With over 20 years as a passionate dog lover with over 20 years of experience caring for furry friends, I often get asked “My Labrador Retriever Won’t Eat, what should I do?” It’s a common concern for folks with four-legged family members when their pooch seems disinterested in mealtime. As a dedicated pet pro, permit me to offer my best strategies to get your pup excited about eating again.
There are many possible reasons why your dog may have lost their appetite. This article explores the top causes and proven solutions to help get your dog to eat again. Below are 10 of the most common reasons your dog might not be eating. Alternatively if you want to save some time you can ask a dog vet directly.
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Common Reasons Your Labrador Retriever Won’t Eat
1. Dental Disease and Oral Pain
Oral health conditions like gum disease, infected teeth, and fractured teeth are very common in dogs and can cause severe oral pain that prevents them from wanting to chew their food. Signs that your Labrador Retriever has dental issues include bad breath, reddened gums, rubbing the mouth, and spitting out food. Dogs may start eating only soft food or refuse to eat their meals.
See your vet immediately if you notice these signs of dental disease, as untreated infections can spread bacteria to the bloodstream. Your vet will likely recommend a full dental cleaning and removal of diseased teeth under anesthesia to relieve your dog’s oral pain. They may also prescribe antibiotics and pain medication. With treatment, your Labrador Retriever appetite should bounce back within a few days once the mouth pain subsides.
2. Nausea from Gastrointestinal Upset
Given the nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues, dogs tend to avoid eating. The list of potential GI challenges includes allergies to dog food, inflammatory bowel disorders, pancreatitis, infections from parasites, and viral enteritis, can be the cause a Labrador Retriever wont eat.
By conducting blood tests, analyzing fecal samples, and getting abdominal imaging, the primary reason for appetite loss can be detected. Once nausea wanes, administering treatments like anti-nausea medications, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and specific diets can rapidly restore appetite.
It’s crucial to adhere strictly to the vet’s prescribed treatment regimen and ensure your Labrador Retriever gets the suggested doses.
3. Anxiety and Stress
Routine alterations, trips, new settings, intense sounds, and encountering unknown dogs or humans can be stressful for Labrador Retrievers. Such anxiety-filled or distressing scenarios frequently lead to reduced food intake or even complete avoidance of meals by dogs.
To keep your dog’s anxiety at bay, stick to regular schedules as much as you can and opt for anti-anxiety treatments or supplements if the vet suggests. Also, stimulate their appetite by hand feeding delicious foods like cooked chicken, canned puppy food, or dry food such as kibble soaked in broth.
Once your dog begins to acclimate to the alterations causing anxiety, you’ll likely notice an uptick in their appetite.
4. Labrador Retriever Decreased Sense of Smell
A dulled sense of smell is a common issue for older dogs and those with chronic nasal/respiratory diseases. When the dog food appears tasteless or not inviting, the dogs lack the drive or desire to consume it.
You could heat canned or moistened food to enhance its smell.Over their usual kibble, add aromatic ingredients such as chicken broth, grated cheese, bits of bacon, or tinned fish.Doing so makes their meal more appealing.
If an upper respiratory infection is causing the smell loss, antibiotics and nasal decongestants from your vet can help restore their appetite.
5. Picky Eating Habits
Certain Labrador Retrievers have innate fussy eating tendencies, stemming either from monotony with their meals or a penchant for people’s food. Finicky eaters may start refusing meals or eating very selectively.
In addressing a discerning dog’s inclinations, it could be beneficial to cyclically swap between 3-4 quality food options like air-dried, raw, or canned varieties. Consider enhancing their regular kibble with tempting additives such as chopped ham, whisked eggs, unsweetened yogurt, or cottage cheese.
Avoid catering to picky behavior by never feeding human table scraps. Given enough patience and some inventive ideas, you can pinpoint the meals your fussy dog relishes.
Consider these products as suitable options for Labrador Retrievers with selective tastes.
6. Underlying Medical Issue
Many internal health challenges, not limited to dental and gastrointestinal conditions, can result in a lack of appetite in Labrador Retrievers. These include kidney disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, urinary tract infections, and organ failure.
Should your mature dog abstain from food for a day or more or appear listless, promptly arrange a visit to the vet. Diagnostic testing like bloodwork, urinalysis, and imaging will uncover if your dog has an underlying medical problem sabotaging their appetite.
Once your dog starts recuperating, the right medical intervention usually reignites their normal appetite swiftly. Yet, failing to address health conditions can be perilous.
7. A Change in Eating Routine
thrive on routines, and any disruption can often lead them to become finicky eaters. This selective eating can stem from factors like a change in food brand, feeding schedule alterations, trips, staying in a boarding facility, house guests, relocating, or even a new addition to the family like a newborn or a new puppy.
Aim to acclimate your Labrador Retriever to these shifts in routine over a span of 2-3 weeks. Take the case of altering their diet: carry out the transition across 7-10 days, methodically adding more of the new food and reducing the old.
To regain their usual appetite, it’s essential to remain consistent and predictable in your actions.
8. Labrador Retriever Feeling Overheated
When the summer heat strikes, the act of panting and cooling off tends to hinder hunger signals in a dog’s brain. Make sure your Labrador Retriever has constant access to shade, cool floors, and fresh water in warmer months.
Think about offering more substantial meals when it’s cooler, such as in the early morning or late evening. A helpful tip is to chill their food and water containers, which helps to cool the vicinity around their meal.
This tactic can foster eating even on sweltering days.
