No, your pooch isn't on a hunger strike! There are a variety of reasons why a dog might be ignoring his food--some of which are health-related. Read on to see what the possible causes could be and then find out what you can do to remedy the situation.
Why Won't My Dog Eat?
There's a difference between being finicky and having loss of appetite. The latter can be caused by a variety of health issues. Take your pooch to the veterinarian for a checkup. The veterinarian will be able to determine whether there are any gastric-related problems or even tooth problems that may be causing your dog pain.
Spoiling Him with Scraps?
Dogs are smart beasts. If you give your dog table scraps, he may be ignoring his dog food in the hopes of getting more "people" food out of you. While some types of people food are safe for dogs, it's important to feed him a healthy, balanced diet that gives him all the nutrients he needs for development and to maintain a healthy coat. Stop giving him table scraps, and limit him to a strict feeding schedule, peppered with dog treats throughout the day.
Check the Food
Even if the expiration date is OK, smell the food and examine it to make sure that it's not spoiled or stale. Your pal might simply be letting you know that his food doesn't taste very good. Try feeding him a fresh bag or new can of the same food. While it's OK to try another flavor, resist the urge to try too many different types. You might end up doing more harm than good and encourage your pooch to hold out for something better.
Consider splitting your dog's feeding schedule so he eats once in the morning and once at night. Your dog's a smart cookie, and will eventually eat when he's hungry. Help him by establishing a strict feeding schedule and sticking to it. Put down his bowl of food and give him a moment to check it out. Dogs typically take just a few minutes to clean their plates, so wait about 15 minutes. If your dog has not eaten in that amount of time, remove the bowl and don't try again until the next scheduled feeding time. He will pick up on the pattern.
Your dog may be simply letting you know he's bored with the same food day in and day out. Consider mixing dry kibble with canned wet food, or even mixing in some unsalted vegetable or chicken broth. Set his bowl down and walk away. Remove the bowl after 15 minutes, so he begins to understand that he has to eat when it's mealtime.
He's Ruining His Appetite
Even if you avoid feeding your dog table scraps or other "people" food as snacks, he might be snacking too much and ruining his appetite. Keep track of how many doggie biscuits you are giving your four-legged pal, and make sure you're not overdoing it.
About the Author
Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.