Why Won’t My Dog Eat? Tips to Encourage Your Pet’s Appetite


As a professional veterinarian, I often get asked by pet owners, “Why won’t my dog eat?” This is a common concern among pet owners and can be a sign of a serious underlying health problem. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to understand the reasons behind your dog’s loss of appetite and take steps to address it. In this article, we’ll discuss the common reasons why dogs may not eat and provide tips to encourage your pet’s appetite.

Common Reasons Why Dogs Won’t Eat

There are many reasons why your dog may not be interested in food. Some common reasons include:

  • Illness or injury: If your dog is not feeling well, they may not have an appetite. Illnesses such as gastrointestinal issues or dental problems can cause discomfort and make it difficult for your dog to eat.
  • Change in diet: If you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet, they may be hesitant to try new food. It’s important to transition to new food slowly to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach.
  • Stress or anxiety: Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety that can affect their appetite. Changes in their environment or routine can cause stress and make it difficult for your dog to eat.
  • Aging: As dogs age, they may experience a decrease in appetite. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including a decrease in activity level or changes in their metabolism.

Tips to Encourage Your Dog’s Appetite

If your dog is not eating, it’s important to take action to address the underlying issue. Here are some tips to encourage your dog’s appetite:

  1. Consult with your veterinarian: If your dog has not been eating for more than 24 hours, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

  2. Offer tempting food: If your dog is hesitant to eat their regular food, try offering something different. Lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, and low-fat cheese are good options. You can also try adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth to their food to make it more appealing.

  3. Stick to a routine: Dogs thrive on routine, so it’s important to establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. Offer meals at the same time each day, and make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.

  4. Limit treats: While treats can be a great way to reward your dog, too many can lead to a decrease in appetite. Limit treats to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

  5. Make mealtime enjoyable: If your dog is hesitant to eat, try making mealtime more enjoyable. Offer meals in a quiet, comfortable place and spend time with your dog while they eat.


There are many reasons why a dog may not eat, but it’s important to take action to address the underlying issue. By consulting with your veterinarian and following these tips, you can help encourage your dog’s appetite and ensure their health and well-being. Remember, a healthy pet is a happy pet!

Why Won't My Dog Eat? Tips to Encourage Your Pet's Appetite


Q: My dog won’t eat his food, what can I do to encourage him to eat?
A: First, make sure there are no underlying health issues causing the loss of appetite. If your dog has a clean bill of health, try to make mealtime more enticing by adding warm water to his kibble or mixing in some wet food. You can also try changing the brand or flavor of his food. Offering small, frequent meals throughout the day instead of one or two large meals may also help.

Q: My dog is a picky eater, what can I do to make mealtime more enjoyable for him?
A: Try to make mealtime a positive experience for your dog. Use his food as a training tool by offering small bits of kibble as rewards. You can also try feeding him from interactive puzzle toys or scattering his food on the ground for him to “hunt” and find. Making mealtime fun and engaging may encourage him to eat more.

Q: My senior dog has lost his appetite, should I be concerned?
A: Yes, loss of appetite in senior dogs can indicate underlying health issues and should be addressed by a veterinarian. Your vet may recommend a special diet or prescribe appetite-stimulating medications. Offering smaller, more frequent meals may also help stimulate your dog’s appetite.

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