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9 Reasons Your Dog Is Suddenly Eating Slowly

Last Updated: October 27, 2023

If you have years of experience owning a dog, you know that most dogs usually eat their meals with gusto. As such, an abrupt change in your dog’s delight for food will easily trigger the question, why is my dog suddenly eating slowly?

Dog anorexia, an upset stomach, fatigue, stress, age, hot weather, and food boredom are all possible causes of slow eating in dogs. Other grounds for inappetence in dogs include hormonal imbalance during the heat cycle and a range of medical conditions.

Because eating well is a primary condition for a happy and healthy dog, it is important to learn all the reasons that could rob your furry friend of his appetite. This article has all you need to know about slowed eating in dogs. The name of the first one will surprise you!

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Eating Slowly?

1. Your Furry Friend has Dog Anorexia

Dog anorexia is a generalized decrease in appetite among dogs. According to the VCA animal hospitals, anorexia in dogs can be true or pseudo. 

Although both types of dog anorexia are characterized by a decrease in food intake, they manifest differently.

  • True anorexia: the dog shows absolute disinterest in food.
  • Pseudo-anorexia: the dog wants to eat but can’t.

While acute medical conditions often cause pseudo-anorexia, true anorexia can also be caused by environmental and psychological factors. 

Most of the answers to why your dog is eating slower discussed in the rest of the article are possible causes of dog anorexia.

2. Your Dog has an Upset Stomach

Dogs find it difficult to eat and enjoy their food when they have an upset stomach. However, if your dog is hungry, he might still try to eat, albeit a kibble at a time or at a slower pace. 

An upset stomach in dogs can arise from a variety of issues, including:

  • Indigestion.
  • Dietary issues like altered food routines and unpalatable/uninviting food brands.
  • Stomach obstruction from an ingested foreign object.
  • Intestinal parasites.
  • Chronic inflammatory intestinal disease from food allergies or intolerance.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Stressful experiences.

The signs of an upset stomach can go from a bit of pain to:

  • Nausea (your dog may lick in the air or on his lips, drool, or show disinterest in food).
  • Flatulence. 
  • Diarrhea. 
  • Vomiting.

In severe cases, you may notice diarrhea or vomiting with blood. Seek immediate vet attention in this case.

Old Dog

3. Your Dog is Aging

Dogs are a lot like us in many things, including a slowed metabolism when aging. A senior dog slows down on exercise, sometimes because of age-related lower energy or old-age diseases such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. 

“In my German Shepherd’s case, unfortunately, it is both as she is now 8 years old and has spinal osteoarthritis.”

As a result, seniors also burn fewer calories and do not need as much food as they did in their active adult years. 

Because they ‘listen’ to their aging bodies as we do, senior dogs can become slower in eating. 

As long as you are sure your senior dog has no health issues affecting his appetite, you shouldn’t over-worry. Unless, of course, the dog stops eating altogether.

Learn about all the other reasons your senior dog may have a changed appetite.

4. Your Dog is Fatigued or Experiencing Temporary Stress

I’m one of those people who prefer a good sleep over a meal after a trip, and I’ve noticed over the years that my dog does too! 

There are several situations that can cause your dog fatigue and temporary stress, including traveling and moving house.

According to Airpets International, fatigue, an upset tummy, anxiety, and generally feeling unwell are all effects a dog can have after traveling. These can cause your dog to lose his appetite or eat slower than usual. 

In this case, helping your dog rest and readapt to his familiar environment will help the pet resume his eating routine.

5. Your Female Dog is in Heat

If you’ve had to ask, “Why is my dog suddenly eating slowly during the heat cycle?”, the answer is in your dog’s hormones.

Female dogs have high estrogen hormone during the proestrus phase of the heat cycle. The hormone is known to have a role in appetite and food intake in dogs.

As such, your pet can show reduced interest in food during this period due to hormonal imbalance and a natural focus on mating. 

Despite the lost appetite, your female dog needs her nutrition when in heat. Enticing her with her favorite treats or giving her a special meal like chicken broth can help her overcome the inappetence. 

6. Your Dog Feels the Summer Heat

This may sound strange, but high temperatures and food intake have a negative correlation. When the weather is hot, our bodies appreciate better the lighter and cooler foods, and we tend to eat less. The same is true of dogs. 

Eating produces heat, which is why we eat more in cold weather to generate the heat we need to keep warm. 

Because hot weather does not help your dog to lose body heat, your dog may avoid eating to prevent increased heat production. Dogs are also less active in hot weather, which also means less caloric demand, explaining your dog slowed eating pace. 

A remote study found that dogs even had an increase in body heat by merely seeing or smelling food. Further, frequent meals produced higher levels of body heat than a single large meal. 

If that is the case, your dog may be interacting less with food to regulate body heat in hot weather.  

Want to know about other reasons your dog may refuse to eat in hot weather? 

Head to our article, Why Won’t My Dog Eat In Hot Weather? 

GSD Sunbathing on a lounger.
My German Shepherd sunbathing!

7. Your Dog is Suffering from Food Fatigue

Food fatigue, also known as food boredom, is a situation where your dog feels overwhelmed at the thought of eating and shows disinterest in his meal, even though the pet is hungry.

The condition is involuntary and often has psychological causes such as anxiety. Nonetheless, environmental and food-related causes can trigger food boredom in dogs. These include:

  • Lack of variety in a dog’s meal (Always the same crusty kibble!).
  • Bad-smelling food. Compared with us, dogs only have a fraction of taste buds, but they use their advanced olfactory abilities to rate the quality of their food. They will detect bad-smelling food from afar.
  • Unregulated eating (free feeding), which can make your dog not excited about his meals.

8. Your Dog is on Meds or Recently Vaccinated

The reaction caused by vaccinations and meds in your dog’s body can trigger a number of effects:

  • Reduced energy and activity. 
  • A feeling of drowsiness. 
  • Lethargy.
  • An upset stomach. 

All these effects can lead to a reduced appetite or slowed eating.

Inappetence due to medication or vaccination is a normal occurrence for one or two days. Instead, longer periods of lost appetite after a vaccine or medication should be reported to a vet. 

A vet visit should be prompt if there’s extreme swelling on the vaccination spot or vomiting due to ingested medication.

9. Your Dog has a De-appetizing Medical Condition

Medical conditions that cause your dog to completely or partially lose his appetite are last on our list, but they are the most common and most serious. 

Many of these conditions are also a foundation for the causes of inappetence in dogs discussed earlier. 

There are many medical conditions that are answers to the question, why is my dog suddenly eating slowly? Below are some of the most common ones:

  • Dental and mouth problems (Gingivitis, Stomatitis, Gum disease, and Esophagitis).
  • Inflammation and pain in the chewing muscles and the jawbone.
  • Mouth and tongue tumors.
  • Stomach and intestinal disorders (See the full range of these disorders)
  • Nervous system diseases that control a dog’s ability to smell, chew, and swallow food.
  • Generalized body pain that can compromise joint and muscle movement and make it difficult to access food.

Final Thoughts

Dogs enjoy their food and often wolf it down in a few minutes. So, if your dog is suddenly taking forever to eat, it is normal for you to wonder, “Why is my dog suddenly eating slowly?”

Unless your dog is exhausted, has an upset stomach from traveling, or is just bored with his usual food, you should report other more serious causes of inappetence to the vet.

After all, your dog’s healthy life depends on proper nutrition!

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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