What to Feed a Dog That Won’t Eat

Skylar Dial
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Mix in Something Delicious

Some dogs just love their food but others make food a chore. Before you give up on your furry friend, try mixing something delicious into the dog’s meal. You can even try stuffing treat balls with her favorite dog food and treats and freeze it for 2 hours. Then vacuum seal the treats into a treat ball for a whole week. Take it out once every day so she can enjoy it as a treat.

If your dog doesn’t want anything to do with food containing her normal chow, play with something that’s edible and that smells like food, like marshmallows or peanut butter. This will take her mind off of her regular food while she’s eating something different and fun.

And of course, you can always let her go outside and hunt for her food. Just be sure to provide her with multiple sources of food so she doesn’t always have to go after the same prey. Dogs think they’re getting away with something naughty when they’re enjoying a hunt, which can make them more adventurous in trying different food.

Add Human Food

Sometimes a veterinarian must prescribe a special diet to address certain issues your dog may have. A diet restricted in certain ingredients such as preservatives, grains, or added sugar may be recommended. However, every dog is different and your dog could have an allergy to a certain ingredient that is found in common household foods. In these cases, you may need to discus the best diet options for your dog with your vet.

Another reason you may need to feed your dog a diet that’s not made for dogs is the fact that your dog may not be eating a proper diet. Although dogs are naturally omnivores, many dogs avoid meat products in favor of human food. Dogs are often known to steal the bacon you set aside for your breakfast, the pizza crust you want to eat for lunch, and your half eaten bag of chips for dinner. Your dog may also be satisfied with scavenging for trash or leftovers around the house and garden. And while you may think that a few crumbs here and there are okay, the calories your dog consumes from human food means that she is not getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs from a dog-appropriate diet.

Add Cat Food

If your dog is not eating properly, it can be a sign of various health issues. Lack of appetite, and other symptoms, are common with the dog’s that are not feeling well.

One of the mistakes many owners make when they notice that their dog is not eating much is to panic. Many people will just put their dog in the car and take it to see the vet. This is a mistake as it is not eating is. In most cases, a dog eating significantly less than normal is a sign of illness; but dogs can easily starve themselves to death if they aren’t being monitored.

If you are worried about your dog’s eating, a good action to take is to feed it something that it usually loves but only while you watch. You can hide some food in a pocket or another secure place until you put them in with your dog.

If your dog can’t stand the sight of you, some people have used rubber gloves. You can hide the food in your hand and then pull the gloves off. When you feed your dog put the gloves on and remove them when they are done and get them to chase you.

Add Canned or Fresh Dog Food

One of the most common reasons dogs refuse to eat is change – the food they’re accustomed to, the time of eating, the dish they eat from, or where they are fed. You may have to try a few things to keep your pup eating healthy.

If your dog is refusing to eat during mealtime, the first thing you should do is to make the time of the meal consistent. Most dogs won’t want to eat if they can’t tell when the time is mealtime and when it is not. You can use a treat to lure your pup to the eating area at the right time of the day.

If your dog refuses to eat at a certain place, you should try feeding him in another area, such as on an elevated surface. This often makes it easier for a dog to consume his food. If you feed your dog on the floor, try putting food and water bowls on different surfaces.

Also, dogs are more likely to consume food if they choose where to eat. So make your pup happy – set up food and water bowls in areas where your dog enjoys spending time.

Change How You Present the Food

The first step you should take is to try changing the way you feed him. This can be tricky if your dog is used to his kibble being fed from a particular type of bowl or dish, so try to minimize the change by using a dish with a lid and feeding him when he’ll be least likely to mess with his food.

You should also try switching from a dry kibble to moist food. Again, if you just switch suddenly, your dog may not know how to react to the texture of moist food. For this reason, some people will mix some water with some of the moist food so it isn’t as drastic of a change. This is a good idea, too, if you have a dog who’s picky about his food.

Change the Temperature

A dog can learn to associate certain foods with negativity. The most common example of this is a dog that loses his appetite after he’s vomited. Dogs can also associate food with an unpleasant experience. For instance, if his meal is offered in a location where he had an unpleasant experience (e.g.. Such as being corrected after barking), the dog might refuse to eat.

To avoid unpleasant associations and ensure your canine friend eats his meals, it’s a good idea to remove his food bowl as soon as he’s eaten his food. Also, you should serve the food at room temperature and always remove any remaining food from his bowl once the meal is done.

If your dog refuses to eat even after you’ve addressed the temperature issue, there could be a dietary cause for his reluctance to eat. You might need to try a few different foods or change his diet entirely.

Change the Container

When the time comes to change your dog’s food, you’re best off reducing their current food’s quantity gradually, before introducing a new food.

To make feeding time more fun and exciting, you can move their food bowl to a more visible location in your home, like a kitchen island, living room table, or entryway.

Also, try transferring their food into an enticing, new, food-grade plastic or metal dog bowl as opposed to a ceramic bowl, which could have an unfinished finish that can lead to digestive or allergic reactions.

You can also try warming your dog’s food slightly to remove any kinks or cool spots from the dish.

Try adding a gross-tasting, but safe, substance like a powdered lemon drink mix or a spoonful of canned pumpkin.

Try switching from a dry food to a well-tolerated, high-quality, canned food.

Pick Up the Food Between Meals

My dog won’t eat. I don’t know what’s wrong with him. Usually he chomps away at his food, but lately, he’s taken to eating for a while and then walking away. Or he’ll eat a few bites and then lay down, or he’ll pick up his bowl and sniff it and leave it wherever he decides.

He’s a mixed breed, but he’s predominantly Irish Wolfhound. He gets plenty of exercise. I’ve built up his activity level by walking him more and feeding him his daily ration in a 2 or 3 meals instead of 1 large one. He’s definitely putting on weight, but I’m concerned that he’s not getting enough to eat.