It can be difficult of understand why our pets won’t eat sometimes.
The most important thing to remember is to be patient and see them as individuals. Learning their habits, temperaments, backgrounds and behaviors can help you identify the factors behind any changes in this area that your pet may experience. Sometimes, the reasons are be simple. Other times, they are more complex and best left to the diagnosis of a healthcare professional.
Some of the most common eating problems are:
Dental Problems – Since our animals can’t talk to us and let us know when they have dental pain, one indicator is an inability to eat. If you notice that your pet seams hungry and attempts to eat, but the process seems to hurt, seek the advice of your veterinarian immediately.
Upset Stomach – occasionally, your pet may experience an upset stomach. You may notice that they attempt to eat grass and seem listless or tired. There are many causes for this including a change in the formula used by the manufacturer of their food or a condition called Pica where they eat inedible objects. Another thing to consider is that your pet could have ingested a poisonous plant or chemical. If you suspect this, please act quickly for their safety.
They Don’t Like the Food – just like us, our pets have preferences. While indulging their every eating whim is not a good idea, it is perfectly okay to try several different types or brands to find a food that your pet likes.
Depression or Separation Anxiety – Again, this boils down to non-verbal communication. Animals can experience depression or loneliness and these conditions can expresses themselves through a lack of appetite. Also, animals can suffer from mood changes due to changes in seasons just like we can. The result will be fluctuations in food intake. In addition to a reduced appetite, you may notice behavioral changes.
Recent Vaccinations or Adverse Reactions to Medication – when we introduce medications into our pet’s system, there can be an adjustment period where they experience a reduced appetite. This is perfectly normal as long as it is short-term and not accompanied by other serious symptoms. Stay informed about what is normal with vaccines and medications.
Unfamiliar Surroundings, Changes in the Household, or a Change in Routine – similar to changes in mood and behavior due to changing seasons, our pets can be just as affected by changes within our households. Think of how these things can make you feel and you will have a better understanding of how your pets feel. Maybe you have moved to a new house, adopted a new animal or there was a recent birth. Pets can have a hard time processing changes even if they are not major. It need not be something as drastic as any of those scenarios. It could be as simple as their food dish being moved. It’s important to be cognizant of their needs. Just like we wouldn’t want our dining room situated next to the powder room, our furry friends probably don’t want to have their dinner close to a litter box or our trash bin.
Sinus Issues – think of a time when you have had a stuffy nose or your allergies have acted up. Most likely, food that normally smells and tastes amazing to you just doesn’t seem that appetizing. Our pets experience the same thing. You may notice that they sneeze, scratch or paw at their noses, or just seem generally uninterested in their food. Allergies could be the culprit. While this is not a cause for alarm, it is important to pay close attention and make sure that they are not experiencing a respiratory or sinus infection, which requires medical attention.
Pain or Trauma – a change in behavior could be a sign of trauma or pain. In addition to a decrease in or loss of appetite, they may limp, whine, or lick a wound. Sometimes, the trauma is psychological so be sure to talk to your veterinarian if this may be a possibility.
Age – in the same way that humans go through different eating stages, so do our pets. Young animals may be picky eaters or not adhere to eating patterns that are considered normal. Older pets may need a change in their diet due to age related issues. Some animals may eat more or less than what is recommended. A clean bill of health can help you to understand your pet’s individual eating habits.
While these are just a few of the things that impact the eating behaviors of our fur babies, they are some of the more common things to look out for. Hopefully, this list can help you to understand and work with your pet’s veterinarian to better understand and move toward healthy eating patterns.
photo credits: Dinner for One via photopin (license); Thief via photopin (license)
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