trouble getting my dog to eat


New Member
I wonder if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can get my dog to eat his meals each day.

His history is that when we first rescued him he was literally skin and bones, although the vet said his general health was good but we had to build him up. At present he is still going to be weighed every month to check he is improving.

We followed the little and often advise given to us and for the first month he was having 4/5 small meals each day, which he devoured without fail. However, this has now trailled off and he does not like eating in until early evening now.

That to me was not a problem as we can just increase his meal size to ensure he is getting enough. But some days he does not want to eat at all. I also know deep down that he will not starve himself but I'd like to see him eat something.

Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can encourage him to eat his meals?

He has also had a very heavy burden of worms which has not helped the weight issue but I think with one more wormer dose he should have got rid of them.


New Member
Hi! I'm sorry you're going through this i know how it feels, when we first got out Boxer he didn't eat at all during the first week or two, we were very worried about him but we thought it was because he wasn't used to the new enviroment, we tried changing his diet and it worked! i guess his past owner was giving him the same food all the time and he got tired of it, we bought him different food and one day he started eating and we realized that he was just tired of eating the same, so every now and then we change his diet, you should try it, it might work for you! Best of luck! Hope he gets better!


New Member
I wouldn't change his food in order to encourage him to eat more. You might create a finicky eater. :D

Are you only placing food down for 20 minutes and then taking it up? It may seem a little double dutch to offer it for less time if he's not eating, but he should take up the opportunity to eat if he knows that it's limited!

You might also want to reward training efforts with meal/part of a meal. For example, my dogs feel more inclined to eat something if they had to sit/drop/beg/shake/spin/SOMETHING for it. They feel like they deserved it, worked for it, and now need to eat it to make it worthwhile... My dogs ate bannana peel once because I asked for a sit beforehand!! (I was trying to show them that it wasn't actually good, but they had other ideas...)

Thanks for giving this rescue dog a chance, by the way! He's lucky to have someone who cares about his weight now.


New Member
Thanks for your replies.

Yes, I've tried the putting the food down for a limited time.

I'm like you Leema, I don't want to keep changing his food so that he becomes a picky eater. I'm feeding him James Wellbeloved which is the one that seems to suit him better stomach wise. Other foods that I've tried have also led to nasty poo!

I'll keep persevering and offering him part meals as treats when training/good behaviour etc.

Like I said, deep down I know that he won't starve himself.


New Member
I could not get my Lab to eat her food, so I purchased some of the "gravy" to put on her dry food (I finally found some without sugar as she's diabetic). She started to enjoy the food, and after a few weeks, I left the gravy off and she ate fine.


Well-Known Member
I wouldn't recommend changing diets too often just in case that would make him picky, (especially since you know he's on something that works for his stomach) - but check if the food is palatable... I'm not familiar with the brand.

One way to check is to wipe your finger on the inside of the bag - the greasier it is, the more palatable (though not necessarily healthier). Also check the smell... I run a boarding kennel and there is a dog whose kibble smells like vomit to me, then at the opposite end of the spectrum is something like Timberwolf Organics - smells great! I even tasted a kibble myself and other than leaving a little dirt/grain texture it wasn't too bad (and absolutely full of herbs)!

I used to have a dog that was fine on IAMS (before you could purchase it at the grocery store), but after a 1 year of no problems his black hair dulled and turned reddish, his skin became dry and flaky, and he generally wasn't in great health. I switched him onto EaglePack and within a month he was in perfect health and enjoyed meal-times (on IAMS he would only eat if a made him earn it).

It's true that dog foods are well balanced as an only diet, but some dogs just get bored of the same brand for long periods - humans would never choose to eat the same food at every meal indefinitely.

There are a lot of bland diets that usually are fine on the stomach, and grain-free diets can help a high energy dog gain and keep weight.

Jean Cote

Staff member
How much exercise is he getting? A well exercised dog will be hungry and will want to eat! :)


New Member
Cheddar is not a big eater

My Golden Retr. Cheddar has never been a big eater. She would sometimes go a few days without eating. She is doing much better now that we work each day on agility. I feed her dry food for one meal and then the second meal I add Salmon oil, liquid Glucosamine and superfuel supplements. I also add a table spoon of plain vanilla yogurt to it. She loves this meal and will eat it. the dry meal she will sometimes skip. I just let her skip it and don't make a big deal about it. I do pick it up and remove it so she will eat on my time. She stays in pretty good shape and has a great waist line.


New Member

Oh my, this is a real issue for us ... Bailey is a very finicky and selective eater ... it really bothers us because many times it's very apparent that she's hungry and just won't eat her food. We've had the Vet check her teeth many times, just in case it's an issue with pain when chewing harder kibble. She's not underweight for her size and breed but ... shoot we hate it when we can tell she's hungry. Our Vet assures us that a healthy dog wouldn't intentionally starve themself. She does get treats as rewards for meeting training tasks and we've kept the treats small, so as not to spoil her appetite for her meals, but that doesn't even seem to help with the problem.

We'd love some suggestions to overcome this... we feel like a bad mother when we've got a hungry dog that refuses her food. We've tried dry kibble and canned food ... but basically she looses interest and seems to be holding out for something else.

We even moved her dish so that she didn't have to eat alone in the kitchen area, so her dish is placed near to where we're sitting ... it worked for a while but even then she reverted back to her finicky self.

Any and all suggests would be appreciated: Hivin



New Member
I think there are two primary rules for getting a dog to eat (assuming medical reasons aren't an issue):
1. Only set down food for 20minutes or less once a day.
2. Do not give any alternative food (ANYTHING! no treats etc) until the 'refused food' is eaten. (e.g. If she won't eat ZED then too bad, she gets offered ZED for 5 days straight until ZED is finally eaten, and then perhaps she'll get something different - maybe)


New Member
Argh, I just lost a reply I wrote up!

Assuming there are no medical reasons/problems, then I think there are two main solutions to getting a dog to eat more reliably:
1) Feed once a day for a set time less than 20 minutes, and then remove food. Do not leave food around - 'free feeding'.
2) Do not feed anything else except for the refused food until the refused food is eaten.

E.g. If dog won't eat Brand X, it gets offered Brand X at every meal until a serving is eaten. Only after this would the food be changed.

Now you get it twice. :D


Experienced Member
Knowing that you're from the UK - have you tried Burns foods? They are developed by a vet. We use them, and have great results with them. Just in case you see no alternative but to change foods. There's an "active dog" mix which might help him put a little weight on. We switched to it for Ellie when she was struggling to add weight.

That said, as you've already stated, ill-health aside, no dog will starve itself, and I'm presuming that your vet has already ruled out any ill-health, other than that you already mentioned.

Some things that you might try:

1. Feed at the same time as you eat. Some dogs just like to feel a part of the family, I guess, and will eat perfectly fine if you are eating too.

2. Add a little gravy. Hopefully this will spark his interest, and then you can just keep lessening the amount of gravy each day. Be aware though that this can lead to a little diarrhoea for the first day or two.

3. Feed from the hand (possibly as treats in return for training). We did this with Ellie for a long time.

Hope it manages to get resolved. :)


New Member
So much advice!

I tried with a bit of gravy last night and boy did that do the trick! He ate every morsel and kept looking for more.

I will have to be firm with the during the day treats until he gets more into a routine of eating his proper meals. I can see now how I am probably causing most of his turning his nose up.

Thanks everyone, I'll persevere.