As an enthusiastic doting dog devotee with over 20 years of experience caring for four-legged family members, I often get asked “My West Highland White Terrier Won’t Eat, what should I do?” It’s a prevalent puzzle for folks with four-legged family members when their canine companion seems disinterested in mealtime. As a dedicated pet pro, I’m here to offer my best strategies 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 live chat with a vet directly.
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Common Reasons Your West Highland White Terrier Won’t Eat
1. Dental Problems and Oral Pain
Dental disease like gum infections, 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 West Highland White Terrier has dental issues include bad breath, inflamed gums, pawing at the mouth, and spitting out food. Dogs may start eating only soft food or refuse to eat their meals.
See your vet right away if you notice these signs of dental disease, as untreated infections can spread bacteria to the bloodstream. Your vet will likely recommend a complete dental cleaning and removal of diseased teeth under anesthesia to relieve your dog’s oral pain. They may also prescribe antimicrobials and pain medication. With treatment, your West Highland White Terrier appetite should bounce back within a few days once the mouth pain subsides.
2. Nausea from Gastrointestinal Upset
When dogs experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other GI issues, eating is the last thing they want to do. Issues like dog food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, infections from parasites, and viral enteritis can cause GI disturbances, can be the cause a West Highland White Terrier wont eat.
Diagnostic tests like bloodwork, fecal exams, and abdominal imaging can help identify the underlying condition causing loss of appetite. Treatment with medications like anti-nausea drugs, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and special diets often brings back the appetite quickly once nausea subsides.
Always stick to the treatment plan set out by your veterinarian and provide the advised dosages to your dog.
3. Anxiety and Stress
Changes in routine, travel experiences, unfamiliar surroundings, loud sounds, and interactions with unknown dogs or individuals often affect dogs deeply. Often, these situations filled with tension or anxiety result in a dog’s diminished appetite or total rejection of food.
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.
Once your West Highland White Terrier begins to acclimate to the alterations causing anxiety, you’ll likely notice an uptick in their appetite.
4. West Highland White Terrier Decreased Sense of Smell
For aging dogs and those with persistent nasal or respiratory ailments, a reduced sense of smell often becomes a challenge. 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.Such additions render the meal more attractive.
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 West Highland White Terriers 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.
To satisfy a picky pup’s preferences, try regularly rotating between 3-4 different high-value foods like air-dried, raw, or wet foods. Consider enhancing their regular kibble with tempting additives such as chopped ham, whisked eggs, unsweetened yogurt, or cottage cheese.
Refrain from indulging their selective habits by not giving them leftovers from the human table. Given enough patience and some inventive ideas, you can pinpoint the meals your fussy dog relishes.
Consider these products as suitable options for West Highland White Terriers 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 West Highland White Terriers. 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. Tests such as blood examinations, urine analysis, and radiographic imaging can reveal if a hidden health issue affects your dog’s appetite.
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
Being habitual animals, dogs can show selective eating behaviors when there’s an alteration in their regular routine. 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 West Highland White Terrier 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. West Highland White Terrier 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.
You might want to serve bigger portions during the more refreshing parts of the day, like mornings or evenings. 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
Some West Highland White Terriers feel anxious eating around other pets and may refuse to eat as a result. Competing resources, especially when other dogs or cats are around—like food, toys, and human companionship—can create stress.
Consider feeding them in a different room and employing baby gates to alleviate the mealtime tension. 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. Newly taken-in dogs or those adjusting to new surroundings often face brief periods of diminished appetite and heightened stress.
Exercise patience, ensure a constant food supply, maintain their usual schedule, and consider tranquility supplements when necessary. Their eating habits and comfort levels should improve within 1-2 weeks as they get used to all the new changes.
When to Speak With a Vet About Appetite Loss
Should your adult West Highland White Terrier abstain from eating for a period of 24-48 hours, immediately reach out to your vet. Procrastinating could result in critical outcomes like liver impairment from excessive toxins in the blood.
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.
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.
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 West Highland White Terrier 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
Though sporadic appetite fluctuations are inevitable, the following measures can mitigate the likelihood of prolonged food avoidance:
- It’s advisable to have biannual health examinations by the vet to identify and address any emerging health concerns promptly.
- Provide your pet with a top-tier, nutritionally comprehensive diet tailored to their needs.
- 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 West Highland White Terrier or a Welsh Terrier won’t eat, the Vet you will talk to will provide the information you need.
FAQs About a West Highland White Terrier Not Eating
What can you do if your West Highland White Terrier stops eating?
Should your dog abruptly cease eating, there are several strategies you can experiment with initially before going to the vet:
- Consider changing their food – maybe offer wet food in lieu of kibble to stimulate their appetite
- Add mix-ins like shredded cheese, chicken broth, or canned fish to make the food more enticing
- Hand feed them piece by piece and offer lots of praise
- Exercise before meals 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, consider taking them to the vet to identify any potential medical concerns causing loss of appetite.
At what point should a West Highland White Terriers refusal to eat become a concern?
Contact your vet promptly if an adult dog goes 24-48 hours without consuming much. Delaying for too long can cause dangerous complications like liver damage due to toxins circulating in their system. Puppies with appetite issues should see the vet within 12 hours, as they can deteriorate rapidly from not eating enough. 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 West Highland White Terrier generally go without food?
An adult West Highland White Terrier in good health can typically go 1-2 days without eating before it turns into a critical concern. Puppies under 6 months old should never try to go more than 12-24 hours without food as they are still growing. Lack of adequate food can swiftly lead to conditions such as hypoglycemia, dehydration, and liver dysfunction. You should always contact your vet if the loss of appetite lasts beyond 24 hours.
Why might a West Highland White Terrier refuse to eat?
For repeated loss of appetite, potential causes include:
- Issues with oral health 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
- Finicky eating tendencies
- An underperforming thyroid gland
Procedures like dental check-ups, bloodwork, and imaging can shed light on 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 West Highland White Terrierseems to avoid food but otherwise acts content and lively, potential causes might be:
- Environmental factors like stress or a change in routine
- Disliking a new food’s taste or texture
- Warm weather 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 encourage such dogs to eat. However, if their refusal to eat continues for more than a day, it’s best to consult with your vet.