5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

Do you want to know why your Boston Terrier is no longer eating?

There are numerous reasons why you might notice your Boston not eating. The lack of appetite your Boston Terrier is experiencing is medically referred to as inappetence or anorexia. Some reasons for inappetence are very innocent and self-limiting, and other causes can be much more concerning.

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

Let’s look into why your Boston has lost its appetite…

Reasons Your Boston Terrier Stopped Eating

To determine what is causing the inappetence (lack of appetite) in your Boston, it is essential to consider other symptoms your pet may be exhibiting, as well as their overall health status. 

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

Causes For Boston Terriers To Lose Their Appetite

The list of reasons your dog may not be eating is exhaustive, however, some of the most common reasons for inappetence include; 

  • Behavioral/dietary Preference 
  • Dental Disease
  • Recent Surgical Procedure 
  • Side Effect Of Medications 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Gastroenteritis/gastrointestinal Obstruction

Boston Terriers, in particular, can be very finicky eaters.  They also are more likely to suffer from dental disease due to the conformation of their short snouts. 

Follow along to look at these five causes of inappetence more in-depth and to determine what your next steps should be.   

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1) Boston Terriers Are Commonly Finicky Eaters

If your dog has always been a picky eater, there is likely no need for concern. 

The main thing to consider is if his attitude toward food has changed or if other symptoms have developed, indicating a bigger problem. 

Is Your Boston Terrier Just Picky?

If you think you may be guilty of consistently offering new types of food or treats, then you may have unknowingly trained your Boston to be a picky eater. 

If this is the case, he may have stopped eating in hopes that if he holds out, you will present him with a better and more exciting offering.

Other times, the finicky eater’s issue is that he doesn’t like the brand, flavor, or texture of the food you’re giving him.  

In this case, it’s best to sample different types of food until you find one kind that your pet likes and then stick to that. 

Refrain from offering table scraps, treats, gravy, etc. You’re risking creating a very picky eater.

Is There Something Else Going On?

If your picky eater has maintained a healthy weight and looks bright, alert, full of energy, and is not exhibiting any other symptoms. It is likely safe to monitor their lack of appetite from home. While you monitor your Boston, you then need to search for a diet he enjoys and then re-train him not to be so picky. 

If he has suddenly stopped eating, is lethargic, losing weight, or has developed gastrointestinal problems (excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea), he should be seen by a veterinarian right away. 

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

2) Dental Disease In Boston Terriers

Another common cause of lack of appetite in Boston Terriers is dental disease.  

Why Is Dental Disease More Common In Boston Terriers?

Because Bostons are brachycephalic dogs, meaning they have shortened snouts, their mouth conformation makes them more likely to suffer from dental disease. 

Think of it as a lot of teeth squished into a smaller than average space, which leads to overcrowding and plaque buildup, which ultimately leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. 

What Are the Symptoms of Dental Disease? 

Symptoms of dental disease include the following: 

  • Very Bad Breath
  • Drooling
  • Broken Or Discolored Teeth
  • Bleeding Or Bright Red Gums
  • Pawing At The Mouth
  • Reluctance To Eat 

If you have noticed any of the above symptoms, in conjunction with inappetence (lack of appetite), dental disease may be the cause, and you should have your veterinarian perform a thorough oral exam. It may require sedation to do a comprehensive oral exam.

Once the mouth is examined, your veterinarian will make a recommendation on pursuing a professional dental cleaning (which requires general anesthesia) versus the implementation of an at-home dental hygiene routine. 

How To Prevent Dental Disease

Preventative care involves brushing your pet’s teeth at least three times weekly. Canine dental kits can be purchased from online retailers. 

If you need an inexpensive toothbrush & toothpaste kit check out Arm & Hammers Dog Dental Care Kit, the package is very reasonable on Amazon. 

Brushing your Boston’s teeth regularly gives you a chance to examine your pet’s mouth for any abnormalities frequently. 

Adding dental chews can also be beneficial. 

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

3) Recent Anesthesia Or Medications Can Cause Inappetance

If your Boston recently underwent anesthesia or sedation for a medical procedure or has recently started a new medication, this may cause them to stop eating temporarily. 


Any cocktail of medications used to anesthetize or sedate a patient is capable of causing a decreased or non-existent appetite. Often following surgical procedures, patients will not eat for 24-48 hours. 

If they are otherwise recovering well, this is typically not a cause for concern, but a quick call to your veterinarian to discuss is advised. 

