Is Your Dog Not Eating? Possible Causes And Solutions

Is your dog not eating? In the following, you will learn why your dog is refusing to eat and what you can do to help your dog eat and stay healthy once again.

Imagine this; you’ve kept a bowl of your dog’s favorite dog food before heading out for work. When you get back home, you see that your dog hasn’t touched it. Naturally, the first question to strike your mind is, ‘why is my dog not eating?’ And the next thought will be, ‘is my baby okay?’ Now, we understand the anxiety of pet parents when their dog is not eating or drinking.

Usually, it’s a relief to pet parents when they realize that the dog hasn’t eaten his dog food because he doesn’t like it much or prefers something else. But when your dog is not eating treats, it becomes a cause of concern.

However, this article will answer most of your questions about your pet dog not eating dog food or your picky dog not eating dog food that he usually enjoys, and other related questions!

Why Won’t My Dog Eat?

Your dog probably has some reasons for not eating his regular amount of food. These could be –

1) Sickness –

Your dog is most likely to shun his food when he feels sick. Much like us, fever because of a viral infection or any other reason often makes dogs lose their appetite.

Most of the time, it’s not a cause for concern. However, you must ensure that your dog stays hydrated and eats the medicines your veterinary practitioner prescribes.

When your dog’s fever is accompanied by other issues such as loose motions and vomiting, you should be on your way to the vet’s clinic.

2) Mental stress –

As absurd as this may sound to some, dogs are highly emotional creatures, which is why many a time, dogs have a tough time dealing with changes.

Events like switching homes or having their owner go away for school or work for long periods are bound to affect a dog. At such times, they will lose their appetite for a while.

3) Food preferences –

Just like humans, dogs have preferences, too, regarding the kind of food they want to eat and when they wish to do so. Your dog is unlikely to eat boiled broccoli when it has fed on raw meat all its life.

Moreover, your dog may be a picky one. He might want his food at set times in the day or at a specific temperature that he’s comfortable with eating. A straightforward way to tackle this is to experiment with a feeding schedule that works for you and him daily.

To regulate the temperature of his dog food, add some warm or moderately cool water to his food.

Will Your Dog Drink Water if He’s Not Eating his Food?

There are different scenarios or reasons why your dog will drink water but not eat his dog food. Most typically, this happens because the dog is fussy about his food and prefers water to some food that he doesn’t like.

However, if your dog is not a picky eater in general, the chances are that his behavior is trying to tell you something about his health. Often, dogs drink water instead of eating food when they have some digestive issues like constipation or acidity.

giving water to dog

Dogs also drink only water when they’re in new surroundings (for example, a new house) due to nervousness or even old age. As senior dogs, they prefer to drink their food rather than take the effort to chew.

One of the most common reasons for old dogs not eating dog food is that they lack the energy and the will to chew through their food. If your dog faces this issue, it is best to consult your vet regarding a liquid diet that’s easier for your dog to eat and digest.

Is Your Dog Eating Treat But Not Food?

Usually, picky dogs not eating their food but eating their treats occurs due to them not liking the food being served.

While you can train such dogs to eat most of what is given to them daily as puppies, as they get older, it is considerably more challenging to teach them to eat regular food unless they prefer it.

Dog eating ice cream

Dogs also tend to prefer treats to their regular food when they usually eat tasty junk food. Doing this satiates their hunger and alters their desire to eat typical and nutritious meals.

Your dog could also be eating treats when they have an underlying sickness and don’t want to or can’t eat full-fledged meals.

Why is My Dog Not Eating Dog Food?

When the issue is about dogs not eating dog food, it may not always be as simple as being picky eaters. If you have recently switched your dog’s kibble brand, there’s a great chance that your dog will take some time to accept the new brand of kibble.

However, if your dog is not eating his regular kibble, it might hint at some health issues that he has developed. Usually, these health issues are digestive ones or dental ones.

dog food

The best course of action for you to take in such situations is to consult your vet and have your dog inspected for the underlying cause of the loss of appetite.

