Tips ~n~ Tricks » Pet Care » Picky Eater Dogs: 7 Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Eating and What to Do About It

Picky Eater Dogs: 7 Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Eating and What to Do About It

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Your dog’s loss of appetite or refusal to eat may signal a medical condition or stress. The underlying medical condition can change depending on lifestyle changes, age, or stress.

Picky eater dogs refers to dogs that are selective or finicky when it comes to their food choices. These dogs may show reluctance or refuse to eat certain types of food due to factors like taste, smell, texture, or boredom. Owners may need to explore alternative food options or strategies to entice them to eat.

We have provided suggestions for the most prevalent anorexia issues (appetite loss). If you can identify the underlying cause of your dog’s attitude shift toward food, you can minimize the problem.

As a dog parent, you should evaluate the following seven reasons your dog isn’t eating and what to do about it. However, taking the dog to the vet should be your top priority if you see additional symptoms within eight to twelve hours, such as diarrhea, vomiting, low energy, and emotional issues.

Reason 1: A symptom of dental illness:

The most common reason dogs stop eating can be dental problems arising from poor oral hygiene.

Due to pathological jaw fracture and gum inflammation, certain bacteria can travel to various organs through the bloodstream, which in turn causes loss of appetite.

Ultimately, dogs suffer from toothache, infections in kidney or liver areas, and poor health condition makes them stop eating.

Another reason for dental issues in dogs can be aging. For example, if your dog is older and you keep feeding him foods that are difficult for them to chew, he will eventually lose interest in eating anything.

What to Do for Dog’s Dental Illness?

Dental diseases can be moderate to severe. Therefore, you need to follow these instructions in case of dental illness:

Talk to the vet:

Visit a pet specialist with your dog as soon as you find any dental issues. Vets can diagnose the underlying disease and recommend the best treatment regimen for your dog.

Change food habits:

Since dental problems tend to affect senior dogs more, you must get to the root before it worsens.

Did you know wet canned foods are best for senior dogs as their teeth and gums weaken as they age? While choosing your brand, opt for the best canned dog food for senior dogs that includes natural minerals, vitamins, proteins, and nutrients.

The top 5 best canned food options for senior dogs, along with their pros and cons:

Wellness Complete Health
– High-quality ingredients
– Some dogs may not like the taste
– Balanced nutrition with added vitamins
– Relatively expensive compared to other brands
Blue Buffalo Homestyle
– Real meat as the first ingredient
– Contains carrageenan, which may cause digestive issues
– Grain-free formula for sensitive dogs
– Inconsistency in product quality reported
Merrick Grain-Free
– Variety of flavors to suit different tastes
– Some dogs may experience digestive upset
– No artificial preservatives or flavors
– Relatively high price point
Nutro Ultra Grain-Free
– High protein content for muscle maintenance
– Some dogs may not find it palatable
– Contains antioxidants for overall health
– Reports of packaging defects
Hill’s Science Diet Senior
– Developed by veterinarians for specific needs
– Some dogs may require a transition period
– Helps maintain healthy weight and mobility
– Contains grains, which some dogs may be sensitive to

Remember, individual dogs may have unique preferences and dietary requirements. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best canned food choice for your senior dog.

Remember that starving your dog to make them eat again is never recommended. Instead, change the foods or ask your vet for possible alternatives.

Use appetite-stimulating medications:

You will need approval from the vet before feeding such medications. Appetite-stimulating meds are prescribed to dogs who are suffering from any severe illness in the dosage form of a feeding tube or liquid.

Reason 2: Possibility of Other Diseases

Other than dental issues, your dog might suffer from the following diseases. These diseases also show symptoms of loss of appetite. They are:

  1. Diarrhea,
  2. Vomiting,
  3. Pancreatitis,
  4. Cancer,
  5. Fever,
  6. Lung disease,
  7. Inflammatory bowel disease,
  8. Congestive heart failure, and many others.

senior dog wont eat dog food 2

What to Do for Dog’s Physical Illness?

Like dental issues, you must take your dog to the vet to diagnose any severe illness. If the reason is organ damage or less functionality, your vet will recommend the required medical attention.

To mitigate gut-related problems, you may add probiotics with regular dog food.

The top 5 best probiotics for dogs, along with their pros and cons:

Purina Fortiflora
– Highly recommended by veterinarians
– Contains animal by-products and artificial flavors
– Clinically proven to support digestive health
– May not be suitable for dogs with specific dietary restrictions
Zesty Paws Probiotic
– Contains a blend of probiotics and prebiotics
– Some dogs may not like the taste
– Supports immune system and digestive function
– Relatively higher price compared to other brands
Nutramax Proviable
– Multi-strain formula for maximum effectiveness
– Some dogs may experience temporary gastrointestinal upset
– Suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs or on antibiotics
– Packaging issues reported
– Provides live, active cultures for optimal gut health
– Requires refrigeration for maximum potency
– Helps improve digestion and nutrient absorption
– Not suitable for dogs with dairy allergies
VetriScience Probiotic
– Supports overall gastrointestinal health
– May not be as palatable for some dogs
– Easy to administer chewable tablets
– Reports of inconsistent product quality

Please note that the effectiveness and suitability of probiotics may vary for individual dogs. It’s recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best probiotic choice for your dog’s specific needs.

dog eating grass due to upset stomach

Reason 3: Adverse Effects of Vaccination

Vaccination helps to develop immunity in your furry friend’s body and saves them from many contagious diseases.

