A dog's appetite can fluctuate for many reasons, but not all of them are causes for alarm. By being aware of what is the normal behavior and appearance for your dog, you will be able to better tell if there is a problem with his decreased appetite.
If your dog has not eaten for a day or two but is alert and shows no other signs of illness, don't worry. He may have gotten into the garbage, received surreptitious treats from the table or be less hungry because of warm weather. Those are just some of the reasons why he may not be eating his dog food. In addition, dogs are descendents of wolves that used to travel in packs - they didn't eat every day, and your dog doesn't absolutely have to, either.
If your dog has a loss of appetite plus any of the following symptoms, you should see your vet within 24 hours:
- Apparent pain
- Increased water intake
- Decreased water intake
- Change in normal bathroom habits
- Change in the appearance of the mouth that could indicate an abscessed tooth
Once at the vet, treatment is never the same for any two cases, but you can expect a complete exam that may include blood, urine and fecal analysis, endoscopies, X-rays, electrocardiograms or biopsies to determine the cause and proper treatment. If your dog is dehydrated, he may need to receive subcutaneous fluids, and, if necessary, he may be force fed. Your vet will send your dog home with a list of at-home care instructions.