Why Is My Dog Not Eating?

There could be a number of reasons why your puppy has suddenly stopped or limited his food intake. The issue also occurs in adult dogs, but selectiveness is more common amongst puppies as they discover that there might be more appealing food out there than that offered to them, such as human food.

Firstly, it is important you make sure that your puppy is not ill. Ask yourself a number of questions before deciding if it is mere fussiness or something more serious.

  • Is your puppy eating any other food, such as treats or your dinner leftovers? If he has completely lost his appetite it is unlikely that he is being picky.
  • Is his water intake abnormal in any way? Is he drinking more or less?Have his energy levels altered? Does he seem more lethargic than before?
  • Is his behavior different in any way? Does he seem unwell to you?
  • Is he suffering from vomiting or diarrhea?
  • Is there anything about your puppy that concerns you?


If your answer is affirmative to any of the above questions, contact your vet immediately to ensure that there is no physical cause for your puppy’s selectiveness. If, however, you are certain that your dog is merely holding out for something better, there are a number of ways to deal with this.

  1. Make sure you weigh your puppy regularly. They grow quite rapidly and you will notice if he has suddenly stopped gaining weight. If not, it is likely that he is making up his food balance elsewhere. Some dogs, such as Labradors, will eat any amount of food offered to them. Others are better at limiting themselves and will refuse to eat simply because they are not hungry. This may occur if you are training your puppy and using treats as positive reinforcement or if you like to spoil him with the odd biscuit or table scraps. Try limiting his treats and observe if his food habits change accordingly. If, however, he is not gaining weight, or he is losing it – you should contact your vet.
  2. Create a schedule. Dogs are creatures of habit. If your puppy is used to eating at a specific time, he will be anticipating his dinner time and he is more likely to consume it. Ensure you feed him 3 times a day at first, then limit it to 2, depending on his age. Follow the guidelines written on commercial food packaging – they are there for a reason. If your pup does not have a regular schedule, he is more likely to self-feed, eat less than required, or the opposite – be constantly hungry.
  3. Do not give in. If it is simply a phase and your puppy is simply selective, he is likely to soon realize that he will not get a more appetizing replacement and he will have to stick to what he has. If he refuses to eat, take his food away after 15-30 minutes. Eventually, he will know that his only options are dog food or no food at all. If he persists, ask a veterinarian for advice.
  4. Or do give in. If you feel that your puppy’s wishes are paramount, you could try adding an extra ingredient to his food. There are different types of food that may work for your dog. One idea could be mixing in a cup of boiled white rice. Be wary of what you add as your puppy is likely to get used to it and will not touch plain dry food again – a habit it is very difficult to break. Try other methods first, but if all else fails this may be the best option.
  5. Change his food. Your pup may simply dislike the commercial food brand you are feeding him. There are plenty of options out there – it is worth a try to see how he responds to other brands. Be very careful as a sudden change may upset his stomach. Start by mixing the new type with the one he has already been eating and gradually change the proportions if he responds well and with more appetite.
  6. Add hot water. This is a simple yet surprisingly effective trick with a lot of dogs. Before you serve your puppy his food, add a small amount of hot water to it, leave to soak for a minute or two and drain the water. As dogs enjoy food mainly based on their smell rather than taste, the hot water should release enough scent for your dog to become very hungry!

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