Help! My Dog Isn’t Eating!

It can be a worrying time to be a pet parent when your dog stops eating. We all know how important eating is, so when your dog purposefully isn’t willing to eat, it’s hugely concerning. The tips below are designed to help you encourage your dog to eat, but remember, it’s important to always get your dog checked over by your vet if you’re concerned.

 

  • Try a different type/flavour of food

Your dog may have stopped eating because they’re bored of their usual food, or they’ve gone off the taste of it. Try mixing it up a little bit with a new flavour of food, or try switching out kibble for wet food, or vice versa. Wet food does tend to be a bit tastier, and our go-to for a dog that’s seemingly not hungry is Nature’s Menu Country Hunter, as this is incredibly nutritious and most dogs can’t resist its tasty chunks of real meat and superfoods.

 

  • Soak your normal kibble in hot water for 30 minutes

If you want to encourage your dog to keep eating the same food they usually like, try soaking the kibble in warm/hot water for at least half an hour. This helps to release the food’s natural aroma, making it much more appealing. It’s kind of like how humans aren’t too fussed about bacon when it’s sat in the fridge, but it suddenly becomes irresistible once it’s in the frying pan!

 

  • Mix in something different

Sometimes your dog really is just bored by what you put down in front of them – imagine eating the same food twice a day, every day! Adding a little something extra is a good way to spice things up without changing the food completely. Some good options include a spoonful of a different flavour of wet food, or mixing in a spoonful of natural yoghurt (this is also really good for your dog’s gut flora!

 

  • Make dinner time into a game

Your dog can get bored by more than just the flavour of their meal – how you feed them is actually really important! This is due to a phenomenon known as contra-freeloading, where dogs can lose interest in something simply because it is readily available to them. Asking them to play a game for their food is a great way to drum up interest. You can do this by using their daily allowance of food in a training session, or you can use a puzzle feeder or interactive toy. Remember to keep these easy for the first few uses, and then slowly increase the difficulty as your dog gets the hang of it!

 

  • Limit how long your dog has with its food

One of the biggest mistakes that dog owners make when it comes to mealtimes is leaving their dog’s food down for them all day. Not only does this allow the food to start going rancid, but it also means that the dog is less likely to value the food. By restricting the time for which the food is available, it will naturally become more valuable and interesting to your dog. Try putting the food down for ten minutes: if your dog shows no interest, cover it up and put it in the fridge until the next mealtime. If your dog starts eating in that ten-minute window, quietly celebrate to yourself and leave them to it. Only clear the bowl away when they’re done with it. Over time, they should start to be more keen to get to their food, and you’ll find that they’ll eat it almost straight away.

 

  • Train your dog to eat

It may sound silly, but you can train your dog to enjoy eating! All you need to do is get some tasty treats that your dog loves, and some kibble or wet food that you want your dog to start eating. Hold up the kibble for your dog to sniff – as soon as they do, offer them a treat. Repeat this a few more times, then hold back with the treat until they go to lick it. Do this a few more times, then hold back until they take the kibble. At this point, they may spit it out, and that’s okay! Still reward them for that as it’s progression towards your goal. After a few sessions like that, hold off with the treat and see if they start chewing or eating the kibble. Then celebrate like mad with them, give them a treat, and play a game with them.

Once they’re reliably eating a kibble to get a treat, ask them to eat two kibbles, then three. After some time, they’ll be able to eat a whole meal before they need a treat, and their brain will even rewire so that eating that kibble is enjoyable in its own right.

 

  • Rotate the foods on offer

Once you’ve tempted your dog back into eating, you want to make sure they don’t lose interest again. Have a selection of different foods that your dog enjoys on hand, and rotate between them randomly. This is a sure-fire way to keep your dog on their toes when it comes to dinnertime, and they’re bound to be eating up every meal enthusiastically.

 

If you use all of these tips, your fussy eater is going to turn into an enthusiastic muncher in no time. Do you have any more tips for our Waggy Community? Why not share them down below!

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