Dogs refusing to eat their food can be confusing initially, especially when dealing with highly active dogs that will eat from random places, including dumpsters. When your dog turns its nose up at foods it usually eats, it may be due to specific issues. The most common dog food refusal is dry food.
Canines may refuse dry food like kibble but continue to devour wet food. Situations like this can be baffling. When pups become selective eaters, most dog owners simply move away from the problematic food. Before you stop giving your dog dry food, you should identify the cause of this sudden change. Is your pup sick, or does it simply prefer other diets?
Generally, dogs eat whatever food you give them, so when they suddenly start rejecting a particular type of meal, there might be an underlying cause. Your job is to figure out and fix the problem so your pup can continue enjoying the variety.
If you have a dog that stopped eating dry food suddenly, you want to pay attention to this guide. It’ll show why dogs may stop eating dry meals, how to solve any underlying problem, and encourage your dog to resume these meals.
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Why My Dog is not Eating Dry Food?
Dry dog food like Eukanuba is packed with valuable nutrients for your pup’s health. The food is also easy to serve and is not messy. It is easy to see why dry dog food is popular and why pups rejecting these meals can be frustrating.
The first step is identifying why your dog is not eating dry food. But first, you need to be sure it is not experiencing complete or pseudo anorexia, which is a lack of appetite. The reason why dogs start rejecting dry food may vary from dog to dog, so focusing on your dog is always a better approach.
Since every dog is different, your dog may simply not like dry meals or is secretly courting other varieties. Dogs fed on only dry food may decide they need something else and start avoiding it. Other times, dogs fed various meals may prefer wet options to dried ones. Your dog may also be ill, which makes it reject dry food. The illness can range from problems in the mouth to its general well-being.
Firstly, you must consider if your dog had previously been a fan of dry food. Reviewing your dietary combination is vital; do you feed the dog only dry food or combine wet and human food? Understanding your dog’s unique scenario will clarify the severity of the problem, making it reject dry food.
Why not Eating Dry Food Occurs in Dogs?
If your dog refuses to eat dry meals, don’t worry; you’re not alone, as this is more common than you can imagine. A large number of dog owners have experienced it at one point. However, before you can solve the problem, you must identify all the causes. Here are some of the reasons dogs do not eat dry food:
1. Oral Injuries
One of the most profound reasons dogs reject dry food is due to injuries in their mouth. Dry food is tough and can further bruise the injured parts when chewing, so dogs avoid eating this type of food. Oral injuries can be caused by tears from bones when feeding or diseases.
2. Tongue Infection
Genetics and age are some of the prevalent causes of tongue infections in dogs, which weaken the tongue and make chewing difficult. In these cases, dogs start to avoid dry food, where chewing can be painful. Tongue infections may also correlate with oral tumors. Old dogs over six years old and dogs exposed to ultraviolet rays over a long time are susceptible to tongue infections.
3. Picky Eater
Sometimes, the dog simply wants something different. Yes, dogs look for variety, too, and can get tired of a particular meal. Other times, the smell or look may no longer appeal to the dog, changing its preference. Dogs often avoid dry meals after tasting a sumptuous wet or home-cooked meal.
Pups may try getting extra treats by rejecting their regular dry meals. When dogs are dissatisfied with their food, they reject it, hoping you get the hint and offer their preference.
Dehydration affects your pup in more ways than you can imagine, including its food choice. When the dog is dehydrated, the water content in its body reduces, and its throat and ever-wet tongue dry up, too. Moisture is valuable when chewing dry food as it mixes and softens the meal.
When the pup is dehydrated and its tongue is dry, it cannot properly mix the food in its mouth. The dog may reject the meal to avoid choking on the dry bits. Dogs are often dehydrated after a stressful activity or after vomiting.
5. Dental Issues
Apical or tooth rot abscess is a common tooth problem where a pus forms under the tooth, causing discomfort to the dog. Most tooth problems originate from oral infections and illnesses like periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene is the cause of periodontitis, which can be as severe as the loss of a tooth if left unchecked. Dogs with any tooth problem, including a broken tooth, will avoid eating meals that aggravate the pain.
Typically, nausea is a sign of an underlying sickness or anxiety and causes dogs to abandon their otherwise sumptuous dry meals. The symptoms dogs with nausea exhibit may be similar to those when experiencing stress or anxiety.
