Last Updated on May 18, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
Most Australian Shepherds have a healthy appetite, so if your Aussie suddenly turns away from their food it can be very concerning.
You are likely racking your brain for potential causes and how to help. So why isn’t your Australian Shepherd eating?
Let’s dive into the details of food refusal in our canine friends and get to the bottom of your Aussie’s troubles!
What Anorexia Means In Australian Shepherds
The term anorexia in dogs refers to a lack of appetite or a drastic decline in food intake.
Anorexia is always a symptom of an underlying issue, as a healthy pup should gladly dive into their normal meals.
Anorexia in Australian Shepherds can have multiple causes, ranging from serious medical complications to psychological struggles.
Sudden onset of food refusal should always be taken seriously in your Aussie friend so further investigation is always advised.
6 Reasons Why Your Australian Shepherd Isn’t Eating
If your Australian Shepherd is not eating, there can be multiple causes behind this sudden change in appetite. Lack of appetite can be the first symptom of many complications, all of which should be taken seriously.
Let’s get into the six most common reasons below.
1. Food Preference
Just like us, our dogs have food preferences. We don’t like every food item that we try, and our dogs are no different. Some kibbles are just not appetizing to an Australian Shepherd, while others may upset their stomachs even if they enjoy the taste.
If your dog is suddenly turning their nose up at their food but is still interested in eating treats or other food items, their standard diet may be the issue. You may also notice signs of GI upset if their diet is making them feel ill.
If the diet is the issue, it may be time to switch their food to something more enjoyable. Just be sure that your veterinarian approves it, and that you offer a gradual diet change over a 1 week period as changing foods too quickly could cause stomach upset.
2. Inconsistent Meal Schedule
A set meal schedule is beneficial for our pups in many ways. Not only do our dogs thrive with routine, but it can help you better understand when they are most hungry.
For example, if a dog that usually eats breakfast at 8 is offered food at noon, they may not be as hungry when their normal dinner time rolls around.
If your Aussie is not on a set meal schedule, this can make it challenging to understand their normal appetite. If your pup lacks a set routine and is shying away from their food at times, it may be time to get them on a schedule.
Australian Shepherds love to be in the center of all activities throughout the day. Similar to a toddler avoiding bedtime when something interesting is going on like having family over, an Aussie may avoid their food if something exciting is happening around them.
If your dog is easily distracted around mealtime, it’s best to try and avoid any chaos around their set eating station. This can mean putting a pause on any activities, offering them a quiet and secluded area to eat in, or even sitting with them while they eat.
Psst! Brain Training For Dogs has become increasingly popular with Australian Shepherds in the last few years. It’s now recognized as perhaps the best way to train your Aussie in the most stress-free, positive way. Okay back to the article!
4. Physiological Issues
Canine stress is just as real as stress in humans. While our Australian Shepherds may have different triggers than you and I, stress can still impact them negatively in a range of ways.
A dog may turn away from their food due to anxiety, stress, fear, depression, and more. This can be a result of any major shifts in their environment or any other scenario that is causing your Aussie to become overwhelmed or nervous.
If you think your Australian Shepherd is avoiding their food due to psychological struggles, it’s time to assess your environment and routine for any factors that could be causing them stress.
Try your best to address their anguish at the source, or even contact your veterinarian for further assistance.
5. Health Problems
If you can rule out the possible causes we discussed above, your Aussie may not be eating due to a health concern.
Anorexia is one of the first symptoms in many medical conditions, as appetite is often the first to go when a dog is not feeling well.
An Aussie that is feeling well and typically enjoys their food should eagerly dive into their meals. A lack of appetite can be your dog’s way of saying they are not feeling well, and require a bit of extra care to get to the bottom of it.
Health complications that cause anorexia in Australian Shepherds will often be accompanied by other symptoms as well. Your pup may experience lethargy, changes in stool, vomiting, reserved or guarded behavior, and more.
If you think your Aussie is not feeling well, we suggest contacting your vet for further advice. This is especially true if your Australian Shepherd has not eaten for more than 12-24 hours.
