Dogs are often excited to eat. Especially puppies.
So if your pup started eating at a slow pace.
And they’re no longer ecstatic about food.
It’ll make you think…
“What’s wrong with them?”
Keep reading to find out:
- Why your puppy has slowed down on eating.
- When you should be alarmed about this eating habit.
- 5 practical tips on how to help your dog eat normally again.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why is my dog eating slower than usual?
- 11 reasons why your puppy is suddenly eating slowly
- 5 tips on what to do when your dog is eating slowly all of a sudden
Why is my dog eating slower than usual?
Your dog is eating slower than usual because of hot weather, teething, dental problems, or digestive issues. This could also be due to injury, allergy, illness, heat cycle, anorexia, anxiety, or depression. Some puppies can be picky eaters as well. While others are often so distracted while eating.
11 reasons why your puppy is suddenly eating slowly
#1: Hot weather
Have you noticed that most people tend to eat less during hot days?
And just like us, dogs’ appetites can also be affected by the heat.
It was observed that some dogs have reduced appetite during summer. So your pup may also be eating slower now because of this.
“How does the hot weather affect them?”
One study says that canines might be eating less because they don’t want to gain more body heat.
Because when we consume something, our bodies also produce heat.
This process is called ‘thermogenesis.’ And foods that take too long to digest will even release more warmth.
Meat, for example. As well as food high in fats and fiber.
This is evident in other research. Where it was found that dogs who ate a lot of protein had an increase in their skin temperature.
So, don’t worry much if this happens during summer. As it’s normal and your pup’s appetite will go back to normal again.
Note: Ensure that your dog’s drinking enough cold water every day for them to stay refreshed and hydrated. Also, open windows for more natural ventilation. Or lower the temperature in your house or room.
Do you have a puppy?
Do they also nip at everything they see?
If so, they could be teething. And it’s normal for puppies to eat slowly due to the discomfort.
Based on VCA, dogs’ teeth will start to grow around 3 weeks old. Then at 12 weeks, these ‘baby teeth’ will fall out. Making way for their permanent ones.
And by 6 months, your pup will likely have all their 42 ‘adult teeth.’ (Hooray!)
Puppies might also be more irritable during this phase. And they’ll show other behaviors, such as:
#3: Dental problems
“Mom/Dad, help! It hurts when I chew.”
If it isn’t hot in your area right now and your puppy’s teething stage is already over…
It might also be that they’re having some dental troubles.
According to experts, 80% of canines above 3 years old have this problem. And it’s usually similar to our dental disorders.
The cause may be:
- Sore gums.
- Mouth ulcer.
- Tooth decay.
- Tartar build-up.
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Fractured jaw or teeth.
- Loose or cracked tooth.
This might be the reason why your pup finds it hard to chew on food. Especially hard one like dry kibbles and long-lasting treats.
Check out also: Why Does My Dog Suddenly Have Bad Breath? 9 Reasons & Tips
#4: Digestive issues
When our tummies feel sick, we tend to be less excited about food, right?
And this could be the case for your pup as well.
Digestive problems can also make our dogs eat at a slow pace. As they might be feeling nauseous. Or have a stomach ache.
This is usually common in puppies. Because their tummies are more sensitive at this age. And they may be suffering from:
- Bad gas.
- Intestinal parasites.
- Intestinal obstruction (due to ingesting foreign objects).
“What are its causes?”
The culprit can be an intolerance to a certain food. Like grains or dairy products.
But, it may also be a result of eating low-quality dog food. As well as an abrupt change in their diet.
Apart from reduced appetite, other signs to watch out for are:
- Stomach pain.
- Straining to poop.
- Drooling excessively.
A change in eating habits isn’t only connected to the mouth or stomach.
For example, a puppy who feels pain in their legs may suddenly lose their appetite too. Also, due to itchiness, a dog might find it hard to focus on eating.
And this can be due to:
Canines who have this may scratch a lot to ease their discomfort. As well as lick themselves or other objects like there’s no tomorrow.
While those who are injured will groan if picked up or touched in a certain area. And will also refuse to walk or exercise.
You may also wonder: Why is my puppy so lazy?
#6: Heat cycle
Do you have a female pup?
If yes, they might also be in heat. And this is more likely if you notice some bloody discharge from them.
“Wait. How is this connected?”
You probably know this already. But, female dogs usually go in heat twice a year. And it’s when they’re most fertile.
Their first cycle may happen at 6 months old, AKC says.
And during this period, they’ll have a lot of changes. Both inside (surge of hormones) and outside their body.
Because of this, most females will be less active. And they’ll also lose their appetite during the first few days.
Other signs that your canine’s in season are:
Note: Male dogs don’t go in heat. But, they can be greatly affected by a female in season. So they may also refuse to eat. And be restless all day.
Sadly, our dogs can also have anorexia.
It’s an eating disorder that’s known for its common symptom – loss of appetite.
According to vets, there are 2 types of it:
- True anorexia: Dogs don’t want to eat. Their appetite is mentally driven.
- Pseudo-anorexia: There’s a want to eat. But they can’t due to discomfort.
And here are some of its reasons:
- Painful jaws.
- Chronic pain.
- Dental problems.
- Nervous system disorder.
Also, it might look like your puppy’s only eating leisurely…
But little did you know that they’re doing it because they’re anxious.
Because of their nerves, your pup can’t eat well like they used to.
Just like when we’re worried about something. Or feel nervous.
“What may have scared my dog?”
There are plenty of reasons. But the most common one is loud noises from the outside.
