French Bulldog Not Eating: Reasons Why & What You Can Do


French Bulldog Not Eating

When your Frenchie stops eating, naturally it will be very worrying, particularly if they are not eating and it’s combined with other symptoms such as shaking or throwing up. In this guide, I have compiled all the main reasons why your Frenchie might have lost their appetite and what you can do about it.

Before I get into things, it goes without saying, but you should always call your vet if you have any concerns over your French Bulldog not eating food. I am not a vet, just a passionate owner sharing what I have learned down the years.

When to worry about a Frenchie who won’t eat

Before I start, I want to explain when you should worry about your French Bulldog not eating food.

It’s very unusual for a French Bulldog to not eat or refuse food completely for more than one day. That’s two meals in total for an adult Frenchie, and 3 smaller meals for a puppy.

Things like a recent stressful moment or a stomach upset can lead to a loss of appetite, but these will usually pass in 24 to 48 hours. If your Frenchie has stopped eating for longer than this, then this is the point where you should be contacting your vet.

Reasons why French Bulldogs will not be eating food

If you came to this guide because you wondered why my French Bulldog won’t eat, then here are the top reasons, and no particular order.

1. Anxiety or stress

One of the most common signs of a stress in a Frenchie will be a sudden loss of appetite or a reduction in how much they eat.

What you might think is something relatively simple, can lead to stress or anxiety. In most cases it will mean they might not eat for a day if it was a one-off scare.

But things like environmental changes, a new dog, or separation anxiety can all lead to prolonged periods of not eating. Pain can also make a Frenchie stressed and not hungry, so check for obvious signs of injury.

I spent some time putting together a list of things that make Frenchies depressed. Look through that and you might find the answer to why your French Bulldog is not eating and shaking.

If there are no signs of a health problem and your French Bulldog stops eating for more than a couple of days, speak to your vet to see if they can identify the underlying cause.

French Bulldog won't eat
French Bulldog puppies can eat less due to a wide range of reasons including stress, health, and heat.

2. Dental or mouth problems

Pain or discomfort in the mouth is another leading reason why your French Bulldog is not eating. It could a dental problem with the teeth, or something inside of the mouth causing them pain. These can include:

  • Loose or broken teeth.
  • Gum infections or abscesses.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Cuts inside the mouth.
  • Mouth cancers and disease.
  • Splinters or foreign objects in the mouth.

The easiest way to tell is using a visual check. How bad your Frenchie’s breath smells will also be a signal of various ailments leading to a loss of appetite. To find out what the different bad breath smells can mean, read this guide to Frenchie halitosis.

3. Upset stomach and short illnesses

If your French Bulldog is not eating and throwing up then this loss of appetite is inevitably due to a gastrointestinal problem, hopefully short term.

Aside from not eating combined with vomiting, the lack of interest in eating food can also include diarrhoea.

In cases like this, vets recommend you feed your Frenchie some bland foods to stop upsetting their stomachs further. The go to food for this method is a small amount of boiled chicken with plain rice.

If this doesn’t fix the lack of interest in food after two days, it’s advisable to go to the vets before your Frenchie loses too much fluid from not eating and drinking.

Handy Hint: Some Frenchies can reaction badly to chicken and other poultry meats. Here’s how you can tell if your French Bulldog has a chicken allergy.

4. Medications and vaccinations

You might find that your French Bulldog is not eating or drinking after a vet visit or a dose of medication. Many drugs can act as an appetite suppressant and will mean your dog loses appetite and weight during the period the drugs are taken.

There can be similar results after puppy vaccinations. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons why your French Bulldog puppy is not eating; it’s due to the vaccination shots.

Thankfully, medicines and vaccinations only lead to a temporary loss of appetite, and your Frenchie should start eating again once the drugs have passed through their system.

5. Their appetite changes with age

We all know of old people who age and start eating considerably less food. Dogs are just the same; as they get older their appetite decreases. They can also develop health and dental problems which make eating harder than it used to be.

As Frenchies get older, they can also start to lose the senses that helped make them such ferocious eaters in the first place. For example, if they start to lose their sense of smell, this will make them desire food less.