If an Australian Shepherd is experiencing any type of pain, they may not be as interested in their food as usual. Pain is extremely stressful for our canine friends, often causing a dog to become too preoccupied to eat.
If your Aussie is not eating due to being in pain, you may notice some other concerning symptoms as well. A painful pup may experience lethargy, tense or guarded stance, limping, panting, crying out, or any other abnormal behavior.
If you think your Australian Shepherd is in pain, we suggest contacting your vet for further care. There are no safe options for pain relief at home, and professional care will be needed.
My Australian Shepherd Puppy Will Not Eat
So what if your Australian Shepherd puppy will not eat? This is always a bit more concerning than anorexia in an adult dog, as puppies need to eat regularly to avoid a dangerous drop in blood sugar.
Puppies tend to be extremely food-driven as well, making it even more concerning when they suddenly turn away from their meals. Due to how important it is for a puppy to receive adequate calories and nutrients throughout the day, sudden anorexia should always be taken seriously.
If your puppy turns their nose up at their food or treats, it’s time to contact your vet. This is especially important if they are experiencing any other symptoms or changes in behavior as well.
Due to the threat of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in puppies, we do not suggest waiting more than 12 hours to contact your vet.
Tips To Get Your Aussie To Eat At Home
If your Australian Shepherd begins to shy away from their food, there are a few helpful tips in trying to get them to eat. To better assist you in helping your pup, let’s break it down into each potential cause.
⭐ Tips For A Distracted Australian Shepherd
- Try your best to limit any distracting activity in your home while they eat
- Sit with your dog as they eat to help entice them
- Put them in a quiet room to enjoy their meal
⭐ Tips For An Australian Shepherd That Dislikes Their Food
- Test this theory by offering them a treat. If they will eat the treat yet not their food, the diet may be the issue
- If you do not want to change their diet, you can always put a doggie meal topper on top of their kibble. These are typically flavored powders that contain approved nutrients for dogs.
- Look for an AAFCO dog food that is created for their life stage, offers quality protein as the first ingredient, and fruits and veggies for antioxidants and nutrients.
- Switch their diet to an approved kibble over a 1 week period to avoid any GI upset.
⭐ Tips For An Australian Shepherd With An Upset Stomach
- Temporarily switch to a bland diet until their upset stomach resolves. The most commonly recommended bland diet is boiled chicken breast and white rice, free of any seasonings. This option is safe and usually encourages a dog to eat.
- Top their standard diet with chicken or turkey baby food. This option is bland, yet tasty enough to encourage a dog to eat.
When To Seek Help If Your Aussie Will Not Eat
If your Australian Shepherd stops eating, you may be wondering when you should contact your vet for further care. It’s tough to know what a change in appetite could mean, and many owners attempt to resolve the issue at home.
If your adult Australian Shepherd has not eaten for 24 hours, it is time to contact your vet for further care. The protocol for an Aussie puppy is a bit different, requiring veterinary assistance if they have not eaten for 12 hours.
Some changes in appetite can be resolved at home, while others need a bit of extra help. If you are ever worried about your furry friend, a trip to the vet is always best.
If your Australian Shepherd is shying away from their food, there is always an underlying cause. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better help your Aussie going forward!
View more Australian Shepherd articles >>
Most Recommended For Australian Shepherds
Best Brushes For Shedding
No matter how much you brush your Aussie, if you aren’t using the correct brushes, you’re not getting the most out of each session! A simple Undercoat Rake and a Slicker Brush are by far the two best brushes to handle shedding.
Best Online Training Program
Brain Training For Dogs has become increasingly popular with Australian Shepherds in the last few years. It’s now recognized as perhaps the best way to train your Aussie in the most stress-free, positive way.
Best Low-Calorie Treats
Switch out the calorie-dense dog treats and opt for something healthier. Zuke’s Mini Naturals contain only 2 calories per treat and made from natural ingredients, making these some of the healthiest treats on the market.