Many dog owners know the anxiety that comes when a dog seemingly ‘goes off’ their food. It can be perfectly natural for your dog’s appetite to wane a little in warmer weather, however, as our dogs can’t tell us how they’re feeling, it can be worrying when their behaviour changes. Try and remember that a loss of appetite in dogs during summer can be normal.
SEASONAL CHANGES MAKE SENSE
If you think of your own eating habits, the heartier, more filling foods we often crave in winter, such as casseroles, pies and roasted root vegetables can be less appealing when the temperature soars. Instead, we find ourselves reaching for lighter options – salads, sandwiches and so on. However, as our dogs’ meals are in our hands, not theirs, we of course want to ensure they’re getting the nutrients and calories they need to stay healthy, and that their mealtimes are as enjoyable for them as they can be.
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY DOG IS NOT EATING FOOD IN SUMMER?
Luckily, there are plenty of simple actions you can take to help a dog not eating in the heat. Our in-house team of veterinary experts have pooled their knowledge, based on decades working on the frontline in animal welfare, and we’ve got a ton of tips to share!
A loss of appetite in dogs during summer is particularly common at the hottest part of the day. Just as with walk times, you can try pushing feeding times earlier and later in the day when it’s cooler. Few of us fancy tucking into a meal when the sun’s at its peak! You may also want to consider feeding an increased number of smaller meals throughout the day instead of two bigger ones. Alternatively, the opposite approach can work, so you could try waiting until the temperature has fallen (either much later at night or much earlier in the morning) and giving them just the one meal.
TRY A LITTLE TEMPTATION
We all know that sometimes, even if we’re feeling a little off our food, a tasty morsel can still prove irresistible! If your dog is not eating in summer, you could try and tempt them with something new. Mixing a little of our cans or pouches in with their regular food might get their interest and appetite up.
If your dog normally has dry food, you may consider transitioning to a wet diet throughout the warmer months. The additional moisture in the food, when compared to dry, means it can be the best dog food for summer. If your dog isn’t already on a raw food diet, you can read more about how to make the switch here. Our raw nuggets are a complete and balanced meal and a great way to introduce your dog to raw feeding.
You can also try a cool treat; there are some great, easy ways to make them yourself, like by mashing peanut butter with banana then freezing the mixture in an ice cube tray, here’s a little inspiration if you’re feeling creative! Not all dogs will appreciate a change in routine though, so if your dog is used to room temperature or warm food, they may prefer to keep things consistent.
HYGIENE WATCHOUTS IN THE HEAT
If your dog doesn’t finish their meal, make sure uneaten food isn’t left in the bowl. Food left sitting around in the heat attracts flies and can quickly become unsanitary, just as our food does if left uncovered and unrefrigerated. Ensure also to thoroughly clean bowls after your dog has eaten; flies are particularly attracted to food residue and can lay eggs, even if these aren’t visible to the human eye. Some dogs find this off-putting – and who could blame them! The best dog food for summer is a meal that’s freshly served, in a clean bowl.
Flat faced breeds, such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs may suffer more in the heat with breathing problems and skin issues, which can leave them feeling uncomfortable and less hungry. Be sure to keep these breeds cool and regularly clean skin folds. If your dog is overweight or has mobility issues, take care to keep their rear end clean from any faecal matter to prevent attracting flies. Heavily soiled fur should be clipped, and skin cleansed with an appropriate cleanser. You could speak to your groomer about cuts to help them stay cooler over summer.
STAYING SAFE IN THE HEAT
There are a few simple precautions you can take in hot weather to help keep your dog in good health and therefore support a healthy appetite. Never walk your dog in the hottest part of the day, and make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water, taking care to always keep food and water bowls in the shade. If you’re concerned that they’re not drinking enough, you could try mixing some water in with their food.
Do not feed your dog if they are panting heavily, as this can lead to them swallowing air along with their food, which can cause serious gastric issues. Dogs with particularly thick or black coloured coats will also feel the heat more, so take care to help them find a shady spot where they can stay cool.
As well as panting, another way dogs cool down is through the sweat glands in their paws, so letting them stand in a cool pool of water can be a pleasant, gentle way for them to bring their temperature down. Water play can be great fun on a hot day, but be mindful not to suddenly drench them with cold water as it could lead to shock. Instead, you could try sprinkling them with a little water from a bottle. This can also be a nice technique if your dog isn’t keen on paddling pools!
SO, DO DOGS EAT LESS IN SUMMER?
The simple answer is that, just like humans, hot days can cause a loss of appetite in dogs during summer. However, what you don’t want is for your dog to lack essential nutrients or for their energy to dip too much. Of course, they will feel the heat and may want to lounge about more, just as we do, but by looking at their meal schedule, taking some simple hygiene and safety precautions, and tickling their tastebuds with some little alterations or extras in their menu, you should be able to ensure they’re getting what they need. If your dog is overly lethargic and hasn’t eaten in over 24 hours, we recommend calling your vet or local practice for advice. Our in-house experts are also here to help with any questions, via live chat on the website, on the phone or by email.