If you’ve just brought your dog home after boarding and you notice he isn’t eating, naturally you are going to be quite concerned, even a little alarmed. Besides, it can make us question how our dogs were treated and if everything was okay for them while we were away. But is this behaviour normal and what can/should you do about it? Here’s everything you’ll want to know.
So, why do dogs not want to eat after boarding? Dogs can refuse food after boarding because of illness, stress, or simply because they’ve had to adapt to a different routine, including their diet.
Consequently, there could be a number of different things going on here.
And there are a lot of factors to consider too, like the age of your dog, how long they were boarded for and how long you were away (among others).
So keep reading to try to get a better idea as to what could be the underlying cause for your dog, before we move on to how you should respond!
Why Is My Dog Not Eating After Boarding?
The most common reasons for dogs not eating after boarding are stress, illness, or struggling to readapt to their home routines (including their usual diet).
Not Eating Due To Stress
For some dogs, boarding kennels are an opportunity to make new friends and socialize more than they would at home.
Other dogs, though, find kennels very stressful. Your dog may come home with the stress of wondering when he’ll next go back to the kennel.
In addition, apparently, dogs can hold grudges!
Your dog may be angry with you for leaving him behind.
Signs of stress include:
- Shaking or pacing
- Excessive drooling, licking or yawning
- Panting when he hasn’t just exercised (or when the weather isn’t hot)
- Excessive shedding (some dogs can lose quite a bit of fur when they’re stressed)
- Loss of effective bowel function or excessive urinating
- Changes in body posture
- Escaping or hiding behavior
- Ears pinned back
- Whites of eyes showing more than usual
Not Eating Due To Illness
It could be that your dog picked up a virus or another illness at the boarding kennel.
Despite vaccines, dogs can still catch various things when around each other 24/7, and kennels are no exception.
Here are a few issues that could cause your dog to stop eating.
He’s Eaten Something Bad At The Kennel
If your dog bounces back fairly rapidly, it could be that he’s just eaten something that didn’t agree with him.
Generally speaking, dogs have good appetites, so if you spot any other signs of poor health, such as diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms, call your vet.
You don’t want to ignore a possible gastrointestinal problem that could be more serious than it first appears.
He’s Eaten Something He’s Allergic To
If your dog has food allergies, the kennel will have taken these into account. However, it could be your dog has picked up a sensitivity to something new.
He’s Eaten Something He Shouldn’t
Perhaps your dog has managed to eat a toy or another inedible object. If your dog displays any signs of intestinal obstruction, you will want to get him to the vet.
Major Signs of Illness to Look Out For
Here are the major signs of a digestive problem to look out for if your dog isn’t eating:
- Constipation or straining to pee
- Excessive drooling
- Abdominal pain
If you recognize any one of the above signs, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Not Eating Due To Changes In Their Routine
Dogs, like cats, thrive on routines. A set schedule lets your dog know what is expected of him throughout the day.
When that schedule changes, your dog can be at a loss as to what to do.
Imagine you’re suffering from jet lag, or you’re generally feeling a bit confused. Sometimes we don’t want to eat in those situations, and it’s the same for some dogs.
Your dog has had to adapt to a lot of new things in the boarding kennel, such as:
- New dogs
- Unfamiliar people
- Different sleep patterns, including nap times
- Different toilet habits or expectations
- A new bed or sleeping area
- New smells
The lack of familiar smells that are important to your dog (such as your smell!)
It’s only natural for some dogs to need more time to readapt to their daily habits at home, which includes eating.
Sometimes dogs will stop eating when home from the kennel because they preferred the food they were getting there.
Your dog might be ‘holding out’ on you, waiting for you to offer him something better!
Is It Normal For A Dog To Not Eat After Boarding?
While not all dogs will stop eating after boarding, it is totally normal for some dogs to go off their food for a while.
If your dog hasn’t found boarding to be a pleasant experience, he may come home a bit sad or anxious.
And if your dog has loved boarding, he’ll be happy to see you, but he may be missing his new friends!
