Why Your Dog Isn't Eating Their Food

Vet Reviewed

By Hungry Bark | September 15, 2020

If you’re used to your dog being a hearty eater, it might surprise you if they suddenly stop eating their food. Any change of behavior in your dog is a good reason to feel concerned. Since they can’t communicate with us through speech, everything they do is a subtle clue as to how they may be feeling.

When your dog stops eating, no matter what the reason, this is referred to as anorexia. But do not let this term worry you; it is only a medical way of saying an animal is refusing food. Dogs can go a few days without eating, but any longer than that can indicate a serious problem and could also have a negative effect on their health.

There are many reasons your dog may have stopped eating, and while not all of them are emergencies, it is important that you are able to identify the cause of your dog’s sudden change in appetite, so you can get them back on track and feeling good.

Reasons Your Dog May Not Be
Eating Their Food

As with people, a change in how your dog is feeling can affect their appetite, and we all have off days. If they are just feeling under the weather, they may perk up the next day. Other problems may require a veterinarian to help you treat them. Pay attention to all of your dog’s behaviors, so you can paint a clear picture for your veterinarian of what may be affecting your dog’s appetite.

  • Illness- If your dog goes several days without eating and also seems to be suffering from behavioral changes such as lethargy, your dog may be suffering from some kind of sickness. This does not necessarily mean it is a serious illness, but it should be taken seriously since it could possibly be a symptom of an underlying problem.
  • Dental Disease- Dental disease is painful, and if your dog is refusing to eat, it could be a sign that their mouth is in pain. Have you also noticed that your dog’s breath is worse than usual? This can also be a sign of a buildup of bacteria in their mouth, hinting at dental disease. Your veterinarian will be able to identify any broken teeth, mouth ulcers, or other dental concerns
  • Vaccines- Has your dog recently had their shots? They may be feeling a little bit under the weather. The side effects of vaccines are typically negligible compared to the diseases they prevent, but they do trigger an immune response which could make your dog feel a little bit “off”.
  • Pain- Does your dog seem to be moving more stiffly? Are they having trouble managing stairs? Are they older? Your dog could be experiencing age-related pain due to arthritis or wear and tear. In a younger dog, they may have an injury, so take note of if they are favoring one limb over the other or seem to be moving differently. If their lack of appetite is from pain, your veterinarian will diagnose the cause and help you determine a course of treatment.


Change in Routine- Have you moved recently? Are you on vacation? Or is a family member away for work or school? Some dogs get upset by the slightest change in their normal day to day routine. Their appetite could be affected until they acclimate themselves to the change.

Is your dog a picky eater?

If your dog has suddenly stopped eating after always being a big eater, chances are, they have not suddenly turned into a picky eater. Some dogs may appear to be picky but in reality, are grazers, who eat small amounts of food at a time.

Some dogs are difficult to please. They may have taste or texture preferences and be stubborn about trying new food. Taking your picky eater for a walk can get their appetite going. You may also want to refrain from giving them treats. They may not be eating their food in anticipation of getting a snack.

If you have a picky eater, as long as their body condition is staying within healthy parameters, there is no need for concern. Protein toppings for dog food is a good way to help get a picky eater to start eating.

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How To Make Your Dog Eat Their Food

Once you have evaluated why your dog is not eating, you need to figure out a way to coax them to eat. For a dog that is in pain from broken teeth or arthritis, treating the pain can get them feeling better and ready to chow down. If your dog is recovering from an illness, it can take some time for their appetite to come back.

1. Feed your Dog High Quality Kibble

Nutrition is always important, but if you have a dog recovering from illness or losing their appetite due to old age, you need to make sure they are getting the best out of their food in order to help fuel their bodies properly. Offering your dog a high-quality kibble helps them get in the vitamins and vital nutrients they need. Hungry Bark dog kibble recipes are made of fresh ingredients that improve the flavor, making it more desirable for a dog with a low appetite.

2. Stimulate the Appetite with a Protein Topping

Dogs respond well to strong smells, and adding a topper enhances the smell and adds flavor. Hungry Bark Protein Mix-ins add an extra kick of protein and boost the flavor of your dog's food, enticing them to eat more. Hungry Bark Protein Mix-ins are made with whole meat that is freeze-dried for freshness and flavor. You can give these to your dog knowing that you are giving them a high-quality protein supplement as well as adding an extra kick to their food. Hungry Bark products are made from whole food ingredients in an actual kitchen, so you know you are getting a top-quality product.

3. Ease the Stomach with Probiotics

To help ease your dog’s digestive system, using a probiotic supplement chew from Hungry Bark is a good way to help those with sensitive stomachs.

Talk to your Vet & Ensure a Balanced Diet

It can be stressful seeing that there is something wrong with your dog but not being certain how to deal with it. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian, and they will help you get to the root of whatever is causing your dog not to eat. If your dog is struggling, making sure they are getting a balanced diet is an easy way to help keep them strong and in the best condition possible.



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