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Help! My Dog Won't Eat Dry Food


My dog won’t eat dry food- why dalmatian not eating

When your dog stops eating their dry food or refuses to try kibble, it can be concerning, even frustrating. While some dogs are picky pups, others may have a health issue. Before you give up on feeding your dog kibble, it’s important to get to the bottom of why your dog doesn’t want their dry food. Once you have a better idea of why your dog doesn’t want to crunch on dry kibble, we have some tips that will encourage your dog to dig in and eat up.

Understanding why your dog won’t eat dry food can reveal a lot about your dog’s dietary preference. It can also help you determine if your dog needs to visit the vet due to a health condition. 

Determining Why Your Dog Won’t Eat Dry Food

When your dog turns up their nose at their dinner, it’s important to determine why. Getting to the bottom of the “why” your dog is avoiding their dinner is the first step to encouraging them to chow down.

Could Your Dog’s Pickiness Be a Sign of a Health Condition?

dog won't eat dry food from bowl but will from hand

To rule out a health reason for your dog’s refusal to eat, it’s important to take note of your dog’s behaviour. If your dog stopped eating dry food abruptly, there may be cause for concern. 

Here are some of the most common medical reasons that a dog stops eating dry food:

1. Dental Issues

If your dog begins to eat but stops, they may be experiencing dental pain or discomfort. Their interest in food suggests they have an appetite, but their pausing points to pain as they try to chew their dry food. If your dog won’t eat dry food but eats wet food, this could be the reason.

2. Stress or Anxiety

Some dogs feel nervous or fearful while eating. This can be due to a past experience with other dogs, hesitancy due to a new environment, a storm, or general anxiety. To help determine if this is the reason your dog isn’t eating, try isolating your dog in a room. They may eat when left alone. If your dog is refusing to eat during storms, they likely have storm anxiety.

3. Nausea

Like us, dogs sometimes get upset stomachs. This could be caused by many different things, including eating something they shouldn’t have, anxiety, intestinal parasites, or a more serious internal issue. If your dog simply has a temporary tummy ache, they will likely begin eating the next day. Another sign that your dog’s lack of appetite is stress-related is they are drinking plenty of water. Dogs that don’t regain their appetite need to visit the vet.

4. Arthritis

If your dog won’t eat dry food but eats treats, there’s a good chance your dog is simply a picky eater. However, some dogs don’t want to eat from their dog bowls due to neck pain related to arthritis. These dogs will eat kibble off the floor or take treats from their owners’ hands. 

Non-Medical Reason Your Dog Won’t Eat their Dry Food

5. A Small or Smelly Bowl

If your dog won't eat dry food from a bowl, this could be a sign that your dog’s bowl has a foul odour due to bacteria [1]. Dogs will also avoid eating from bowls that are too small [2].

6. Your Dog Is Just Plain Picky

If it makes you feel better, you can say that your dog’s food is unappetizing or you can say your dog is a fussy eater. Many dogs develop food fatigue and want more variety. Other dogs are cunning enough to know that if they refuse their dinner, their owner will add treats and other goodies to make it tastier.

When a dog has a complete lack of appetite, it’s always a good idea to schedule a check-up with your vet. Some causes for a lack of appetite can be quite serious, such as cancer, diabetes, or kidney issues [3]. Your vet can diagnose your doggo and help them regain their love of dry food. 

How to Encourage Your Dog to Eat Their Dry Food

Frenchie Dog won't eat dry food from bowl

If your vet has given your dog a clean bill of health, there are some ways you can inspire your dog to lick their bowl clean. Even the pickiest pup cannot resist some of these techniques.

1. Check Your Food’s Expiration Date

Dry dog food does go bad. When it does it can smell off and be unappetizing. If your dog’s kibble is still in its packaging, check for an expiration date. If you transferred it to another container, give it a sniff. If it smells slightly sour, it may be bad. Expired dog food will also feel tacky. 

If this is the case, it’s time to buy new food. Buying your dog’s food in smaller batches can reduce the likelihood it will go bad.

2. Make Your Dog’s Food More Appetizing

There’s a chance your dog simply does not like the brand of food you’re offering them. Switching to a higher quality food could solve your dog’s picky palate for good.

Use a food topper to make your dog’s dry food irresistible. Some dogs simply get bored with their food. Adding a topper to the food can liven it up. Some simple and healthy toppers include:

      • Sugar-free yogurt
      • Fruits and veggies
      • Bone broth
      • Raw dog food
      • Canned, unsweetened pumpkin
Try switching food flavours or using smaller packages.  This helps cycle through flavours more often.

    3. Switch Up your dog’s feeding routine

    Feed your dog fewer times per day and pick up their food if they don’t want to eat. Being hungry is always a great motivation to eat.

    4. Introduce a puzzle feeder

    The fun of a puzzle feeder or snuffle mat can turn dinner into playtime. Turning dinner into a challenge encourages some dogs to dig in.

      5. Increase Hydration

      Add water to your dog’s kibble, place their water bowl near their food dish, and encourage better hydration. Sometimes dogs need greater hydration to feel encouraged to eat their dry food.

      6. Switch to a smaller kibble size

      Small breeds and puppies can struggle to munch down larger pieces of kibble. This can make dinnertime no fun. Ensure to choose the dry food formulated for puppies in such cases. Smaller sized kibble helps your dog regain their joy of eating, again.

      7. Top your dog’s dinner with a probiotic

      If your dog has digestive issues, re-balancing their gut bacteria can reduce intestinal inflammation and intestinal discomfort. Often all-natural, non-sugar added yogurt will do the trick.

      8. Buy a new dog bowl

      If you believe your dog’s joint pain is the reason they prefer to be hand-fed, invest in a raised bowl. Putting your dog’s bowl on a stool can also do the trick. 

      If your dog uses a plastic bowl, switch to a stainless steel bowl and wash it often. Stainless steel is non-porous, so it’s less likely to retain bacteria and odour.

      Try a larger dog bowl. Your dog may struggle with whisker fatigue or just struggle to pull the kibble out of their current bowl.

      Turn Your Picky Pup into a Healthy Eater

      When your dog avoids their kibble, it can be cause for concern and confusing for dog parents. If your dog refuses to eat for more than a day, schedule an appointment to see your vet. Then entice your dog to dig in with tricks like food toppers, adding water, or a new dog bowl. Switching to a healthier diet and eliminating allergy related dry foods helps, too.

      Whether your dog is a picky eater or needs a healthier diet, switching to premium dog food can help. Petzyo offers small-batch, freshly made, wholesome dog food that can restore your dog’s appetite. With regular dog food deliveries, you can switch your dog’s food flavour to prevent dry food burnout.