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For a week or so, my puppy (Brittany, male, 5 months old) doesn't start eating right after being given his bowl, as he happily did so far.

The routine is like this: I take the bowl from his crate, call him if needed, then he follows me to the room where I keep the food, waits behind the baby gate and sits (we practiced that and as before he seems quite happy to do it, expecting the food). Then I put the kibble in his bowl, go back to the main room (he still follows me). When we brought him home (8 weeks old) he would then rush immediately to the bowl. He trained him to wait until I give him an "OK go" cue. Two weeks ago that was working perfectly, he was waiting, he was putting the bowl on the floor, waited a bit then released him and he would rush to the food.

Nothing else changed, but now I would not rush at all. He would just wait, unsure, and might even lye down.

After some time he would approach the food and start eating, possibly stopping half way, and finish the bowl later (say 5 minutes).

Sometimes as he waits one of the dog would approach and check the bowl, that usually makes him decide that it is time to start eating.

I don't know if there are reasons to be concerned, but I'm unsure about it.

I don't think it is the food because I reward him with treats all the time, sometimes he uses his regular kibble and he's happily taking it (one by one).

Could it be that it is only because he is teething ? I can see that his gums are inflamed.

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It is possible that it's a result of teething. Teething with dogs, as with us, can be a painful and uncomfortable experience and for them and, at 5 months, he's probably not finished growing his full adult teeth (usually around 8 months). If this is why, some ice in his water dish may help alleviate the discomfort and you can also try massaging his gums. Make sure he has a good chew toy as well, he needs to chew and may be inflaming the gums because he's chewing on less productive things, like the crate.

Now, it's also quite possible that it's not teething. There may be dental issues ranging from the mild to the quite serious. If it's mild, such as gingivitis caused by bad chewing, crowded teeth, or the like, then some canine dental work may be in order. He could have cut the inside of his mouth on something and is uncomfortable, etc. It can also be quite serious, but I don't want to throw out alarming terms just to throw them out.

In any event, while it's quite possibly teething, especially if you're just seeing signs of redness and no other behaviours such as chewing on one side, excessive drooling, and the like, I would still take him in for a visit to the vets. Not a bad thing to do anyways, it might be wise for a general check-up as he grows out of puppyhood to make sure his weight and such are where it should be.

  • I noticed a real improvement over the last 2 days, he's now much quicker to go to his bowl. The redness of his gums is also reduced. He needs to go to the vet soon so we'll check that as well. – Cedric H. Mar 3 '14 at 7:50
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The other answers here are good but another reason may be that he is just not hungry. Puppies often go through phases where they don't need as many calories as they did before. Some breeds are less likely to go through this type of phase but it is a possibility. If the vet doesn't find anything wrong then still offer the food but pick it up if the dog hasn't eaten it after 5 minutes or so and wait for there next feeding time. Just be sure to check the dogs weight and ask the vet if you think the dog is underweight.

I have heard of dogs having a vitamin deficiency that causes stomach ulcers and made the dogs seem to be finicky eaters. In this situation they have treatments that resolve the deficiency but this is a very rare condition so don't jump to conclusions... If you're worried ask your vet.

  • That's what happened this morning. He wouldn't eat at all and went back to "bed". After 10 minutes I removed the food, I hope he's gonna eat at lunch time. – Cedric H. Mar 4 '14 at 9:13
  • How many feeding has he done that? Is he acting different in other ways too? It sounds like you need to have a vet check it out. – Beth Whitezel Mar 4 '14 at 14:36
  • He's doing that in the morning mostly. Today at lunch I didn't start until I took the bowl and added some water to the pellets. This conforts me with the idea that it is just a problem with his teeth, gums. – Cedric H. Mar 4 '14 at 14:38
  • I would always let it sit with a little water in it before giving it to him until he is done teething. – Beth Whitezel Mar 4 '14 at 14:41
  • I hope it is just that. I'll keep track of how it goes in the coming days and if it doesn't improve I'll take him to the vet (he had a regular visit beginning of last week anyway). – Cedric H. Mar 4 '14 at 14:43
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He needs to see a vet. His behavior suggests he's not feeling well and his gums shouldn't be inflamed from teething at 5 months.

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