Unfortunately, right after vaccination, your dog may feel less interest in food which is usually temporary for most dogs.

Recent vaccination, like, rabies vaccine or CPV-2 or original canine parvovirus, can show multiple clinical adverse effects, including anorexia and depression.

What to Do After Vaccinating Your Dog?

There is no reason to feel worried about this temporary change of appetite. Following the vaccination day, closely monitor your pet and give lots of love. After a day or two, your little pup will eventually go back to its original food habit.

You must call your vet when your anorexia lasts longer than two days. In mild cases without any other serious symptoms, your vet will recommend feeding your puppy beef baby foods with a strong smell, and your pet will feel the urge to eat again.

senior dog wont eat dog food

Reason 4: Emotional Stress or Separation Anxiety

Do you always feel the same about eating food when you are sad or stressed about hardships in your life? Of course, not. Your dog can as well feel emotions and go through mood swings, anxiety, and stress.

And among other reasons behind stress, separation anxiety can cause serious effects in dogs. If you leave your dog alone for several days (which is definitely not a good practice), your dog will stop eating, waiting for you, and thinking about you.

What to Do for Separation Anxiety?

Although different breeds of dogs respond to separation anxiety differently, you must never leave a dog alone.

Try to contact a pet care center, post a help post on social media or ask another dog parent to take care of your pup when you are going out of town for a few days.

Doing this will help your dog to get distracted from socializing with other dogs and meeting new people.

Your trusty companion always wants your attention more than anything in this world. Therefore, to help them with separation anxiety, you should try to spend more time with them.

You can play games before mealtime and try to reward them with new food items or new treats like, pumpkin treats for pets.

New games, rewards, and treat will encourage them to eat more. And the process will be faster when the treat is tasty.

sad dog wont eat dog food

Reason 5: Unfamiliar Surroundings Related to Stress

There are other stress-related issues that can trigger anorexia in any pet. Since dogs are sensitive to smell and can recognize familiar people and environments, a subtle change in time, place, and a new person is enough to make your dog anxious.

Other reasons you should look out for are the followings:

1 Traveling (motion sickness),

2 Loud noise (construction, fireworks, or storm),

3 Intimidation (from a new place, unknown people, or another pet)

What to Do to Reduce Your Dog’s Stress?

You may seek help from professional dog trainers when it comes to anxiety-related issues. They are knowledgeable about probable stress-related issues and what you can do to mitigate them and better communicate with your dog.

Gradually, after one or two days, your dog will start eating again when they get used to the new changes. Medical treatment or behavioral modification might require for a few dogs, especially little pups, but it is rare.

Reason 6: Pickiness Regarding Food

Standard Poodle, Yorkshire terrier, Greyhound, or French bulldog owners often claim that their dog is a picky eater. Whereas dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers may eat anything that smells and tastes good.

At the same time, experts say that any dog breed can become a finicky eater with age. However, the perception of dogs becoming bored with certain types of food is rather irrational.

Again, if you feel like the food is actually the problem behind your dog avoiding the food bowl, you need to check the following factors just to be sure:

  1. The expiration date of the food,
  2. Change in smell, color, or texture,
  3. Dampness, spoiled or stale food.

To find the right type of food that would be both tasty and nutritious, look into websites like We Love Doodles, where you can find good suggestions for dog food and tips to tackle senior picky eaters.

dog sniffing kibble and refusing to eat it

What to Do for Picky Eater Dogs?

A healthy dog will eat whenever it feels hungry; it can be the same food it eats every day. So, you don’t need to change the food when your pet dog is not eating. Instead, check for the facts mentioned above and buy another pack if expired:

Keep the dog food in an airtight container after opening the packaging. A closed container will protect the food from moisture and keep the nutrition intact.

You can create homemade food items instead of dog food or food toppers. Make sure your homemade dog food is full of nutritional value. But dogs can’t eat everything, so make sure you know what dogs can’t eat. Don’t forget to do your research!

Warm up canned food and put a lid over it or cover it with plastic wrap when storing it in a refrigerator. However, it is better not to feed foods older than three days.

Reason 7: Preference for Eating Time

Dogs can form habits quickly. So, your dog may feel confused if you change the meal time or you forget to put food in their usual feeding bowl.

Again, your dog may like eating at noon rather than a heavy dinner at night. As a result, it will not even touch the food if you give it at night after starving it all day long.

What to Do About Dog’s Eating Time?

Here’s what you can do:

Fill the feeding bowl:

Always have some food in the bowl so your dog can eat whenever it is hungry.

Ring the bell:

If you want to form the habit of feeding every day simultaneously, you can ring a bell so that your dog gets the signal that it’s feeding time.

picky eater dogs 7 reasons your dog wont eat


It is important to monitor whether your dog is eating regularly or not. However, you do not need to worry if your dog isn’t eating as much as the packaging mentions. Even a healthy dog can refuse to eat for a day or two or only half of what is mentioned in the packaging.

What you need to monitor is whether it is showing any additional illness or not. Hopefully, now you have received some insight into why your dog isn’t eating and what to do about it.

Regular tours to the vets can avoid such incidents. So, don’t forget to take your dog to meet its vet at least once a year for any vaccination or overall health checkup.

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