As a long-time canine caretaker who adores all dogs with over 20 years of experience caring for furry friends, I often get asked “My Shih-Tzu Won’t Eat, what should I do?” It’s a prevalent puzzle for folks with four-legged family members when their pooch seems disinterested in mealtime. As an ardent animal authority, I’m here to offer my best tips to get your pup excited about eating again.
There are many possible reasons why your canine 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 veterinarian online directly.
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Why Your Shih-Tzu Won’t Eat
1. Dental Problems and Oral Pain
Dental disease like gum infections, dental abscesses, 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 Shih-Tzu has dental issues include halitosis, reddened gums, pawing at the mouth, and dropping 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 circulatory system. Your vet will likely recommend a thorough dental cleaning and extraction of diseased teeth under anesthesia to relieve your dog’s oral pain. They may also prescribe antimicrobials and pain medication. With treatment, your Shih-Tzu appetite should bounce back within a few days once the mouth pain subsides.
2. Nausea from Gastrointestinal Upset
Shih-Tzus often refrain from eating when they suffer from symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal problems. Issues like dog food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, infections from parasites, and viral enteritis can cause GI disturbances, can be the cause a Shih-Tzu 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.
Make sure to follow your vet’s treatment plan closely and only give your Shih-Tzu the recommended dosages.
3. Anxiety and Stress
Changes in routine, travel experiences, unfamiliar surroundings, loud sounds, and interactions with unknown pups or individuals often affect dogs deeply. These stressful or anxiety-provoking situations commonly cause a decreased appetite or outright refusal to eat.
Try to minimize your dog’s stress levels by maintaining normal routines when possible and using anti-anxiety medications/supplements if recommended by your vet. Also, stimulate their appetite by hand feeding delicious foods like cooked chicken, canned puppy food, or dry food such as kibble soaked in broth.
When your dog starts adjusting to the new or stressful changes, it’s probable their hunger will bounce back.
4. Shih-Tzu Decreased Sense of Smell
Older as and those suffering from ongoing nasal or respiratory conditions frequently experience a weakened sense of smell. Should the dog food come off as flavorless or uninviting, it doesn’t inspire them to eat or kindle their appetite.
Try warming up canned food or wet foods to release a stronger aroma.You can also sprinkle potent smelling mix-ins like chicken broth, shredded cheese, bacon bits, or canned fish over their regular kibble.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 Shih-Tzus have innate fussy eating tendencies, stemming either from monotony with their meals or a penchant for people’s food. Dogs with fussy appetites might begin shunning their food or choosing what to eat meticulously.
For catering to a choosy dog’s tastes, consider switching among 3-4 varied premium food types, such as air-dried, uncooked, or moist foods frequently. To their usual kibble, you might introduce enticing ingredients like cubed ham, stirred eggs, flavorless yogurt, or cottage cheese.
Refrain from indulging their selective habits by not giving them leftovers from the human table. With patience and creativity, you can find foods your picky dog loves.
We suggest looking into these items specifically designed for choosy Shih-Tzus.
6. Underlying Medical Issue
Various internal health problems beyond just dental and GI issues can lead to inappetence in Shih-Tzus. These include kidney disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, urinary tract infections, and organ failure.
Make an appointment with your vet right away if your adult dog goes 24+ hours without eating or seems lethargic. Procedures including blood tests, analyses of urine, and imaging techniques can identify if there’s a concealed health concern impeding your dog’s hunger.
Treatment of the condition often brings back normal hunger very quickly once your dog starts feeling better. But leaving health issues untreated can be dangerous.
7. A Change in Eating Routine
are creatures of habit and can react to disruptions in their normal routine with picky eating. Situations causing this behavior encompass changing their food type, altering meal times, traveling, staying at kennels, having visitors, relocating, or introducing a new household member such as an infant or another pup.
Aim to acclimate your Shih-Tzu to these shifts in routine over a span of 2-3 weeks. For example, when changing foods, transition over 7-10 days by slowly increasing the new food while decreasing the old.
To regain their usual appetite, it’s essential to remain consistent and predictable in your actions.
8. Shih-Tzu Feeling Overheated
During warm summer days, a dog’s attempt to remain cool through panting can diminish their appetite cues. During the hotter months, ensure your dog always has access to shady spots, cold surfaces, and replenished water.
Consider feeding larger meals in the cooler morning/evening hours. Another idea is to freeze the dog’s food or drink bowls, ensuring the surrounding area remains cold.
Such measures can promote feeding during the heated days.
