Why is My Dog Not Eating But Drinking Water Still?

We love our canine companions and want to keep them happy and healthy.  When they aren’t acting normal, and it seems like something may be wrong, it can be quite worrisome.  One example of this is a dog not eating but drinking water still.  When your dog seems to have lost his or her appetite, you want to know what has caused the sudden change. Next, you want to know what to do to get your pup back to eating normal to keep him healthy.  Continue reading to learn some of the different reasons a dog won’t eat but will drink.  Then, you’ll be able to determine the appropriate course of action for your dog.

dog not eating but drinking water

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Eating His Food

There are many different possible reasons that your dog won’t eat but drinks water.  Read through the list of some of these possibilities below. See if one sounds like it could be the reason behind the change in your dog’s appetite.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal problems are one possible cause when for a dog not eating but drinking a lot of water.  These issues can be very uncomfortable for a dog, and eating can make the pain worse.  If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, a gastrointestinal issue could be to blame.  They may also be drinking more water than normal due to being dehydrated from their stomach issues.

Illness or Injury

If you have been saying, “my dog is not eating but drinking water,” illness or injury could be to blame.  Serious health issues, such as liver problems, kidney failure, and cancer, all can cause a loss of appetite in a dog.  However, a more minor health problem, such as a virus or cold, could also be to blame.

It is also possible that your dog sustained an injury which resulted in a loss of appetite.  If they hurt themselves, they may be more interested in trying to rest and feel better than they are in trying to eat food. 

dog drinking but not eating

Dental Problems

When a dog is drinking but not eating, dental disease or other dental problems may be to blame.  If your dog’s teeth hurt or are uncomfortable they are going to be less interested in trying to eat.  Dental disease can be very serious for dogs, so you’ll want to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian right away.  In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make it easier for them to eat. Some ideas include: warming up their food, offering canned food, or softening their kibble with a bit of water.

Being in a New Place

Did you recently move?  Or did you take your dog with you on vacation?  If either of these is the case and you’re saying “my dog won’t eat but will drink water,” the new surroundings could be the reason.  Your dog may feel a bit nervous or uncomfortable in their new environment.  Being nervous can cause your dog to lose their anxiety.  If you think this is the reason your dog isn’t eating, help them get comfortable with their new surroundings.  Try to avoid leaving them alone and give them plenty of extra love and attention.

Your Dog is a Picky Eater

Some dogs are just picky eaters.  If you recently changed your dog’s food to a new brand or flavor, they may not like the taste. Alternatively, some dogs may become bored with their current food.  In these cases, trying something new could help make mealtime more exciting again.  Wet food is more aromatic and more closely resembles ‘real’ food. This can make it more appealing for some picky eaters.


Constipation can also cause loss of appetite.  If your dog drinks water but won’t eat, they may be dealing with pain in their abdomen from the constipation and not feeling very interested in eating.  Constipation does make dogs more dehydrated as well, which can explain why your dog is still drinking water.  You may need to speak to your vet about getting a stool softener for your dog. You vet may also recommend changing their diet to help with the constipation.

Intimidated by Another Pet in the House

“My dog won’t eat or drink water,”  If you’re saying this, and you just brought home a new dog or another pet, intimidation of the new animal could be to blame.  Your dog could be a bit afraid of the new addition.  It is also possible that one of the dogs is eating all of the food. This can prevent the other put from getting a chance to eat.  If this is the case, you should feed your dogs in separate spaces from their own bowl.

dog has no appetite but drinks water

Recently Received a Vaccine

If your dog has no appetite but drinks water shortly after getting a vaccine, don’t be worried.  Vaccines are very effective at protecting our pups against illness. However, they sometimes come with short-term side effects, including loss of appetite.  As long as your dog regains his appetite within a day or two, there is nothing to worry about.

Change in Schedules or Routines

If your dog was used to eating at a specific time, but you had to switch mealtime around due to schedule changes, it could be the reason behind your dog not eating but drinking.  If you need to change your schedule and your dog’s eating time, do so gradually if possible.  Then, try to stick to a consistent routine, as it will encourage your dog to eat his food.

