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Why Is My Dog Not Eating Food But Drinking Water?

Is your dog drinking water rather than eating? If our pets lose their appetite, it’s a cause for concern, but there could be more to it than you think. The purpose of this guide is to help you figure out why your dog is skipping meals while still drinking water.

In some cases, dogs just aren’t hungry, which is fine, but if your dog consistently refuses food, it could be a sign that something else is wrong. If you can figure out what’s causing your dog’s lack of appetite, you can give them the care they need to feel better, so let’s get into it!

Common Causes for a Dog That Won’t Eat but Drinks Water

It is important to understand what causes your dog to refuse food, so you can deal with any hidden issues and ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy. Let’s explore a few reasons why your dog might be experiencing a loss of appetite despite staying hydrated:

1. Dental Problems

Dental problems can affect your dog’s hunger and how they feel. Things like tooth decay or sore gums can make eating tough and painful. An infection in their mouth can make their breath smell bad, make them drool, and not want to eat.

Taking care of your dog’s teeth is important. You can do things like brushing their teeth and giving them special toys or treats that are good for their teeth. If you notice any problems like gums that bleed, teeth that wiggle, or if they have a hard time eating, it’s super important to talk to the vet. If you ignore these problems, they could get worse and make your dog even sicker. So, it’s best to deal with them as soon as possible to keep your dog feeling their best.

2. Gastrointestinal Issues

Gut problems can also make your dog not want to eat. If your dog’s tummy feels strange or if there’s something stuck inside, it can be painful and make them lose their appetite. Sometimes, their tummy can get upset, which could make them vomit or have diarrhea.

Making sure your dog eats the right food and doesn’t eat stuff they’re not supposed to can help prevent tummy issues. If you notice they’re throwing up a lot or having a lot of runny poops, it’s important to talk to the vet. 

3. Behavioral Factors

Sometimes, your dog might not feel like eating because of how they’re feeling emotionally. They can, just like people, feel stressed, bored, or not in the mood. Changes in their routine or environment can also affect their appetite.

Giving your dog toys and enough attention can help. If you notice they’re not eating because they’re feeling off, try to figure out what’s bothering them and help them feel better. Making sure they’re happy and comfortable can motivate them to eat their food.

4. Infection or Inflammation

Sometimes, your dog might not want to eat because they have an infection or something that’s causing inflammation inside their body. This could be because of a germ or something else that’s causing their insides to swell up and hurt. When they’re not feeling well inside, they might not want to eat their food.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog and see if they show any signs of being sick, like acting tired all the time or not wanting to play. If you notice something’s not right, it’s best to take them to the vet, so they can help your dog.

5. Parasites

Sometimes, your dog might not be hungry because they have tiny bugs living inside them. These bugs are called parasites, and they can make your dog feel bad. Parasites can steal the food your dog eats, which can make them feel weak and not want to eat more.

Keeping your dog away from dirty places or other animals that could have these bugs can help keep them safe. If you notice your dog has a big belly or if they’re not pooping right, it could mean they have parasites. In that case, it’s, of course, important to see the vet. They can give your dog special medicine to get rid of the bugs and help your furry friend feel better.

6. Toxins or Poisons

Sometimes dogs eat something bad for them. This could be something like a chemical or a plant that’s poisonous. These things can make your dog feel sick and not want to eat.

It’s important to keep harmful stuff away from your dog’s reach, like cleaning products or certain plants. Household plants such as lilies, azaleas, and philodendrons can be poisonous if chewed or swallowed.

Also, foods like chocolate, grapes, onions, and garlic are toxic to dogs and can cause serious health issues. It’s important to keep these items out of reach and make sure your home environment is safe for your dog. If you think your dog has eaten something toxic, contact your vet immediately.

7. Foreign Objects

Sometimes, your dog might not feel like eating because they swallowed something they shouldn’t have. This could be a toy or a piece of clothing. When something gets stuck in their belly, it can make them feel sick and not want to eat.

Make sure to keep small things out of your dog’s reach so they don’t eat them by mistake. If your dog starts acting weird or throwing up, it might mean they ate something they shouldn’t have.

8. Other Medical Conditions

Sometimes, dogs refuse to eat because they have a health issue that’s making them feel sick. These health issues could include problems with their kidneys, liver, or blood sugar levels, or even something serious like cancer.

When your dog’s kidneys, which help clean their blood, aren’t working as they should, they might not feel like eating. Toxins build up in the body, making your dog feel bad. Here are some signs of kidney disease: drinking a lot more water than usual, vomiting, and weight loss.

They could also have liver problems. The liver helps with digestion and filtering toxins from the blood. When it’s not working right, your dog might lose their appetite and feel weak. Symptoms of liver disease can include yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), vomiting, and diarrhea.

Just like in humans, dogs can get diabetes when their bodies can’t regulate their blood sugar levels properly. This can lead to them feeling very thirsty, needing to pee more often, and losing weight and appetite.

