Why Don’t Dogs Eat Their Food

Use this quiz to identify potential reasons for your dog’s decreased appetite.

Will Your Dog Drink Water?

Your dog may be experiencing nausea, stress, or oral pain if she will drink water but not eat. It’s encouraging if they can keep the water level down. However, if they start vomiting after consuming water, they should be seen by a veterinarian straight away because this could be a sign of severe motion sickness or a blockage in the digestive tract. Even if they are still drinking, they should be evaluated by their veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of their inappetence if they go more than 24 hours without eating.

If your dog hasn’t eaten or drunk in 24 hours or more, take them to the vet straight away so they may be examined, treated for possible dehydration, and the underlying cause of their refusal to eat or drink is determined.

Any condition that makes a dog feel unwell, including renal illness, pancreatitis, intestinal parasites, liver disease, cancer, infection, intestinal obstruction, etc., can make a dog refuse food and water. Dogs cannot go without water for more than a few days, much like humans, thus this should be taken seriously.

Does Your Dog Eat Treats But Not Food?

Your dog may be stocking up on “junk food” instead of their own dog food if they accept snacks or table scraps but decline dinner. However, a medical problem may be to blame for your dog’s decreased appetite if they also exhibit other signs of illness.

For instance, it can be that your dog is just receiving too many calories per day from treats and isn’t hungry for their meal if they are content, active, drinking water, playing, and not experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea. They may also have outwitted you by foreseeing that they would receive delectable chicken and dog treats if they refuse to consume their food.

Your dog may not be feeling well if they are lethargic, experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea, starting to eat but stopping, drooling, or licking their lips. Even when they’re not feeling well, many dogs are more likely to choose treats than their food since they offer bigger incentives. Consider a moment when you were sick but still managed to eat your favorite delicacy and skip the salad bar.

If getting your dog to eat is becoming a regular struggle, it is always wise to be on the safe side and have any potential medical concerns cleared out.

Is Your Dog Not Eating Dry Food?

Does your dog reject dry food yet gobble up canned food as soon as you put it down? This is a typical pet owner complaint that might imply a number of different things.

Your dog can be experiencing tooth or mouth pain. Many pet owners mistakenly assume that if their animal companion is eating, they must not be experiencing mouth pain. Since they must eat, many dogs suffer in silence from oral pain for months or years before having any rotting or infected teeth out.

Many dogs prefer canned food because it is simpler to chew than dry food, yet others may still consume dry food despite having severe oral pain. Your dog should visit your veterinarian for an oral examination if they notice that they no longer want to eat dry food but will accept canned food.

Additionally, because canned food typically has a greater flavor and may be perceived as more of a “prize,” your dog may prefer it than dry food. To get your dog to eat more, try combining canned food with the dry kibble. Then, gradually increase the proportion of dry food until your dog is once again eating dry kibble.

Some dogs flat-out won’t eat kibble and will only consume canned food. While feeding your dog canned food on a long-term basis may have some drawbacks, such as worsening dental problems or an increase in food costs, it may not be an issue. Ask your vet if feeding your dog a diet made entirely of canned foods could be the best choice for them.

Is Your Dog a Senior?

Senior dogs may consume less calories than younger dogs because of this, but significant weight loss or a refusal to eat is abnormal and can signify serious underlying medical concerns.

These may consist of, but are not restricted to:

A dog who is unable to locate or access their food bowl may stop eating for other reasons, such as cognitive deterioration, movement problems, or visual loss. Senior dogs should have a regular feeding schedule, the food bowl should remain in the same location so they always know where to locate it, and they should have a rug or yoga mat to stand on while eating so they don’t slip or have difficulties standing on hard flooring.

Your senior dog should visit the vet for a complete medical examination and any necessary tests to determine the cause of their lack of appetite if they haven’t had anything to eat for more than 24 hours.

Is Your Dog a Puppy?

Puppies of small breeds, in particular, are more likely to have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and should be regularly monitored for signs of weakness or collapse if they are not being fed. They should need immediate care if this occurs.

Some pups might not enjoy larger kibble since it might be challenging for their developing teeth to chew it, particularly if they are only starting to eat solid food. This can be fixed by adding water and allowing it to soak to make it more like porridge, or the kibble can also be combined with canned food.

