Experts advise following a "rule of three's" when determining if it's behavioral or an underlying medical condition.

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We know that portion control is key when it comes to feeding our pets, but we also know how to spoil them with homemade treats. But what happens when your pet won't eat? There's nothing worse than getting the sense that your four-legged friend isn't feeling well, and refusing to eat is a clear sign that something is off. Understanding whether it's a medical aliment or a change in their lifestyle that's causing their lack of appetite is the first step to remedying the situation. To that end, we spoke to animal experts to figure out why pets sometimes refuse to eat.

bernese mountain dog sad face laying on couch
Credit: Jena Ardell / Getty Images

Jessica Jane MacMurchy, adoption coordinator at Animal Charity of Ohio, relays that you shouldn't panic just because your pet hasn't eaten—this change can sometimes be attributed to a behavioral cause. If there have been any major changes in your pet's life (moving, new family members, switching their food, going on vacation, and so forth) increases the odds that your pet's lack of appetite is behavioral.

MacMurchy shares, "Anxiety and stress in your pet can cause many different symptoms. The lack of eating can absolutely be a sign of stress, [especially] when adopting a new animal or if you are experiencing any significant life changes."

To assist in getting your pet back on track during a time of transition, MacMurchy suggests remaining calm and prepping your pet some plain cooked chicken or steamed white rice to entice them to eat. Maintaining a calm environment is just as essential. While you are monitoring your pet's appetite, MacMurchy recommends following the rule of three: That means that if your pet hasn't regained his/her appetite post the third day of change, it's time to call the veterinarian.

Pets, like humans, fall ill, but it's up to us to determine when their illness is serious enough to consult with our vets. Ryeon Kim, pet expert and founder of Little Beast, shares that loss of appetite can be attributed to underlying health conditions. "If you notice your dog has irregular stool or is eating grass, it is recommended to go see a veterinarian right away," he explains.

As a proud pet parent, you already know what's normal and not normal behavior for your best pal, so monitor their behavior and always consult with your vet with any medical concerns.

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