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Why Won't My Dog Eat Their Food?

Why Won't My Dog Eat Their Food?

Is it tastebud boredom or is there something more behind your dog not eating?

Dogs are known for their ability to eat anything and everything, vacuuming up any scraps they find under the kitchen table. But some aren’t as interested in food, barely moving a muscle at the sound of kibble hitting their bowl. So how can you figure out why your dog won’t eat?

Many factors can influence a dog’s decreased appetite. A dog refusing to eat may be a sign of underlying health concerns, so it’s important to know what’s normal for your pup and pay attention to any changes in their daily dining. Even if your dog seems happy and well in himself, it is important never to ignore a reduced appetite. (PetKeen)

Here’s what to look for if your dog isn’t chowing down like usual.


Does Your Dog Have a Health Issue? 

If your dog is one to never miss a meal but suddenly refuses to eat, this is your sign to pay attention. Some health issues that may affect your dog’s eating habits are:

  • Problems in the mouth (dental disease) may cause discomfort and prevent eating even if they act hungry.
  • Gastrointestinal, respiratory, cardiac, autoimmune, metabolic, and neurologic diseases may also cause some degree of decreased appetite.
  • Stress can even be a factor for some dogs.


A dog not eating or drinking out of the blue is always a good reason to consult your vet.

Did Your Dog Pick Up Bad Habits? 

If we’ve learned anything as pet parents, it’s that dogs are actually training us—not the other way around. If your dog isn’t eating their meal but is otherwise healthy, they might just be holding out for the good stuff (aka table scraps and treats). For some dogs, exposure to new foods that are outside their regular diet may result in pickiness over time.

Keep tabs on whether they’re spoiling their appetite by getting extra treats around the house. If this is the case, try being stricter by offering only their core meal and feeding as directed by the guidelines on the bag. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their total daily calorie intake. Eventually they will develop a stronger appetite for their core diet. 

Is Your Dog Stressed?

Getting belly rubs and being a good pup doesn’t seem like a hard job, but the truth is our dogs get stressed, anxious, and scared, too! When that happens, it could affect their desire to eat.

Dogs love routine and knowing what’s next, so when things disrupt this pattern, they might have a hard time adjusting. Even changes that seem small to us can be stressful for dogs, like:


  • Environmental changes, such as being in a new space, having new people or animals in the home, 
  • Loud noises, like construction, fireworks, thunderstorms, or children playing.
  • Changes in the routine, including a new schedule or a death in the family.
  • Separation anxiety if you’re gone for a long period of time for work or play.


If a dog won’t eat due to stress, it should go back to normal soon after the stressor is out of the picture. If you notice anxiety is significantly affecting your pup’s ability to eat regular meals, you can talk to your vet who may recommend a behavioral professional to help.

Do You Have a Shy Dog? 

If you have an especially sensitive dog, you may need to pay careful attention to where they’re eating. Some dogs chow down better alone with no distractions (like other dogs competing for a bite). Scolding one dog for stealing another’s food may also discourage one from eating for fear of being punished. Reducing stress and following a consistent routine are advised. 

Is Your Dog’s Food Suitable?

Or, maybe it’s the food itself! Like us, dogs enjoy tasty, high-quality food to munch on. If you suspect that your pup isn’t a huge fan of the food on the menu, check the food’s “Best If Used By” date and be sure you’re storing it as the instructions on the package recommend.

Low-quality ingredients might also be to blame for your dog’s disinterest in mealtime. Finding food options (both dry and wet) that use whole ingredients that you actually recognize is a great strategy for finding something that will taste good to your dog. And if you’re adding a new food to the rotation, be sure to introduce it slowly to give your dog time to adapt to the new taste and texture.

Finally, your dog’s palate might just be…bored! No one wants to eat the same thing every single day, even if it’s your favorite dish. Try mixing things up with various wet food flavors or toppers to jazz up their bowl.

Should You Try a New Option for Your Dog?

Not all dog food recipes are created equal! If you’ve asked yourself, “why is my dog not eating?” one too many times, it could be time to change their food entirely.

At Jinx, our goal was to create recipes that were both nutritious for the modern dog (vs. for wolves) and palatable (aka tasty). During an independent extended feeding study, 9 out of 10 dogs preferred the taste of Jinx to the leading kibble brands. If you want to treat your dog to a taste test, try any of our Kibble Samplers or curated bundles.

Just remember that if you change your dog’s food you should introduce it gradually so you don’t upset their stomach.

A Few More Things You Can Try…

When it comes down to it, some dogs are simply picky with what they eat. On top of choosing highly palatable, nutritious food (we’ll just leave this link here), you can also try adding a splash of warm water on top of their kibble to bring out the aromas and soften up the dry food. If you also feed wet food, you can warm it up before adding it to their dry food.

You can also find dog food recipes and curated packs geared toward picky eaters.


Lastly, whenever your dog eats their food, praise them! It’ll reinforce their positive behavior and encourage them to eat future meals.

When to Talk to Your Vet

Sometimes, a dog not eating food or drinking water is a sign of something more serious. If your pup has experienced any of the thing below, take them to your vet ASAP:

  • Hasn’t eaten in 24 hours and is sick/has diarrhea
  • Hasn’t drank water
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unusual low energy
  • Showing signs of dental pain or bleeding


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