My Dog Stopped Eating when Puppies Arrived

by Todd


I have had a male Jack Russell Terrier for four years and he is great, very lovable, playful and good with people. The entire 4 years he has always eaten really well and only dry dog food. Well we adopted a 3yr old female Jack Russell Terrier in Dec 2011 and they seemed to get along and we now have puppies. The puppies are 3 weeks old as of today 3-6-12.

THE PROBLEM is suddenly since the puppies arrived our male(Ranger) started guarding his bowl of food and attacking the female(Shautzie) if she ever got anywhere near it. He doesn't actually eat the food HE JUST WANTS TO GUARD IT! We don't know what's going on?? He is getting skinny and we are VERY concerned. We don't know if this is emotional or physical? Or both now?

Please help.

Thank you,

Vet Suggestion for Jack Russell Guarding Food after Puppies Arrive

Hi Todd,

I suspect all the changes that have occurred in your house with the arrival of the puppies are responsible for your male dog’s changed behavior, but it is always best to rule out physical problems before coming to that conclusion. If your dog were my patient I’d start by performing a physical exam and looking at a fecal sample under the microscope, and then if I thought they were necessary, I might run a urinalysis and some blood work.

If we found any abnormalities, we’d certainly head in that direction, but if he got a clean bill of health, then we could focus on behavior modification including training, possibly with the assistance of anti-anxiety medications.

In the meantime, do everything in your power to keep your dog’s schedule and environment as similar as possible to the way it was before the puppies arrived. You should probably separate the male from the other dogs for now so that everyone can remain safe, and he can calm down and hopefully start eating again. The longer a behavior remains in place, the harder it is to change, so this problem needs to be addressed ASAP. You are right to be concerned because even if his problem is “only” behavioral at this point, it could turn into a medical issue if he continues not to eat.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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