Puppy Not Eating And Sleeping A Lot: Should I Be Worried?

icon August 15, 2023

Bringing a new puppy into your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, like any new addition to the family, puppies can have their own set of challenges and concerns. One common issue that can cause anxiety for puppy owners is when their furry friend suddenly stops eating and starts sleeping excessively. 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. 

This article aims to shed light on the possible causes behind this behavior and provide practical solutions to help your puppy get back on track to health and happiness.

Understanding Normal Puppy Behavior

Puppies, like human babies, have varying sleep patterns and feeding schedules depending on their age, breed, size, and individual characteristics. Here's a general overview of what you can expect in terms of a puppy's sleep and meal patterns:

Sleep Patterns

Puppies sleep a lot, especially during their early weeks of life. As they grow and develop, their sleep patterns change. Here's a rough guideline for different age groups:


Sleep Patterns

Newborns (0-2 weeks) They can sleep up to 90% of the day.
2-4 Weeks They still sleep up to 90% of the day.
4-8 Weeks They can sleep up to 80% of the day.
8-12 Weeks They might nap for about 16-20 hours a day.
3-6 Months They might sleep around 14-16 hours a day.

Puppy Not Eating And Sleeping a Lot

How Long Can a Puppy Not Eat? 

The length of time a puppy can go without eating varies depending on several factors, including the puppy's age, breed, overall health, and the reason behind the decreased appetite. 

Here's a general guideline:


Length of time

Newborn Puppies They typically nurse every 1 to 2 hours. A newborn puppy should not go more than a couple of hours without nursing.
Weaning Period As puppies transition from nursing to solid food during the weaning period (starting around 3-4 weeks of age), their eating patterns might change. However, even during this period, they should be consuming food regularly, usually around 4-6 small meals a day.
Older Puppies Once puppies are fully weaned and on a solid diet, they can typically go a bit longer without eating compared to newborns. However, a healthy puppy should not go without food for more than 12-24 hours.

10 Reasons Your Puppy Isn’t Eating And Is Sleeping A Lot

1. Transition Stress

Just like humans, puppies can experience stress during major life changes, such as moving to a new home. This stress can lead to a loss of appetite and increased sleep as your puppy adjusts to their new environment.

  • Symptoms: Loss of appetite, increased sleep, general lethargy, anxiety.
  • Treatment: Provide a quiet and comfortable space, establish a routine, offer familiar items like toys or blankets, and gradually introduce the puppy to new people and surroundings.

2. Intestinal Parasites

Parasites like worms can cause discomfort and digestive issues in puppies. These issues can lead to a decreased appetite and lethargy

  • Symptoms: Loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, bloated abdomen, lethargy.
  • Treatment: Consult a veterinarian for diagnosis, appropriate deworming medications, and hygiene measures to prevent reinfestation.

Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms

These are common intestinal parasites in dogs. Common anthelmintics include:

  • Pyrantel pamoate: Effective against roundworms and hookworms.
  • Albendazole: Effective against roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.
Puainta® albendazole for dogs
  • Effective deworming, esp. the parasites inside pet’s body, including roundworm, tapeworm, nematode, hookworm, whipworm, trichinella.
  • Schistosoma lung is a parasitic organism called trematode, which is quite common in dogs in North America and is called Paragonimus kellicotti. Albendazole is widely used to treat this infection.
  • Puainta® Albendazole Anthelmintic tablets will remove the common tapeworms, Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis, from dogs and puppies.


Giardia is a protozoan parasite. Treatment often involves metronidazole or albendazole, but a veterinarian's guidance is crucial due to the specific nature of Giardia infections.


Heartworms are a serious concern and prevention is key. Once a dog is infected, treatment becomes more complex. Commonly used drugs for prevention and treatment include abamectin B1, milbemycin, and melarsomine.

Abamectin B1 Large Breed repels pests and kills fleas on contact so they don't need to bite your dog and die. This once-a-month, easy-to-use topical formula is fragrance-free and waterproof after 24 hours.

  • Topical application to kill or remove fleas, flea eggs, ticks, lice, and even mosquitoes on skin.
  • The drug penetrates into the capillaries from the skin to the whole body and treats Mites, roundworms, threadworms in the body.
  • Prevents heartworm.
  • Strong and lasting protection: Prevent pets from mosquito or tick bites and lice or flea infestations, with application once a month.
  • Abamectin B1 30-day treatment and prevention protects dogs and cats from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and lice.


Coccidia is another type of protozoan parasite. Drugs like sulfadiazine or trimethoprim-sulfonamide combinations are commonly used to treat coccidiosis, but a veterinarian should determine the appropriate treatment.

Puainta® Coccidium/Toxoplasma Defense-Tablets

The effect of killing Coccidia and Toxoplasma is obvious.

It is effective against sensitive bacteria.



RelatedIntestinal Worms in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

4. Teething Troubles

Puppies go through teething, which can be uncomfortable and lead to a decrease in appetite. During this time, they may prefer softer foods or even show disinterest in eating altogether.

  • Symptoms: Loss of appetite, excessive drooling, chewing on objects, swollen gums.
  • Treatment: Provide safe chew toys, cold washcloths, and offer softer foods if necessary.

5. Vaccination Effects

After vaccinations, some puppies might experience mild side effects, these symptoms are usually temporary. If they persist or worsen, consult your vet.

  • Symptoms: Mild lethargy, reduced appetite, slight fever, localized soreness.
  • Treatment: Allow for rest, keep puppy hydrated, monitor for severe reactions, and contact the vet if symptoms worsen.

