What Should I Do When My Dog Won’t Eat?

cute dog refuses eatingDuring the course of owning a dog, you’ll have to deal with a number of things. This can range anywhere from behavioral and training issues, to overall health issues that require a trip to the vet. When your dog stops eating, it might cause you to worry, especially as a loss of appetite is often a precursor to a more serious issue.

However, before you work yourself up into a frenzy, here are a few things you might want to try first.

A Change of Flavor

Could you imagine eating the same meal, 3 times a day, everyday of your life? Sounds pretty terrible. While dogs tend to be a bit less particular when it comes to food, sometimes eating the same food can cause your dog to become bored. A change of flavor might be in order when this happens. However, if you’re going to change your dog’s food, it’s important to do so gradually, even if you’re staying within the same brand. A radical change in diet can upset your dog’s digestive system which can lead to them getting sick.

Start slowly by mixing a little of the new food in with the old and gradually increase the measure until they’re only eating the new food. Other tricks you can try is mixing a little wet food in with dry kibble or adding a few tablespoons of warm water or chicken broth to help bring out the aroma.

Watch for Behavioral Issues

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with your dog but a bit of stinkin’ thinkin’. There are a number of bad behaviors that can cause your pup not to eat. Sometimes they get a taste for treats, which are often richer and tastier than standard dry food and kibble. This can occur with puppy parents who are guilty of over treating. Other behavioral issues come from giving your dog too much attention when they don’t eat. While a little love is a good thing, especially if your dog isn’t feeling well, it can easily be misconstrued as praise for not eating which only further reinforces the bad behavior.

A Trip to the Vet

While we shudder to think that there is something wrong with our pets, a lack of appetite is usually a signal that something is wrong. If you’re dog is not eating, then it might be time to take a trip to the vet. There you can get your dog checked for any serious conditions that might be causing them not to eat. Often times if there is a serious health issue such as dental issues, cancer, kidney or liver problems, or gastrointestinal issues such as bloat, your dog will not only lose appetite, but will also need some attention to address the other issues. In the worst case scenario, something is wrong and you catch it early.

Just like humans, there are a number of reasons as to why your dog won’t eat, however there are just as many simple cures and tricks. So long as you approach the issue with a little patience and a lot of love, your pup will be both happy and healthy for years to come.


+Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.