Although, if your dog refuses to eat his kibble due to age-related lethargy or lack of energy, a quick fix is to make it easier for him to eat the kibble by soaking it in warm water.

Softer kibble makes it easier for him to chew without using energy and still source the necessary nutrition from the kibble as a part of his diet.

Did You Adopt Your Dog Recently?

If you have adopted your dog and it’s only been a little time since he’s been with you, he may still be adjusting to his new surroundings.

Therefore, it is understandable for him not to have a high appetite in the beginning. As your dog gets more comfortable with his new family, his food habits will become healthier and normal!

Is Your Dog a Puppy?

As a puppy, your dog’s appetite is still developing. While you may feel that it’s not eating enough food, the dog probably feels content with the amount of food it has eaten.

However, if you continue to think that your dog is under-eating, it is best advised that you get your dog checked by your consulting vet. Bear in mind that as your dog grows, it will experience rapid appetite changes, usually increasing in nature.


Having said that, if the issue is about your dog not eating but drinking water, you may have to choose a different kibble and make it easier for him to eat it.

Puppies should have only dog food made for puppies because they are specially made for their developing teeth. The small kibble size and the nutritional profile are better suited to their overall development and health.

If your dog still finds it difficult to eat, consider soaking the kibble in warm water before feeding it to your dog.

Is Your Dog a Senior?

A natural result of age is the loss and lack of a healthy appetite. As dogs grow older, they begin to lose their keen sense of taste and smell, reflecting in their enthusiasm for food that they probably loved as puppies.

Such a lack of appetite usually isn’t a severe cause for concern. However, it would help to regularly visit your vet to ensure that your pup is in the best shape possible.

Senior dog

As a senior dog, he will find it easier to eat soft foods or liquids. Therefore, switching from commercial dog foods to homemade options can be a healthy choice for your dog.

Moreover, it would be best to feed him nutrition-dense foods such as meat, vegetables, and oats. A well-balanced diet will ensure that no requirement of your dog’s nutrition will be left unaddressed.

Discussing special diets with your vet for very senior dogs is necessary since your dog shouldn’t go hungry or miss out on macro and micronutrients that are essential for his well-being.

Did Anything Change in Your Household?

Changes in your household, especially significant ones, can affect your dog’s desire to eat their meals properly. The underlying reason is usually stress.

Different dogs have different ways of showing their stress. A prevalent one is a change in their appetite or total disinterest in eating altogether. The fact is that dogs are intuitive creatures.

Dog not eating

They can pick up on their family or owner’s stress or distress, and many a time, it affects them too. Therefore, if your household has experienced any significant changes, your dog’s loss of appetite could result from it.

Could Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

Yes, dogs can have separation anxiety. This disorder often results in the loss of appetite. Separation anxiety results from a lack of proper socialization, previous trauma, and the fear of being left alone for long periods.

They usually develop in dogs when they are about 3 to 4 years old but are commonly observed in older dogs.

A widespread symptom of separation anxiety is disinterest in food. However, that by itself may not be an indication of the disorder.

Other symptoms are whining or barking when anybody leaves the house for any time; aggression displayed toward your furniture or other items at home when left alone, excessive panting and salivation, hyperexcitation when greeting their family or a loved one, and so on.

To understand or diagnose your dog’s separation anxiety, you should discuss his observable symptoms with your vet.

Did You Switch Dog Foods?

If you’ve switched kibble brands, your dog not eating dog food is probably a result of that. In transitioning from one brand or type of kibble to another, it is important to introduce it to your canine’s diet gradually.

Doing this can help ensure that your dog’s body and tastebuds gradually accept the new type of food rather than facing digestive issues or a lack of appetite and nutrition.

Is Your Dog Pregnant or in Heat?

