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It is not totally uncommon for a German Shepherd will refuse to eat once in a while. Although this is not totally uncommon, it is always a worrying experience for their humans.
When your GSD stops eating, it is important to determine the reason why they’ve lost their appetite so that you know whether there’s an underlying condition you need to worry about.
This article will help you realize some common reasons why GSDs may have a change in appetite to help you know whether or not to be concerned.
Common Reasons Why A German Shepherd Is Not Eating
To determine what you can do for a German Shepherd that refuses to eat, it’s essential to first identify the reason for their loss of appetite.
Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs might stop eating:
They don’t feel well
German Shepherds are hardy dogs that don’t typically complain or show signs of aches and pains. So, when they refuse to eat, you know that something might be wrong.
Sometimes, this might be because of the sensitive gut the breed is known for. But in many cases, it could be a sign that they are sick or in pain.
Additionally, this could also be a sign of other conditions like oral problems or parasites.
They’ve grown tired of their food
Some dogs thrive on the same kibble for every meal for most of their lifetime. However, there are fussy GSDs that prefer variety.
In these cases, they might refuse to eat food that they don’t consider to be appetizing. This issue is most common for dogs that are given access to table food or are fed a wide variety of dog food.
They are nervous or stressed
If your dog has recently gone through a traumatic experience or there are changes in their environment that might make them feel stressed, it’s common for them to refuse meals. They might also lose their appetite when they are depressed.
In these cases, it’s essential to identify and address the cause of their anxiety.
They’re taking new medicines
Some canine medications have the undesirable side effect of suppressing your dog’s appetite. In other cases, medicines can cause nausea or digestive upset, which will also keep your dog from eating.
If your dog is refusing to eat because of new medications, make sure to bring it up with your vet.
They’re getting old
If you have an older dog, a progressive reduction in appetite might be an age-related change. Older dogs become less active and have fewer opportunities to work up an appetite.
This is perfectly normal and shouldn’t be a cause of concern unless you notice a significant drop in their weight.
Why Is My German Shepherd Suddenly Not Eating Dry Food?
Sometimes, German Shepherds stop eating the dry kibble that they normally eat. You might notice that they’ll eat it only if you soften it with broth or water. Or, they might ditch the kibble entirely in preference of wet dog food.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your dog could be refusing to eat dry food:
They have dental issues
When oral problems get bad enough, your GSD might refuse to eat due to the pain it causes. This could be caused by cavities, a broken tooth, or swollen gums.
Make a habit of checking your dog’s teeth and take them for a dental prophylaxis when you notice any buildup.
They’re just tired of it
Some German Shepherds are picky eaters and will not tolerate having the same food all the time. In this case, a rotation between kibble brands and variants will help.
The kibble is no longer fresh
Your dog’s appetite is very much driven by their sense of smell. If their nose senses that something’s off (e.g., the food smells rancid or pest-ridden), they may refuse to eat it.
They just prefer another food
Dogs might refuse their regular food in hopes that they will be given another that they have tasted and loved. This might be table scraps or another kind of dog food. To keep this from happening, avoid giving your dog food that’s not meant for them.
Why Is My German Shepherd Not Eating Much In The Summer?
In cool weather, German Shepherds use up more energy to keep themselves warm. But in the hot summer months, they prefer to lounge around and keep cool.
During these times when they are less active, it is perfectly understandable that they don’t feel the need to eat too much.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s lack of appetite during the summer, you can get them to eat more by encouraging them to be more active.
After some exercise, give them time to cool down completely before giving any food. You’ll find that the more energy they expend, the more they want to eat.
How Long Can A German Shepherd Go Without Eating?
Dogs can survive up to five days without food as long as they keep drinking water. But just because they will survive, it doesn’t mean it’s alright for them to do it.
Fasting for this long may have long-term consequences. More critically, it might be a sign of an underlying illness.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Not Eating
Ultimately, when you should be concerned about your dog’s loss of appetite depends on their normal eating habits. If they suddenly have no appetite but they normally eat voraciously and never miss a meal, it should definitely be a cause of concern.
But if your dog skips meals every often and you don’t notice any other sign that they might not be feeling well, you might want to wait until they’ve missed two or three meals before taking them to the vet for a check-up.
More important than your dog’s appetite is their water intake. If they’re skipping meals but are drinking normal amounts of water, there’s typically nothing to worry about. Just make sure you observe them for any other warning signs.
For example, your dog’s lack of appetite might be accompanied by signs of stress (e.g., whining or uncharacteristic barking). You might also observe changes in their stool consistency or a lack of enthusiasm for their regular activities.
In these cases, seek professional help even if they’re not refusing to drink water or drinking way more water than normal without eating.
Tips For Getting Your German Shepherd To Eat
Studies show that sick dogs recover sooner when they eat, so it’s essential to do what you can to boost their appetite.
Whether or not they have a good reason for refusing food, here are some things you can do to encourage your German Shepherd to eat:
- Cut down on treats. Your dog can lose their appetite for their regular food when they have plenty of better-tasting treats throughout the day.
- Make feeding enjoyable. GSDs are always eager to please. Teach them to wait for their food and take it only on command. Then, praise them for finishing their food.
- Make food more appetizing. Try topping kibble with different types of food that might whet their appetite. Sometimes, a little bit of boiled chicken or beef broth will do the trick.
- Change your dog’s bowl. Dogs will sometimes refuse to eat from a bowl they don’t like. They might not like the print, the ability to see their reflection, or the feeling on their tongue. Using another feeding bowl might help.
- Give them plenty of exercise. The energetic German Shepherd may need to tire themselves out to work up an appetite. Give your dog the daily exercise they need and then wait at least half an hour after any physical activity before giving them their meals.
One skipped meal isn’t always a cause for concern. Sometimes, the best response is to trust that they know what they’re doing and to let them fast. However, when your dog refuses to eat, you should also keep an eye out for other signs that could be a cause for concern.
Additionally, when you’re desperate for your dog to eat, you might be tempted to offer them human food just to make sure that they don’t go hungry. While many types of food might help jumpstart their appetite, there are several that might do more harm than good.
Instead, you can first try to give them some wet dog food for German Shepherds or mix in some plain rice and chicken with their kibble. If you’ve noticed that your dog’s lack of appetite has already caused significant changes in their size, you might also consider some of the best dog food for GSDs to gain weight.
You know what is normal for your dog! If their change in appetite veers too much from their norm it is best to make an appointment with the vet just to be safe.