Diet problems

Why Won’t My Puppy Eat?

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: March 25, 2019
Why Won’t My Puppy Eat?

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Have you noticed that your newborn puppy won’t nurse? If so, this is a cause for concern. The first stage of a puppy’s life is delicate, it is crucial that it feeds and drinks correctly to make sure it doesn’t fall ill. Newborn puppies, having just come out of their mother’s uterus, HAVE TO learn how to live outside of the mother. In fact, one of the first things a puppy does after birth is look for its mother’s breast to feed, for protection and for warmth.

There are times that there are complications after a puppy is born and these cannot be ignored. If your puppy won’t feed, it is a clear sign that something is not right. If you notice your new puppy not eating you need to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. For more about this topic, however, we recommend reading this AnimalWised article where we will be discussing why won’t my puppy eat, the causes and what to do. In addition, we will be adding in some general puppy care and tips to help you take care of your new ball of fluff.

  1. My new puppy won’t eat: warning signs
  2. Newborn puppy not eating
  3. Why won’t my newpuppy eat: what to do
  4. What to feed newborn puppies without mother
  5. My new puppy won’t eat: caring for puppy dogs
  6. My puppy won’t nurse: puppy care

My new puppy won’t eat: warning signs

If the newborn puppies do not eat, they will become dehydrated, which can result in a quick death. Newborn puppies are very weak and still don’t have a strong enough immunity to fight off any illness or complication. If a newborn puppy does not feed from its mother, it will not garner enough energy to survive.

However, how can we know if our puppy is in danger? Here are warning signs your puppy is sick:

  • Your puppy won’t eat and is sad.
  • You may observe weak musculature.
  • Your puppy is vomiting or has diarrhea.
  • Your puppy is cold and its snout is also very cold and dry.
  • You may observe a strange and unusual secretion coming from the umbilical cord.
  • The newborn puppy does not want to eat, it only want to sleep.
  • Inability to suckle or weak reflexes when trying to suckle.
  • Your newborn puppy cries a lot.

If you have observed one or more of the above mentioned symptoms, you may be wondering is my newborn puppy dying? If this is the case, we recommend you go to your veterinarian immediately. All of these above mentioned sick puppy symptoms are serious and require immediate attention.

For more about dog death, we recommend reading our article where we discuss, is my dog dying?

Why Won’t My Puppy Eat? - My new puppy won’t eat: warning signs

Newborn puppy not eating

In most cases a new dog mother will naturally occupy herself with her puppies. However, in other cases, she may need a little help taking care of her newborns. This help is especially necessary if a puppy cannot suckle, if the mother is rejecting her puppies or if there is an evident health problem.

Causes for a puppy not suckling vary. In order to treat this problem, a professional will need to diagnose it correctly. Depending on the diagnosis, a specialist will recommend the most appropriate treatment.

A newborn puppy not eating or drinking causes include:

  • A full stomach: sometimes the cause is simple and your newborn puppy is just full. If less than 4 hours have passed and your puppy is not eating, its probably just not hungry.
  • Gases in the stomach: gas in the stomach is very common in puppies, especially if they are bottle-fed. Gas in a puppy's stomach can cause a lack of appetite, discomfort and even explain why newborn puppies cry. For more, we recommend reading how to make a puppy poop.
  • Premature puppies: if the puppy was born prematurely or suffers from a nose, mouth or jaw malformation in the nose, they may refuse to eat or are unable to eat.
  • Illness: it may be the case that one of the puppies has been born with health problems and cannot suckle on its own. If you observe any symptoms of puppy illness, such as fever, diarrhea, muscle weakness and / or cold we recommend consulting a veterinarian immediately.
  • Cold or weakness: if your newborn puppy has been seperated from its mother or other puppies, it may not be eating because its cold and cannot regulate its own temperature. The cold can weaken and dehydrate a newborn puppy in a very short time. In addition, the cold can even cause hypoglycemia in puppies, a sudden drop in sugar that will put the puppy's life at risk. If your puppy’s temperature is below 34ºC, its digestive system will slow down and will not work properly. To measure your puppy’s temperature, you can use a digital pediatric thermometer, only insert the tip into the rectum with the help of a little lubricant. For more about fever in dogs, we recommend reading our article where we discuss symptoms and treatment of fever in dogs.
  • Low blood-sugar level: if you notice that your puppy temperature is normal but is still experiencing puppy weakness, lethargy, not nursing and is experiencing abnormal seizures or tremors, it is very likely that it is suffering from hypoglycemia.
  • Rejection of the mother: if a puppy’s mother rejects one or several of puppies and decides to stop feeding them, it is normal that the puppy will stop feeding. A mother rejects her puppies either for pathological reasons or instinctively. If your little one is not curling up to its mother or the rest of the puppies like he will, it will be in danger of not getting the food and heat necessary for its survival. This situation is very delicate, since not only is it dangerous that the puppy is not eating, but the mother and other puppies may also become aggressive towards it.
Why Won’t My Puppy Eat? - Newborn puppy not eating