6. Gastrointestinal Diseases

Illnesses like gastroenteritis or other gastrointestinal issues can cause loss of appetite and lethargy in puppies. Diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort might also be present. A professional veterinary evaluation is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Treatment: Veterinary diagnosis is crucial; treatment may involve medication, diet adjustments, and fluid therapy.

7. Change in Food

If you've recently switched your puppy's diet, they might be hesitant to eat the new food. Gradual transitions between foods can help avoid this issue. Sudden changes could lead to digestive upset and a lack of interest in eating.

  • Symptoms: Reluctance to eat, upset stomach, loose stools.
  • Treatment: Gradually transition to new food to avoid digestive upset, ensure the new food is nutritionally balanced.

8. Anemia and Metabolic Issues

Conditions like anemia or other metabolic disorders can lead to fatigue, increased sleep, and a decreased appetite.

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, pale gums, weakness, loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: Veterinary evaluation, potential blood tests, and treatment based on the underlying cause.

9. Fading Puppy Syndrome

This is a term used to describe a range of issues that can cause puppies to become weak, lethargic, and unwilling to eat. It can be caused by various factors, including congenital problems or infections

  • Symptoms: Lethargy, weak or no suckling, difficulty maintaining body temperature, failure to thrive.
  • Treatment: Immediate veterinary attention, which may involve supportive care, fluids, warmth, and addressing any underlying issues.

10. Poisoning

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.

If Puppy Not Eating Much But Acting Normally, Does the Dog Need to See a Vet?

If your puppy is not eating much but is otherwise acting normally, there are a few factors to consider before deciding whether a vet visit is necessary. 

1. Age and Growth Stage

Puppies go through growth spurts and developmental phases, which can affect their appetite. During these periods, it's not unusual for their eating habits to change. However, if your puppy's decreased appetite persists beyond a day or two, it's a good idea to consult a vet.

2. Activity Level and Behavior

If your puppy is still active, playful, and maintaining its usual behavior, it might not be an immediate cause for concern. However, keep an eye on their energy levels and behavior for any sudden changes.

3. Monitor for Other Symptoms

Even if your puppy appears to be acting normally, it's important to watch for any additional signs of illness. If your puppy experiences vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, or any other unusual symptoms, it's a strong indicator that a vet visit is necessary.

4. Recent Changes

Consider any recent changes that might be affecting your puppy's appetite. Changes in environment, routine, or food can impact their eating habits. If you've recently switched their diet, for example, their appetite might be temporarily affected.

While some occasional changes in appetite might not be cause for immediate concern, it's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your puppy's health. If you notice any of the following signs, it's advisable to schedule a vet appointment:

  • Consistently Refusing Food: If your puppy consistently refuses food for more than 24 hours.
  • Lethargy: If your puppy becomes unusually lethargic, sleepy, or lacks energy.
  • Other Symptoms: If your puppy exhibits any additional symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or noticeable discomfort.


If My 6-Month-Old Puppy Not Eating and Sleeping a Lot, What Should I Do?

If your 6-month-old puppy is sleeping 14-16 hours in length, this is normal, but if he is eating less, it needs to be a cause for concern.

Firstly, ensure that you're feeding your puppy a high-quality, age-appropriate puppy food. Check the expiration date and ensure that the food hasn't gone bad. Sometimes, a sudden change in diet can also affect a puppy's appetite.

And then check if your puppy showing any other signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, coughing, sneezing, or changes in behavior. These symptoms could provide clues to the underlying issue.

What Are the Signs of Fading Puppy Syndrome?

"Fading Puppy Syndrome" is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms and conditions that can affect newborn puppies, often resulting in their failure to thrive and survive. Some signs and symptoms associated with fading puppy syndrome include:

  • Weakness
  • Lack of Interest in Nursing
  • Weight Loss
  • Cool to the Touch
  • Crying or Whining
  • Lack of Growth
  • Lack of Vitality

Puppy Not Eating And Sleeping A Lot? Is My Puppy Sick or Just Tired?

A puppy not eating and sleeping a lot can indicate several possibilities, including both normal behaviors and signs of illness. It's important to consider the context and look for other accompanying symptoms to determine whether your puppy might be sick or simply tired. Here are some factors to consider:

Normal Behavior

  • Growth Spurts: Puppies go through periods of rapid growth where they might sleep more and eat less. During growth spurts, they may appear more tired and less interested in food.
  • Teething: Teething can cause discomfort, making puppies less interested in eating and more prone to sleep.
  • Stress and Changes: New environments, routines, or separation from their littermates can cause stress, leading to changes in eating and sleeping patterns.

If these three possibilities are ruled out, then it is one of the diseases described above.

What Are the Common Diseases of Puppies?

Puppies are vulnerable to a range of diseases due to their developing immune systems and susceptibility to infections. Some common diseases that can affect puppies include parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, canine coronavirus, canine adenovirus (Hepatitis), intestinal parasites, external parasites, rabies, lyme disease, hypoglycemia, coccidiosis, heartworm disease.


While it can be concerning when your puppy stops eating and sleeps a lot, it's important to remember that puppies, like humans, go through periods of adjustment and change. By understanding the potential causes of these changes in behavior and taking appropriate actions, you can help your furry friend transition smoothly into their new life with you. Always keep a watchful eye on your puppy's health and behavior, and don't hesitate to seek professional advice if you have concerns about their well-being. With patience, love, and proper care, your puppy will likely bounce back to their usual energetic and playful self in no time.


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