Why Is My Puppy Not Eating or Sleeping a Lot?

I remember when my puppy Charlie first came home. He was full of energy, playing for hours and then conking out for a good nap. But after a few days, he started acting differently. He barely touched his food at mealtimes and had trouble settling down for bedtime. As a new pup owner, I was really worried! If your pup is going through something similar, you’re probably wondering why and what to do about it. In this post, I’ll explain some possible reasons your puppy may not be eating and sleeping a lot and how you can get them back on track.

Puppies need lots of dog food and sleep to grow and develop properly. On average, they need about 1-2 hours of sleep for every 1 hour they are awake. And they require 2-4 small meals per day to meet their high-calorie needs. If your pup is falling short of these averages, there could be an underlying cause.

Reasons Why your puppy not eating much and sleeping excessively?

Explore the most common reasons a puppy is sleeping excessively and is not eating.

Puppy Not Eating or Sleeping a Lot
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1. Illness or Injury

When a puppy is sick or injured, their body goes into healing mode which can suppress the appetite. Common symptoms that could be a sign of illness include parvovirus, vomiting and diarrhea, loss of energy, fever, coughing, limping, or licking at a certain area.  It’s important to get an ill or injured puppy checked by a veterinarian promptly to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. The vet will be able to determine if it’s a minor problem or something more serious that needs medicine, rest, or surgery. Don’t wait to see if symptoms resolve on their own – a puppy’s health can deteriorate quickly without care.   

2. New Food or Environment

Bringing a puppy into a new home or switching their food can temporarily disrupt normal eating and sleeping habits. Stress, anxiety, and major routine changes may diminish their appetite and activity level as they try to adjust. To help the puppy adapt, gradually transition them to the new food over 5-7 days by mixing in small amounts with the old food. Keep their eating and sleeping areas consistent in the new home environment with familiar toys and bedding. Maintain a regular daily schedule and give them lots of affection during this transitional period.

3. Teething

The teething process usually begins around 3-4 months old. Swollen, tender gums from incoming new teeth can make eating and sleeping uncomfortable. Signs of teething pain include increased chewing behaviors, hesitation around hard kibble or toys, whining, and irritability. Providing cold chew toys, frozen washcloths, and soft foods can bring relief. Gently massaging their gums with a clean finger for a few minutes can also help soothe teething discomfort.  

4. Parasites or Worms

Puppies are prone to picking up intestinal parasites and worms, which can result in vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, pot belly appearance, and lethargy. The parasites irritate the stomach and intestines, while the worms compete for vital nutrients. This gastrointestinal upset leads to a lack of appetite and energy level. If symptoms of parasites are present, bring a stool sample to the vet for testing. They can prescribe oral deworming medication if worms are found. 

5. Dental Problems

Although rare in puppies, dental issues like plaque buildup, tooth fractures, and abscesses can occur and cause mouth pain, difficulty chewing, and lack of appetite. Preventive care like regular teeth brushing, dental chews and yearly vet cleanings helps maintain dental health. Signs like offensive breath, drooling, or bleeding gums indicate a problem. Vets can perform a professional cleaning or extraction if painful, damaged teeth are present.  

6. Stress or Anxiety

New environments, loud noises, crowds, or being separated from littermates and mothers can all trigger anxiety in puppies. Anxious, fearful puppies often lose interest in food and have difficulty settling down to sleep. Creating a quiet, soothing space with a plush sleeping mat, blankets with mom’s scent, and comfort toys can help them destress. Maintaining consistent daily routines also reduces uncertainty. Gentle handling, soft music, and aromatherapy oils provide additional calming effects.

7. Medication Side Effects

Certain antibiotics, dewormers, pain relievers, and other medications have appetite changes or fatigue as potential side effects in puppies. Always consult with your veterinarian when starting a new medication and monitor for reactions like reduced appetite, vomiting, or lethargy. Never discontinue a prescribed medication without vet approval. Your vet may be able to adjust the dosage or offer a different medicine if side effects become problematic.

Troubleshooting When Your Puppy Isn’t Eating and Is Sleeping a Lot

When a puppy is not eating as much as usual as well loses interest in food and sleeps a lot, it can be worrying. However, there are some simple troubleshooting tips you can try at home to get your puppy eating and sleeping normally again. This guide covers troubleshooting ideas to try if your puppy stops eating well or struggles to settle at naptime or bedtime. With a bit of experimentation and patience, you can get your puppy’s routines back on track.

