My Pug Won’t Eat, What To Do?

Lack of appetite in Pugs might be a problem, but it’s very important to distinguish between two things – Has your Pug suddenly started refusing his meals, or do you think that your Pug is not eating the amount it should?

Lack of appetite in Pugs might be the result of stress/depression, a variety of health conditions ( viral/bacterial infection, pancreatitis, dental issues, liver or kidney disease), hot weather ( during summer months), age ( seniors eat less) or activity level ( sedentary Pugs need fewer calories). Also, this breed has sensitive stomachs which can cause a bad appetite. Small dogs like Pugs are also known to be fussy eaters. Some of the things you can do to encourage your Pug to eat are to provide a peaceful and calm environment, the right food bowl ( avoid plastic and too big bowls), and high-quality, right-sized food which you can make even more appealing by adding lukewarm water.

Why My Pug Won’t Eat?

If your Pug won’t eat think well about what kind of food you are giving to him. Some low-quality dog foods are full of fillers, and chemical preservatives that may decrease appetite. Believe it or not, dogs can sense the level of protein and fat in the food. If your pooch ate something which wasn’t really good for his stomach ( although it didn’t make him sick), he might refuse to eat that food again.

Make sure the food you offer to your Pug is high-quality, animal protein-based food ( up to 30% of animal protein, less than 20% of fat), free of soy, wheat, grains, by-products, harmful flavoring, and coloring. Quality food should have good fiber levels and added Omega 3 sourced from fish oil.

Choose food that is produced in North America (the USA and Canada). The food produced in New Zealand is also acceptable as they also have strict standards similar to those in the US.

If you try to switch one brand for another, do it gradually, mixing two different foods for a couple of days.

1-3 days – 25% new food/ 75% old food

3-5 days – 50% new food / 50% old food

5-7 days – 75% new food/ 25% old food

In case you just suddenly serve a new food one day, your Pug might get puzzled and refuse to eat. That’s why it’s important to make this transition step by step.

Dental Issue

One of the reasons why your Pug has lost his appetite is a dental issue. This breed generally has a problem with teeth due to squishy faces and the fact their teeth are overcrowded. So some broken or infected teeth, or oral pain is not uncommon ( especially if you don’t take good care of your pet’s teeth, brushing them at least twice a week)

Pay special attention if your Pug won’t eat dry, hard food but is willing to eat wet food. That’s a clear indicator that something is wrong with his teeth.

Although wet food is not the best option for your Pug as dry food is better for his teeth and bowels (wet food may cause runny stools) if he has dental issues do offer him wet food.

Hot Weather

Hot weather may also have a big impact on your Pug’s appetite. Dogs generally eat less during the hot summer months ( 10-20%) and Pugs don’t tolerate hot weather so well due to their short noses and small air passages.

Less food intake is quite normal since your Pug is less active during this period. Just pay special attention to keeping your Pug cool and hydrated.

A magic word for both is ”frozen”. Make some nice frozen treats for your pooch. There are plenty of recipes on the internet you just need to pick between frozen chicken soup cubes, frozen fruit treats, frozen mixes of fruits, and peanut butter or yogurt. The choice is immense, really.

Since higher temperatures make our Pugs get dehydrated faster, it’s recommended to offer your pet wet food a much better option than a dry one. Of course, a bowl with fresh water has to be at your Pug’s disposal all the time.


Another thing that can cause a lack of appetite is stress or a state of depression. Big changes in the household, moving to a new home, a new baby arrival, another dog or pet arrival, travel to unfamiliar surroundings, family vacation, the death of a canine or human family member, severe separation anxiety… all these things may provoke stress and depression in your Pug. So once the stress-related situation gets better, your Pug will start eating normally again but you have to help him for sure.

If it’s a new home, let him settle first and give him time a adjust. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety do consider not leaving him alone but finding a solution(good doggy care or dog sitter). If someone from your home died, be patient and let your dog mourns but don’t leave him alone, try to spend more time with him than usual…

Pug’s Age

Senior Pugs have decreased appetite ( up to 20%) and that is quite normal. Older dogs are less active and have a slower metabolism so naturally, they need fewer calories.

But the golden agers are prone to many illnesses that can also cause poor appetite so if you notice some major appetite loss along with some other symptoms, do visit a vet for a detailed examination. Note that almost all illnesses may have a lack of appetite as a symptom so in this case, treating a bad appetite is not the most important thing, you have to treat the illness first.

“Spoiled” with hand feeding

Some Pugs may turn up very spoiled that their owners unintentionally taught if they hold out long enough, they will hand feed them. So they don’t eat and wait. Once you get worried enough, your dog will get what he wants, food from your hand!

If you want to break down this bad habit, stop feeding your dog from your hand, put the food in his bowl, and leave the bowl for 10-15 min.

If he doesn’t eat, just put it away and then offer him the food again at the next mealtime. Meanwhile don’t give your Pug any treats, table scraps, or any other food. Ask other members of your household to do the same. Once he feels the hunger, he will start eating from the bowl.

