Is it okay if my dog only wants to eat once a day? When should I worry?
Since dogs are food-driven, it can be quite concerning when they start to refuse meals. This leads many owners to wonder why their pets only eat once a day or not at all.
Below, I discussed possible reasons why your dog only wants once per day and what you can do about it.
Is it acceptable for dogs to eat only once a day?
Veterinarians recommend that dogs eat two meals a day – in the morning and at night. This is to prevent hunger pangs in the middle of the day.
This manner of eating will lead to vomiting and even life-threatening gastric volvulus.
Moreover, puppies need frequent meals throughout the day. Unlike adult dogs, pups should be fed 4 to 5 times per day in small servings.
If not, your puppy will run the risk of hypoglycemia. This happens when the body runs low blood sugar integral for energy production and normal bodily functions.
Also, small breeds like Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and teacup varieties need to be fed like puppies. However, their small bodies can only consume a small amount of food at a time, so they are also at risk of canine hypoglycemia.
So if your dog only eats once a day, it’s best to consult the veterinarian. Such changes in appetite may indicate an underlying health problem that requires treatment.
Also, an empty stomach will contribute to your dog’s anxiety. It will make the pooch irritable, which can be a precursor to behavioral issues.
No matter how long your dog goes without eating, you should treat poor appetite seriously.
Reasons why dogs only want to eat once a day
If your dog is only eating once a day, the following might be the reasons why:
First, your dog doesn’t like the food.
One of the most common reasons for poor appetite in dogs is their dislike of food. Pets can be finicky, especially when it comes to the flavor and odor of their meals.
It’s worth checking the quality of your dog’s food. A change in formulation might be the culprit for why your pet started to dislike mealtimes.
Nevertheless, some dogs will just get tired of a specific food. The likes of Maltese, Huskies, Yorkies and German Shepherds are known to have very sensitive appetites.
Your dog is sick
Another possibility here is that your dog is sick. Like humans, canines will have a poor appetite when they are unwell or experiencing health problems.
This is much so if poor appetite is accompanied by lethargy, whining, sudden personality changes, and digestive problems. In this case, you should have your dog checked at the vet’s clinic.
Systemic infections, physical injuries, dental problems, and organ failure are possible reasons for your dog’s poor appetite. Nevertheless, proper diagnosis is only possible by contacting the vet.
Your dog got used to the routine
Remember that dogs are beings of habit. They adapt to a routine, which might explain why your pet prefers to eat only one meal a day.
This behavior is often observed in rescue dogs. In some cases, their previous owners only feed them once a day, and they carry such habit even after being rehomed.
Your dog is getting food somewhere else
Lastly, it’s also possible that your dog might be eating somewhere else. Again, you should check this, especially if you’re letting your dog outdoors without supervision.
Remember that canines are notorious dumpster divers. So if your pet suddenly prefers to eat once a day, it might be having other meals that you don’t know.
In this case, you should consider limiting your dog’s outdoor access. Observe and see if its appetite will come back after being stuck at home.
How to encourage your dog to eat more
While changes in your dog’s appetite can be alarming, there’s something you can do about it. Here are a few steps you can take to encourage your pup to eat more:
1. Consult the veterinarian
In this case, the best thing to do is consult your dog’s veterinarian. You can also bring your pet to the vet’s clinic for physical examination and necessary testing.
Take note that in every problem in your dog, the best person to call is the vet. While this will cost you a fee, you can’t compromise when it comes to your pet’s health.
2. Switch to a new dog food product
Another thing you can do is switch your dog to a new food product. A new food with a different flavor solves the problem in most canines with picky appetites.
You should perform the switch to prevent upsetting your dog’s stomach. Also, you should be aware of your pet’s allergies or intolerances.
Moreover, you should invest in a high-quality dog food product. It’s also important to consider your dog’s preference in terms of flavor.
3. Adjust mealtimes
Adjusting your dog’s mealtime schedule can also help disrupt its habit of eating only once a day. For example, you can try feeding one to two hours earlier than usual and see how it works.
You can also reduce portions and spread them throughout the day. This way, your dog won’t get full quickly and will look forward to the next portions.
Over time, you can merge the small portions until you achieve two large meals in a day. Do this slowly and patiently to allow your dog to adjust to its new schedule.
4. Make it warm
Many dogs don’t find cold food appealing. In this case, you can warm it by adding hot water or warm broth.
Other pet owners would heat their dog’s food in the microwave. However, this method has its downsides.
First, microwaves can damage the nutrients of the food. Also, microwave heating isn’t safe for food products like kibble.
5. Increase your dog’s exercise
Increasing your dog’s exercise will also help boost its appetite. This is because exercise increases your dog’s energy expenditure, which will signal the body to release hunger hormones.
Daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation will all help break your dog’s habit of eating only once a day. However, make sure that the activity level is suitable for the dog’s breed requirements.
Why is my dog not eating her food but will eat his treats?
If your dog eats treats but not full meals, the problem might be with the food you’re serving. It’s possible that your dog doesn’t like the taste or smell of the food.
Also, your dog might be experiencing stomach upset whenever it eats its food. Over time, your dog will recognize the pattern and refuse to eat except for the treats.
Even if you’re feeding your dog the same food for years, a bad batch can impact your pet’s appetite.
Should I take my dog’s food away if he doesn’t eat it?
If your dog refuses to eat the food for 20 minutes, you can take it away (please read my article can a dog eat cold food from fridge). This is to prevent the food from getting spoiled, which will cause stomach upset if consumed by your dog.
Take note that you should never serve stale kibble or dog food that’s left sitting on the bowl overnight.
If your dog has a poor appetite, it’s best to serve small amounts of food at a time. This way, only a small amount of food will go to waste in case the canine refuses to eat.
Why is my dog not eating but acting normal?
Poor appetite in dogs can happen from time to time. However, in most cases, the canine will not show adverse symptoms right away.
It’s important to observe your dog within 24 hours if it’s refusing to eat. If the dog exhibits diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and other unusual behavior, you should consider calling the vet.
Take note that some dogs will have diarrhea but act normal. It’s only after a few hours that the canine will show life-threatening symptoms.
Is it okay if my dog only wants to eat once a day? No, because it’s not normal for canines to eat only a single meal a day.
If your dog refuses to eat regularly, you should consult a veterinarian right away. Your pet might be suffering from a health problem or in need of a diet change.
Whatever the reason is, it’s important to address your pet’s appetite problem. This is to avoid complications related to poor nutrition.