When your dog does not eat

Unfortunately, I can tell you a thing or two about what it’s like when your dog just won’t eat.

Sammy has always had phases where he didn’t want to eat and in fact, this has made me very worried for a long time.


What could be the reason for this?

First of all, health reasons should be excluded. This also includes “inconspicuous” things like heartburn, thyroid problems, etc.

If you are not sure, try to find a veterinarian who specializes in internal medicine or gastrointestinal problems and have your dog checked out.


If everything is ok health-wise, there are of course many other causes in different degrees of severity (which are different for everyone and therefore are not classified here).

Some dogs eat badly in summer because it is too hot. Or in the season of heat, because they feel a little uncomfortable (female) or are too excited (male).

Again others are simply full.

Very often I see this with small dogs that have kibble available all day. If you want to do this, you should be aware of it. And also about the fact that your dog then eats mostly kibble.


But some dogs cannot tolerate a certain food and therefore do not eat it.


And for many dogs, especially new ones to the family, fear is the obstacle. They don’t dare to come out of their hiding place or are just too nervous to eat. Some of them dare to try a little at night when everything is quiet or even gulp it down then.


These dogs desperately need quiet.

Don’t take it personally if your dog can’t eat in your presence yet. If your dog has found a place in your home where he feels safe (even if that is under the bed or behind a cupboard), try to put the food close to that spot without crowding him.

If you then find an empty bowl, you can at least be sure that your new dog is not starving and he is already warming up a bit.

You can also occasionally walk by his hiding spot (with enough distance) and lose treats. This way you become an annunciation of good things, even if your dog doesn’t collect the cookies until after you’re gone.


Of course, this shouldn’t last forever and if there is no progress, I definitely advise you to contact a vet behaviorist. Because a life of fear is really not very desirable.


But there are also other reasons why dogs avoid their food.


Here is a small excerpt

– The dog has never seen dog-food

– Bad experiences with bowls (spec. material or all)

– Shimmering surface is scary (metal)

– The sound of the bowl on the tiles

– Slippery surface

– Too high/low bowl causes muscle tensions

– …


Unfortunately, we cannot see inside the dog and so we are left to guess what it could be.

If your dog in principle likes to take food from you and is not afraid of you, it could be one of the above-mentioned.

Then you can just try putting the food on a lickymat or in a kong.

Also, a bowl pad, a different position, a different material would be possible.

If all this doesn’t work, take a look at the food. Do you have healthy food or the cheap stuff from the supermarket?

What about the ingredients? Are you sure your dog can tolerate it?


And most importantly, is your dog losing weight?

If not, maybe he’s just full. In fact, that was the case with Sammy. He only needs a little food and then he is full. He does not lose weight and has no deficiency symptoms.

So it’s a lot of worry for nothing.

And remember, if you are constantly worrying and feeding already being tense, your dog may also be stressed by the mood.


However, there is one thing I would not recommend: Hand feeding.


Especially with anxious dogs, it leads to a conflict, because actually they are afraid and come closer anyway to get the food. Not a nice feeling.

So if you have a dog that prefers not to eat in your presence, give him time and allow him to eat in his safe zone.

This way you give him security and a little bit of well-being.

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