If your Boxer starts refusing their food it can be both concerning and confusing. As we receive this question quite a fair bit, we’ve decided to create this article covering all you need to know.
We’ll explain everything from the most common reasons why this happens, when to see a vet, and most importantly, how to get your boxer eating again.
7 Reasons Why Your Boxer Isn’t Eating
Let’s run through the most common reasons why your Boxer isn’t eating. Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause, which is why it’s important to take everything into context.
Receiving too many table scraps, treats, not receiving enough exercise, an unclear feeding schedule, or an upset stomach are the most common reasons why Boxer dogs start refusing their food.
1. Disagreeing with diet/kibble
Boxers are no strangers to having sensitive stomachs, and it could be that the kibble or diet isn’t working out as well as you thought.
This is likely only going to be the case if you have recently switched kibbles or diet. If your Boxer has been on the same diet for a while with no issues, then this is less likely to be the cause.
2. Too many tables scraps or treats
Table scraps can do two things: Either our dogs think they can refuse their own food in anticipation of us giving them ours… Or the table scraps will upset their stomach and cause them to refuse their food. It’s best to avoid table scraps altogether.
Treats can do a similar thing, although they are “healthier” (depending on the treats). If we offer too many treats it could ruin their appetite or cause them to leave their food in anticipation for more treats.
3. Lack of exercise
Boxers need a considerable amount of daily exercise, with 60-90 minutes being ideal for most. Like most active working breeds, Boxers have efficient metabolisms and may not feel the need to eat if they haven’t been properly exercised.
It helps to consider your Boxer’s average day. If they aren’t quite as active as they should be then this could be the reason.
4. Unclear feeding schedule
If your boxer has unclear eating times then it can end up affecting their appetite negatively. “day grazing” is something many owners allow their dogs to do, but it can quickly lead to food refusal.
By having set times once in the morning and evening and sticking to them exactly, it will essentially train your Boxer to be hungry at those times. Sounds simple, but it’s crucial if you aren’t already doing this.
5. Change in environment
Quite a common cause of food refusal comes from a sudden unexpected change in their environment. If anything changes or makes our dogs uncomfortable refusing food is a normal reaction. This is a very primitive reaction as dogs will rarely eat if there is a perceived threat nearby.
From getting new neighbors to having someone new in the home, moving homes, or new construction work nearby. Many things can trigger our dogs and make them uncomfortable, causing them to refuse food.
Boredom is harder to identify, but if your Boxer seems gradually less interested in food over time, it could simply be that they are bored. However, I must admit this is rare.
In most cases, if a dog likes their food, they will continue to eat it for years at a time (in most cases). Boredom could be induced by treats and tidbits.
7. Health issues
Food refusal is also a common symptom of underlying health issues. Although this is rare and you likely have nothing to worry about, it may be best to consult your veterinarian. More on this below.
Typically, if your Boxer does have health issues then other symptoms will be present too. If your boxer doesn’t seem their usual self, less energetic, experiences vomiting or diarrhea, then it’s a good indication something is wrong.
When To See a Veterinarian
While most cases of food refusal are non-serious it helps to know when you should consider visiting your veterinarian.
Times when you should visit your veterinarian:
- Your boxer is a puppy (under 1 year)
- Your boxer is a senior (over 8 years)
- There are additional symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, unusual behavior)
- Your boxer is refucing to drink fluids as well as eating
In those situations, it’s best to contact your veterinarian right away just to rule out possible health issues. With puppies and seniors receiving nutrition is much more crucial so that’s why it’s advised to consult your veterinarian sooner rather than later.
If, however, your Boxer is an otherwise healthy adult with no extra symptoms and they are still drinking fluids, you will likely be able to solve this issue at home without the help of a vet.
Tips To Get Your Boxer Eating Again
If your situation doesn’t require a call or trip to the vets then let’s run through some good tips and best practices to get your Boxer back on track.
1. Allow some time
If your Boxer is otherwise fine and the sudden refusal of food seems completely random, then the best thing to do is give them an extra day or two. It could just be a random blip and she’ll be back to her usual self the next day.
One thing not to do is to make any hasty changes before you allow some time. If it’s a random event that happens just for one day, we could in fact make matters worse if we suddenly make changes that aren’t necessary.
2. Hold back on all treats
Try temporarily holding back on treats (and avoid all table scraps altogether). If your Boxer has been used to receiving too many treats this could be the change that makes all the difference.
This reminds our dogs that they can’t live on their tasty treats. They must eat their main meals as that provides the most well-rounded nutrition.
3. Try wetting their food
Dry kibble can sometimes get boring and unappealing, one way to make it more palatable and tastier without actually changing it is to simply add a little warm water and mix it around.
This will create a little gravy and the wetness will make it significantly different for your Boxer. If you want to add flavor, you could add a little meat broth (preferably unsalted) to the kibble.
4. Consider your Boxers routine
Going back to many of the underlying causes, it’s worth considering the average day for your Boxer.
Has their routine had any recent changes? Are their exercise levels sufficient? Perhaps your routine has changed and subsequently changed your Boxers… If there are any immediate things to fix in their routine then it’s worth doing that.
For example, I had a friend once who moved their dog’s food bowl a couple of meters away from where it was usually placed. Their dog refused their food until their bowl was moved back (some things can be as small as that!).
5. Rotation diet
The rotation diet is a great way to prevent boredom and keep their meal times interesting. This could work as a solution to the current eating problem, but also prevent future ones too.
It involves getting two or three kibbles that your Boxer has no issues with, then switch them every 2 or 3 months. This is long enough not to upset their stomachs, and just to be safe it’s advised to stick to the same brand but just change the flavors. This way, most of the formula remains the same.
6. Follow the wet/dry food split
Another common recommendation from veterinarians is to follow a wet/dry split. This means 80% dry kibble 20% wet dog food. Wet dog food is highly palatable, tasty, and rich, with only a small amount mixed into dry kibble it can completely transform it.
It’s important to consider the percentage ratios and ensure the calories remain similar. However, due to the richness of wet dog food, this is better as a temporary fix than something we should provide permanently. If you can, try to opt for the same brand of wet dog food as you are using for the dry kibble.
7. Add in turkey breast
Another trick is to mix in a small amount of plain cooked turkey breast to their food. You really only need a small amount shredded up. This will entice even the fussiest of eaters.
It’s advised to use turkey instead of chicken due to chicken being a common allergen (for many dogs, chicken is what gives them a sensitive stomach, despite being so commonly used!).
How Long Can Boxer Dogs Go Without Eating
The longer it goes without your Boxer eating the more worrying it can be. To settle some nerves let’s explain how long a Boxer can go without eating.
Dogs are naturally able to go longer without food but their tolerance for not drinking water is much less. At most a dog can go three days without water intake but can survive for five to seven days or more without foodAccording to Dr. Philips Animal Hospital
Like our first tip, Dr. Philips Animal Hospital also recommends giving your Boxer dog some time before making radical changes. It could just be a minor blip in behavior and revert the following day without you doing anything.
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