Puppies normally have good appetites. They generally need plenty of food to keep up with their fast growth rates. Their relatively small body size, however, means a small stomach. This results in them needing more frequent meals of smaller portion sizes when compared to adult dogs. So why might your puppy stop eating?

The food

If you’ve recently brought your new puppy home, it may simply be that they don’t want to eat the food you are offering. It is likely that they will have gotten used to a particular food since being weaned. 

In most cases, you should continue the same food that the puppy was eating beforehand; at least whilst he or she settles in. Your new addition will have enough things to get used to without adding a new food into the mix. If you need to change to a different one, then this should be done gradually. Change the food over the course of a week, starting with just adding a couple of pieces to your puppy’s bowl at each meal. Then, little by little, replace the old food with the new one by mixing increasing portions of the new food and decreasing amounts of the old one. I

f you don’t know which food they were eating before, then choose a complete food formulated for puppies. The puppy’s daily intake should be divided into three to four meals each day depending on the age of your puppy – and younger ones should eat more frequently.

A change in environment

Sometimes, because of the turmoil involved in going to a new home, not being around its mother or littermates, and all the new sights and sounds, your puppy might not be as interested in food as they normally would be. In the beginning, he might eat less at mealtimes, or not want the occasional meal. Be patient and continue to offer food at regular intervals. As your puppy settles his appetite should return to normal. 

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Other animals

Be aware that your puppy might be affected by the presence of other dogs or cats in his environment. Depending on their interactions and individual behaviour traits, when the other animal is around, the puppy may not feel comfortable eating. Try to be in tune with inter-pet relationships so you can nip any issues in the bud. It’s important to provide a safe environment for each pet, so that they can eat, drink and relax in peace. 

Illness

Whilst your puppy’s lack of appetite might well be behavioural in nature, it’s important to not overlook the possibility of him being unwell. Reluctance to eat can be the first sign that there’s something wrong. It’s common with issues such as intestinal worms and other infections.

The stress of a new home can also suppress immune function. This makes them more susceptible to infection. Ensure that they have an up-to-date worming programme and watch their stools for any signs of worms being present, or hints of blood. If your puppy refuses food completely for more than twelve hours, has a pot-belly, or has any other signs of being unwell such as lethargy or gastrointestinal signs (e.g. vomiting or diarrhoea), then get them to your vet to be checked out. 

Generally, if your new puppy doesn’t want to eat then it’s probably just a temporary glitch. Often related to all the new changes going on or because they’ve gotten used to different food. However, puppies have very low body reserves, which means that prolonged periods of time without eating can have serious consequences. If you have any concerns, take them to the vets for a quick check-up.

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