If your puppy still won’t eat, you should take them to the vet straight away. They should be examined right away if they are also sluggish, throwing up, or experiencing diarrhea.

Did You Just Adopt Your Dog Recently?

It may take a dog days or even weeks to get used to their new home. A new member of the family may refuse food for the first few days because anxiety is a common cause of temporary inappetence.

It is crucial to provide them with a calm dining area away from other animals or kids who might disturb them. Give them a day or two to adjust to their new home as long as they are otherwise healthy and energetic and aren’t experiencing vomiting or diarrhea before getting concerned that they aren’t eating.

To rule out any underlying medical concerns, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian if they are lethargic, vomiting or having diarrhea, or if they go more than 48 hours without eating anything.

Did Anything Change in Your Household?

Some dogs could be so sensitive that a change in their surroundings could make them unappetizing. Examples include moving the water and food bowls, adding a new pet or child to the family, having guests over, or even starting construction.

Even though noise phobias aren’t always exclusive to your home, things like thunderstorms and fireworks might also make your dog anxious enough to prevent him from eating.

Could Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

When their pet parent isn’t home, many dogs with separation anxiety won’t eat. Some dogs who suffer from separation anxiety even anticipate having their human companion in the room while they eat and stop when their person leaves.

Although this isn’t usually a symptom of a health issue, it could indicate that your dog has a serious anxiety issue that needs to be treated. The use of soothing pheromone collars or diffusers, such as Adaptil, as well as relaxing chews like Composure or Solliquin, may be therapeutic.

However, you should think about seeking assistance from a board-certified veterinary behaviorist if you are worried that your dog may have significant separation anxiety.

Did You Switch Dog Foods?

Your dog might not feel like eating if you switch their food too rapidly because it may upset their tummy. To prevent stomach distress, it’s crucial to switch foods gradually over a period of 7–10 days. This also enables your dog to gradually adjust to the new diet rather than switching all at once.

Is Your Dog Pregnant or in Heat?

Your dog might not eat much in the early stages of pregnancy. Because her stomach doesn’t have as much area to expand because the puppies are there, your dog may eat less throughout the middle or later stages of her pregnancy. However, she should make up for this by eating smaller portions more frequently.

No matter what stage of pregnancy your dog is in, if she hasn’t eaten in more than 24 hours, you should call your vet straight away to make sure everything is okay.

Additionally, a decreased appetite is common in dogs in heat. She should visit her veterinarian if she goes more than 48 hours without eating, though. She should be examined by her veterinarian right away if she exhibits any of the following symptoms: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased drinking and urination. These symptoms could be signs of pyometra, an infection of the uterus.

Is Your Dog Diabetic?

If your diabetic dog refuses to eat, it may be a sign that there is a major problem. If your dog isn’t eating when your dog is diagnosed, ask your veterinarian what they advise doing.

Dogs shouldn’t often be administered insulin if they aren’t eating because doing so can result in dangerously low hypoglycemia. If your dog misses one meal, follow your veterinarian’s advice and administer a half dose of insulin; however, if your dog misses another meal, call your veterinarian right away.

The symptoms of hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis, both of which are life-threatening if left untreated, include lethargy, nonresponsiveness, vomiting, and diarrhea in diabetic dogs. If your diabetic dog exhibits any of these symptoms, they should be examined by a veterinarian straight once.

Did Your Dog Just Have Surgery?

After surgery, it’s normal for your dog to miss one or two meals. Along with the potential side effects of going home with certain prescriptions like painkillers and/or antibiotics, sedatives and anesthetics frequently result in nausea and decreased appetite.

Try putting a scoop of canned food or boneless, skinless, boiling chicken on top of your dog’s kibble to entice them to eat. Better still, request a couple cans of a prescription gastrointestinal diet from your veterinarian to give your pet during the first several days following surgery. These foods have a great taste, are simple to digest, and can lessen some of the gastrointestinal discomfort that can follow surgery and anesthesia.

If your dog underwent oral or facial surgery, your vet may advise sticking to canned food for two weeks or more. Additionally, until their recheck appointment, your dog shouldn’t be given hard treats or allowed to chew on hard toys. Contact your veterinarian if your dog won’t eat the recommended canned food in case there are any post-operative issues.