Your dog not eating her food could also result from her pregnancy or the biannual hormonal changes that accompany being in heat. Very simply put, at such times, the dog’s focus is to satisfy her most basal instinct of procreating and therefore wishes to focus on only that.

The lack of appetite in a dog in heat or while she’s pregnant is very typical. Regardless, you should consult your vet to understand how you can ensure your dog eats those veggies and her dog food!

While your dog is in heat, you can make it easier for her to deal with the raging hormones by feeding her favorite food!

Is Your Dog Diabetic?

Typically, diabetic dogs don’t lose their desire to eat unless they have an accompanying disease or diabetes has been poorly managed. The poor management of diabetes can lead to complications such as lethargy, fatigue, and so on.

Whether or not diabetes has progressed to an advanced stage or there is another underlying issue, you must ensure that your dog continues to secure the right amount of dietary requirements.

WIthout eating a well-balanced diet, it becomes increasingly difficult to reduce or negate the effects of diabetes.

A few symptoms of diabetes that you must watch out for in your dog are:

  • Weight loss.
  • Shallow energy levels and constant lethargy.
  • Constant drinking of water.
  • Depression.
  • A sharp increase or decrease in appetite.

Did Your Dog Just Have Surgery?

Post-surgery, most dogs are pretty exhausted by default because their bodies are still recovering. Therefore, it is normal for such dogs not to express an interest in eating their daily food.

However, receiving the proper nutrition after surgery is necessary for a quick and healthy recovery. While you should understand your dog’s appetite changes after surgery, you should also feed him foods that he would prefer eating and are dense in nutrition.

How to make your dog eat when they are refusing food?

The first step is to understand the reason for them refusing or shunning their food. If it is merely because your dog is a picky eater, try switching the food up for something your dog prefers while gradually introducing new items to his diet.

However, if the reason is any underlying sickness or health condition, then you should address that issue at its root. Moreover, simply because your dog won’t eat, especially when it is sick, don’t force it to eat, but don’t starve it either.

When your dog is sick, your priority should be to help him recover. In such situations, your vet would either prescribe alternative foods that you can add to his diet or simply tell you to feed your dog the nutrition he likes.

There is no way you can force your dog to eat if they don’t want to. All that will result in is a further distaste for that food and feeding behavior in the future.

If you like to feed your dog with edamame then check on this article Can dogs eat edamame?

How To Treatment a Dog Who’s Not Eating or Drinking?

If your dog is avoiding food and water altogether, you must seek a veterinary practitioner’s opinion. Usually, dogs avoid food and water altogether when they are in some discomfort and have some underlying health issues.

Rather than letting your dog starve or forcing It to eat its meals, consulting your vet and getting started on a proper treatment or a special diet will help nurse your dog back to its former, excellent health.


How Long is it Possible for a Dog to Survive Without Food?

Dogs can go for up to a week without eating food. However, this can be dangerous for their health. Not only will the dog experience weakness due to starvation, but it could also lead to unnecessary health complications.

What Amount Should I Feed My Sick Dog Per Day?

Ideally, you should ensure that your sick dog eats more or less the same amount of food it usually requires. If your dog has lost its appetite, consider feeding it food that is easier to eat and digest. However, if your dog has been on a liquid diet for a while, you must introduce solid food to his diet, little by little. Avoid forcing your dog to eat his food if he does not want to.

Why is my dog drinking water but not eating?

In cases of a dog drinking a lot of water and not eating, the reason is usually either the fact that he is a fussy eater or he’s in the beginning stages of some systemic illness such as constipation, bloating, viral fever and so on. You must consult your vet and get him started on a treatment plan to prevent your dog’s health from becoming poor.

My dog isn’t eating but acting normal. What should I do?

There are two possible reasons why your dog’s not eating food but acting normal – he does not like the food that is being served to him, or he is ill but is hiding the symptoms. To check whether it’s the former reason, simply serve him food that he enjoys. If your dog still doesn’t eat, it might be time to book an appointment with your vet.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!