Why Some Pregnant Dogs Refuse to Eat & How to Help

A lack of appetite is common in pregnant dogs, but pay special attention to ensure she's drinking regularly.

Updated June 9, 2023
Pregnant dog resting in white bed

Your dog will go through changes as her body progresses through pregnancy. During this time, she may go off her food for no apparent reason. This is fairly common, and reflects changes in your dog's appetite. She may have a low appetite in general, or she may refuse to eat altogether.

Why Your Pregnant Dog Refuses to Eat

Often, pregnant dogs lose their appetite as their bodies go through the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. This is a common occurance, especially around the third week of pregnancy. Most of the time, this is normal thing female dogs experience, and eventually their appetite returns when they feel better.

  • Morning sickness: Dogs can experience morning sickness during pregnancy. Morning sickness occurs roughly around the third week after conception. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, lethargy, and, in some cases, vomiting. While it can be worrying to witness, this is a typical part of pregnancy and should pass after a week or so.
  • Hormone changes: Hormone fluctuations can impact your female dog's appetite and eating habits. Some dogs may eat more than usual, while others may eat less or exhibit a picky appetite.
  • Stress or anxiety from pregnancy: This could be particularly true for first-time mothers, who may not understand what's happening to their bodies. Stress and anxiety can result in reduced appetite and changes in eating behavior.
  • Close to birth: As your female dog approaches labor and delivery, she will begin to lose her appetite. Once she's within 24 hours of giving birth, her appetite could be nonexistent.
  • Space is limited: Especially in her third trimester, your pregnant dog has a litter of puppies pressing into her digestive track. This leaves less room for food to pass, which means she may eat less.
Quick Tip

Pregnant dogs can be deficient in a few nutrients. Consider adding a folic acid and essential fatty acid supplement to their diet, at your vet's direction.

Encourage Your Mother Dog to Eat

Of course, you don't want your dog to stop eating completely, especially if she is early on in her pregnancy. Fortunately, there are some actions you can take to help stimulate her appetite.

  • Offer small, frequent meals: Instead of offering two large meals a day, try giving your dog smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This can help ease morning sickness and encourage her to eat at least a few pieces of food. In the later stages of pregnancy, when puppies are taking up all the room, these smaller meals are essential.
  • Give her high-quality food: Make sure you're offering nutrient-rich, high-quality dog food. Pregnant dogs need more nutrients than their non-pregnant counterparts. A vet can recommend appropriate food options that are high in protein and other essential nutrients if you're unsure.
  • Create a calm environment: Try to reduce stressors in your dog's environment. Maintain a regular routine and provide plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation. If your dog is relaxed, she's more likely to eat.
Quick Tip

Hydration is critical for all dogs,so pay special attention to how much your pregnant dog is drinking. If she doesn't want to drink or eat, you could encourage both by offering bone broth.

Don't Panic Immediately

Your dog can sense your emotions and if she thinks you're panicking, she is more likely to panic, which could make her eating habits worse. It's common for pregnant dogs to go a few days without much of an appetite, or even a couple of days without eating. Your main concern should be that she is hydrated. If she refuses to eat for more than one or two days, take her to her veterinarian for a quick check-up.

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Why Some Pregnant Dogs Refuse to Eat & How to Help