Say exploding fireworks, the sudden rumbling of thunder, or a car siren.
Dogs can also be anxious due to a change in their environment. As well as unfamiliar people or canines.
Other signs are:
- Lip licking.
- Air sniffing.
- Constant yawning.
- Panting even at rest.
- Excessive licking/chewing.
For further reading: Why does my dog all of a sudden have anxiety?
Depression isn’t only observed in humans. As animals may also have it. Like rats, fishes, and even our furry friends – dogs.
So if your pup who was so energetic and goes crazy over food is now none of those things…
They might be depressed.
Vets say that its symptoms are similar to its human counterpart.
Say, losing appetite and being withdrawn. As well as having less interest in things they used to enjoy.
But you may wonder, “Why does this happen?”
Same with humans, dogs can also feel down after losing a parent or friend. While other pups might also be depressed due to receiving less attention.
Read next: How do you know when your dog is depressed?
#10: It’s the food
In most cases, the reason can also be simple.
It’s that you have a ‘picky eater.’
Like a child who loses his or her appetite after seeing veggies on the dining table.
It could be that your dog’s meal doesn’t taste nor smell good to them. Or, it might be that you’re giving them too much for their age and size.
“What is considered ‘too much’ for puppies?”
According to experts, here’s the ideal feeding time for young dogs based on their age:
- 6 to 12 weeks: 4 times a day.
- 3 to 6 months: 3 to 4 times a day.
- 6 to 12 months: 2 times a day.
Check out this article: How to create a feeding schedule for a 5-week old puppy
“There are so many things I need to inspect (sniff)!”
Lastly, puppies are so energetic and curious about the world.
They would play 24/7 (if it wasn’t for their sleeping needs). And if they were asked to pick between mealtime and fun time…
They may choose the latter instead.
So they’ll often have a few sniffs or bites of their food. Then leave their meal alone. And come back for it when they feel hungry again.
5 tips on what to do when your dog is eating slowly all of a sudden
#1: Help ease their teething discomfort
Teething is a natural phase in puppyhood.
But, it could make your pup uncomfortable while eating. And they’ll also nip…a LOT.
So to help ease the discomfort, give them something to chew on.
So that it’s safe and your pup won’t destroy it in a matter of seconds.
Note: Be careful when picking toys. Materials that are too hard may cause a cracked tooth instead. Like bones, antlers, and tough nylon toys.
#2: Inspect their whole body
First, check your dog’s mouth and teeth carefully.
There could be something in there that hinders them from enjoying their food. Like swollen gums, broken teeth, or even a foreign object.
Next, scan your dog’s body for any swelling or redness.
Last, gently touch the other parts of their body.
Do it from head to toe. And watch their reactions to see if they feel sore or uncomfortable in some areas.
If you spot anything, bring your pooch to the vet at once.
#3: Switch up their food
For pups who find it hard to chew on hard food, soak their kibbles in warm water instead.
Let it soften and cool for a few minutes. Then give it to your pooch.
If your dog’s in heat or has an illness, entice them with tasty food. Offer them some beef broth, plain boiled chicken, or canned dog food.
Do this to motivate them to eat and drink while recovering.
And for those with allergies or an upset stomach, a bland diet is often recommended.
This is composed of plain boiled white rice and chicken. Give this to your dog for 2 to 3 days until their poop is normal.
And if other signs (e.g., vomiting) are gone. Then switch back to their usual food gradually.
Warning: To be sure, consult with an expert first before altering anything. As changing your dog’s food abruptly may cause an upset stomach.
To avoid this, experts advise doing this ratio – 25% (new food) and 75% (old one) during the first day. Then every 2 days, add a 25% portion of the new diet. Until their meals are 100% new food.
#4: Help them overcome anxiety/depression
If you have an anxious pooch, check your surroundings.
Is there a person or an object that makes them feel uneasy?
Have you recently changed something in the house or in their routine?
Once you’ve figured it out, do the appropriate action. Say, if it’s an object, keep it away from them. And gradually expose them to it next time.
Next, stick to a regular routine. As this will give your dog stability every day. (So, less worries for them – and also for you!)
Then, feed your dog in a safe and quiet area or anywhere they like. To ensure that they’re comfortable while eating.
For depressed dogs, engage them in fun activities every day.
I’m sure you know what your pooch likes most. So do more of it and make it more fun.
By introducing new toys. And preparing high-value treats – ones they don’t normally eat daily.
And most importantly, spend more time with them. Your Fido needs you even more now as they feel lonely and insecure.
Interesting fact: A study shows that being with their human can boost a canine’s oxytocin. (And vice versa). A hormone that’s responsible for warm and fuzzy feelings. As well as deep bonds.
#5: Train them to concentrate
Lastly, if you have a distracted dog, start teaching them to focus.
So first, feed them in a place away from any distractions. Say noises, other people, or pets.
Then pick up their food bowl 15 minutes after they eat. This is to help them learn about their feeding routine.
And for training, you may follow these simple steps:
- Choose an object that catches their attention. Like a squeaky toy or ball.
- Use this as your ‘distraction.’
- Put it on the ground – away from your dog. Then ask them to stay.
- If they didn’t move, reward them. If they did, repeat until they get it.
- Then as you progress, move the object closer and closer to them.
- If they’re doing fine, try throwing it away from your dog.
Once they mastered the art of staying (focusing), try this while they’re eating. And continue rewarding them until they’re not bothered with the distraction.
Note: Small puppies have the attention span of a goldfish. So have more patience along the way. 🙂