Diet problems

My Dog doesn't Want to Eat Dog Food

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
My Dog doesn't Want to Eat Dog Food

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Many people have to face the issue of their dog refusing to eat its food; in some cases, the food remains in its bowl for days. This is actually quite common and can happen with any dog.

If you're worried about this situation and want to deal with this problem for good so that everything returns to normal, keep reading this AnimalWised article. It's very important for you to know the causes and the solution of why your dog doesn't want to eat dog food.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Cat Always Want Me to Watch Her Eat?

Why doesn't my dog want to eat dog food?

Before you identify the specific cause that is affecting your dog, you should know that dogs are almost carnivorous animals, and they should only eat vegetables occasionally. Feeding a dog on diets based on carbohydrates or fiber or including too many veggies is a mistake, because it forces its digestive system to work more than necessary.

Furthermore, you should also know that it's better for a dog to eat rationed portions, just like we eat two or three meals spread throughout the day, with fixed schedules. Its diet should be somewhat varied, occasionally combining dog food with wet and homemade food.

Possible reasons why your dog doesn't eat dog food include:

  • Before trying to work out if this situation results from another sort of problem, you should make sure that your dog is completely healthy. In other words, you should go to the vet and ensure that your dog refusing dog food doesn't boil down to a health problem.
  • If you don't give it a balanced diet, the dog will get apathetic from always eating exactly the same thing. Additionally, it may require other types of nutrients, vitamins or proteins. It might be the case that the dog simply doesn't like the food, or that it is a poor quality.
  • Giving your dog human food is a serious mistake. Besides being harmful to digest, it can lead to health problems and even reinforce its unwillingness to eat dog food.
  • Your dog knows that if it doesn't eat it will get more appetizing food instead. If when your dog refuses to eat dry dog food you immediately give it wet food or human food, it's normal for it to turn down balanced food.
My Dog doesn't Want to Eat Dog Food - Why doesn't my dog want to eat dog food?

How to make your dog eat

Your dog's health depends on the diet you give it. It needs more than just a good diet; you need to think about nutrition as well. As previously mentioned, many owners overlook the fact that dogs are pretty much carnivorous animals. This is why it is a mistake to give it an excess of carbohydrates, fiber, fruits and vegetables - and of course forbidden foods like candy or chocolate.

There are different types of diets, such as the BARF diet (Bones and Raw Food), leftovers from your daily food or even homemade meals. The most recommended is a basic dog diet that combines:

  • Quality dog food
  • Wet food
  • Homemade food
  • Rewards and treats

All these foods should have a high content of animal and vegetable protein. They should be free from additives and colorants, low in carbohydrates and with a low presence of cereals.

In order for your dog to eat normally once again, you should stop giving it human or inappropriate food and give it a suitable diet. It's very important that you follow this step, because if you keep giving it extra or better tasting food it will never want to eat the dry dog food - which is necessary - that it has on its plate.

Everyone gets worried at seeing a full bowl of food. Still, you should retrain your dog to eat certain foods much like you would a small child. You can't allow it to eat only what it wants, because this won't be doing any favors to the dog or its digestive system.

Put the amount of food that your dog should eat - it will be listed on the product packaging - into its bowl. Don't worry, if your dog is hungry it will end up eating what you put on its plate.

These are the basic steps to reintroduce dry dog food:

  1. Completely remove treats and human food from its diet.
  2. Get hold of a sack of good quality dry dog food and some cans of wet food.
  3. Empty a can of wet food (pâté style) into its bowl. Add a small amount of dry food on top, and then mix both together.
  4. You'll need to use a different type of pâté every day in order to enrich and vary its diet. When doing so, you should always add the dry dog food.
  5. Gradually increase the amount of dry food.
  6. Never take the food out of the bowl. If it is hungry, it will eventually eat it.
  7. You should always give it plenty of water.

This should be a gradual process so that the dog goes back to eating dry dog food. Remember it's very important for it to do so, since balanced food contains nutrients such as omega 3, omega 6 and high quality protein and minerals, which you can't find in other diets. Don't lose faith, and be persistent.

We hope that we've been able to help you! However, if your dog still doesn't eat even after following all these steps, take it to the vet for a check up, and explain the problem and the steps that you have taken to try and solve it.

My Dog doesn't Want to Eat Dog Food - How to make your dog eat

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog doesn't Want to Eat Dog Food, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.