9. Competition with Other Pets
A number of Labrador Retrievers can experience anxiety when eating near other animals, leading them to decline their food. The presence of other dogs or cats can create tension over resources like food, toys, and human attention.
To mitigate this, feed your dogs in isolated spaces and employ baby barriers during mealtimes. Also, provide multiple food bowls spread widely apart to minimize competition. With these changes, anxious eaters usually become comfortable eating again.
10. A New Adoption or Move
Introducing a rescued dog to your home or shifting to a new dwelling with your pet represents major life changes. It’s completely normal for newly adopted Labrador Retrievers or dogs adjusting to a new home environment to experience temporary appetite loss and stress.
Exercise patience, ensure a constant food supply, maintain their usual schedule, and consider tranquility supplements when necessary. You’ll likely notice an uptick in their eating and comfort levels in around 1-2 weeks as they adapt to the alterations.
When to See the Vet About Appetite Loss
Should your adult Labrador Retriever abstain from eating for a period of 24-48 hours, immediately reach out to your vet. Waiting too long can lead to dangerous complications like liver damage from a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream.
If a puppy isn’t eating or has appetite problems, it’s urgent to visit the vet within a 12-hour window due to their fast deterioration rate. Prepare to relay any notable symptoms in your dog, such as vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, or indications of discomfort.
Your vet will perform diagnostic testing to uncover whether an underlying medical issue is causing your dog’s appetite loss.
Treatment of the condition often gets them feeling hungry again quickly and can encourage your dog to eat once more.
Before heading to a vet clinic, you could opt to consult our Ask A Vet online platform, which might save you from a costly visit while getting immediate feedback. An online vet consultation can provide you with immediate insights, potentially bypassing an expensive clinic visit.
How to Get Your Labrador Retriever to Eat Home Remedies
In cases of slight, short-lived appetite loss in a generally healthy dog, certain home strategies might prove effective:
- Switch foods: Transition to a new brand, flavor, or texture of food. The novelty may entice picky pups to eat.
- Include toppings: Enhance dry food with aromatic and flavorful additives such as canned seafood, chicken stock, or moistened food.
- Serve by hand: Manually feeding the dog in small portions can often lead to better consumption. This direct interaction can boost their interest.
- Heat the meal: A quick 10-second zap in the microwave can enhance the food’s aroma, making it more inviting.
- Exercise first: A long walk before meals triggers hunger hormones in the body and brain can help get your pet to eat.
Preventing Appetite Issues in Dogs
While finicky appetites will always crop up occasionally, here’s how to minimize risks of long-term food refusal:
- Have your vet perform twice yearly wellness checks to catch health issues early.
- Ensure your dog receives a premium, well-balanced feed that satisfies all their nutritional requisites.
- Stimulate their mind daily with toys, training, and enrichment activities.
- Prioritize a stable routine for feeding, focusing on uniformity in timing and the feeding spot.
If your dog still wont eat, then talking to a Dog Vet online will get you the help you need, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Labrador Retriever or a Kuvasz won’t eat, the Vet you will talk to will provide the information you need.
FAQs About a Labrador Retriever Not Eating
What can you do if your Labrador Retriever stops eating?
If your dog suddenly stops eating, there are several strategies you can try at home first before seeing the veterinarian:
- Switch to a different type of food – try wet food instead of dry kibble to stimulate their appetite
- Add mix-ins like chicken broth, canned fish, shredded cheese to make the food more enticing
- Hand feed them one bite at a time and give lots of praise
- Exercise prior to feeding to boost hunger
- Eliminate competition with other pets by feeding anxious eaters separately
Persistence and creativity in getting your dog to eat is key. If they still refuse to eat after 24 hours, you should take them to the vet to identify any underlying medical issue causing loss of appetite.
At what point should a Labrador Retrievers refusal to eat become a concern?
Contact your vet promptly if an adult dog goes 24-48 hours without consuming much. Waiting too long can result in dangerous complications like liver damage from toxins in the bloodstream. Puppies with appetite issues should visit the vet within 12 hours, as they can deteriorate rapidly from a lack of nutrition. Be prepared to describe any symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or pain you’ve noticed alongside their appetite issues.
How many days can a Labrador Retriever generally go without food?
An adult Labrador Retriever in good health can usually go 1-2 days without eating before it becomes a serious issue. Puppies under 6 months old should avoid go more than 12-24 hours without food because they are still growing. Lack of proper nutrition can quickly lead to issues like hypoglycemia, dehydration, and liver dysfunction. It’s always a good idea to contact your vet if the loss of appetite lasts beyond 24 hours.
Why might a Labrador Retriever refuse to eat?
For repeated loss of appetite, potential causes include:
- Issues with oral health like gum disease or broken teeth
- Chronic GI problems like IBD or food allergies
- Kidney disease or cancers affecting organ functionality
- Emotional factors like stress or anxiety
- Picky eating tendencies
- An underperforming thyroid gland
Procedures like dental check-ups, bloodwork, and imaging can reveal the underlying reasons for your dog’s inconsistent appetite patterns. Treatment becomes crucial to rectify the issue.
Why won’t my dog eat but acts normal?
- If your Labrador Retrieverseems to avoid food but otherwise seems happy and normal, potential causes might be:
- Situations such as stress or a change in routine
- Disliking a new food’s taste or texture
- The heat of the summer months suppressing their appetite
- Being overly selective about their food
- A mild stomach upset
Using appealing food additions, maintaining a regular feeding schedule, and exercising before meals can often persuade such dogs to eat. But should their refusal to eat continues for more than a day, it’s best to consult with your vet.