Uncomfortable Eating When Left Home Alone

If you have started trying to feed your dog with an automatic feeder when you are at work or away from home, it may also be the answer to your question, “my dog is drinking water but not eating.”  Before trying to feed your dog when they’re home alone, try getting them used to being left alone first.  Some dogs may get nervous or anxious when left home alone.  When a dog feels this way, it is more likely that they won’t feel as hungry or interested in eating their food.

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Lack of Appetite

As you can see from the list above, there are a lot of possible reasons behind your dog’s loss of appetite.  In some cases, you may be able to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s change in eating habits (for example if you just moved or brought a new pet into your home), but other times determining the cause of not eating can be more difficult.  

The best resource to help you find answers is your veterinarian.  They can perform an exam on your dog and look for any signs of illness or dental problems that could be causing the appetite change.  Your dog’s veterinarian can also help by asking you other specific questions about your dog that will help them diagnose the problem.  Veterinarians can also be a great resource for sharing strategies to help your dog resume eating as normal.

dog wont eat but will drink

Tips to Help Encourage Your Dog to Eat

Witnessing a change in appetite and eating habits in your pup can be challenging.  You want to see them go back to eating as they used to and want to do what you can to keep them healthy.  Below, you can find a few tips that may work to encourage your dog to eat better.

  • Separate dogs for feeding:  As we shared above, one possible reason your dog may not be eating is out of fear of another dog in the house.  To combat this possible reason, feed your dogs in separate rooms or crates.
  • Stick with a consistent routine and feeding schedule:  Try being very consistent with the time(s) you feed your dog his meals.  If their feeding schedule is all over the place, it can make them less likely to want to eat their food.
  • Switch slowly to a new food: If you need to switch your dog to a new food, transition them slowly over a few days.  Start by mixing in about 20% of the new food with 80% of the old food.  Then, each day add in a little more new food and less old food.  Some dogs are more hesitant to switch to a new food, and transitioning them slowly can help them get used to the difference.  Plus, a slow transition will also make it less likely for the new food to upset their stomach.
  • Try a different flavor or brand of food:  While some dogs don’t like having their food changed on them, others may become bored with the taste of their current food.  In these cases, switching to a different flavor or type of food may make mealtime more appealing again.  You should still aim for a slow transition to prevent the new food from upsetting your dog’s stomach.
  • Cut back on the number of treats your dog gets:  Your dog may be coming to rely on their treats, rather than their food.  If you think this may be the case, you may need to stop giving them treats for a while until they begin eating better.
  • Hand feed your dog:  If your dog really seems to have no interest in eating their food out of their bowl, consider hand feeding them.  They may be more interested in eating out of your hand.  Once they start eating again, you can slowly start trying to feed them out of their bowl again.
dog won't eat but will drink

However, depending on the cause of your dog’s change in appetite, some of these tips and tricks might not make a difference.  Dogs that are not eating due to sickness or anxiety may still require additional treatments that your veterinarian can recommend.

Dog Not Eating But Drinking Water – Closing Words

When you see your dog drinking water but not eating, it can certainly be worrisome as a pet parent.  As we shared above, there are a number of possible explanations for why your dog won’t eat but will drink.  The severity of the reasons behind your dog’s loss of appetite can really vary.  Since your dog’s veterinarian is really the only one who will be able to give you a true diagnosis, if your dog isn’t eating well and you are concerned, you should schedule a checkup for him or her.


When should I worry about my dog not eating?

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in their food, it can sometimes be a sign of something more serious.  If your dog is vomiting or having diarrhea along with not being interested in their food, you will want to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian within about 12 hours.  You can wait a day or so to contact the vet to see if your dog resumes eating first on his or her own if they are not vomiting or having diarrhea.

What causes loss of appetite in dogs?

There are many things that can cause a dog to lose his or her appetite.  These can include illness, dental problems, switching to a new food, fear of other pets in the house, anxiety from being left home alone, gastrointestinal problems, and changes to their routine.

What are the signs that your dog is going to pass away?

Watching your dog suffer can be hard.  Some signs that your dog may pass away soon include loss of appetite/desire to drink water, fatigue, confusion, lack of coordination, slowed breathing, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, twitching of the muscles, other unusual behavior, and loss of consciousness.  However, keep in mind that every dog is different.  If you are worried about your pup, schedule an appointment with his or her veterinarian.

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