Dog Diarrhea And Refusing Food (Explained)

If your dog has diarrhea and refusing food at the same time, we outline the potential causes of dog diarrhea and refusal of food, as well as what to do and when to seek help. 

Dog diarrhea itself can lead to the refusal of food because of loss of appetite. These symptoms commonly occur together and can be due to a number of illnesses and health issues which include diet change, illness, gastrointestinal infection, poisoning, stress,  and medication side effects.  

Dog diarrhea and refusing food

Possible causes of dog diarrhea and refusal of food

A dog not eating or loss of an appetite is a common symptom of a dog suffering from diarrhea. A dog may experience both diarrhea and not eating as a result of an underlying condition. 

The possible causes of diarrhea and refusal of food include:

Underlying illness 

Diarrhea and the refusal of food in dogs can be symptoms of a wide range of illnesses in dogs, including viral or bacterial infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and systemic diseases.

There are many factors that can cause a dog to not eat when they are ill, which include pain, nausea, digestive problems, and emotional distress

Pain due to an illness can cause a dog to avoid eating or drinking. In addition to this, many illnesses can cause nausea which can make them feel too sick to eat.

Digestive problems due to illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea can also lead to a lack of appetite and emotional distress experienced when they are ill can cause them to also lose their appetite.

Gastrointestinal infection

Gastrointestinal infection by bacteria, intestinal parasites, or viruses can cause dog diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Gastrointestinal infections can cause a dog to lose its appetite due to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and discomfort. These symptoms can lead to a loss of appetite in the dog.

Change in diet

A change in your dog’s diet can cause diarrhea and refusal to eat due to food intolerance or allergy, an upset stomach, and stress.

This is because it takes time for your dog’s stomach to adjust to the new food and a sudden change to a new food may cause diarrhea. 

Dogs are also sensitive to changes in their routine and environment, and a sudden change in diet can be stressful. 

The stress can lead to digestive upset which causes diarrhea and other symptoms and a dog not eating due to :

  • Taste preference: Dogs have preferences for certain flavors and textures of food, and if their new diet is not appealing to them, they may refuse to eat it.
  • Digestive issues: Switching to a new diet can cause digestive upset, such as diarrhea or constipation, which can cause a dog to feel sick and not want to eat.
  • Food allergies or intolerance: Some dogs may have allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients in their new food, which can cause gastrointestinal upset and loss of appetite.

If you are planning to change your dog’s diet, it is important to do so gradually over a period of several days to allow their digestive system to adjust. 


A stressed dog also experiences diarrhea including refusal of food or loss of appetite, which may appear at the same time. 

Stress can cause a dog to lose its appetite in different ways. One way is stress can affect a dog’s digestive system, causing nausea, stomach discomfort, and other digestive issues. 

This can lead to a loss of appetite as a dog associates food with discomfort or they may simply not feel hungry.

Stress can cause changes in the dog’s hormone levels, particularly the stress hormone. Elevated levels of the stress hormone can cause a decrease in appetite. 

Chronic stress can also suppress the immune system, leading to other health problems that can further affect their appetite. In addition to this, stress can lead to depression or anxiety, which can also cause a loss of appetite in dogs.

Stress and anxiety also cause a variety of symptoms including pacing, licking, drooling, yawning, crying, barking, and hiding.

Stress can come from a variety of sources such as a change in their environment or routine, new people or pets, loud noises, and other fear-related stressful situations.

Toxin ingestion

Poisoning in dogs can lead to a range of symptoms, including diarrhea and rejection of food. This is because many poisons can cause gastrointestinal upset and also affect a dog’s appetite.

Loss of appetite can happen because of:

Nausea and/or vomiting: Many poisons can cause nausea or vomiting. When a dog feels sick, they may refuse to eat or drink.

Mouth ulcers and irritation: Certain toxins can cause ulcers or irritation in a dog’s mouth. This can make it painful for the dog to eat or drink.

Organ damage: Some toxins may cause damage to a dog’s liver, kidneys, or other organs which can lead to a loss of appetite, as well as other symptoms.

Neurological problems: Some poisons can cause neurological symptoms such as seizures or tremors which can make it difficult for a dog to eat.

Dogs may accidentally ingest toxic substances such as household cleaners, contaminated food or water, pesticides, insecticides, poisonous plants, or human medications, which can cause diarrhea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms.

Side effects of medication 

Medications can sometimes cause side effects in dogs, including diarrhea and refusal to eat. Many medications can cause gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can lead to a decreased appetite. 

The taste or smell of the medication can also be unpleasant, making a dog reluctant to eat.

Some medications also affect a dog’s sense of taste or smell, altering the way food tastes or smells, which can reduce their desire to eat. 

A dog’s mood and behavior can also be affected by some medications which lead to a decrease in appetite as a result of anxiety or depression.

Dog diarrhea and refusing food: What to do 

If your dog is experiencing both diarrhea and refusing food, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. 

Here are  other signs that indicate that you should see a veterinarian immediately:

Severe or bloody diarrhea: If your dog’s diarrhea is severe or if there is blood or mucus in the stool, this could be a sign of a serious underlying condition and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Other symptoms: Other symptoms may accompany diarrhea and refusal of food, such as vomiting. If your dog is vomiting along with diarrhea, this can lead to dehydration and other complications. This requires immediate medical attention. 

Other symptoms to look out for include lethargy, breathing difficulties, signs of pain or discomfort, fever, and signs of dehydration, such as a dry nose or mouth and sunken eyes.

Suspicion poisoning: If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

If your dog is a puppy or an older dog: Puppies and older are generally more vulnerable than healthy adult dogs so delaying treatment could result in their condition worsening or becoming more difficult to treat. Therefore, it is essential to seek immediate medical care.

Managing dog diarrhea requires knowledge and understanding. Our guide on dog diarrhea serves as a valuable resource, providing a detailed roadmap to help you navigate this condition. Visit the article to unlock effective strategies for keeping your dog happy and healthy.

Key Takeaway: Dog diarrhea and refusing food

Diarrhea and refusal of food in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors. While occasional diarrhea is normal in dogs, persistent diarrhea alongside other symptoms such as refusal of food requires veterinary attention.

If you notice your dog showing these symptoms suddenly or for extended periods of time, consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. 

By addressing the underlying cause of the symptoms and providing appropriate care, you can help ensure that your dog remains healthy.