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Puppy Not Eating And Sleeping a Lot? Possible Reasons and Solutions

puppy not eating and sleeping a lot

Puppies are known for their playful and energetic nature, but what happens when your puppy is not eating and sleeping a lot? This can be a cause for concern for many pet owners, as it goes against their usual behavior. 

It’s very common for young puppies to sleep often, especially during their first few weeks of life. In fact, all that snooze time they get in their comfy puppy beds is what makes puppies such energy maniacs.

However, if your puppy is sleeping excessively and is not interested in food, it may indicate an underlying issue. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the possible causes of loss of appetite and increased sleep in puppies, drawing from expert sources like The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Puppy.

Key Takeaways

  • Loss of appetite and increased sleep in puppies may signify an underlying issue.
  • Understanding your puppy’s behavior and recognizing warning signs is essential for pet owners.
  • Common causes of loss of appetite and increased sleep in puppies include illness, stress, and changes in routine.

Puppies are overwhelmingly cute, but those that have been through them know it’s not a walk in the park. You must worry about your pup deciding it’s not a good day to potty outside and taking a poop inside, liquidy diarrhea if you’re really unlucky. Not to mention all the biting and chewing puppies love (see our article on if puppies can chew bones).

And all that is before you start on the fact that puppies are delicate little things that can fall ill at any time. So yes, your puppy sleeping more than usual is definitely a valid concern in the world of raising puppies. To make this entire puppy thing easier, we have compiled an ultimate puppy guide to help you survive those razor-toothed monsters. 

Let’s get right into nine reasons for poor appetite and unusual sleeping patterns in puppies.

9 Reasons Your Puppy Isn’t Eating and Is Sleeping a Lot

You can expect your perfectly healthy young puppy to sleep an obscene amount of hours, about 18 to 20 hours. However, studies show that those with access to people at night will choose to be with them instead of sleeping 80% of the time. 

Still, 20 hours of sleep is a lot of time. Therefore, how long your puppy sleeps may not be a good indicator of health. Signs like reduced playfulness and not eating coupled with lots of sleeping will raise an eyebrow, and here are some reasons for your puppy may be sleeping a lot and ignoring their food.

Make sure to also read our article on why dogs are not eating but still taking treats.

1. Stress or Anxiety

Puppies can experience stress or anxiety, just like humans. If your puppy has recently been through a significant change, such as moving to a new home or being separated from its mother, it may be experiencing stress or anxiety. This can lead to loss of appetite and excessive sleeping.

When stressed, pups may lose their appetite and become more lethargic, opting to sleep more to cope with the overwhelming emotions they are experiencing. You may notice signs of anxiety like hiding, pinned ears, pacing, and even stool changing, like pooping a lot. Also pay attention to whether your puppy is unusually quiet.

2. Stomach Upset and Digestive Issues 

Puppies can be sensitive to sudden changes in their diet or feeding schedule, causing stomach upset. If you recently switched their food or modified their feeding routine, they may need time to adjust. 

During this transitional period, puppies may eat less and sleep more as their bodies adapt to the new diet. They may even have poop changes like diarrhea and yellow stool as the body tries to correct the cause of the upset tummy. Make sure to read about how long puppies take to poop after they eat and to boil chicken for pups with tummy problems.

3. Parasites

Internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms can cause loss of appetite and lethargy. A study showed that 58% of sampled dogs had at least one intestinal, so parasites are a likely reason for your puppy’s symptoms since parasites can suck up all their nutrients and leave them feeling listless and weak.

External parasites such as fleas and ticks can also cause similar symptoms. Proper deworming and flea and tick prevention can help prevent these issues.

4. Illness

Illness is another common reason why puppies may not eat and sleep more than usual. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or lethargy. A pup with these signs may suffer from illnesses like heart disease, anemia, thyroid problems, or infections.

Infectious diseases and viruses such as parvovirus, distemper, and kennel cough are prevalent in puppies, some like parvo being lethal. These diseases can be prevented by proper vaccination.

Puppies with strangles (juvenile Cellulitis), may also get inflammation and heat in their head, as well as swelling and lesions.

5. Dental Problems & Teething

If your puppy is experiencing pain or discomfort in its mouth from teething, they may avoid eating altogether. Teething can also cause low-grade fevers, which can lead to sleeping more. Oral health must start from puppyhood because research shows that about 80% of all dogs suffer from periodontitis before three years.

Additionally, teething can cause discomfort and pain, leading to loss of appetite and increased sleep. Providing appropriate chew toys and treats can help alleviate teething discomfort.

6. Reactions to Vaccines

Puppies get multiple shots and boosters to prevent deadly infections like Parvo and distemper. However, Some puppies may experience lethargy and loss of appetite after receiving vaccinations. Others even shake a lot after receiving the vaccines. 

This is usually a mild and temporary side effect. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen, it’s essential to consult your vet.

7. Poisoning or Reactions to Medication

Poisoning can cause lethargy, loss of appetite, and even foaming in the mouth in puppies. Medication may be the reason if you recently started giving them vitamins, supplements, or certain medicines.

This can be caused by accidental ingestion of toxic substances or adverse reactions to medication.

8. Anemia and Metabolic Issues

Metabolic issues in puppies can lead to a decreased appetite and increased sleep due to disruptions in their body’s energy regulation and nutrient processing.

When the metabolism is affected, the puppy’s ability to regulate hunger and satiety signals can be impaired, causing a reduced desire to eat. Anemia also regularly causes lethargy and is common in puppies.