If Your Puppy is Not Eating

  • Offer different foods: Try wet food, different proteins, desire to eat, or softer textures to tempt your puppy’s appetite.
  • Smaller, more frequent meals: Split their daily food into 4-6 mini meals rather than 1-2 large ones.
  • Warm up the food: Microwave kibble with a bit of water or chicken broth to release aroma.
  • Add mix-ins: Stir in a spoonful of canned food or broth to moisten dry kibble.
  • Avoid table scraps: People’s food may upset their tummy more. Stick to puppy-safe foods.

If Your Puppy is Not Sleeping

  • Quiet, cozy spot: Provide your puppy with a darkened, isolated area with soft bedding away from noise.
  • Stick to a schedule: Be consistent with nap times and bedtime to establish a routine.
  • Calm before bed: Avoid active playtime for an hour before bed to wind them down.
  • Settle them at night: If they wake, soothe them quietly without overstimulating them.
  • Patience is key: Your puppy will adjust to sleeping through the night with time.

Knowing When to Seek Veterinary Help

While it’s normal for puppies to go through phases of picky eating and disrupted sleep, there are times when a vet visit becomes necessary:

  • Not eating for over 24 hours – Seek help if your puppy refuses food or water for more than a day
  • Additional symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, coughing, limping, etc. indicate illness
  • Not improving: If troubleshooting tips don’t work within 2-3 days
  • Extreme lethargy: Little interest in play, excessive sleepiness
  • Significant changes: Sudden major differences in appetite, activity, behaviors
  • Very young puppies: Under 12 weeks old require veterinary oversight
  • Underweight: If your puppy is rapidly losing weight or becoming emaciated
  • Dehydration: Dry gums, lack of tears, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing: Labored breaths, wheezing, panting at rest

Trust your instincts as a pet parent. You know your puppy best. If their symptoms concern you or persist, don’t hesitate to call your vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your puppy’s health.


In conclusion, dog owners must be vigilant about their puppy’s eating and sleeping habits. If you notice that your puppy is not eating much and is sleeping excessively, it may be a cause for concern. Whether your puppy is a new addition to the family or weeks old, changes in appetite and sleep patterns should be addressed promptly.

Common reasons for a puppy’s decreased appetite and excessive sleep range from simple factors like a desire to sleep more to more serious issues like fading puppy syndrome. It’s important to recognize changes in behavior, such as lethargy and loss of appetite, and take action. If your puppy isn’t eating and sleeping more than usual, a trip to the vet is recommended to rule out any health issues.

Providing the right environment for your puppy, including a comfortable sleeping area and access to fresh water, can contribute to their overall well-being. Additionally, offering a balanced puppy food diet and ensuring they have plenty of water can make a significant difference. Dog lovers should engage in regular dog training to understand their puppy’s needs and encourage healthy eating habits.

Remember, it’s normal for puppies to sleep a lot, but any drastic change in their eating or drinking habits should be investigated. By taking the necessary steps to help your puppy feel like eating and maintaining a healthy sleep routine, you can contribute to a happy and thriving canine companion. If in doubt, always consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice on your puppy’s specific needs.


1. Why is my puppy not eating much and sleeping a lot?

A puppy not eating much and sleeping a lot could be dealing with several issues such as a simple stomach upset, a change in diet or the environment, or more serious health conditions like parvovirus or kennel cough. Puppies may experience periods of loss of appetite and increased sleep when they are teething.

2. Should I be concerned if my puppy is not eating and is sleeping excessively?

Increased lethargy and a lack of appetite in your puppy could be a sign of a health problem that warrants a visit to the veterinarian. This is particularly true if the puppy is sleeping excessively (more than 20 hours a day) and shows other symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

3. Why did my new puppy stop eating and now is sleeping so much?

A new puppy might stop eating and sleep a lot due to changes in its environment. Stress can cause a puppy to lose interest in food and sleep more than usual. It could also be undergoing a phase of adjustment or may be unwell.

4. What diseases could cause my puppy to stop eating and sleep excessively?

Diseases like parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, or even fading puppy syndrome could cause your puppy to stop eating and sleep more than usual. It’s best to consult with a vet to diagnose the condition correctly.

5. Could teething make my puppy lose its interest in food and sleep?

Yes, puppies may lose their interest in food when they start to teethe. The discomfort might also cause them to sleep more than usual to cope.

6. Would switching dog food cause my puppy to eat less and sleep more?

Changing your puppy’s dog food could potentially result in a temporary loss of appetite, especially if the transition is not gradual. Similarly, the puppy might sleep more to cope with the stress of dietary changes.

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