Q. My dog doesn't eat, what should I do?
DANA KOCH, VMD, MLAS
A. If this is a puppy, see a veterinarian immediately. Puppies should want to eat. Common causes for anorexia in puppies include viruses (parvo is a big one), parasitism, and foreign bodies. They need immediate care - go to an emergency vet if yours isn't open. Puppies can get low blood sugar and dehydration very quickly.
If this is an adult dog and you observe other concerning signs, such as diarrhea or decreased energy, you should see a veterinarian.
If the dog seems otherwise bright and stable, try offering different types of food: wet food, canned tripe, or cooked chicken and rice. Some dogs will go for canned baby food: chicken, turkey, or beef as the main ingredient. Make sure there are no garlic or onions in the ingredients!
Causes of anorexia in adult dogs can range from less serious to severe. Younger dogs are more likely to get into trouble- they tend to eat things they shouldn't, and can get foreign bodies from eating things like socks, or stomach upset from getting in the trash. Any dog may stop eating due to stress, or just being a picky eater. Middle aged dogs can stop eating when they're stressed and also have Addison's disease, which can be fatal. Older dogs tend to stop eating when they develop cancer or renal disease.
There is no one-size-fits-all recipe to know when the right time is to take your dog to the vet. The moral of this story is, if it's not getting better, your pup feels bad, or you're worried - go see the vet!