Your dog may be a bit down in the dumps, particularly if you spot any of the following signs of depression:
- Not wanting to play
- Not enjoying activities that he usually likes (including toys)
- Howling or barking differently
- Behaving either more aloof or clingy than before
Of course, some of the above signs could also indicate a more serious illness, so watch your dog carefully if you suspect he could be really unwell.
One common problem which can occur after a stay in a kennel is a mild case of colitis (loose stools or diarrhea).
This isn’t because of anything the kennel has done – it’s usually caused by overexcitement. Your dog could be so excited at being back home with you that his bowels need a few days to settle.
Another common issue when dogs come home from a kennel is fatigue. Your dog may not be eating because he’s wiped out from all the fun he’s had while with his doggie friends!
Good boarding kennels will keep the dogs entertained and stimulated, so it could be your dog needs to catch up on some rest.
Most dogs will get back to normal within a few days. However, if his fatigue, bowel problems, or any other unusual symptoms still persist, speak to your vet.
What To Do About A Dog Not Eating After Boarding
What to do about a dog not eating after boarding depends on the cause, whether it’s stress, illness, or a change in his routine.
If He’s Stopped Eating Because Of Stress
If your dog isn’t eating because of stress, the first thing to do is to help him feel secure, loved, and comfortable:
- Bring out your dog’s favorite treats and toys. Take him on walks to his favorite places. Play his best games with him, followed by a cuddle on the couch.
- Spend quality time with your dog to let him know you missed him too.
- Distract him by getting him to respond to easy, routine commands such as sit or stay.
- Offer him lots of exercise to help tire him out
- Make sure your dog has a safe place in your home where he can go to relax and be in a quiet space
If the symptoms of stress continue after a few days, see your vet. Some dogs can benefit from medications or alternative treatments.
If He’s Stopped Eating Because of Illness
If your dog isn’t eating because of illness, the obvious first step is to contact your vet to determine what’s wrong.
Your vet will assess the situation and prescribe treatment. It may be that your dog will require a blander diet, or perhaps more wet food, over the next few days.
If He’s Stopped Eating Because of A Change In Routine
If your dog isn’t eating because of the change in routine, he may just need a few days to adjust.
As long as he is still drinking water, your dog won’t come to any harm if he doesn’t eat for a day or two.
Most dogs can go for 3 to 5 days of not eating without being adversely affected.
Try to ease your dog back into his normal routine, but be patient with him while he adjusts. Give him extra affection, too.
Other Suggestions To Get Your Dog To Eat After Boarding
You could try getting your dog to eat by stimulating his appetite or perhaps changing his diet.
Try Stimulating Your Dog’s Appetite
There are several things you can do to stimulate your dog’s appetite, such as:
- Give him a few small treats. You could also try mixing them into his food
- Add toppers to your dog’s dry food, such as wet dog food or water
- Try feeding your dog by hand for a few bites. Praise him while you do this
- Warm your dog’s food in the microwave
- Pour something tasty over his dry food, such as beef or chicken broth
- Check the expiration date to make sure the food hasn’t gone stale. A good method is to buy bags of dog food that are roughly the same weight as your dog (e.g., a 5-pound food bag for a 5-pound dog). If you buy a bag that’s too big, the food can go stale by the time you get to the bottom of the bag, and your dog won’t want it
Try A Change In Diet
Consult with your vet to see if you can change your dog’s diet for a few days. Some dogs who are overly anxious can benefit from bland food such as boiled fish or chicken with rice.
It’s also a good idea to have several types of dog food on hand that you know your dog likes.
Sometimes a manufacturer will release a ‘new and improved’ version of their dog food, which your dog may or may not agree with!
Or this could be an opportunity to rehaul their diet completely, opting for fresh, high-quality, and nutritious food.
If you are looking for one that you can customize to meet the needs of your dog, and order it easily (even on a subscription), then check out Sundays for Dogs.
Dogs stop eating after boarding for various reasons, and while it does not occur in every dog or after every boarding period, it’s more common than you think.
Thankfully with a few different strategies and with a bit of time, you should find that your dog resumes where it left off.
And you’ll go back to wondering where they all put it!
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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.