Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 2, 2023 by Crystal Uys
For most pets, eating is a joyful part of their daily routine. So when a pet doesn’t want to eat, it is a reason for concern for most pet owners. When loss of appetite is short-lived, it’s usually nothing to worry about. But when your pet stops eating for unknown reasons for longer than 24 hours, a visit to your veterinarian might be in order.
Julie Andrus of Holistic Pet Info takes a look at what loss of appetite can mean:
Moving to a new home or the addition of a new family member can cause stress on your pet and they may not feel like eating. This type of appetite loss is usually short-lived and can be remedied with coaxing and extra attention to your pet. When your dog or cat stops eating for unknown reasons, it is time to take a closer look.
A sudden loss of appetite or one that develops over time and continues for several days could indicate a variety of illnesses, including:
Digestive Disorders – Partial blockage of the digestive tract (foreign objects or possibly tumors) can make it difficult to swallow and can result in your pet’s unwillingness to eat. Parasites, ulcers or bacterial infections, even food allergies can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which make it uncomfortable to eat. Additional symptoms to watch for are increased salivation, diarrhea and vomiting.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas secretes its corrosive digestive juices on itself and the surrounding internal organs and tissues rather than on the food in the intestine. The resulting inflammation causes pain and stress in the animal, eventually leading to a complete loss of appetite. Vomiting and listlessness often accompany your pet’s loss of appetite when the pancreas is affected.
Kidney Disease – The kidney’s job is to remove waste products from the blood. When the kidneys begin to fail, toxins begin to build up in the blood stream and sometimes cause ulcers in the mouth and stomach. You may notice your pet has stopped eating (because of the ulcers) yet they are drinking and urinating more often because of the kidney disease. With kidney disease, vomiting and lethargy are often present.
Dental Disease – One obvious but often overlooked reason for loss of appetite is that your pet experiences mouth pain when eating. Abscesses, tooth decay and gum disease can sideline even the hungriest pets.
Your pet’s loss of appetite may mean something as simple as his dislike for a new brand of food or it may indicate a more serious medical condition. If other symptoms are present (difficulty breathing, vomiting, lethargy, drooling, excessive thirst), schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. A physical exam, x-rays, fecal tests and or blood work can diagnosis the problem and a treatment plan can be determined.
Remember that early intervention can mean a better prognosis for recovery and less discomfort for your beloved pet.
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.