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I've noticed with my dog that when she eats dogfood, any dogfood she has digest probs w/bad gas. I boil her up some chicken rice, small amount veggies,,,no probs. Then I think to myself, 'would I eat that carp called dogfood. Answer, only if I had no other choice. Dogfood is not good for anyone including dogs. No wonder they won't eat it, would you??? So why would you expect them to? Because it's cheap,!! Because it's convenient. Because it's what you've been taught but have you ever tested it yourself. To ahead and eat some. A small handful and assess how you feel in about an hour. Find out for yourself instead of trying to force it to eat something potentially harmful to your dog. If you can't eat a little yourself then you shouldn't expect a dog to. If they refuse to eat their food then they are trying to tell you there's something wrong with it. Don't just believe a company bc all companies cut corners and use fillers to increase profits no matter what they say. Listen to what your animal is telling you and test it out for yourself. It doesn't take much to boil up something beneficial for them. I mean you do it for yourself 2 or 3 times a day.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Maurice,

Dog food is the same as human food in a fundamental way: the quality varies. Unlike human food, the regulation is not as strict. This means we do find too many dog food companies cutting costs and providing an inferior product. Conversely, there many companies which make brilliant products with the right nutrition. The best thing to do is check reviews online before you buy a product and then gauge the reaction of your dog. Alternatively, making your own dog food at home can be the best course of action, as long as the right ingredients and cooking methods are used.
With my dog it's not as straight forward as that ๐Ÿ˜”I've been trying for 4 years to get my dog to eat normal dog food. I've spent so much money buying the best and trying a variety. But just won't eat it... even wet dog food - not at all. Only 3 particular dog treats (which I've found out with trial and error!!) and human food. I've tried not feeding him anything else with the hope he becomes desperately hungry and eats his dry dog food but he's very stubborn & will go without. Occasionally, if another dog comes to stay or if we stay at another house with other dogs, the competition makes him eat it. Great! Then I go and buy the dry food he's eaten, happy it might work - but no. Sniffs it & walks away. I know human food is bad for him. I don't know what to do. My vet loves me because I'm always donating food he's not wanted. She said he's healthy. But he's 4years old. I love him, I don't want his heart or liver to become unhealthy, I'm quite desperate. He's a chihuahua - known for being fussy. He likes steamed rice and chicken or chicken sausage and small wholemeal bread pieces. No salt (but the sausage will have some salt). I'm getting increasingly worried. All strategies fail. Please help ๐Ÿ™ Advice will be greatly appreciated.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jo,

We never want to starve the dog or have them in any way harmed by not eating, but how long do you leave the dry food out with them not eating it? It is very unlikely a dog will go without completely. Some dogs can be very stubborn (particularly Chihuahua related breeds), but it is very uncommon they won't eat anything at all if they are hungry enough.
An update...
Thanks for your response. I've managed to agree a compromise with my beloved doggie! ๐Ÿ’› It seems to be working very well. I make him a breakfast of sausage, cheese and bread / or rice and chicken with a salt free gravy, both served slightly warm. He loves it and gets excited because he knows it's time for breakfast, a routine. I leave a small amount (enough for one day) of a variety of 3 different complete dog biscuits in his bowl. If he's hungry he eats them - I then give him a treat. If he's doesn't, they stay until the following day. It's working really well. I know he's sustained because he's eaten breakfast. And I know he's getting the good nutrients from the dog biscuits. And now he finishes then within 2 days maximum. Normally he eats them in the evening. I think leaving a small amount in the bowl doesn't overwhelm him, the variety makes it interesting, and he's not under pressure. Your article really helped! I'm very grateful.
janice adolph
my dog will not eat dog food so i boil chicken and that is what she eats i need to know what else i can give her to make sure she is getting a balance diet. she is a hard head and went 5 days without eating and i got scared o i started giving her chicken again, i hope you can put my mind at ease thank you
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Janice,

Have you tired any of the tips in the article?
john carris
very informative,good advice,my dog seems to be active and fit, but is very v,ery choosy on what he eats,prefers so called treats his poo is sometimes yellow and I am worried,I will give your advice a go,many thanks.
Administrador AnimalWised
You're very welcome!
Regina Govender
My 4 and half year old pekingese boy simply refuses to eat pellets.
He will only eat the puppy pellets if there is liver mixed in. He won't eat chicken, beef or meat. I'm desperate. What should I do?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Regina,

Have you tried following the steps in the article? If so, what does your dog like to eat? Is it just liver or something else?
Regina Govender
Hi Regina, Have you tried following the steps in the article? If so, what does your dog like to eat? Is it just liver or something else? He will eat a little rice mixed with liver and puppy chunks. For snacks, he loves giblets, lamb kidneys, chicken hearts & necks.
Martha Hodges
What's the best dog food and shampoo for a 11 year old border collie?
Hans Fleischmann
Thanks, great advice.
Chuck Taylor
Step #6: "Never take the food out of the bowl." That's a strong statement for a bowl of "wet" and "dry" dog food. How many days is this allowed to be out there?? I do believe that the "wet" dog food will go bad in less than 24hrs. I have left some food out, hamburger patties with cheese cubes, and in an 18hr plus time frame he never touched it. I finally picked it up and tossed it. My Daokotah, a GSD/Husky, will eat "dry dog food" as a treat while we are out walking -but- will NOT eat it out of his bowl. I gave away 2 bags of dry food, Crave and Nutro, and 12 cans of Blue Buffalo because he wouldn't eat them. I will try your suggestion only IF you can tell me how long I can safely leave the food plate out.
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My Dog doesn't Want to Eat Dog Food