Of course, dogs can be stubborn but you need to be persistent otherwise the bad eating practice will continue.

Health Issues

However, the most serious cause of appetite loss is compromised health and numerous illnesses.

While some of them are not so serious like viral/bacterial infections that cause cough, nasal discharge, and eye discharge, others like liver problems, kidney failure, and different types of cancers may be life-threatening conditions.

Don’t forget injuries or conditions that include pain, skin sores, allergies…

All listed conditions have one thing in common – appetite loss.

Note that lack of appetite is quite normal if your Pug is recovering from some illness or surgery.

Don’t be surprised if your Pug experiences a brief appetite loss after receiving a vaccine. Sometimes vaccines may have adverse effects and one of them is lack of appetite, no need to worry about it.

Heat Cycle

If you have an unspayed Pug female, she will go in a heat cycle twice a year. The heat cycle lasts for around 3 weeks during which your dog’s behavior can change.

One of the common changes is appetite loss. Simply, you Pug girl thinks only about how to find a mate and to breed and nothing else matters not even the food.

Fortunately, she will get back to herself as soon as the heat cycle is over and then the eating habits will also get back to normal.

If you want to learn more about the Pug heat cycle and how to recognize its symptoms read our article ”How To Know My Pug is In Heat?”

What To Do If My Pug Won’t Eat?

Let’s start with basic things. Make sure your Pug has an adequate food bowl.

What does that mean? Well, your dog is small and if you pick the bowl that has a high rim he can knock his forehead.

If the bowl is too deep, he has to stretch ( which is not comfortable ) a lot in order to reach the bottom. Maybe he won’t be able to pick up all the food from the bowl.

Avoid plastic bowls. They are very light, so they can easily tip over. Plastic bowls are easy to scratch which makes a perfect place for bacteria buildup. Choose stainless steel bowls instead.

Avoid too big bowls, as when you pour the correct amount of food, the bowl will be half empty which may encourage you to add more.

The next thing is picking the right food. We already have said a few words about the right food and what it should and shouldn’t contain.

Also, the size of the food is important. Pugs have smaller jaws and teeth than other dogs so they cannot handle the oversize bites. Make sure the food you serve to your dog is no bigger than 1/2 of an inch in diameter.

By serving the right-sized food to your dog you will also avoid complications like vomiting, which can easily happen if he swallows the food that isn’t fully chewed.

If your Pug is not thrilled with the food you are giving him but you are certain that is a high-quality one, you can pour some lukewarm water into it and make it more appealing, maybe he falls for it.

Make sure you are serving the right amount of food to your Pug. The right amount of food is based on your Pug’s weight. So you need to know how much your Pug weighs. Don’t guess as you can make a mistake. Sometimes it looks like your Pug has more pounds than it has in reality. This is not because of the fat in his body but because of the barrel-shaped skeleton. Pugs are small dogs, they eat small portions (approximately 1 cup per day, divided into 2 or 3 meals) If you are giving larger portions than you should, you might find the leftovers in the bowl which may signalize to you that your dog is not eating normally, which would be a big mistake.

Follow the instructions of your vet and guideline that you may find on the dog’s food pack. But note that different food manufacturers may suggest different portion sizes. For example for dogs that have around 20 pounds, the portion size may vary from 1/4 of the cup.

If your dog is not eating his regular meals but he is more than happy to grab any snack he gets, think about the snack amounts you give him.

Maybe you ”reward” him too often and with too much food. Make sure he gets a max of 4-6 extra small snack bites only in the situation you need to reward wanted behavior.

Dogs like routine, so make sure your Pug has structured meal times. If your pet is having 2 meals, remember to give him his portions at the same time every day.

Provide a calm and peaceful environment during mealtime. If your dog is distracted, stressed, or annoyed most certainly won’t eat well.

If your Pug has some other symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, restlessness, cough, nasal discharge… you need to see the vet. He will make a detailed examination, full blood test, and X-rays if needed. It is important to find the cause of all these symptoms. Poor appetite is just a secondary symptom here.

What you can do at your home is to check if your Pug has a fever by taking his temperature. The normal temperature is about 101F -102,5 F but if he has above 103 F he should be evaluated.

The color of your Pug’s gum may tell you if your dog is dehydrated. Gums should be slippery, wet, and pink in color. If they are deep red or purple and dried out, you urgently must see the vet.


Pugs may lose appetite for various reasons. Some of them might not be so serious such as light viral infection or adverse effects of vaccination. Other reasons may involve many serious health conditions like cancer or liver disease.

On the other hand, your dog may eat perfectly well but you are not able to see that since his bowl is always half empty when he finishes his meal. Maybe the bowl is too big or your portions are too large.

I really do hope this article will help you to find the cause of your Pug’s appetite loss. I hope you solve your problem quickly and continue enjoying your dog’s companionship.

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