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Why is my dog not eating his food?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023


It's a common problem for many households, to see their dog not be interested in their food. Leaving this concern unattended could potentially lead to health-related issues, and it could also be a possible sign of a few behavioural challenges that aren't healthy for your dog's overall mindset and well-being. In this blog post, we'll be taking a look at what those reasons may be, and what you can do about it! Let's start with the more obvious item to consider which would be the taste of your dog's food. Since dogs taste their food by smelling it, if their food doesn't happen to come with a strong enough scent, it would make it less appetizing for your dog. If you're worried that your dog isn't interested in his or her food due to its flavour, you will want to first take this up with your dog's veterinary (if unsure, please get a second opinion from different vets) so that they may provide you with different options you can consider and try. Oftentimes the answer lies in simply providing your dog with a bit more variety, whether it's about alternating between different flavours of dog food and/or mixing them together. So long as no health risks are involved, this is where you will want to start!

If you've tried this and seen no improvement in your dog's desire to eat, the next thing you will want to consider is if your dog has other options or other access to food (more likely human food) that isn't meant for him but that he prefers over his. Dogs are smart animals and if waiting and holding off means they will get something they prefer over their food, they will. And so you want to make sure that the only option for your dog is their own food, for consistency reasons as well as safety and putting their own health first, with their regular food that's recommended for them. If you've got the best dog food ready, and you're making sure that your dog has no other ways of getting to more tasty/human food, then there's one more very important element you want to consider, and it applies to all animals. When and How is your dog getting his food?

By nature, animals have to do amazing things to get access to the food they want and need. Elephants travel long distances to find water, leopards hunt each meal they get, and stray dogs scavenge and search for every scrap available. This means that the natural instinct that your dog has to do something to obtain their next meal is just as important as the meal itself. And so you'll want to reevaluate how your dog gets to have their food in the first place. Is it by waiting for table scraps to drop? Or is it via a bowl that doesn't provide them with much of an activity to get to their food? These details are very important for your dog, especially young, energetic/smart dogs that love doing things with you before/while being rewarded with food. What you will want to try next is reconfiguring how your dog gets their food. Something easy you can do is try re-introducing it during walks (you might want to mix treats in to begin) and even toss pieces of their kibble as you walk to turn it more into a scavenging-like activity. This is also fantastic for burning mental energy while on walks.

Dog food puzzle, coloured green with red and white pieces

Another idea in combination with the walk is to use food puzzles and snuffle mats indoors. You may want to try those AFTER a walk or after a fun game of fetch, or tug & pull where your dog would've gotten rid of a bit of their physical energy, in order to then more easily focus on how to use their nose and brain to get to their meal. Bonus tip! If nothing works, you will want to try exercises like agility games indoors where you and your dog go out of your way to go through fun games together where your dog needs to overcome obstacles and engaging tricks together to increase their appetite in their food (you may need to mix in some treats here as well to start!)!

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