Does your dog often sniff their food and walk away? If your pooch refuses to eat, there could be a number of reasons for the behavior. From illness and stress to flat out pickiness. As dog owners we know our pups inside and out. And it can be concerning when their behavior is out of the ordinary. Here are a few reasons why your dog won’t eat and what you can do to get them eating normally again.

Possible reasons your dog won’t eat


An upset tummy can put your dog off their food. You may notice signs of diarrhea and vomiting, or they may seem fine in themselves but still refuse to eat. Stomach upset is often fleeting in dogs and they bounce back after a day or so. But if vomiting and diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, always see your vet for advice.


Some dogs can be fussy with their food. Just like us, our pups enjoy certain flavors more than others. So it may just be they don’t like the taste of their food. But since a decreased appetite can be caused by illness too, it’s important to rule out any medical concerns with your vet first.

Stress and anxiety

New routines, new people in the home or unfamiliar surroundings can all make your dog feel anxious. And when our pups feel nervous, they often don’t feel comfortable or secure enough to chow down.

Dental disease

Your dog may not want to eat because they’re experiencing oral pain. This could be a broken or loose tooth, gingivitis or even gum disease.


If you’re feeding your dog too much each meal time, they could be feeling full from their last meal. Free feeding where you leave your dog’s bowl down all day can also make it seem like they’ve gone off their food. If they’re slowly grazing on food all day, they won’t want to eat at meal times.

 Check for health problems

Your first best step is to check your dog for any signs of ill health. Examine your dog’s body for any lumps, bumps, cut or grazes, and any signs of pain. It’s also a good idea to check your dog’s teeth for potential damage or disease. If you don’t see any obvious signs of illness, it’s a good idea to check in with your vet just to be on the safe side.

Reassess their food situation

Check the quality of your dog’s food. Does it have a good shelf life? Has it been left out all day to go rancid? Consider your dog’s mealtime routine and ensure you’re feeding the right quantities for your individual dog. And if they’re still refusing to eat, a change of food with a new flavor could make all the difference.

Check your surroundings

Other animals or children running around your pup’s feeding station can make them feel anxious about eating. Or they could be too eager to join in the fun! So make sure your dog has a quiet spot to eat, away from all distractions.

Work up their appetite 

If your dog isn’t tucking in due to overeating throughout the day, be sure to cut back on treats and table scraps. Stick to a regular feeding schedule twice a day and take them for a walk before mealtimes.

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The Emergency Vet Protect Club is a low-cost alternative to pet insurance in case of an emergency vet bill. We pay up to $3,000 towards that emergency fee when you sign up for a yearly membership for as little as $15.95 a month. Sign up through our free app where you’ll also get 24-hour advice from our certified vets.