Puppies are more susceptible to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) since they burn food calories much faster than adults. 

9. Fading Puppy Syndrome

Fading puppy syndrome is a term used to describe a collection of conditions that affect seemingly healthy newborn puppies, leading to their failure to thrive and survive beyond the first few weeks of life. It usually happens within the first two weeks of a puppy’s life..

It’s characterized by weakness, lethargy, poor appetite, and difficulty in regulating body temperature. The exact causes of fading puppy syndrome can be diverse, including congenital defects, infections, inadequate maternal care, or insufficient milk intake.

Understanding Puppy Behavior

Sleeping Patterns

Puppies sleep a lot, and sleeping up to 18 hours a day is normal. However, the amount of sleep a puppy needs may vary depending on age, breed, and activity level. For example, younger puppies need more sleep than older ones, and larger breeds tend to sleep more than smaller breeds.

It is important to note that puppies sleep in short bursts, usually between 30 minutes to 2 hours. They may wake up, play briefly, and then go back to sleep. This behavior is normal and helps them conserve energy.

Eating Habits

Puppies can sometimes be picky eaters, and it is not uncommon for them to refuse food. However, if a puppy is not eating and sleeping excessively, it may indicate an underlying health issue. In some cases, puppies may refuse food due to stress, anxiety, or environmental changes.

Establishing a feeding schedule and sticking to it is crucial to ensure that a puppy eats enough. Puppies should be fed small meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals. This will help them maintain a healthy weight and prevent digestive issues.

In addition to establishing a feeding schedule, it is essential to provide puppies with a healthy and balanced diet. They must also eat food meant for puppies based on age to prevent them from growing too quickly, especially large breed puppies.

Identifying Signs of Illness In Puppies 

Decreased Appetite

One of the most common signs of illness in puppies include:

  • Reduced appetite 
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced interest in play
  • Trouble walking
  • Weight loss
  • Personality changes

When to Consult a Veterinarian About Your Puppy Not Eating

In some cases, the puppy not eating and sleeping a lot may simply be tired or not hungry, but in other cases, it could be a sign of a more severe problem. Symptoms to call a vet include appetite loss, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea, and mood changes.

If a puppy exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. A veterinarian can perform a physical examination and run tests to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.

Preventive Measures

Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial to ensure your puppy is healthy. It is recommended to visit the veterinarian at least once a year, even if your puppy appears healthy. 

During the visit, the veterinarian can check for any underlying health issues that may lead to loss of appetite and excessive sleeping. They can also provide advice on how to maintain your puppy’s health.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is essential for your puppy’s health. Ensure your puppy is getting the proper nutrients by feeding them high-quality food appropriate for their age, breed, and size. 

Adequate Exercise

Regular exercise for about five minutes for each month of life is essential for your puppy’s physical and mental health. Ensure your puppy gets plenty of exercise daily, such as walks, playtime, and training sessions. 

Keep Your Pup Feeling Safe 

Creating a safe environment for your puppy is essential to improve their appetite and overall well-being. Learn all things that trigger anxiety in your puppy, such as thunder, fireworks, or strangers and either avoid or safely expose them to it (socialization). 

Related Posts:

How to Build Your Dog’s Confidence

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my puppy not eating much but still sleeping a lot?

Puppies have a lot of energy but need plenty of rest to grow and develop. If your puppy is not eating much but sleeping a lot, it could be a sign that they are simply tired and need more rest. However, underlying health issues could need to be addressed, so it’s essential to monitor your puppy’s behavior and contact a veterinarian if you have concerns.

What should I do if my 8-week-old puppy is not eating and sleeping a lot?

If your 8-week-old puppy is not eating and sleeping a lot, it’s essential to monitor their behavior closely. Make sure they have access to plenty of water, and try offering them a variety of foods to see if anything sparks their appetite. If your puppy continues to refuse food or shows other signs of illness, contact a veterinarian for guidance.

How can I tell if my puppy is just sleeping a lot or if something is wrong?

It can be challenging to tell if your puppy is just sleeping a lot or if something is wrong. However, if your puppy is sleeping more than usual and showing other signs of illness, such as lethargy, lack of appetite, or vomiting, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Contact a veterinarian if you have concerns.

Why is my old dog not eating much and sleeping a lot?

As dogs age, their energy levels often decrease, and they may sleep more than usual. However, if your old dog is not eating much and sleeping a lot, it could indicate an underlying health issue, such as dental problems or kidney disease. Contact a veterinarian for guidance.

What could be causing my puppy not to eat but drink water?

If your puppy is not eating but drinking water, it could be a sign of various health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems or dental issues. Monitoring your puppy’s behavior and contacting a veterinarian if you have concerns is crucial.

Is it normal for a 4-month-old puppy to sleep all day?

Puppies need plenty of rest to grow and develop, so it’s normal for a 4-month-old puppy to sleep for long periods during the day. However, if your puppy is sleeping excessively and showing other signs of illness, such as lack of appetite or lethargy, contact a veterinarian for guidance.

Final Thoughts

If a puppy is not eating but sleeping a lot, it is essential to take note of any other symptoms they may be exhibiting. It could be a sign of an underlying health issue, parasites, stress, dental issues, toxicity, and reaction to medications. 

It is also essential to ensure the puppy is fed a balanced and nutritious diet. If the puppy is not interested in their food, trying different types of food or feeding at different times of the day may help. In addition, providing a comfortable and safe sleeping environment for the puppy can also help promote healthy sleeping habits. 


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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