Why Isn't My New Dog Eating Anything?

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If you've ever brought a new dog home, you may be familiar with this scenario: You're beyond excited to start a life with your new companion, only she doesn't seem to be quite as thrilled with her homecoming. Maybe she's shy and not up for immediate cuddles on the couch, or maybe she couldn't care less about that box of toys you so thoughtfully placed right by her new bed. Some dogs won't even eat from their own bowl for the first few months after arriving home, but why does that happen? Furthermore, what can you do about it?

What could be wrong?

Bringing a new dog home can be one of the most exciting times in a person's life. You've likely spent months considering your choice, searching for that perfect companion, and preparing your place with all the welcome-home essentials like bedding, toys, and food. But what about your new dog? To him, this big new change might feel scary and uncertain, especially if he's been in a transitional state for any amount of time. This is something most new dog owners fail to consider, but it's a common issue for many.

The good news is, it's almost always something that can be overcome. Preventive Vet assures new pet owners that a common reason your new dog may not be eating could be a simple case of stress. Whether your dog is just a young puppy you purchased from a breeder or an adult who came from a shelter or rescue, most dogs will require a little time getting adjusted to their new environment. For some dogs, this settling in period may involve limiting food on their own behalf.

What to expect

Dogs crave structure, so most will begin to relax once they get the hang of what their new life will entail from day-to-day. Just like people, however, a dog's adjustment period will vary from dog to dog — some dogs will get back on an eating schedule in a matter of days, while others may take weeks to get back on track. If your dog isn't eating because of stress, she will likely come around as soon as she's sure that she's in a safe place and surrounded by people she can count on.

If you are certain it's stress that's got your dog refusing her food, there are a few measures you can take to make sure she gets those daily calories. Hanging around your dog's food bowl during dinner time or even hand feeding your dog are common moves that many people use to get their dogs acclimated to home life. Alternatively, if you notice that your dog is particularly happy in a certain area of the home, or enjoys partaking in a certain activity, try feeding her in that area or during that time to help her associate food with positive experiences.

Physical complications

While most refusals to eat can be chalked up to unfamiliarity and stress, you'll want to be certain that it's just a case of nerves before waiting for your dog to come around. According to WebMD, illnesses like liver damage, kidney failure, or even cancer, can suppress a dog's appetite. Also, pain in places like the stomach, throat, or mouth can make eating too uncomfortable to bear, and may also contribute to anorexic behavior in dogs. No matter where you brought your new dog home from, it's always important to pay a visit to a veterinarian in your area for an appointment that includes a physical exam, blood work, and a close look at his teeth and gums.

Things to keep in mind

Of course, if it isn't nerves or a physical ailment that's got your dog down, you may just have a picky eater on your hands. Before bringing your new dog home, it's recommended that you find out what type of food she was eating and slowly transition her to a new diet if you wish to make that change. If your dog is experiencing symptoms like irritated skin or trouble breathing, she may be allergic to the food you're feeding her and may require an allergy test to find the right fit for her needs.