Pet Symptom Checker

Not eating

Medical name: Anorexia


  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Diarrhea
  • Fear of light
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Unsteady walking


In cats and dogs (if not in humans) appetite and hunger are two different things. Appetite is considered to be a psychological response to memories and associations with previous eating experiences. Hunger is a physiological response to the dog or cat’s need for food. While appetite theorists argue about satiety centers in the hypothalamus and neuropharmacologic interactions and abdominal vagotomy (yes, that’s really a word), your pet has stopped eating. Short-term anorexia — the lack or loss of appetite for food — usually is nothing to worry about. No healthy pet has ever starved to death in two days (although they need regular drinking water). But longer-term anorexia is both a medical condition itself and a significant sign of other problems: Perhaps some systemic disease, cardiac failure, endocrine or metabolic disease, respiratory disease, immune-mediated disease, cancer, infectious disease, gastrointestinal or neurologic disease. Pain anywhere in the body — from musculoskeletal disorders or even sore gums around a bad tooth — can cause anorexia in a dog or cat. Anorexia can even be psychological in nature — some change in the pet’s normal routine or environment or an unpalatable diet can be stressful to animals and lead to anorexia. Before the medical examination begins, your veterinarian will have a lot of questions for you, the daily observer of a suddenly anorexic pet. Know what’s normal about your pet’s eating habits and note whatever has changed.

Zootoo does not provide veterinary medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition.
If you think your pet may be experiencing a medical emergency, call your veterinarian or an emergency animal care facility immediately.

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