How to Feed a Dog When It Won't Eat

Written by michaela davila
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A common warning given to dog owners---and rightly so---is the danger of overfeeding their pet, as overweight dogs can be subject to a number of health problems. However, the other extreme, where a dog will not eat his food, is a far less discussed subject. Just as overfeeding should be dealt with appropriately, it is important to know the proper way to address your dog's lack of eating so that you do not inadvertently end up making the situation worse.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Veterinarian

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  1. 1

    Take your dog to his vet. You should definitely rule out a medical cause for your dog's unusual change in behaviour before you attempt to address it in any other way. For instance, if your dog is suffering from some type of intestinal blockage that is resulting in a lack of eating, prompting him to eat is the last thing you will want to do. Inform your vet of your pet's not eating and bring his food to the appointment with you. Your vet will rule out any medical condition your dog might be suffering from and let you know if the type of food you are serving should be changed for any reason.

  2. 2

    Consider environmental factors that may be causing your dog's loss of appetite once medical causes have been eliminated. Factors you will want to consider include any changes in your dog's routine or environment. Your dog may be impacted by things you may have considered insignificant such as a change in his food bowl, a change in the flavour of his food even if it is the same brand, an excess amount of dog treats, or access to table scraps. Do your best to rectify any recent changes that could possibly be affecting your dog's eating habits.

  3. 3

    Be consistent with feeding times and amounts. Many dogs have sensitive digestive systems and function best with a consistent feeding routine. Do your best to feed your dog at the same time each day, such as 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. If your dog does not eat within 30 minutes of being served, remove his food bowl. Constant access to his food throughout the day may make him less motivated to eat on a consistent schedule.

  4. 4

    Praise your dog for eating and make it a positive experience. Dogs can be sensitive animals and may become nervous about eating for reasons you may be unaware of. For instance, if you yelled at your kids while you were in the process of feeding your dog, he may associate the food with something negative and thus avoid it. Use an upbeat tone to praise your dog while he eats so he will see it as something positive.

Tips and warnings

  • Always check the label of your dog's food to make sure you are not overfeeding him.

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