7. Digestive Problems
Stomach upset in dogs comes with many problems and is often caused by digestive issues. These problems preventing proper digestion of previously eaten meals can be due to swallowing strange materials. You want to observe the area and check for any materials out of the ordinary that your pup may have eaten. The dog may experience constipation and bloating, making it lose appetite and reject your dry food; in this case, it may also reject wet food.
8. Stress or Anxiety
Like humans, stress and anxiety can make dogs lose their appetite and reject food. When dogs move to an unfamiliar location or have strange objects around them, it can spike their anxiety and stress levels. Pacing, unnecessary barking, drooling, and hiding are some symptoms of anxiety and stress in dogs.
Portion control is always advised for dogs to keep them healthy and avoid situations where they reject nutrient-rich meals like dry food. Feeding the dog outside its schedule is one way to overfeed it and make it reject your dry food when you offer it.
10. Untidy Feeding Area
Dogs will typically avoid eating off dirty and smelly bowls, so if you put your dry food inside a dirty bowl, your dog may reject it. The area is also a factor that can cause your dog to refuse dry food. Reusing dirty bowls without washing will promote the growth of bacteria.
What to do if Your Dog is not Eating Dry Food?
After considering all the possible reasons why your dog is not eating dog food, how do you approach the problem? If your dog is not eating dry food, it can be one or more of the abovementioned problems.
The first thing you should do if you notice your dog is not eating dry food is observation. You want to check if it is a complete loss of appetite or only a particular type of meal. Observing lets you determine if your pup is avoiding food altogether or showing signs of sickness.
Check your pup’s health to ensure its food avoidance is not due to any underlying health issue. You want to observe its movement and check its mouth for injuries, as these are some of the most obvious places to look. The teeth and gum area may hide painful injuries that need urgent attention. Identify the reasons for making your dog reject dry food, mainly if it was previously consumed.
How to Encourage Your Dog to Eat their Dry Food?
Fixing the problem depends on why your dog stopped eating dry food. The information you got from observing the dog and identifying the reason for refusing the food will help in this section. Here are ways to encourage your dog to start eating dry food again:
1. Enhance the Meal
Sometimes, when dogs reject dry food, they are bored of it and prefer something else. You can get them to eat the meal by adding and enhancing treats. Add food toppers like sugar-free yogurt, fruits and veggies, raw food, and bone broth to the dry food to make it more appealing.
2. Place the Drinking Bowl Close to the Food
You can encourage the dog to eat by improving hydration, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by keeping the drinking bowl beside the food bowl. The dog will be encouraged to stay hydrated, which boosts its appetite.
3. Introduce a Probiotic
If poor digestion is the reason for the dog rejecting food, introducing a probiotic like sugar-free yogurt will heal the gut and boost appetite. Probiotics reduce inflammation in the intestine and fix gut problems.
4. Keep to Schedule
Following a feeding schedule trains the dog to know when to expect a meal. You don’t want to feed your dog whenever it looks in your direction; yes, I know pups are cute, and it can be tempting to break your schedule. The idea is to train the dog to know when it is meal time and to keep the dog from overfeeding on treats and rejecting its meals.
5. Break Bad Habits
Offering your dog regular treats and feeding it various meals, including wet and human food, can make it turn its nose up at dry food. To stop this, you must break this bad habit to encourage the pup to eat the available dry food. Only offer treats occasionally and reduce the variety it gets. Offering only dry food will help the dog return to accepting the meal.
It is perfectly okay to feed your dog only wet food. However, you must ensure the wet food you choose is filled with the right ingredients and not high in sodium, which can be unhealthy. Check the label for the wet food ingredients before buying.
Giving your dog only dry food is okay, as it usually contains all the necessary nutrients. However, mixing it with wet food may be valuable for some variety.
When dogs eat dry food without drinking enough water, they can get constipation, making defecating challenging. Keeping the water bowl clean and beside the feeding bowl is essential to encourage hydration.
Dogs love variety and would quickly get bored with a single meal, which is one of the reasons they reject dry food but continue eating wet meals. Other reasons include oral injuries, dehydration, and stress, among other behavioral challenges.
If you want to encourage your dog to start eating dry food again, you must first determine the root cause and ensure you treat any health challenge where required. Afterward, you can add treats or improve hydration to lead your dog back to eating its nutritious dry food.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.