Help my dog won’t eat…

May 23rd, 2022

Dog Healthcare, Dog Nutrition, Dog Training

6 min.

Dogs at times seem to go off their food. We help many people with this issue but often the reasons for it are quite simple.

Dogs go through phases which can mean that food is left and there seems to be no interest. It’s even worse when you feel you need to resort to tinned foods …

“It’s important to remember that for a healthy dog there is no issue with skipping a meal”


“At Dogfoods4u we very regularly explain to dog owners that fasting is a very natural process on a raw diet, my dog for example (2-year-old black Havanese called Lucifer) will go sometimes 3 days without eating, but importantly he will drink as usual during this time. He can be enticed to eat with Chicken hearts etc, but I prefer not to push him and he prefers not to be pushed.

He will then all of a sudden eat like a piglet, sometimes eating as much as 1kg for a 10kg dog in a single day (10% of his weight).”

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You will get to know your dog and what works best for them, some dogs will not eat a particular protein (e.g, fish) no matter how hard you push them to do so.
– James

The first thing to do though is to check the teeth and rule out any issues with dental problems.

Secondly, check you are not overfeeding- some dogs self regulate what they need and leave what they don’t.

Why your dog might be off their food

1. Teething

When a puppy is teething, they will lose their baby teeth to get a nice shiny new set of teeth. The timing of this is can depend very much on the breed and size of your dog but 2 months old upwards is generally when dogs start teething. Teething can be painful, and gums might feel sore with teeth themselves rather wobbly.

Some puppies struggle with meaty bones so you might be better off with raw puppy food, this can be served chilled to relieve painful gums.

It can help to give some teething toys or something frozen to cool down the painful gums.

A good idea can be to soak an old tea towel in some broth (homemade without salt), wring it out, tie a knot in it, freeze and give it frozen. Always keep an eye on your puppy when giving treat toys like this- it’s good to chew on (note: not to eat). Other good alternatives are a frozen carrot or cucumber or try serving food a little colder, clove oil can also be used.

2. Hormones!

Female dogs can get their first season from around the age of 6 months. With coming into season there will be physical changes, sometimes a raised temperature, and behavioural changes as well. Hormones flying around in the body can make girls really go off their food, it’s very normal. The same is the case for bitches in pregnancy and having a phantom pregnancy.

Sometimes adding a few yummy toppers can help- try mixing in some coconut oil or lukewarm bone broth or lukewarm goats milk (as a treat it’s fine). Even crumbling up some dried sprats and mixing them can help – be creative.

If your bitch is really struggling and losing weight then look into the herb raspberry leaf.

3. Illness

Dogs who are ill do at times self-fast to instinctively clean and detox their system. Make sure you keep them well hydrated and perhaps offer tripe with some lukewarm water. This is also a great solution for dogs after an operation; it’s bland, mild and smells very appetising to your dog!

4. Teenagers

It’s extremely common to hear of dogs starting to get fussy with their food between the ages of 6 months to 13 months… If you have ruled out possible teeth or hormone issues then your dog could just be acting like a teenager!

If you feed 3 times a day switch it to 2 times a day and importantly don’t allow for grazing or a lot of treats. Serve yummy food, if no interest just remove the bowl and serve it next feeding time.

5. Big life changes

Dogs like routine, so big life changes will impact as they can cause stress, which in turn can mean a decreased appetite. Changes like the loss of a loved one (2 or 4 legged), a family move (rescue or puppy), new additions to the family, holidays etc can all bring real insecurity to a dog. Be patient and allow for time to settle things down.


Unless you are dealing with very young puppies, ill dogs or a dog losing a lot of weight, there is no issue with skipping a meal. Y

our dog will probably processed or tinned foods (for the salt and sugar it contains). This is why they love eating it – it’s a little like getting a Mcdonald’s Happy Meal – products like these are made to appeal to dogs and be hard to resist eating.

Once you do start this route then re-introducing a fresh and raw diet is even harder, as it’s not addictive and does not give them a sugar rush.

Real fussiness is a learned behaviour, it is counter-intuitive. Try not to entertain it as the more you switch and swap and offer menu options the more fussiness you can expect.


Some dogs might go off their bowls or dining location- and not food! If you, for example, dropped the bowl and it made a terrible noise your dog might feel scared of it. Equally, if a nice dinner time was rudely interrupted or something scary (to your dog) happened, he/she might associate the bowl or location with stress.

Dogs are extremely sensitive to YOU, if you are starting to stress, and feel frustrated every time you serve dinner (or even watch over the bowl) your dog will pick up on this which will re-enforce that dinner times are STRESSFUL, this of course not being conducive to eating.

Take the stress and worry out of the equation; this is so important. If your dog doesn’t want to eat a portion of new food, try small introductions first.

If still no luck it could just be he/she simply doesn’t fancy that particular meat… which is fine!


Dinner times should be enjoyable, without stress, and without competition, if you have other dogs. Allow your dog to eat at their own pace and in peace – even if this means splitting up dogs if you have multiple creatures in your household.

If your dog stays off their food, is losing weight and you are concerned then do visit the vet.

For help finding a suitable Raw supporting vet – click here

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