Why Won't My Dog Eat Healthy Food?

As our knowledge and awareness of our dog's food grows, more and more of us are changing our doggy diets to more nutritious, healthy options. Or, at least, we're trying to. 


A good portion of us, however, find that our dogs point-blank refuse to touch their new, healthy food. This often leaves us frustrated, confused, and annoyed. 

So, why exactly do they snub these diets that are better for them? 

The answer isn't as complicated as you may think! 

Junk Food Is Addictive

Eating unhealthy food, with it's high-energy, high-fat profile, has actually been shown to affect the brain in a very similar way to drugs. Foods like this can lead to an increase in motivation to eat it again and again - which can be described as a food addiction [1]. Think about if you were to eat fast food every day for a year - would you want the taste of comparatively bland muesli instead? 

For most people, the answer would be NO. They'd want something salty, something carby, something fatty. And the same is true for our dogs! 

If they have been used to eating a diet that gives them an energy 'high', often with added sugar (yes, dog foods can include sugar!), other foods are going to seem like cardboard to them. And why would they eat cardboard, when they could have the dog equivalent of a cheeseburger? 

 It's Important To Keep Persevering

Despite all of their protests, changing our dogs onto a healthy diet is really important. We can extend their life span, improve their welfare, and reduce our veterinary costs as they age. Of course, all of this leads to more time to enjoy their company! 

If you want to know more about how a healthy diet can improve your dog's life, check out some of these blog posts:

How You Can Re-Wire Their Brain

Luckily, there is a way we can get around this junk-food addiction. It's not going cold-turkey (let's be honest, that rarely works!), but a slow weaning-off process. 


If you've ever changed your dog's food, you probably know that you should do it gradually - over at least a few meals and, ideally, over several days. Well, this process is nearly exactly the same - only it takes a bit longer! 

Start by feeding a meal exactly as you normally would, but exchange only 5% of it for the new, healthy kibble. If you feed your dog 150g at breakfast, this means feeding 142.5g of the old kibble, and 7.5g of the new kibble. Every day (NOT every meal), you want to increase how much of the new food you're feeding by 5%. This means, if you feed the example amount of 150g per meal, it would take you 20 days to wean over to the new food completely. 


Such a slow transition will allow your dog's taste buds to adapt to the different flavours of the healthy food, meaning that they'll start to accept it and even enjoy it by the end. Some dogs may need a little longer to switch over, but most would find this transition rate works for them. 



If you've tried this method but you're still struggling to get your dog to eat healthily, why not book in for a FREE nutrition consultation? Our in-house experts will be happy to chat through the problems you're facing and help you to move past them with your dog. Just email us at woof@yourdogsclub.co.uk to get started!




[1] Oginsky, M.F., Goforth, P.B., Nobile, C.W., Lopez-Santiago, L.F., and Ferrario, C.R. (2016) Eating ‘junk-food’ produces rapid and long-lasting increases in NAc CP-AMPA receptors: Implications for enhanced cue-induced motivation and food addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology. 41: 2977-2986. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.111





Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published