Why Is Your Dog Not Eating? (5 Potential Reasons)

Is your pup finding it hard to stomach their food?

A dog not eating is never normal. Here are 5 explanations.


It’s dinner time, but instead of happily gobbling his food, your dog is staring blankly at you, as though expecting something else.

What do you do now?

When a dog won’t eat, it’s referred to as anorexia. While this is NOT the same thing as the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, it can be just as alarming for pet owners. After all, your dog has to eat.

In this article, we’ll go over a few reasons why your dog might be shunning their food as well as give you a few solutions for whetting their appetite.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

dog lying in bed as if sick

1. They’re Sick.

When your pup isn’t feeling well, their appetite is usually the first thing to suffer.

Dogs are susceptible to viruses and other illnesses just like humans, especially if they come into contact with other dogs at the vet, kennel, park, or play date.

If your pup’s lack of appetite is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or other concerning symptoms, make an appointment with their veterinarian to make sure there’s nothing serious going on.

A new medication may also be to blame. Check the packaging or prescription bottle to see if stomach upset or nausea are known side effects. In some cases, the loss of appetite and gastric problems go away after they’ve grown used to the medication. If the side effects are severe, however, you should tell the vet.

In the meantime, some plain white rice and boiled chicken can do the trick for an upset tummy.

husky's mouth with tooth highlighted red to indicate dental pain

2. Their Teeth Hurt.

Dry kibble and dental bones won’t cut it when it comes to your dog’s dental care. Yet only an estimated 2% of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth on a regular basis.

If your dog won’t eat hard dog food (or just swallows it whole), it could indicate a dental issue.

Take a look at their mouth. Do you see any missing or broken teeth? Plaque build-up? Red, swollen gums? S/he could benefit from a proper dental cleaning.

Once the plaque and tartar are cleaned away and any problem teeth removed, they may need a few days to recover, but should be back to normal after that.

sad looking pug

3. They Miss You.

Much like wolves, dogs are pack animals, which means they like to eat with their family unit.

A dog not eating when you are away at work or on vacation is usually normal. It’s likely they’ll eventually eat when they get hungry enough.

You should also ask yourself whether your dog is experiencing any other emotional losses that could be contributing to their anorexia. Grief from losing an owner or a beloved animal friend can make them lose their appetite.

jack russell looking in fridge

4. They Eat Too Many Snacks.

If you stuff your dog full of treats and tidbits throughout the day, it should come as no surprise when they don’t eat their meals. (We know Woof Gang has some great cookies, but they’re no replacement for meals!)

The majority of your dog’s food intake should come from their meals. Even a healthy snack like raw green beans doesn’t give your dog the right balance of nutrients they need to thrive.

bulldog turning his nose up at pile of treats

5. They Don’t Like Their Food.

You expect toddlers to be picky eaters, but dogs? Shouldn’t they gobble down anything you give them?

The reality is that there are many reasons why dogs refuse to eat what you’re serving them.

Did you recently switch to a new kibble? Your dog might not like the new recipe. Conversely, have you been buying the same dog food recipe for years? They might be bored with the flavor.

Feeding your pup table scraps can also cause them to skip their own meals, simply because the flavor and texture don’t hold a candle to human food.

If you’ve been feeding your dog dry kibble, take a look at the expiration date as well as how you store it. It may have gone stale or rotten. (Frozen dog food rarely has this problem.)

Another reason they may stop eating? An allergic reaction! If your dog has noticed that their food makes them feel bad, they’ll avoid eating it (but happily eat anything else). Like any medical condition, food allergies in dogs should be checked out thoroughly by their veterinarian.


What To Do If Your Dog Won’t Eat

Once you’ve ruled out any allergies or medical conditions, there are a few things you can try when your dog is refusing to eat.

Sometimes, making their food more fragrant can whet your dog’s appetite. Try heating up wet food, mixing dry and wet food together, or adding some warm water to their food bowl. Many dogs enjoy having some low-sodium broth or tuna water as well.

If you think your dog is just being dramatic (hey, it can happen!), you might have success with the “placebo” method. Pretend that you’re taking your dog’s food out of the refrigerator or cooking it on the stove. This trick has convinced many dogs into happily gobbling up their dinner!

Our top tip? We recommend switching to 100% wholesome, natural dog food made from USDA-inspected ingredients. Many people are shocked to learn what’s actually in their dog’s kibble and are no longer surprised that their dog isn’t eating. The best dog food should have a pleasant smell and contain recognizable ingredients (no “meal” or “by-products”).

In most cases, a one- or two-day hunger strike is nothing to be concerned about. You should call your vet, however, if they are exhibiting any other symptoms and/or losing weight.

A trusted vet can help steer you towards the solutions that are right for both you and your dog.


Your Dog’s Favorite Food!

Is your dog not eating because of dental issues, extra snacks, or plain ol’ pickiness? Give Rick’s Dog Deli a try!

We believe that when your dog is given a healthy meal that s/he loves, the appetite will follow. That’s why our meal formulations are lovingly made from wholesome, nutritious, 100% USDA-inspected ingredients in our Orlando kitchen.

You’ll see it for yourself, right when you open your package: Rick’s Dog Deli isn’t your average dog food!

Find us in select Woofgang Bakery shops, in our College Park location, or let us deliver to your front door!

You’ll soon agree that Rick’s Dog Deli makes your dog’s favorite food!