If my dog is not eating, how long should I wait before calling my veterinarian?
Missing one or two meals is fine. But if it’s longer than that, or if your dog is showing any signs of illness, whether it be vomiting, fever, shaking or listlessness, take her to the veterinarian right away. There can be many reasons for lack of appetite, ranging from dental problems to liver or kidney failure and it can be easier to treat if caught early.
Before you go to the vet
Collect urine and stool samples from your dog, because she will probably run tests on both. If your dog is female, use a low-sided container, such as a small baking sheet, to hold under her when she squats to urinate. Catch your male’s urine by holding a container up to his urination stream. Be careful not to get dirt or other debris in the urine. Use a clean container and give it to the veterinarian within 24 hours. Collect the freshest stool sample you can in a bag or storage container. Keep both samples in the refrigerator until you can get them to the veterinarian.
If your dog doesn’t have an upset stomach, you should try to get a few calories in her to prevent weakness, so give her some special treats to entice her. Dehydration is a serious medical emergency, so be sure to ask your veterinarian for advice on avoiding the problem.
Here’s what to do at the vet’s office
• Give the veterinarian or veterinary technician a complete medical history of your dog. When searching for a diagnosis, every little detail is important. If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, tell them how many times a day and when the last time either occurred. The veterinarian will examine the dog to listen to her heart, lungs and possibly stomach sounds, as well. The vet will also look inside the dog’s mouth to rule out any tooth problem or foreign body that is lodged inside the mouth that might prevent the dog from eating.
• Comfort your pet as much as possible during this time, because she’ll probably be anxious and frightened. Some veterinarians allow, and even welcome, owners petting and holding their dogs during exams. Other veterinarians would rather the owners stay at a distance to avoid any unnecessary strain on the dog or an owner accidentally getting bitten.