Puppy Not Eating: Reasons & Solutions

Puppy Not Eating: Reasons & Solutions

A puppy not eating food can be a sign of an underlying health problem or simply a tantrum. As a pet parent, you need to carefully observe the signs and symptoms of your puppy apart from the denial of food behavior.

This article explores all the aspects of a puppy not eating food, the reasons for it, and how to help them during such times. Read on!

Why is your puppy not eating food?

Puppies are usually very hungry. Ideally, they’re supposed to eat a lot and very frequently because their bodies are growing. So a puppy denying food may be kind of a worrying situation. The first step to help is to determine why is it not eating.

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Here are 6 common reasons why puppies do not eat:

Anxious and nervousness

Puppies experience stress, anxiety, and nervousness just like we humans do. When feeling these things, they commonly refuse to eat. Common issues that cause them to be anxious are separation anxiety, abandonment issues, etc.

New environment

It’s a delightful feeling the first day you bring home a puppy. But for the puppy, it’s just coming to a place full of strangers. Puppies can be sensitive to changes in their surroundings. Moving to a new home, changes in routine, or exposure to new people or animals can cause stress. This can lead to a decrease in appetite.

Food preference

Just like humans, puppies can have preferences for certain flavors or textures. They might not like the taste or smell of their current food. Plus, if they’re transitioning to a new kind of food, give them some time and make the transition slow.

Note: Avoid feeding table scraps to puppies. If they start enjoying scraps too much, they’ll refine to eat their regular food. Furthermore, human food is not healthy for them.


Just like babies, puppies also go through teething. Imagine those little teeth pushing their way through tender gums – it can be uncomfortable! This discomfort might make your pup less interested in eating. This usually happens when your puppy is around three to four months old. It's like when we have a toothache and prefer softer foods for a while.

Digestive problems

Puppies being adventurous, lick and swallow everything they find. Sometimes, their tummy might not be feeling its best because of eating something unnecessary. Maybe they nibbled on something they shouldn't have during playtime or switched to a new type of food too quickly.

If their upset stomach persists, contacting a vet is the best option.

Underlying disease

Sometimes, a lack of appetite in puppies can be a sign of an underlying health issue. It's like when you feel too tired to eat because you're fighting off a bug. Puppies can't exactly tell us what's wrong, so a loss of appetite might be their way of saying something's up.

For instance, common examples are worms and parvovirus – it's a highly contagious disease that can make puppies fall very sick and not want to eat. Observe the symptoms that come up along with loss of appetite and consult a vet.

How to help a puppy who is not eating?

Puppies need frequent meals to help with their growth. Hence, a puppy not eating should be helped with some go-to solutions. In this section, we’ll explore some possible solutions that may help your puppy gain its appetite back.

Moisten the food

If you’re feeding dry kibble to your puppy, try mixing some warm water with kibble and let it soak. This will moisten the kibble and make it easier for the puppy to eat it. Adding hot water to it and letting it sit for a few minutes also enhances its smell.

Along with the dry food, you could mix some amount of wet puppy food in small amounts. Try the different ranges of Sploot’s wet food to make your puppy’s food tastier and healthier.

Change their routine

Some puppies come up with an attitude and may easily get bored with their regular routine. Try changing the time of feeding them and taking them out for more walks. Feed them after a walk or playtime so that they’re in a hungrier state.

Tip: Try changing their bowl. If you’re using plastic, you can switch to stainless steel or a plate.

Help their teething

Teething can be stressful for puppies. It’s one of the common reasons why puppies deny food especially food that they have to chew. Give your puppy teething toys that are safe. A cooling teething stick eases gum irritation, while softer rubber toys are gentler on their sore mouth. These toys provide relief during teething.

Optimize the number of treats

While treats are important for positive reinforcement and training, remember not to overdo the treats and disrupt mealtime. If your puppy munches on too many delicious treats, they might not be hungry for their regular meals. Balance is key to keeping their appetite in check.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use their regular food as treats and portion them out.
  • Use healthier options as treats.
  • Assess the calories taken from treats.
  • Replace treats with activities they like, for example, a run in the yard or playtime.

How much do puppies eat?

In reality, puppies can eat a lot! However, it’s the responsibility of a pet parent to limit their portions and provide only the necessary amounts. Puppies require a minimum of three meals a day.

For every 1kg of a puppy's weight, they need 20g of food. For instance, if you have a puppy weighing 6kg, they would require about 120g of food (6kg * 20g/kg) for their meals.

Here’s a more specific timeline for how many times a puppy should eat in a day according to their age:

6-12 weeks: 4 times a day

3-6 months: 3 times a day

6-12 months: Twice a day

For more information on how much to feed a puppy and when to feed them, refer to this Puppy Feeding Guide.

When to go to the vet?

While a puppy refusing to eat is a common problem, it can sometimes mean something more serious. If the problem of not eating persists for more than two days, it’s time to visit the vet. Here are a few more suggestions for when to take your puppy to the vet while not eating.

Take it to the vet if there are other symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea with or without blood
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of activity
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Whitish or grey gums
  • Trouble breathing or coughs excessively.
  • Swollen or painful areas on their body.
  • Visible parasites like ticks and fleas.
  • Signs of distress, like whining or excessive scratching.

Trust your instincts – if something feels off, it's better to get professional advice from a vet. They can provide the right care for your puppy's well-being.

Common problems

Here are some common problems associated with a puppy not eating along with other symptoms. The solution or advice regarding each problem has been suggested below.

My puppy is not eating but playing.

Keep an eye on them. If they're active and not showing other signs of illness, it might be a temporary decrease in appetite due to growth or teething. Ensure they have access to water and try offering their regular food later.

My puppy is not eating and vomiting.

Stop feeding for a few hours to let their stomach settle. Then offer small, bland meals like plain boiled rice and chicken. If vomiting continues or is severe, consult your vet.

My puppy is not eating and sleeping a lot.

Puppies sleep a lot, but if it seems excessive and is accompanied by lethargy, consult a vet. It might indicate an underlying issue. Excessive sleeping can be lethargy going unnoticed, hence, observe the symptoms carefully.

My puppy is not eating but drinking water.

Keep an eye on hydration. If they're drinking water, it's a positive sign. Offer their regular food or something they especially like. If they continue not eating for a few more days, consult a vet.

My puppy is not eating after deworming.

Deworming can temporarily affect appetite. Usually, vets provide liver syrup for puppies after being dewormed to increase their appetite and liver health.  Give them a bit of time, and if appetite doesn't return, consult your vet to ensure there are no other issues.

My puppy is not eating puppy food or kibble.

Try mixing in a small amount of wet food or a topper to make the kibble more appealing. Ensure you're offering the appropriate portion for their size and age. You could also try cooking for them to provide them with homemade puppy food. If the problem continues, consult your vet.

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