If your Boston recently had surgery and is showing the symptoms listed below, they should be seen right away for a post-surgical re-check examination. 

  • Overly Lethargic
  • Panting Excessively
  • Consistently Whimpering
  • Extremely Sensitive To Touch


Any medication is capable of causing inappetence (lack of appetite). However, our most common culprits are; 

  • Antibiotics
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories
  • Steroids
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Chemotherapy Agents
  • Some Cardiac Medications
  • Oral Flea/tick/heartworm Preventatives

If your pet recently started a new medication and experienced a decreased appetite or other gastrointestinal symptoms, it is best to consult your veterinarian right away before continuing the medicine. 

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

4) Could It Be Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which can affect any breed of dog but is more commonly seen in middle-aged dogs. 

The classical signs are appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, painful abdomen, and fever, or any combination thereof. 

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, mild or severe.

What Causes Pancreatitis?

In most cases of pancreatitis, we never determine the exact cause. However,  we do know some events that can cause pancreatitis. 

These causes include certain drugs like the following:

  • Certain Antibiotics
  • Anti-Seizure Medications
  • Chemotherapy Agents 

In addition to drugs, specific hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus can possibly cause pancreatitis. As well as obesity, a recent high-fat meal (steak!), or trauma to the abdomen (car accident). 

What To Do If You Think It’s Pancreatitis

If you think it’s possible your Boston Terrier could be suffering from pancreatitis, he or she should be seen by a veterinarian right away

Do you want to talk to a veterinarian right now? Use Pawp.com’s 24/7 vet hotline service. You can text a vet right now to get answers. There is a small monthly subscription. Check it out here Pawp.com.

If diagnosed with pancreatitis, depending on the severity of symptoms, your Boston may need to be hospitalized for ongoing treatment. 

Most commonly, the inflammation is confined to the area of the liver and pancreas, and the prognosis is good, but even with this limitation, pancreatitis can be painful and life-threatening and should be addressed immediately. 

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

5) Could It Be Gastroenteritis or Gastrointestinal Obstruction?

Some, but not all, Boston Terriers are chewers and/or counter surfers. For these guys and gals, in particular, gastroenteritis or gastrointestinal obstruction will be more frequent but can also occur in Boston Terriers with any temperament. 

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the G.I. tract and essentially describes any process that results in inappetence (lack of appetite), vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, or any combination thereof. 

It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, as well as just from eating something that didn’t agree with the pet. 

What Is Gastrointestinal Obstruction?

Gastrointestinal obstruction is a blockage of the G.I. tract. It typically occurs after a pet has ingested a foreign body (i.e., chewed up a toy or blanket and ingested part of it).  

An obstruction will typically manifest with the same set of symptoms making it difficult to distinguish from standard gastroenteritis. 

What To Do If You Think Your Boston Has Gastroenteritis or Gastrointestinal Obstruction?

If you think your Boston Terrier has gastroenteritis or gastrointestinal obstruction, you should see your veterinarian immediately

Gastroenteritis can often be treated with outpatient therapy to resolve the symptoms; however,  the cause is rarely identified. 

If your veterinarian is concerned that a gastrointestinal foreign body could be the cause, diagnostics, including bloodwork and x-rays, will be necessary.  

5 Common Reasons Why Your Boston Terrier Is Not Eating

Still Not Sure What To Do?

Once again, there are many reasons your Boston Terrier may not be interested in eating, each with a varying level of seriousness. 

In general, if the period of inappetence (lack of appetite) is less than 24 hours and your pet has no other reportable symptoms, it is often okay to wait and see if he or she comes around.

Keep in mind, you know your Boston better than anyone. If you are concerned, something serious could be going on. It is always best to have a veterinarian evaluate your pet right away.

Do you want to talk to a veterinarian right now? Use Pawp.com’s 24/7 vet hotline service. You can text a vet right now to get answers. There is a small monthly subscription. Check it out here Pawp.com.

Want To Learn More About Boston Terriers?

Suzanne Wilson, DVM

Dr. Suzanne Wilson is a small animal practitioner at a busy, small animal practice in Chicago, Illinois. She received her Doctorate at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. During her time at U of I, she completed externships with the ASPCA Humane Alliance Program, Tree House Humane Society, and Greenville County Animal Care Shelter. Dr. Wilson lives in Chicago with her husband, her cat Georgia, and her dog Birdie.

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