What to do if my dog doesn’t want to eat?

My dog won’t eat, now what?

Why is it that some dogs leave their food out? And why does it sometimes seem that your dog eats with “long teeth”? In this article you will learn how it is that dogs sometimes choose to skip their meals.

My dog won't eat, now what

My dog won’t eat, is he sick?

A survey of dog owners has shown that more than half of all dogs sometimes eat less or not at all. However, you do not need to worry too much about this. The dog’s body is so ingeniously constructed that it can easily go days or even weeks without solid food. Fortunately, a healthy dog will not let it get that far. Nevertheless, many dog owners worry as soon as their four-legged friend does not eat or eats with difficulty. “A dog has to eat, right?” or “He won’t be sick, right?” are the first thoughts that shoot through the owner’s head as soon as nutrition is left over.

What to do if your dog doesn’t eat?

  • Keep a close eye on him, watching for signs of illness or pain. If in doubt, visit the veterinarian.
  • Take away his food bowl as soon as he does not start eating or stops after a few bites. Do not give his food again until the next day.
  • Give his dog food in a different place and possibly in a different bowl.
  • Change the way he eats from a food bowl to, for example, a Kong feeding toy. This may help the dog regain interest in eating.
  • If there is stress? Then an anti-stress vaporizer and / or an anti-stress collar from Adaptil can help your dog to deal with it better.

What should you not do if your dog does not eat?

  • Do not give your dog any (excessive) attention once he does not eat or stops eating. Remove his food bowl temporarily and leave it at that.
  • Don’t immediately buy another kind of dog food. By doing so you will shift the problem and unintentionally make it bigger.
  • Do not force his food on him. This can increase the pressure on your dog with the result that your dog becomes uncertain or even anxious.
  • It is not wise to give your dog extra snacks in between when he does not eat his own food anymore. This does not solve the problem either.

What to do if my dog doesn't want to eat

The causes if your dog does not eat:

Your dog is sick

A dog that is not feeling well has little or no desire to eat. This is usually accompanied by other signs that may indicate illness. Other symptoms that may indicate this are: restlessness or lethargy, an elevated body temperature, abnormal behavior such as aggression, glassy eyes, wheezing/panting, vomiting.

Your dog is in pain

Your dog does not necessarily have to be sick to be in pain. Think for example of a broken tooth or splinters in the mouth by chewing on sticks. There may also be some other form of obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Pain is usually accompanied by the symptoms of illness described earlier. Pay particular attention to behavior with which your dog wants to make clear that something is wrong. Think of aggression when touching certain body parts.

Your dog is stressed

This can have several causes. Think of a change of environment for your dog after a move. The arrival of another (non) species or the arrival of a baby can also cause stress. But also dogs that have difficulty being alone at home, can when noticing the first signals (picking up keys, putting on coats etc.) that indicate that they are abandoned leave their food.

In heat with bitches

Females that are in heat (for the first time) can temporarily leave their food. But also male dogs whose neighbor is in heat, can suddenly be totally uninterested in their food.

Your dog is overfed

This can have several causes. Think for example of eating a cadaver during the walk or getting (several) dog treats from someone.

Decrease in nutritional requirements

Once dogs are mostly grown (usually during or after puberty), their need for the amount of food decreases considerably. This is one of the reasons why dogs gradually become fatter. This is often very gradual without you as an owner to notice.


In many dogs that are castrated, the resting body metabolism (also called basal metabolism) goes down a lot. This simply means that the dog needs relatively less food.


A non-physical reason for not eating is by forcing attention from the owner. This usually occurs as soon as the dog, for reasons mentioned earlier, leaves its food and the owner, out of concern, inadvertently gives the dog extra attention by paying close attention to the dog as soon as he (again) leaves his bowl untouched. If this is also accompanied by the purchase of other food as soon as the dog leaves his food, the dog may stop eating to give himself a sense of control over (the behaviour of) the owner. We then speak of manipulative behavior.

Many dogs sooner or later choose to leave their food. Do not panic immediately and calmly check if there is any illness. Remove his food without fuss and offer it again the next day.

Do you still have questions about your dog after reading this article? Then ask our dog expert your question online!

Autumn Jolley
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