My Dog Won't Eat

My Dog Won’t Eat – 10 Fixes for a Dog That Won’t Eat!

Your furry friend is usually enthusiastic about mealtime, but lately, they’re turning up their nose at the food bowl. As a pet owner, it’s natural to be concerned when your dog won’t eat. In this article, we’ll explore possible reasons why your dog is not eating and provide 10 fixes to help you get your dog to eat their meals again.

Talk To A Pet Vet

Before we dive into the reason your dog won’t eat, if you’d prefer to save time, money and get personalized solutions for your pet’s eating issues, why not have ask a dog vet directly? At the bottom-right section of this page, you’ll find a live chat option that connects you with experienced veterinarians available 24/7 to answer your questions and offer valuable advice. So if you’re looking for fast, affordable, and trustworthy help for your Dog that won’t eat, this is the perfect opportunity! You can ask the pet vets countless questions, and they’ll be more than happy to assist you. With that said, let’s move forward and explore the topic further!

Talk To A Vet Online

Reasons Why Your Dog Might Not Eat

Medical Reasons

A dog losing their appetite or stopping their normal eating habits usually indicates some underlying health problem. Your dog may also experience various other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or weight loss. Consult our live vet chat or consult your local vet immediately if your dog is showing any of these signs.

Behavioral Reasons

Stress, anxiety, or depression can affect your dog’s appetite. Any change in their environment or routine, like a new member of the family, a move, or travel, can also trigger a refusal to eat.

Issues with the Food

Food spoilage or contamination is a common reason for a dog to refuse food. Our sense of smell is no where near a dogs and your pup might smell something you can’t. Your dog might simply be bored of the food you give regularly. Try treats or people food, if the issue persists then you will need to speak with our online vet.

10 Fixes for a Dog That Won’t Eat

Below is some of the top things you as a dog owner can do to get your dog to eat their food.

1. Ask The Vet

If your dog’s loss of appetite persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s essential to seek veterinary advice. A professional can help diagnose and treat any underlying health issues.

2. Change the Dog Food

Your dog might lose interest in their current food, switch to a new dog food brand and see if your dog will eat or drink it. Choose a high-quality, nutritionally balanced dog food that offers variety and new flavors. Introduce different proteins and textures to cater to your dog’s preferences. Always transition gradually to the new food by mixing it with the old food over several days, to prevent digestive issues. Consult with an online vet for guidance on the best options based on your dog’s specific needs.

3. Add Toppers or Mix-ins

Enhancing your dog’s meal with toppers or mix-ins can make their food more appealing and encourage them to eat. Try adding small amounts of dog-safe, nutritious ingredients like cooked lean meats, vegetables, or low-sodium broth. You can also use commercially available food toppers designed specifically for dogs.

Make sure to introduce new toppers or mix-ins gradually and monitor your dog’s reaction to avoid upsetting their stomach. Talk to our online vet do get appropriate portions and ingredients to ensure a balanced diet for your dog.

Dog Feeding Schedule

4. Maintain a Feeding Schedule

Establishing a consistent feeding schedule can encourage healthy eating habits in your dog. Set specific meal times based on your dog’s age, size, and activity level, usually once or twice a day. Consistency helps your dog anticipate mealtime and may improve their appetite. Avoid leaving food out all day, as it can lead to overeating and weight gain. By providing a stable routine and removing uneaten food after 20-30 minutes, you can promote a better relationship between your dog and their meals.

5. Ensure a Comfortable Feeding Environment

A calm and comfortable feeding environment can help your dog focus on their meals. Choose a quiet, low-traffic area in your home, away from distractions and loud noises. If you have multiple pets, consider feeding them separately to prevent competition or food guarding, which may cause stress and reduce appetite. Ensure your dog’s food and water bowls are clean and appropriately sized for their needs. By creating a pleasant and stress-free eating space, you can encourage your dog to eat without anxiety or discomfort.

Dog Dental Health

6. Check for Dental Issues

Dental problems, such as toothaches, gum infections, or broken teeth, can cause pain and discomfort, making it difficult for your dog to eat. Regularly inspect your dog’s mouth for signs of dental issues, like red or swollen gums, bad breath, or visible tartar buildup.

If you notice any abnormalities or suspect a dental problem, consult the vet for an examination and appropriate treatment. Maintaining proper dental hygiene through regular brushing and providing dental chews can help prevent issues and promote healthy eating habits.

7. Exercise and Playtime

Physical activity and playtime can stimulate your dog’s appetite by burning calories and increasing their hunger. Engage your dog in regular exercise, like walks, runs, or games of fetch, tailored to their age, size, and fitness level. Playtime also provides mental stimulation, which helps alleviate boredom and stress that may contribute to a loss of appetite. By incorporating daily exercise and interactive play sessions, you can boost your dog’s overall health and well-being while encouraging a healthier appetite.

Hand feeding a dog, ask a vet

8. Hand Feeding

In some cases, hand feeding can help encourage a hesitant dog to eat. Offering food directly from your hand can provide comfort and reassurance, strengthening the bond between you and your pet. Start by offering small amounts of food and gradually increase the quantity as your dog becomes more comfortable. Be patient and gentle, allowing your dog to take their time. Keep in mind that hand feeding should be a temporary solution, and gradually transition back to regular feeding methods once your dog’s appetite improves.

