 🙂
Interesting fact: Studies show that dogs have evolved facial features for better communication with us. For example, they learned how to use their brows. And do the ‘sad’ expression which makes humans melt.
5 tips on what to do when your puppy isn’t eating or drinking much
#1: Bring them to the clinic
Have your pup checked by the vet when changes in appetite and water intake continue for more than 12 to 24 hours. Along with lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.
But even without the other signs, do this if you have a toy breed or a puppy below 3 months old.
This is to prevent dehydration. As well as ‘hypoglycemia.’ Or low blood sugar level that’s common in toy breeds.
Note: Before going to the vet, monitor your puppy. Pay attention to their behavior, urination, and defecation. And list down all the signs that you notice to help with the diagnosis.
#2: Know their history
Sometimes, this could also be a matter of preferences. Especially when your pup is often lively and has a clean bill of health.
So, ask questions about your pup’s eating and drinking habits to the breeder or shelter where you got them. Such as:
- Which brand of puppy food did they use to eat.
- Whether your pup loves to eat alone or enjoy some company.
- What kind of bowl were they fed (e.g., plastic, metal, ceramic).
Knowing the answers to these and taking the right actions…
Might help your pup feel more comfortable in their new home. And also, regain their appetite.
#3: Make their food and water enticing
Puppies who have just been weaned may not prefer dry and hard food. While sick dogs are unmotivated to eat and drink.
And some pups can also be bored or picky with their meals.
For this, prepare food that might attract your pup to eat normally again. As well as entice them to drink more water.
Try these easy tips:
Put ice cubes in their water bowl. Study shows that dogs prefer cold water.
Add broth to their meals. Or replace their plain water with this. Which is either made of chicken or beef.
Heat up their meals. Microwave their food for about 10 seconds. To help it smell stronger and yummier.
Soak their food in warm water. Use the ratio: 3 parts dry food and 1 part water. Let the food soften for a few minutes. And ensure the water’s not too hot before giving it to your pup.
Give them canned food for puppies. When choosing, stick to the kind of protein that your pup is used to. Offer this warm, at room temperature, or a bit chilled to see which one they prefer.
Note: For picky eaters, stick to regular feeding times. And pick up your puppy’s food bowl after 15 minutes to establish the routine. Do the latter if you don’t have a toy breed that needs accessible food most of the time.
#4: Correct their attachment issues
Do you have a pup with separation problems?
Take note of these:
Make departures and arrivals calm. Avoid petting or talking to your pup excitedly before and after going out.
Reward them if they’re calm. Ignore your pup if they’re barking or lunging at you. Just give them attention or some treats if they’re on all fours.
Exercise them first thing in the morning. If you’ll be gone long, ask a family member or a trusted dog walker to take them out while you’re gone.
Leave puppy-safe toys. This is to keep them occupied and stimulated while you’re busy or away. Also, try replacing their bowl with a puzzle feeder. To motivate them to eat.
#5: Help them feel more comfortable
Getting an anxious puppy to feel at ease can be hard.
But, it’s not impossible.
You might need to do some adjustments to make them feel more secure in their new home. And these are:
Setting up their own spot. Puppies can be overwhelmed by large areas. So, designate a small area for them until they settle in.
Switching their feeding place. Feed your puppy in their new spot. Or choose a quieter area where they seem the most comfortable.
Giving them some space. Be patient and slowly gain their trust by attending to their needs. While respecting their boundaries. Then let them explore the house on their own – supervised.
Note: Once your pup’s comfortable around you, try hand-feeding them. But as you go on, gradually transition into a food bowl. So they won’t get used to this.