Why Is My Puppy Not Eating Much and Sleeping a Lot?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Puppies don’t come with an owner’s manual, which can make it hard to determine what’s normal and what isn’t.

This can lead to you stressing out unnecessarily and can make both you and your puppy unhappy.

Is your puppy not eating much and sleeping a lot?

Whether your puppy is 8 weeks old or 6 months old, you should be very concerned because there can be a number of causes for lack of eating and sleeping.

Read on as we discuss the potential causes and what you should be doing.

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First, Is Your Puppy Sick or Just Tired?

Is Your Puppy Sick or Just Tired?

The way your puppy behaves during waking hours can tell you a lot about its condition.

In general, puppies can sleep up to 20 hours each day, but during their waking hours, you should expect that it is very lively and energetic.

If you notice that your puppy is behaving lazily and being very lethargic, then it is time to pay closer attention for this does not seem normal.

The next section dives into the potential causes of why your puppy is sleeping so much and not eating well.

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My Dog is Sleeping More Than Usual and Not Eating: Potential Causes

My Dog is Sleeping More Than Usual and Not Eating

Parasitic, Bacterial, and Viral Infections

Lethargy and lack of appetite are symptoms of a variety of diseases, from the relatively minor kennel cough to more serious conditions like distemper, parvovirus, or heartworm disease.

When a dog has parvovirus or distemper, in addition to the early symptoms of acute exhaustion and anorexia, it will also experience fever, diarrhea, and eye and nose discharge. (read next: giardia in puppies)

Additionally, typical heartworm infection signs that necessitate prompt attention from our pet emergency clinic physician are lethargy, food avoidance, and fever.

Organic/Metabolic Diseases

metabolic diseases can cause loss of appetite in dogs
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Your dog will stop eating and sleep a lot more if they are suffering from diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart, or liver illnesses.

Early signs of potential heart issues include aversion to exercise, fast breathing, and appetite loss.

Abdominal bloating, sadness, and jaundice are symptoms of liver illness in addition to lethargy and an unwillingness to eat.

Dogs with diabetes may not eat much, but they will drink more water than usual.

They might start to lose weight, act distant, and lack the energy to engage in any of their preferred play activities.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs is characterized by tiredness and lethargy, but it may not have the same impact on appetite as diabetes or liver or heart problems.


Puppies are sensitive to many medications, so you need to make sure that any medication you give them does not have harmful side effects.

If you have recently started giving your pup any kind of medication, including vitamins or supplements, this could be the reason for the change in behavior.

Your dog may also show signs of lethargy if he has been exposed to more than one chemical at once or if the chemicals are interacting with each other.

Some drugs can cause nausea, which makes it difficult for your dog to eat., so keep a close eye for a few days and seek advice from a vet if this still persists.


If your puppy is not eating or drinking much and is sleeping more than usual, it could be an indication of anemia.

Anemia means that there are not enough red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen through the blood vessels to all parts of the body.

The symptoms of anemia can include pale gums, lethargy, and exhaustion.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your puppy, contact your veterinarian immediately for treatment options.


You will be surprised at how easily a puppy can get poisoned, no thanks to its curiosity and willingness to lick everything.

It can become poisoned from eating things such as rat poison, antifreeze, and other chemicals.

They may also consume toxic plants like lilies or azaleas.

Watch out for common symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, which should prompt you to send it to a vet right away.


Puppies often put themselves in danger when they’re young because they don’t know any better.

They might get stuck in places they can’t get out of, or they might hurt themselves while playing.

This can lead to pain, which is why your puppy might stop eating and sleeping as much as usual.

Beyond that, there could be other underlying and more serious problems such as tumors or hypothyroidism that can be causing a lot of discomfort.

Also, you should consider if your dog ate anything out of the norm such as a bologna casing or string that might give it intestinal pain too.

Again, if this condition persists for more than a few days, a trip to the vet is the wise option.

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Puppies can experience depression too, just like humans do.