9. Competition with Other Pets
Certain Shih-Tzus can become nervous eating in proximity to other pets, causing them to avoid their meals. The presence of other dogs or cats can create tension over resources like food, toys, and human attention.
Feed them separately in another room and use baby gates to reduce this mealtime stress. Offer numerous food containers spaced out to diminish competitive behavior. Adapting in this manner, most nervous eaters start feeling at ease with their meals again.
10. A New Adoption or Move
Bringing home a rescue dog or moving with your dog to a new house are very disruptive life events. It’s completely normal for newly adopted Shih-Tzus or dogs adjusting to a new home environment to experience temporary appetite loss and stress.
Have patience, keep food available at all times, stick to your dog’s normal routine as much as possible, and use calming supplements if needed. Expect an enhancement in their dietary patterns and overall comfort in about a week or two as they acclimate to the shifts.
When to Contact a Vet About Appetite Loss
If your mature Shih-Tzu hasn’t consumed anything significant in 24-48 hours, it’s vital to get in touch with your veterinarian immediately. Delaying action may result in severe issues, including liver injuries due to an accumulation of toxins.
For puppies resisting their meals or facing appetite troubles, it’s recommended to consult the vet within 12 hours given their swift health decline potential. Ensure you can detail observed symptoms in your pet, from vomiting and diarrhea to fatigue or apparent distress.
The vet will carry out diagnostic procedures to identify if there’s a medical reason behind your dog’s reduced appetite.
Typically, once the ailment is treated, your dog’s appetite swiftly returns and they are encouraged to eat again.
Instead of an expensive vet trip, consider use our Ask A Vet online service to obtain prompt answers prior to a physical consultation. An online vet consultation can provide you with immediate insights, potentially bypassing an expensive clinic visit.
How to Get Your Shih-Tzu to Eat Home Remedies
In cases of slight, short-lived appetite loss in a generally healthy dog, certain home strategies might prove effective:
- Switch up the food: Introduce a different brand, taste, or form. The change could attract particular eaters.
- Add mix-ins: Top kibble with something super smelly and tasty like canned fish, chicken broth, or wet food.
- Serve by hand: Manually feeding the dog in small portions can often lead to better consumption. This direct interaction can boost their interest.
- Warm the food: Microwaving kibble for 10 seconds releases aroma and makes food more appealing.
- Initiate with movement: A prolonged walk prior to eating can stimulate hunger hormones in the system, aiding in your dog’s willingness to consume food.
Preventing Appetite Issues in Dogs
Even though unpredictable eating habits can be an occasional issue, here are steps to diminish the chances of extended meal rejection:
- It’s advisable to have biannual health examinations by the vet to identify and address any emerging health concerns promptly.
- Ensure your dog receives a premium, well-balanced feed that satisfies all their nutritional requisites.
- Daily mental stimulation is essential, using toys, educational exercises, and various enrichment pursuits.
- Stick to a consistent feeding routine in terms of timing and location.
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 Shih-Tzu or a Shiba Inu won’t eat, the Vet you will talk to will provide the information you need.
FAQs About a Shih-Tzu Not Eating
What can you do if your Shih-Tzu 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 before meals to augment hunger
- Reduce mealtime competition among pets by feeding anxious eaters separately
Persistence and creativity in getting your dog to eat is key. If they continue to reject food after 24 hours, consider taking them to the vet to identify any potential medical concerns causing loss of appetite.
At what point should a Shih-Tzus refusal to eat become a concern?
Reach out to your vet without delay if an adult dog goes 24-48 hours without eating anything substantial. Waiting too long can lead to 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 ready to describe any symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or pain you’ve noticed alongside their appetite issues.
How many days can a Shih-Tzu generally go without food?
Healthy adult dogs can usually go 1-2 days without eating before it becomes a serious issue. Puppies under 6 months old should never try to 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. You should always contact your vet if the loss of appetite lasts beyond 24 hours.
Why might a Shih-Tzu refuse to eat?
For repeated loss of appetite, potential reasons include:
- Oral health complications like gum disease or broken teeth
- Ongoing gastrointestinal issues like IBD or food allergies
- Kidney disease or cancers affecting organ functionality
- Emotional disturbances 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 Shih-Tzuisn’t eating but otherwise seems happy and normal, potential causes might be:
- Environmental factors like 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
Tempting them with special toppings, maintaining a regular feeding schedule, and exercising before meals can often persuade such dogs to eat. However, if their refusal to eat continues for more than a day, it’s best to consult with your vet.