You’ve made the big move. What has felt like an immensely lengthy, costly and exhaustive process, you finally find yourself in your new home. Phew. The challenges are now over, right? Well, not exactly. Now, you find that your dog is not eating their food. But is this aversion normal and how long does it typically take for a dog to adjust after moving? Well, these are just some of the things I am going to be covering here today.
So, why is your dog not eating after a move? Dogs can refuse food after moving because of stress from the move leading to anxiety or depression – or motion sickness from the journey. Sometimes it can even be an allergic reaction or sensitivity to something they encounter in their new home.
Ultimately, only you are going to know which underlying cause is the culprit here.
It may be entirely obvious, or it may require a little time and investigation.
Nevertheless, there are certainly things you can do to stimulate your dogs appetite and ensure they are getting all the energy and nutrition they need.
We’ll get onto those shortly.
But before we do, let us explore those underlying causes in greater detail so you can hopefully identify which one it is.
Why Is My Dog Not Eating After Moving?
Your dog may stop eating after moving because of anxiety from being in a new place, motion sickness from the move, an allergic reaction or sensitivity to something he hasn’t encountered before, or new medication.
Anxiety From The Move
Dogs usually feel anxious in a new place, in which case they often won’t want to eat because they don’t feel safe.
Some dogs suffer from motion sickness, so if your move has involved extensive travel, it could be that your dog is simply feeling nauseous and needs a bit of time for his stomach to settle.
An Allergic Reaction or a Sensitivity
It could be your dog is encountering something for the first time in your new home. A new allergen could cause your dog to stop eating (see below).
Sometimes the change from a rural to an urban environment (or vice-versa) can cause an allergic reaction in your dog.
Has your dog been given new medication around the time of your move?
Some medications can cause decreased appetite, so if this is the case, call your vet to see what you can do about it.
Sometimes your vet can prescribe something else that can still help your dog but not affect his desire to eat.
Some dogs can experience depression after a move. After all, they may have had doggie (or human) friends in their old home that they are missing.
Signs your dog may be depressed after the move include:
- Lethargy or sleeping more than usual
- Being extra clingy or needy with his people
- Howling, whining, or barking more than usual
- Acting as if he’s looking for someone
- Going to the toilet in the house when he’s been toilet trained already
- Hiding or other withdrawal behavior
- Acting unusually aggressive or destructive
- Not wanting to play games that he usually enjoys
If you suspect your dog is depressed, consult with your vet to see if a course of medication can help.
Is It Normal For A Dog To Not Eat After Moving?
Given the stress involved with moving to a new place, it’s normal for some dogs not to want to eat after moving. If your dog was eating fine before you moved, chances are he’s having trouble adjusting to his new home.
Some dogs will not want to eat for a few hours and then gobble up their food.
Other dogs will not want to eat for at least a day. Both situations are perfectly normal.
However, you will need to take your dog to the vet if:
- Your dog is still drinking but hasn’t eaten for 24 hours or is drinking excessively
- Your dog isn’t eating and is drinking less water than usual
- Your dog hasn’t eaten for 8 to 12 hours, but he has vomiting or diarrhea
- Your dog is licking his lips excessively, looking worried, or belching more than usual
- Your dog is showing any signs of pain, such as laying on his stomach with his hind quarters in the air
- Your dog shows signs of breathing difficulties
- Your dog is still drinking water but is lethargic
- Your dog shows signs of depression (see above)
Consider what’s different about your dog’s new environment.
Has everyone moved to the new home with you? Or is your dog suddenly without a four-legged or human companion that he loves? He could be missing them.
At other times, a dog will stop eating because of an allergy or a sensitivity to something in his new home.
Are there new plants in the garden? Did you have wooden floors everywhere in your old home, and now there’s carpeting?
It could be your dog is experiencing a reaction to a new substance. Environmental allergens for dogs can include:
- Dust mites
If you suspect your dog may have an environmental allergy, consult your vet for testing.
How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Adjust After Moving?