6. Changes to food or brand

Only recently my wife and I were unable to buy Claude’s usual dry food brand, Royal Canin. We had to order a different brand and flavour altogether. It had great reviews and feedback and ticked all the boxes for what a nutritious dry food should be.

However, Claude the Frenchie refused to eat it for 2 days straight. He was sniffing at the bowl, eating one or two small mouthfuls and leaving the rest. Yep, Frenchies are a very stubborn breed indeed!

French Bulldog stopped eating food
Claude was very particular when we changed his food and for a while didn’t want to eat the new brand at all!

My wife was really worried about our French Bulldog not eating properly and wanted to start buying him chicken breasts. He was showing no signs of illness, so I said no way, and let’s have a battle of wills with him!

On the morning of the day 3, he wolfed his breakfast down and since then has eaten this new brand with his usual appetite.

My conclusion on this; dogs can be fussy about what they eat.

If you are experiencing the same thing with your Frenchie, you can try some of the following hacks to get them to eat properly again with a new food brand.

  1. Mix other foods in with the new: This could be some leftovers from the previous foods, or something you know they love to taste like chicken or a broth.
  2. Stop feeding them treats and scraps between meals: Frenchies are like kids. If you let them eat too many treats, they won’t eat their main meals! Cut the snacks out, and they might stop being so spoiled when mealtime comes around.
  3. Try the starvation method: The name of this sounds brutal, but don’t worry, it’s more of a trick I would say. If they have stopped eating the food, pick the bowl back up and hide it away. Do this at each mealtime, and eventually they will figure out that the food is here to stay once they get hungry.

7. Overfeeding on snacks so not hungry

It’s really easy to spoil your Frenchie, and that will often mean giving them lots of treats and snacks. Before you know it, you might have given them so many that they physically cannot eat their main meal.

Keep track on what you are feeding them between meals. As a guideline, an average sized adult Frenchie should eat 625 calories each day. Any treats should only account for 10% of their diet.

To put this calorie amount into perspective, here’s how many calories are in some popular turkey sausage brands that owners might treat their Frenchie with:

  • 4 x Bob Evans turkey sausage links (120 calories): 20% French Bulldog daily intake.
  • 4 x Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links (174 calories): 28% French Bulldog daily intake.
  • 4 x Johnsonville turkey sausage links (160 calories): 26% French Bulldog daily intake.
  • 4 x Jones Dairy Farm turkey sausage links (180 calories): 28% French Bulldog daily intake.

8. Getting food elsewhere

A friend of mine lives on a farm that backs onto a large housing estate. Her black Labrador has the run of the farm as you would expect, but my owner friend didn’t think this would be the reason her dog stopped eating.

Unknown to her, the dog was slipping under a fence twice a day and visiting a dear old lady who lived next to the farm. The lady was feeding the dog so much that when it returned home to the farm it wasn’t hungry.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the dog had also been eating small pests it was finding on the farmland to fill itself up.

The morale of the story is this; do you know who is feeding your French Bulldog or whether they have an alternative food source? I am sure you do, but it needs to be discounted if your Frenchie has stopped eating and drinking completely.

9. Serious health issues and pain

A more prolonged loss of appetite in your Frenchie is a sign that something more serious is wrong. If your Frenchie stops eating as much food for more than 48 hours, I would recommend a vet visit; it could be an illness that isn’t passing.

There are multiple health reasons that lead to a loss of appetite in Frenchies. I am not a vet so won’t list them all here, as you should always refer for a professional opinion.

However, there are signs of a health problem you can look out for in addition to the lack of interest in food, including:

  • Lethargy and lack of energy.
  • diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Not drinking enough water.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Rapid weight loss.

The most important sign here is probably a French Bulldog not eating and lethargic. Vets report that lethargy and a reluctance to move and eat is a reason to get an appointment as soon as you can.

My French Bulldog is not eating in hot weather

If you have a Frenchie who eats less in the summer, please don’t worry as much. Hot weather has a unique effect on dogs and how much they can and want to eat.

They are very similar to us in this way. Think about how you are in the summer and winter months; do you eat more in the cold winter, and less in the summer? You may well do, it’s a common trait in us mammals.