Depression in puppies can be brought on by a number of factors, including changes in their environment and the loss of a loved one.

There are several things you can do to help your puppy feel better again, including getting them into a good routine, making sure they get plenty of exercise, and showering them with lots of TLC.

Common Symptoms To Look Out For Before Going To The Vet

These are milder conditions that can happen to your dog which may not necessitate an immediate trip to the vet.

In such cases, you can continue observing your dog for a few days, let it get plenty of rest, make sure it is well-fed (don’t make the mistake of giving it adult dog food!), and give it lots of water to stay hydrated.

All of these will make it much more comfortable for your dog while it deals with the issues.

Having a Fever

Why Is My Puppy Not Eating Much and Sleeping a Lot?

Check your dog to see if it is having a fever.

This is because when dogs have high body temperatures (over 103°F), they can become very lethargic and refuse to eat or drink.

Applying cool water with a damp towel or cloth to your dog’s ears and paws and turning on a fan close to your dog will assist in lowering their body temperature if they have a fever of 103° F or higher.

When your dog’s temperature falls below 103° F, stop applying the water, but keep a close eye on your dog to make sure the fever doesn’t come back.

If the temperature goes above 106° F, contact your veterinarian immediately as there may be an underlying medical condition causing the fever.

Not Eating Enough

Sometimes dogs just become finicky eaters when they start feeling under the weather—they don’t feel like eating anything except maybe their favorite treats or foods.

So if your dog doesn’t seem interested in food at all but still has an appetite for treats, this could just be a temporary issue.

Keep it well hydrated and let it have sufficient playtime.

Being active will ensure it has a healthy appetite.

Doggy recommends: Dachshund Not Eating? Causes and Solutions You Need

Feeling Scared

Try to recall if there was an unusual situation that your dog has experienced lately and watch out for signs such as tucking its tail between its legs and incessant shaking.

If your puppy has been scared, it’s important to help them feel safe again.

You can do this by making sure they have a quiet place to go when they’re feeling nervous or scared.

You can also try playing with them more often and giving them more attention so they don’t feel alone.

Dry Mouth

You should also check your dog’s gums and tongue for signs of dehydration or dehydration-related problems such as dry mouth or dry gums.

If they are dry and cracked, then this is a sign that they may need more water than usual; otherwise, they might be dehydrated due to illness or other factors.


Your pup’s teeth are coming in and they are very sensitive.

The pain can make it uncomfortable to eat, so your puppy may be eating less than usual.

If this is the case, you should look out for other symptoms of teething that include chewing on things excessively, gnawing on objects, redness around the mouth or gums, drooling more than usual, and swollen gums.

If you think your puppy is teething, check out this guide from AKC.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the signs of a sick puppy?

Signs of a sick puppy include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and fever. Other symptoms may include discharge from the eyes or nose, swollen lymph nodes, and changes in behavior.

What are common illnesses in puppies?

Common illnesses in puppies include parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, and roundworms. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and lethargy. Getting vaccinated and regular visits to a veterinarian can help prevent and treat these illnesses.

Should I be worried if my puppy isn’t eating much?

Yes, it is a cause for concern if your puppy is not eating much, as it may indicate an underlying health issue or lack of appetite. It’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the signs of fading puppy syndrome?

Signs of fading puppy syndrome include loss of weight, lack of appetite, weakness, difficulty breathing, pale gums, and low body temperature. It can occur in the first few weeks of life and requires immediate veterinary attention.

In Conclusion: Why Is My Puppy Not Eating Much and Sleeping a Lot?

As you can see, there are many reasons why dogs lose their appetite, including environmental factors, injury, infection, and stress.

If your dog is sleeping all day and not eating much, pay very close attention and observe it for at least a day or two.

Things might be temporary and change for the better quickly.

However, if the situation does not improve, it would be best if you consult a veterinarian.

They will run some tests to identify the cause of your dog’s loss of appetite and lethargy so that your dog can be treated right away.

Caring for a puppy is no easy task, and here are some other articles that might help you out:

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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