The amount of time it takes a dog to adjust to moving very much depends on the individual dog. Some dogs can adjust fully within a few days, whereas others can take months or even longer to feel at home again. Several factors can contribute to your dog’s ability to readjust, such as time spent alone and your dog’s levels of anxiety.
Time Spent Alone
Try to keep the time your dog spends alone to a minimum for the first few weeks after your move.
Even if you have to spend some time taking your dog everywhere with you, it will be worth it for your (and his) peace of mind.
If you are moving with other family members, take it in turns to be with your dog.
Most dogs are highly place-sensitive – when they are in a new location, most have to relearn how to be alone.
Dogs who have been happy spending a few hours a day alone can become clingy and anxious in a new home.
Your Dog’s Levels of Anxiety
Moving is already an anxious process for humans, let alone for dogs.
The more tendency your dog has to be anxious, the longer he’ll probably need to adjust to his new home.
Typical signs of stress in dogs include:
- Excessive licking
- Shivering or shaking
- Destructive behavior (such as destroying furniture or excessive chewing)
- Generally being unsettled
You can help your dog adjust faster by showing him lots of patience and love.
How Can I Increase My Dog’s Appetite After Moving?
You can increase your dog’s appetite after moving by sticking to familiar smells for his comfort, trying tricks with his food, and recreating old routines to help him feel more secure in his new home.
Stick to Familiar Smells
Dogs eat with their noses, so moving isn’t the time to change your dog’s food (or anything else that smells familiar: see below).
One way you can help your dog adjust is by spending time on the floor with your dog – you are one of the familiar smells for him!
Try sitting on the floor near him when you give him his food.
Try Food Tricks
There are several food tricks you can try to stimulate your dog’s appetite:
- Warm up his moist food in the microwave – warm food will smell more appealing to him.
- Pour some warm water over his dry kibble to create a tasty-smelling gravy.
- Mix some wet or canned food with his dry food.
- Add a few bits of cooked chicken to his food.
- Feed your dog in a quiet place (some dogs eat better without distractions).
- Accompany him as he eats (your dog may prefer this).
- Tempt him with some chicken or beef broth. If he is drinking but not eating, offer him these broths first to whet his appetite. You can later pour these over his food, too.
- Hand-feed him tasty treats that he especially enjoys. While this isn’t a good long-term practice, it can get your dog to take those first few bites.
- Try playing with him using a Kong toy stuffed with something smelly and delicious. Once your dog is eating again, you can then leave the Kong toy as something for him to play with while you are out of the house.
- Taking your dog for a walk before meal times can be helpful, as the exercise may stimulate his appetite. Make sure, though, that he isn’t eating because of a health concern.
Another thing you can do is try a new, more appealing and appetizing dog food.
Now is the time to make the change!
If you are looking for a premium high-quality, human-grade food that dogs are known to go crazy for, take a look at this particular brand.
You can even get it on subscription and get it delivered to your door to save all the hassle while you settle in to your new home.
Recreate Old Routines
Dogs are creatures of habit, and they feel secure when they know what’s expected of them and what’s happening next.
Therefore, another way you can help your dog get his appetite back is by recreating the daily routine that he’s used to as much as possible.
If your dog is used to going for a morning walk, then eating his breakfast, and then having a nap on his favorite bed, then try to follow the same pattern in your new home.
Do this over the next few weeks before introducing any additional changes you might need to your routine.
You may have to change some aspects of your dog’s routine if you have a new job or other new commitments, but he will appreciate as much familiarity as you can provide to help him feel secure.
Old routines include old toys, beds, food, water bowls, and anything else your dog has been using in your old home.
You may be tempted to buy new things for your new home, but your dog finds these chewed-up and scruffy familiar objects comforting. He will need them for a few weeks while he settles in.
If you’re desperate to have something new, introduce one or two things in addition to your dog’s old things so that he can get used to them.
Like us humans, it takes time for dogs to adjust to a new home too.
It just sometimes comes out and expresses itself as food avoidance.
Thankfully, you should notice that your dog’s appetite soon returns.
But you may need to put in some additional effort and tactics in the interim to get it going again.
In rarer cases, the support and advice of a vet may be required. But thankfully, that’s generally not the case.
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I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.