Why won’t my newpuppy eat: what to do

Depending on the seriousness your puppy’s symptoms, it is essential to go to a veterinarian. But, if symptoms are mild and there are no serious signs of illness, follow these tips on how to help a puppy that won’t eat:

  • Full stomach: Wait a while until the puppy is hungry again. Puppies usually eat every two to four hours.
  • Gases: if your puppy is not eating but acts fine, look out for a swollen stomach. You can help a puppy fart and expel gases by gently caressing its stomach so that it belches. You can also stimulates its anus with a warm rag to help it poop.
  • Premature puppies: if a puppy is premature is not eating, is malnourished, malformed or lethargic, we recommend taking it to a veterinarian as soon as possible to assess the situation.
  • Illness: if your puppy is not eating and has diarrhea, is vomiting or showing any other signs of illness, immediate veterinary attention is necessary.
  • Cold or weakness: if you notice that your newborn puppy keeps crying, suspect that it is suffering from a cold. Remember that you must keep puppies warm, as they cannot yet regulate their own body temperature. You can wrap it and place it on your chest so that it receives heat or you can also use a hot water bottle with warm (not boiling) and place the puppy on a towel on top of it, warming it up gradually. Do not use a heating pad or cushion, as this could overheat the puppy or raise its temperature too quickly, which would cause serious problems. If you notice that your puppy is panting, it is too hot, lower the temperature a little. Once the puppy regains its ideal/normal temperature, it should show interest in feeding again. If this does not happen, we recommend consulting a veterinarian.
  • Low blood-sugar level: go to a veterinarian immediately.
  • Rejection of the mother: if the mother is rejecting her puppy, it may be necessary to buy special formulas to nurse the rejected puppies through a bottle. If this is the case, you need to constantly check and watch over your puppies as the mother can also become aggressive. If this is the case, we recommend muzzling the mother to avoid her hurting her puppies. In addition, if the mother is showing behavior problems such as aggression, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss a diet for a prematurely weaned puppy.

What to feed newborn puppies without mother

A mother’s milk is essential for a puppy to develop a strong immune system. And although it is ideal is that a puppy (or puppies) receive both heat and breast milk from the mother, sometimes this does not happen. Reason a mother cannot nurse or a puppy cannot be weaned include rejection from the mother, disability , illness and/or the death of the mother.

If for whatever reason a puppy cannot be weaned correctly, it is essential to feed a puppy replacement milk, known commonly as artificial puppy formula. This puppy formula can be bought at pet stores or veterinary clinics. However, we always recommend consulting a veterinarian beforehand so that they can distinguish how much milk a puppy needs depending on its health status, age and breed.

How to bottle feed a newborn puppy

  1. Choose an appropriate formula of good quality for your puppy.
  2. Use a syringe or bottle (always depending on the size of the puppy).
  3. Make sure you are using the size of syringe or nipple appropriate for the size of the puppy, if you have questions consult your veterinarian.
  4. Follow the instructions on the carton to prepare the milk.
  5. Make sure the formula is not too hot.
  6. Puppies feed continuously when nursing from their mother. Therefore, you should feed your puppy every three to four hours, even during the night.
  7. DO NOT feed your puppy cow's milk or other milk substitutes. Milk can cause digestive problems in puppies.

How to make a puppy poop

  1. Place the puppy on its back resting on your hand.
  2. Gently rub warm (slightly) soaked cotton over the puppy’s genital area, genital to anal.
  3. Do this several times, gently.
  4. Clean the genital area well once the puppy has defecated or peed. Also, make sure you dry this area properly so the puppy doesn’t get cold.
  5. If this step doesn’t work, try gently massaging the puppy’s belly softly with cotton.
  6. If any of the above steps still do not work well or you notice something abnormal during the process, take the newborn puppy to a veterinarian to assess the situation. A puppy with health problems needs immediate attention.
Why Won’t My Puppy Eat? - What to feed newborn puppies without mother

My new puppy won’t eat: caring for puppy dogs

Now you know different causes why a puppy won’t eat. If, however, you are caring for puppies or newborn puppies, here are some extra tips we recommend taking into consideration when caring for puppy dogs:

  • Check up on the puppies carefully on a daily basis.
  • Write the puppies daily weight everyday.
  • Make sure they all breastfeed and maintain a stable temperature.
  • Do not separate them from the mother prematurely.
  • Go to the veterinarian in case of any symptoms and signs mentioned above.

My puppy won’t nurse: puppy care

For more tips on puppy training and puppy care, we recommend reading our following articles:

If you want to read similar articles to Why Won’t My Puppy Eat?, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.

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