My dog won’t eat. That doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s a very annoying problem. Because the more you force and push your dog that he MUST eat, the worse he will eat. Some dogs eat if you feed them out of your hand, but of course, you don’t want that either, that you have to serve your dog kibble by kibble every day for an hour.
My dog eats badly
Bad food can be bad for your dog. He can lose too much weight and because of too few nutrients, get physical problems. Dogs that eat poorly are also often tenser and more stressed. Bad food is often accompanied by nervousness or depressive behavior.
Neither is something you would like to see in your dog! Reason enough to find out why your dog is eating badly and what you can do about it.back to menu ↑
Is it the food?
Maybe your dog just doesn’t like the food he gets from you. That is sometimes really the only reason why a dog has been eating badly for years.
So try different types and different brands. If your dog eats every time it’s something new, but stops eating after a week, you could really switch between varieties that he likes every day. This of course after a medical cause has been ruled out!back to menu ↑
Always bad food
Does your dog always eat badly, or are there periods when he does eat well? If your dog always eats poorly, is there a difference between types of food? Does he eat everything equally badly, or are there also things that he does eat with taste? This can have to do with the choice of food, but also with the amount of action and exercise your dog gets.
Some working dog breeds stop eating when they are “unemployed.” Certain breeds often have more trouble eating anyway. I know a lot of poodles who are just extremely fussy and eat just enough to function. Huskies often eat poorly unless they actually work as sled dogs.back to menu ↑
Sometimes good and sometimes not good food
If your dog sometimes eats and sometimes doesn’t, try keeping a food diary. Sometimes dogs eat less well when they are ‘suffered’ by their hormones. For example, bitches can stop eating during their heat (or become extremely greedy). Males who smell bitches in heat nearby can easily say ‘no’ to their daily portion of food for a week or two.back to menu ↑
Checking the teeth
The first step is always a complete physical check and it is best to start with the teeth. Especially if your dog likes to eat soft things, but not something harder.
Just superficially looking at his teeth at home is not enough. You can’t see a break in his jaw or in the roots, but can be very painful if your dog gets a hard lump between those molars. So have the dental check done by a specialist!back to menu ↑
Nausea after eating can be a cause of poor eating. Digestive problems are sometimes difficult to detect. An extensive investigation is therefore not an unnecessary luxury.
Manure tests, blood tests, and clinical examinations can be supplemented with an endoscopy or ultrasound. This is not checked during a normal vet visit. So make an appointment for an extensive examination if your dog is eating really badly.back to menu ↑
Is your dog a bad eater?
Sometimes you think that your dog is eating badly because your dog does not eat everything right away and maybe your dog only eats half of what is indicated on the food bag for its weight.
But… take a good look at your dog. Is he in good weight? Prima means that your dog is nice and slim and slender. And is he also just lively, happy and active? Then he eats enough.
What is a good weight then? Read our blog ‘My dog is too fat’. Maybe your dog is not too thin at all, but just at his healthy weight!back to menu ↑
Is your dog eating enough?
What is stated on the package is usually about one and a half times what you should be feeding. If your dog is also less active, a little older, neutered or just ‘thrifty’… then it may be that 1/3 of the indicated amount is already more than enough for your dog.back to menu ↑
Why is your dog eating badly?
Is there a physical cause for bad food? Or maybe it’s mental? There are dogs that eat worse and worse due to anxiety disorders.
Sometimes a dog temporarily eats poorly due to, for example, being in heat, but you are very concerned. Every meal becomes a hot topic. The boss in the stress, the dog in the stress. And, stress makes your dog less interested in food. Eating less means extra stress…back to menu ↑
How can you make your dog eat better?
First of all, you have to be sure that there is no physical cause. No diabetes, no thyroid problems, no pancreatic problems, nothing wrong with his digestion or teeth.
If you are sure of that, take a critical look at how you are feeding your dog now. Do you actually feed a whole bowl of food very often? Or do you even always have food ready so that your dog can eat whenever he wants? Not a good plan… it’s better to give 2 meals a day! (With puppies, of course, feed 3x a day until about 5 months.)back to menu ↑
First of all, find the food that your dog likes best. Of course, you have to keep it healthy, so fries do not count. Maybe your dog likes frozen meat better than kibble? Or are steam meals his favorite?
Start with the food that is the biggest contender. And yes, there will be a lot of people who think that you are spoiling your dog, because he just has to eat that certain kibble because their dog has been eating that every day for 8 years, and nothing else.
Well, there are also people who eat boiled potatoes every day… I also want something different myself.back to menu ↑
Prepare a mini-meal in your dog’s bowl in the morning. This may just be a tenth of what he normally gets and therefore the food where he has the greatest chance of eating.
You put the bowl down in front of your dog and you wait 10 minutes. If he hasn’t eaten, take the bowl away. You put that bin down again in the evening. You wait another 10 minutes. Is it finished? Then you will do with your dog what your dog really likes the most. Playing with the ball, frolicking, massaging, brushing… Oh yes, of course, you don’t give your dog snacks during this period!back to menu ↑
Do not give up
The next morning you prepare another mini-meal. You wait another 10 minutes. On? Yay… then you’re going to do your dog’s favorite activity again. Not on? Then remove the food and put it down again in the evening. And no snacks. Not really.
In the evening, your dog will eat his bowl again, then go back to doing his favorite activity with him. In a few days, you will see that your dog is eating better. He may not eat anything in the morning, but in the evening he will gobble down the entire meal within 3 seconds.
Then you can see what happens if you make that meal a little bigger. Some dogs just don’t like morning food.back to menu ↑
What’s happening here?
What’s happening here is that the value of the favorite activity you’re going to do with your dog after he eats is converted into food. Eating becomes a predictor of a ball game (or massage quarter, or whatever your dog thinks is the most fantastic pastime).
You have to be consistent with this, so if your dog prefers to play with the ball outside, you do that also when it rains.
– 2 very small meals a day
– no snacks
– do fun things after dinner
– choose tasty food
– when your dog starts to eat better, make 1 meal slightly larger
– build up slowly.