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Canine production is quite fascinating.
As soon as the female goes into heat, she will produce a scent that male dogs know and love so much.
If you have a male dog, you know this scent can drive him temporarily insane.
The minute he catches a whiff of it, his brain will only think of mating with the dog.
Other things like sleeping, cuddling with his owners, and even eating become secondary to him.
If your male dog has refused to eat because there’s a female dog on heat, don’t panic.
We will tell you a few things to get his appetite back.
Why Do Male Dogs Stop Eating When Female Is In Heat?
The mating process is scent-driven.
When the female goes into heat, the hormones in her body will cause the production of a discharge with a special smell.
Males as far as three miles away can identify with the scent and will know their role in the reproduction process.
The smell is very distracting to an unneutered male dog.
Naturally, it tells the dog to focus only on mating with the female.
It’s simply a natural behavior that happens to all dogs.
His mind is only preoccupied with one thing and one thing only: Mating.
It is a multifaceted process that yields weird behaviors in a male dog.
Most notably, the process makes many other doggy routines and functions fall in the priority rankings, including eating.
But it is understandable given that the highest priority of any animal out there is to reproduce.
So, when the male dog is in the phase of life where he’s needed to reproduce, he will spend as much effort and energy as possible into it because that’s what nature and his body demands.
While 1-2 days of fasting may not cause much harm to your male dog, an entire estrus cycle (which runs for about 21 days) of skipping food can lead to a host of health problems.
For instance, he may lose weight, vomit a lot, and act very agitated throughout the period.
To confirm whether the above symptoms are due to heat hormones from a female dog or are being caused by actual sickness, consider separating the dogs.
Typically, the symptoms will subside when the heat hormones are not within detectable distances.
But if the symptoms persist, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.
What To Do
If your precious male canine friend sees the opportunity to mate, his appetite will go outside the window.
No matter what you offer, he will find it unappealing and disinteresting.
Thankfully, his body will not let him starve. He will eventually come around.
However, since heat can last up to 21 days, you don’t want to sit around and wait for your fur baby to be normal again.
Here are a few things you can try to get him to eat again.
1. Remove the Male From the Area
As long as the female on heat hangs around your male dog, he will not rest until he mates with her.
This is why you might want to take the male dog as far away from the female dog as humanly possible.
If you have a friend or family that stays more than three miles from you, consider asking them to watch over your dog until the estrus cycle passes.
Without the scent of the female, his appetite will reappear.
Some pet owners book their male dogs to boarding facilities during this time for the same reason.
It is a simple yet effective strategy to get your dog to eat his food again.
Sure, you will miss him a little but the effort is certainly worth it.
But be cautious with the people you ask to watch over your dog as some may refuse to return your dog for one reason or another.
If this happens to you, check out what to do here: Someone Has My Dog And Won’t Give It Back: What Can I Do?
2. Mask The Smell
Seeing as your male dog acts the way he does because of the scent coming from the female, masking the scent will normalize things again.
There are plenty of sprays used on male dogs to calm them down.
A good example is ‘Lust Buster’ used in the show ring to get male dogs to focus on the activities of the day rather than lusting after females.
If you own a female dog on heat, use a scent concealer on her as well.
You can also utilize a diaper to trap the discharge or apply a methanol spray on her tail. This overpowers the scent so that your male dog doesn’t pick it up.
Of course, if he cannot smell the female, he will get his appetite back in no time.
Check out this post for more strategies: How to Stop a Male Dog from Smelling a Female in Heat
3. Offer Enticing Treats
To trigger your pup’s appetite further, use the good old trick of adding treats he loves and craves.
The best thing would be to change his diet completely but that might do more harm than good.
Canine stomachs are very sensitive and react to the tiniest of changes. You don’t want that.
Instead, supplement his diet with high-value treats including hot dogs, chicken, cheese, or any other treat your doggie loves.
The tasty morsels may stimulate hunger and motivate him to eat. The tempting snacks might overpower the desire to mate.
4. Try Adding Dog Food Toppers
Another creative way to incentivize your pheromone-troubled dog to eat is to add toppers to his food.
Essentially, toppers are products that you add to your pup’s food to improve flavor and make his meals seem special or irresistible.
Try adding things like vegetables, fruits, yogurt, ground beef, salmon oil, bone broth, etc to ensure that his meals are delicious and healthy.
You could also opt for commercial food toppers that are readily available on Amazon and other online retail giants.
Remember to stir the topper through the dog’s food so that it coats every piece of the kibble. This way, he won’t pick out the topper and leave the rest of his meal behind.
5. Exercise the Pooch
This is a long shot but it can work if you get it right.
In a bid to distract the male dog from thinking about mating and fuel his body with food, try tiring him out.
- Go for long walks with him.
- Let him run around the yard as long as the female is not close by.
- Take him hiking all afternoon.
- Play fetch for hours.
- Go swimming.
- Get him more puzzle toys
Anything that distracts him from constantly thinking about the female works like a charm.
Just make sure you don’t follow the same route the female dog uses during walks. That can worsen things for you.
By and large, distracting your dog and giving him a lot of attention at this time will go a long way in protecting his overall well-being, and will ultimately incentivize him to eat.
6. The Permanent Solution: Have the Dog Neutered
To avoid running into similar problems every estrus cycle, you may look into a long-term solution.
Neutering will eliminate the urge to go bonkers over females in heat entirely.
Your pup will no longer chase after females, making things easier for you and him.
But it is important to note neutering may not eliminate sexual behaviors in your dog completely.
Expect him to still feel some pressure when a female in heat is in the vicinity.
But his libido will be lowered due to decreased testosterone levels.
Most importantly, his behaviors will be in check and he will be less likely to skip his meals because of a neighboring female dog in heat.
It is not uncommon for a male dog to refuse to eat when he smells a female dog on heat.
The urge to mate takes over everything and renders the dog powerless.
It is your responsibility to help him find his appetite once again.
Hopefully, the above tips will help.
Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.