Another serious medical condition is cancer, and dogs can get it too. Cancer can affect any part of their body and make them feel very sick. It can cause many different symptoms depending on where it is, including appetite loss, weight loss, lethargy, and sometimes lumps or bumps under the skin.

What to Do When Your Dog Won’t Eat or Drink

When your dog won’t eat or drink, it’s important to pay attention to their behavior and overall health. First, try to understand the reason behind their loss of appetite. If they keep refusing food or if you notice any other concerning symptoms, talk to the vet.

Also, make sure your dog has a comfortable and quiet space to rest. Offer them water often and try to give them tasty, easy-to-digest food. Avoid forcing them to eat but encourage them gently. Keep an eye on them and get help from the vet if things don’t improve. 

Home Care Tips

There are simple steps you can take at home to encourage your dog to eat and drink and help them feel better. In this section, we’ll explore practical home care tips that can make a big difference, from trying different foods to keeping them hydrated. Let’s dive into these helpful strategies to help your dog feel their best at home:

  • Try Different Foods- Offer your dog different types of food to see if there’s something they like. You can try different dog food brands, wet food instead of dry, or even homemade meals made from cooked chicken or rice. Experimenting with different options can help you find what they like best.
  • Hand-Feed- If your dog doesn’t want to eat from their bowl, try hand-feeding them small amounts of food. This can make them feel better, especially if they’re not feeling well or are stressed. Use your fingers to offer them small bites of food, and praise them when they eat. Hand-feeding can also help create a positive association with food and encourage them to eat more.
  • Enhance Food Aroma- To make your dog’s food more appealing, you can add tasty toppings. Try adding a bit of low-sodium chicken or beef broth, or mix in some plain yogurt or canned pumpkin. These can make the food smell better and tastier to your dog. Just make sure not to add anything harmful, like onions, garlic, or too much salt.
  • Stay Patient- It’s important to be patient and understanding when you encourage your dog to eat. Don’t pressure or force them to eat, because this can cause stress and anxiety, making them even less likely to eat. Instead, offer food regularly and calmly encourage them to eat without any pressure. Create a calm and cozy space for mealtime, where your dog can eat without any distractions or interruptions.
  • Keep Them Hydrated- Even if your dog isn’t eating much, it’s important to ensure they stay hydrated. Offer fresh water regularly throughout the day. You can also add ice cubes or a small amount of low-sodium broth to make it more appealing. You can also try offering water from different sources, such as a pet fountain or a shallow bowl, to see if your dog prefers one over the other. Keep an eye on how much water your dog is drinking to make sure they stay hydrated, especially if they’re not eating a lot.

Prevention and Monitoring

Taking care of your dog’s health means preventing problems before they happen and keeping an eye on how they’re doing. This is super important for their eating habits too.

In this part, we’ll talk about some easy things you can do to stop your dog from losing their appetite and how to watch out for signs that they’re not feeling well. These include looking after their teeth, sticking to a routine, and making sure they see the vet regularly. Let’s get started:

  • Regular Dental Care-  As we mentioned before, taking care of your dog’s teeth is important for their health and can stop dental problems that might make them not want to eat. Remember to brush their teeth often with special dog toothpaste and a toothbrush. You can also give them treats or toys made to clean their teeth and gums. Doing this regularly can prevent issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections, which can make them lose their appetite.
  • Maintaining a Routine- Dogs like having a routine, so it’s important to keep a consistent schedule for their meals, playtime, and rest. Try to feed them at the same times every day and avoid changing their routine suddenly, because this can make them anxious and affect their appetite. Giving them a stable and predictable environment can make them feel safe and happy, which helps them eat well.
  • Monitoring for Signs of Discomfort or Illness- This includes things like how much they eat, how much energy they have, how they go to the bathroom, and how they act in general. If you notice anything strange, like throwing up, having diarrhea, seeming tired all the time, or losing weight, it’s important to look into it more and talk to the vet if needed. Early detection means they can be treated quickly, which keeps your dog healthy and happy.
  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups-Make sure to take your dog to the vet regularly to keep an eye on their health and catch any problems early. During these visits, the vet will check your dog’s body, look at their teeth, and suggest things to keep them healthy. They might also do some tests to check for health issues that could make your dog lose their appetite or not feel good overall. Taking your dog to the vet often is important for keeping them healthy and stopping appetite problems or other health issues from happening again.


Taking care of your dog’s eating habits is a big part of being a responsible pet owner. Whether they’re just feeling a bit off or facing a more serious health issue, it’s important to be patient and watch out for any signs that they need help.

By learning about why dogs might not want to eat, doing things like taking care of their teeth, maintaining a routine, and keeping an eye on their health, you can help your dog feel better and stay healthy.

Ensure to explore our blog and the advice from our experts on ‘How to Make Your Dog’s Fur Soft and Shiny‘ before diving into anything else.

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