What To Do When your Dog Refuses To Eat

There’re several potential reasons why your pooch is not taking his/her meals. These could range from behavioural issues to more serious health problems that could lead to complications if not treated. It’s, therefore, important that you keep an eye on your dog to find out the exact reason why they won’t munch their food.

First: Rule Out Illness

Once you have noticed that the food you put out for your furry companion mostly goes untouched, the first, and most important, thing you’ll need to do is rule out illness. The sooner you discover your dog is sick, the sooner you can get them the medical attention they require.

Observe your dog to see if their normal behaviour has changed. Find out if they are just refusing to eat some types of food or they totally won’t eat any kind of food. Check their urine and stool as these could provide some clues to the problem. Lethargy, diarrhoea or vomiting can be huge red flags, so be on the lookout for these symptoms.

You should also check your dog’s mouth to see if they have a loose, broken or bad tooth, or inflamed gums as pain in their mouth could cause them to skip meals. Examine your pooch’s body to see if they have lumps, injuries, parasites or changes to their skin and fur.

If you notice any signs of illness, do not hesitate to consult your vet. Otherwise, if there are no illness symptoms and your dog is still drinking water and eating certain foods, then there’s no need to panic – your dog will be okay if they skip a meal or two while you figure out what’s up.

Ways To Get Your Dog To Eat

If after checking for symptoms you determine your dog is not sick, try the following things to get them to eat:

  1. Make sure meal times are comfortable. Your dog could be refusing to eat because they are anxious or uncomfortable during mealtimes. If your dog is reserved or anxious, they might be uncomfortable eating in front of other animals or people. Likewise, sociable and active dogs might not like to be fed in quiet, isolated places. Try feeding your mutt in different locations to see if it will help improve their appetite. Being hot could also be the reason your dog is not eating. Provide a cool spot away from sunlight for your dog to feed to see if it makes a difference. Also make sure the feeding bowl is the appropriate size for your dog for comfortable feeding.
  2. Work out that appetite. Walking your dog before mealtime will help calm down your energetic dog so that they can focus on eating or help your lethargic dog build up some energy so that they can eat.Getting some exercise could also simply make your pooch hungrier and eager to eat.
  3. Check for food issues. If your mutt is not eating food that they would usually gobble up, it could be that the food has gone bad. Smell the food and check the packaging to make sure it’s not expired. Changing food brands/type could also cause your dog to refuse to eat. If that’s the case, try switching over to the new food by blending it with the old food in reducing ratios for about two weeks until you’re only feeding your dog the new food. Blending your dog’s food with about 10% table food could also help spice things up and get your dog interested in their food.
  4. Reduce treats and eliminate table scraps. Your pooch might not be eating their food because they’d prefer table food or treats to their usual bland food. Stop allowing your dog to have table scraps and go easy on treats; only giving them out as immediate rewards for good behaviour or when you’re training your dog.
  5. Create a feeding routine. Dogs behave best when they are made to follow routines. Create a feeding routine by putting out your dog’s food at specific times of the day. The food should be taken away after about 30 minutes whether your dog eats it or not, and don’t offer treats or any other food. After a couple of days, your dog will learn to eat what is provided at the scheduled meal time. It’s tough love, but it could be exactly what your dog needs.

Getting a dog that has refused to eat to consume their meals could take some time and a bit of tough love. So, do not give up too quick and be ready to be firm with your stance when the situation calls for it.

I have a passion for dog training, behaviour and wellbeing. I have a certificate in dog psychology, behaviour and training.

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