9. Use Food Puzzles and Interactive Toys

Food puzzles and interactive toys can make mealtime more engaging and fun, encouraging your dog to eat. These toys stimulate your dog’s natural foraging instincts, turning eating into a rewarding challenge. Choose puzzles and toys that are suitable for your dog’s size and skill level.

Start with simple challenges and gradually increase the difficulty to keep your dog motivated. By introducing food puzzles and interactive toys, you can add variety and mental stimulation to your dog’s meals, making them more eager to eat.

Dog Reinforcement Behaviour

10. Positive Reinforcement and Training

Using positive reinforcement and training techniques can help establish good eating habits in your dog. Praise and reward your dog with affection or treats when they show interest in their food or finish a meal. This creates a positive association with eating and reinforces the desired behavior. Be consistent with your training and avoid punishing your dog for not eating, as this can cause stress and further decrease their appetite. By encouraging your dog with positive reinforcement, you can create a more enjoyable and successful mealtime experience.

When to Ask the Vet

If Your Dog Won’t Drink Water

Adequate hydration is crucial for your dog’s health, so it’s important to address the issue if your dog won’t drink water. Try these tips to encourage your pet to drink:

  • Clean and refill their water bowl regularly, ensuring it is always fresh and accessible.
  • Offer water from different sources, like a pet fountain, to spark their interest.
  • Add ice cubes or a small amount of low-sodium broth to make the water more enticing.
  • Monitor the temperature, as some dogs prefer lukewarm or cool water.
  • Consult our online veterinarian as it could indicate a medical problem.

If Your Dog Won’t Eat Food

If your dog refuses to eat food, it’s essential to determine the cause and find a solution. Consider these tips to address the issue:

  • Check for signs of illness or dental problems and consult your veterinarian if needed.
  • Switch to a different type, flavor, or brand of dog food.
  • Add toppers, mix-ins, or low-sodium broth to make the food more appealing.
  • Establish a consistent feeding schedule and comfortable eating environment.
  • Use positive reinforcement, food puzzles, and exercise to stimulate appetite.

If Your Dog is Old

Senior dogs may experience changes in appetite due to age-related factors. To address eating issues in older dogs, consider the following:

  • Schedule regular vet check-ups to detect and manage age-related health issues that may affect appetite.
  • Choose a dog food specifically formulated for seniors, providing optimal nutrition and easier digestion.
  • Opt for softer or wet food if dental problems or chewing difficulties are present.
  • Adjust portion sizes and feeding frequency to meet the changing nutritional needs of aging dogs.
  • Provide a comfortable and stress-free eating environment, considering factors like accessibility and noise levels.

If Your Dog is a Puppy

Puppies may experience eating challenges as they adjust to their new environment and diet. Keep these tips in mind to help your puppy eat well:

  • Choose a puppy-specific food that meets their unique nutritional requirements.
  • Establish a consistent feeding schedule with smaller, more frequent meals to accommodate their developing digestive system.
  • Gradually transition to a new food if needed, mixing it with the previous food to avoid digestive upset.
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage healthy eating habits from a young age.
  • Monitor your puppy’s growth and consult your veterinarian for personalized guidance on feeding and nutrition.

If Your Dog was Recently Adopted

A recently adopted dog may experience eating difficulties due to stress, anxiety, or an unfamiliar environment.

To help your new pet adjust, consider these tips: Provide a quiet, comfortable feeding area to minimize stress, maintain consistency by feeding the same food as the shelter or previous owner, gradually transitioning to a new diet if needed. Establish a feeding routine with set meal times to create a sense of stability, offer reassurance and patience, allowing your dog time to adjust to their new surroundings.

If Your Dog is Diabetic?

Diabetes can cause fluctuations in appetite. If you suspect your dog may have diabetes, talk to a vet for testing and treatment options.

Talk to a Vet Online

If you’re unable to visit a veterinarian in person, consider consulting with a vet online. Cats Dogs Empire offers a fantastic Live Vet Chat Service available 24×7, allowing you to discuss your concerns and receive professional advice from the comfort of your home. Just click the icon on the bottom right to get started, ask what you need and get answers in real time. Don’t waste time when your dogs health is


A dog that won’t eat can be a serious cause for concern, but with these 10 fixes and knowing when to consult a veterinarian, you can help encourage your furry friend to start enjoying mealtime again. Remember, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues and provide the best care for your pet.

Disclaimer: We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive affiliate compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a dog go without eating?

While dogs can survive without food for a few days, it's important to address any loss of appetite as soon as possible. Prolonged fasting can lead to malnutrition and other health issues.

Can I give my dog human food to encourage them to eat?

It's generally best to stick to dog-specific foods, as some human foods can be harmful to dogs. However, you can try adding small amounts of dog-safe, cooked vegetables or lean meats as mix-ins to make their food more appealing.

Should I leave food out all day for my dog?

It's better to establish a regular feeding schedule with set meal times. Leaving food out all day can lead to overeating and weight gain and doesn't encourage good eating habits.

How can I tell if my dog's food is causing their loss of appetite?

If you suspect food issues, try gradually switching to a different brand, flavor, or type of food and observe if your dog's appetite improves. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations based on your dog's dietary needs.

Can stress cause a dog not to eat?

Yes, stress can cause a loss of appetite in dogs. If your dog is experiencing a change in their environment or routine, it's essential to provide them with extra comfort and support to help reduce stress and encourage eating.


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