Let me explain in a little more detail why your French Bulldog is not eating in hot weather, followed by some feeding tips for hotter summer months.

Why hot weather leads to a loss in appetite

The reasons why we tend to eat lighter foods in the summer season is because we find it a lot harder to digest heavy and fatty foods. We also might not be as active, so don’t need as much energy. Dogs are very much the same as us in this way.

If you think about how your Frenchie doesn’t cope well in hot weather, it’s likely he or she will be far less energetic. This means they will not have as a large an appetite as they would in the winter months.

All they want to do is lounge around and stay in the shade; that’s not conducive to eating like they typically would.

Important: Whilst it’s probable that your French Bulldog stopped eating as much in hot weather due to reduced energy requirements, it might not be the case. If you dog eats nothing at all, then it won’t be related to the hot weather and will require veterinary advice.

Feeding tips for Frenchies in hot weather

It’s key to remember that fatty foods, warmer foods, and larger portions will probably get left in the bowl when it’s hot. You wouldn’t eat a massive roast dinner in the summer, and your Frenchie is no different.

If you’ve eliminated a more serious reason for your French Bulldog not eating as much as usual, and do believe it’s down to the hot weather, here’s what I recommend you do.

  • Providing your Frenchie is not ill, and just wants to eat less, then let them guide you with their appetite portions. You might even find that they want to skip breakfast completely when it’s really hot.
  • Try boiling chicken and cutting this into small pieces to add to a smaller portion of dry food or kibble.
  • Feed your Frenchie in a cooler room. Many Frenchies will be completely turned off their food if they have the sun beating down on them, and also warming up what’s in their bowl.
  • Avoid fatty meals and warm foods which your French Bulldog wont’ want to eat as much of in the summer.

Recommend summer foods for Frenchies

Whilst I don’t recommend you alter your Frenchie’s diet too much, you should reduce the portions down. If they are still stubborn and refuse to eat in the heat, here are some raw foods you can try feeding to a French Bulldog who has stopped eating in the summer:

I only recommend the advice on the above links as a supplement to their diet, not a complete replacement.

french bulldog not eating in hot weather
Hot summer months can lead to a loss of appetite. We will often give Claude portions of fruit cut up to cool him down.

I also recommend you read this guide on how to cool your Frenchie down when it’s hot. There is guidance in there about using ice cubes and frozen fruits.

My French Bulldog won’t eat breakfast

The last scenario I wanted to cover before diving into some final advice on how to get your French Bulldog to eat, is them not eating breakfast.

Our own dog Claude does this a lot. The lack of wanting breakfast occurs mostly in the summer when it’s warm outside, but still happens occasionally during the rest of the year.

If this is happening with your Frenchie puppy or adult, I wouldn’t be overly concerned if they are still eating in the rest of the day. They could be missing breakfast due to:

  • Perhaps not hungry first thing in the morning.
  • Is getting older and doesn’t need as much food as when a puppy.

If you walk your Frenchie in the morning, the advice is actually to feed them two hours after a walk. You can find out why in this guide I wrote.

Treatments for Frenchies that won’t eat

I’ve already covered off a few tips on how you can get your French Bulldog to eat in the points listed above, so here’s some final advice and concluding comments to wrap this whole guide up.

How do I get my French Bulldog to eat?

If your Frenchie is refusing to eat, and you’ve ruled out health problems with your vet’s support, then you can try:

  • Changing their food or adding something else to it.
  • Try warming up or softening the food with water to make digestion easier.

If nothing else works after 48 hours and your Frenchie has still stopped eating, talk with your vet. They could do some of the following treatments:

  • Could run health checks and blood tests to understand why the lack of appetite.
  • Could administer intravenous fluids with electrolytes, particular if they stopped eating and drinking too.
  • Could try feeding them with a syringe or feeding tube.
  • Could treat an illness with antibiotics.
  • Could prescribe appetite boosting drugs.

Conclusion

Every French Bulldog will go through a period of not eating at some point in their lives. With our own dog Claude, it’s been a regular occurrence, particularly in the summer or when he has an upset stomach. However, time to worry is when the lack of eating is combined with shaking, lethargy, lots of vomiting, and continues past the 2 day mark. This is when you should contact your vet.

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Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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