What should a dog that won’t eat be fed?

Try the strategies listed below to entice your dog to eat if you and your veterinarian are convinced there is no medical issue causing them to be under the weather.

Try rotating through several alternative dog foods

To find out which food your dog like more, experiment with a few tastes, combine dry and wet food, or alternate between the two. Make sure to introduce any changes slowly to avoid upsetting their tummy.

Add a tasty topper or mix to their food

To see if it works, add a little human food to the mixture. Simple chicken, fish, or low-sodium beef/chicken broth, steamed or boiled butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin are all good choices. Just watch out for things like onion or garlic that are toxic to dogs.

Warm up the food

Even people like us usually prefer a nice, warm supper. Add a tablespoon or so of warm water, or gently reheat the dish in the microwave. Make sure it’s not too hot so your dog’s tongue doesn’t get burned.

Feed at consistent times

Serve the food in two or three separate meals at regular intervals throughout the day.

To assist establish mealtimes, don’t leave food out for your dog to graze on and take it back after 10 minutes if nothing is eaten.

Use your dog’s kibble as rewards, and just give them meals occasionally. The only option left to your dog is to eat their food and, hopefully, become acclimated to it.

What ought I to do if my dog won’t eat?

You can attempt a number of various approaches to get your dog to eat. The approach that works the best for your dog will vary. If the first approach doesn’t work, try different ones again until you find one that benefits both you and your dog.


The first thing to do if your dog won’t eat is to give them some time. Dogs are able to go several days without eating. Make certain they are drinking water only. A dog may occasionally refuse one meal; this is typical. Dogs, like us, don’t always have a hunger pang. You might want to leave your dog’s food out so they can graze on it as they need it throughout the day.

Give Your Dog a Treat

You might try giving your dog food they don’t usually get if they haven’t been feeling well. Your dog might actually eat something if it finds human food irresistible, such as chicken or even baby food. To start, try offering them a small bit of human food to see if they will eat. If not, try a little more.

To encourage them to consume their regular diet in addition to the treat, mix this with their current dry food. Just be careful not to overfeed your dog as this could be bad for their health.

Change Dry Food Brands

Another brand might be more suitable if you have trouble persuading your dog to consume dry food. To determine whether your dog prefers a different brand to the one you’ve been purchasing, try a trial box from the pet store. You might also try adding some wet food, which might increase your dog’s hunger more than the dry food.

Heat up Your Dog’s Food

Food for your dog tastes and smells better after being heated. Dogs who are unwell will have impaired taste and scent. Warming up food might make it smell more enticing and encourage your dog to consume it. Additionally, this will improve taste, which will motivate your dog to eat more after the initial mouthful.

Add Broth to Your Dog’s Food

Your dog’s meal will taste and smell better if you add heated broth (as will simply heating up their existing food). The addition of broth enhances flavor. If your dog isn’t used to eating broth and has grown bored with the flavor of their present meal, broth can be the solution to getting them to start eating again.

Hand-Feed Your Dog

Consider hand-feeding your dog’s food in small bits. This can encourage a sick dog to eat while also providing comfort. It could take some time for this procedure to be finished, but after you’ve hand-fed your dog a few pieces, ideally they’ll start eating from their dish.

Read the Instructions on Any Medication

Some drugs can make a dog less hungry. This can be the problem if your dog is taking antibiotics or any other kind of medication. Before giving your dog food, wait at least fifteen minutes and be sure to carefully read all directions. By holding off, you’ll make sure the medication has reached and coated your dog’s stomach completely before any food is served.

Let Your Dog Eat Grass

If your dog keeps attempting to eat grass even when it won’t eat its regular diet, you should allow it. Your dog may feel better after vomiting as a result of eating grass. Your dog may be eating grass out of instinct if whatever is making it sick will be relieved by vomiting. Just make sure to provide enough of water for your dog. However, if your dog throws up more than twice or consumes grass whenever they are outside, you should take them to the veterinarian.

Take Your Dog to the Vet

If your dog is ill and not eating, going to the doctor is always a smart idea. Your veterinarian can assist you in determining the cause of your dog’s illness and the best course of treatment. Additionally, your veterinarian can ensure that your dog receives any prescriptions it might require, whether to treat an ailment or promote appetite.