Inappetance is probably one of the most common reasons for people to bring their pets to the vet. Obviously not eating is one of the first indicators of a very large number of illnesses. We recommend seeing any pet that is significantly off their food. For a pet that is otherwise active and well and perhaps only partly eats their food, or may miss one meal, it is not unreasonable to wait 12-24 hours and see what happens. I often get clients ringing for advice on what to do and if this is the case I recommend, just give them a little time. If the pet is quite lethargic, or vomiting, then ideally they should be seen.
Like us humans, a pet can always just have an “off day”. Hence you don’t need to rush down to see us if that’s the case. If, however, they are still not right the next day, then of course a visit to the vet is warranted.
In itself a pet not eating is non-specific. We often get clients ringing and asking “what has my pet got, if he’s not eating?” Obviously this is an impossible question to answer without seeing the patient! Often going a little off the food can be the first sign of a large number of problems, including the following list:
- Metabolic disease such as hepatitis or renal disease
- Viral or bacterial disease
- Mouth pathology, including infected teeth or gums<
- Thyroid disease
- Cancer (Advanced, because most cancers in their early stages do not cause inappetance, hence get all those lumps checked early! Don’t wait until they’re off the food!)
- Allergic dermatitis
- Almost any other illness you can think of!
Hence the take home message for a pet off their food is: If it is only for one day and they are not vomiting or too lethargic, give them 12 hours and just monitor. If they are quite lethargic or continues into the next day, then bring them in for a check up.