Dog won’t Eat or Drink Causes, won’t Eat Dry Food, Just Lays Around

Dog won't eat

When your dog won’t eat, it usually portrays other symptoms that can help identify what the problem is. Here, we explore the reasons why a dog won’t eat or drink and why they may not eat dry food or kibble yet will devour human food. Also discussed is what could cause them vomit, diarrhea or eat grass while they are not eating food.

Dog Won’t Eat

Dogs rarely have problems eating once a constant routine is set up. It, therefore, strikes the owners as unusual when a dog won’t eat anything. This is more so where it happens for an extended period or when the dog becomes choosy and won’t eat what is availed to them. A lack of appetite in dogs is referred to as inappetence or anorexia. It may occur for various reasons. Once the causes are resolved, the dog is likely to resume eating without a problem.

Why your Dog Won’t Eat

Dogs are different and react to different situations and environments in different ways. What may make one dog suffer a loss of appetite may not have the same effect on another dog. Here are some of the reasons why your dog may not be eating.

Change in Routine

When dogs get used to a certain routine, a disruption of the same could see them not eating. Changes in feeding time, exercise, walks and even potty time could cause appetite loss. Other changes include additional family members, vacations, moving into a new home as well as when your dog is left home alone for the first time. As soon as the change is resolved or when they adjust to the new settings, the dog resumes feeding normally.


At times, a dog will not eat because of competition or intimidation from other dogs. This is common in houses with multiple pets. They may fail to eat because other dogs won’t let them. This could be because they keep getting growled at or they are slow eaters while their counterparts are fast eaters. To ensure that they all get their fair share, feed them separately. When dogs are left alone with their food, there is a probability that they will resume eating.

Age-Related Problems

Senior dogs grow frail each day. They may also experience fading senses. They may, as a result of these and other age-related complications, fail to eat. A senior dog may suffer dental problems that make it hard for them to eat ordinary food. While he may be hungry, the pain keeps him from eating. To solve this, have them checked by the vet to identify if they have any health problems.

Where none is present and the dog has reduced appetite, try to warm the food up so it smells better and becomes more appealing. You could also add something tasty to the food such as some stew for the dog to be attracted to it.

Picky Eaters

Some dogs will simply not eat because they are picky eaters. Dogs are not born picky eaters though: they develop the habit with time. The pickiness could result from changing dog food regularly. To avoid this, find a good brand and stick to it unless there is a good reason why you should change. While changing, do not introduce new brands all of a sudden. Instead introduce the new food gradually over time.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Temporary stomach upsets in dogs could make them experience a reduced appetite. In such situations, the failure to eat will be accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and eating grass. This is more so where the gastrointestinal upset is as a result of dietary indiscretion.

When dogs are presented with a chance to scavenge, they will do it. They will get food from the bin, access items in the park and even eat their own poop. With these, upsets are likely to occur. As long as there is no blood in accompanying diarrhea or vomit and that it doesn’t last for more than 24 hours, allow your dog to expel whatever may be making them sick. Keep them well hydrated and introduce food slowly.

Dog Won’t Eat or Drink

When a dog won’t eat and drink, it is important to keep watch over him. In case he tries to but can’t put anything down and seems to yelp whenever swallowing, it is probable that he is suffering blockage in the digestive system. He could have a bone or other none food item stuck down his throat.

Failing to drink for long could see them suffer dehydration. To check for dehydration in dogs, lift up the back of the neck and see if it goes back instantly. If not, your dog is dehydrated. To encourage them to drink, have the bowl full of fresh water throughout the day. If possible, take him to the water bowl.

Where your dog won’t eat or drink for more than 24 hours, immediate veterinary attention should be sought.

Dog Won’t Eat Dog Food

A dog that doesn’t eat anything could be suffering a loss of appetite. However, the same may not be said about a dog that will eat anything else but not their food. Why won’t a dog eat his food? There are various causes that could contribute to this. They include:

Bad Feeding Habits

For a healthy dog that refuses to eat their own food, bad feeding habits by the owner could be the cause. A dog that experiences excessive scrap feeding may not want to feed on their dry food since they want something that tastes as good. While these may keep your dog full, they do not offer the necessary nutrients and could lead to obesity.

To remain healthy, your dog requires a balanced diet offered in appropriate amounts. To correct this and end his failure to eat his food, cut down on the treats and scrap food. This can be achieved by sticking to a regular feeding schedule and ceasing to offer extra human foods and treats. Offer them correct amounts of their foods at regular intervals. While they may fail to feed properly for a day or two, they will get used to dog food within a short time.

Food Preference

Just like human beings, dogs too have their preferences. The dog food choices you opt for as well as the feeding methods pet owners make have an effect on the dog’s perception of the food. To start with, ensure that you do not switch from one dog food to the other unnecessarily. Doing this could alter your dog’s feeding habits as not every brand you introduce could be likable. Where it is necessary to change, remember to do it gradually over time.

Still, some dogs may not want to eat from their bowls but will comfortably eat from the floor or other surfaces. This is more so for puppies that are currently being taught to eat from the bowl. While the habit is peculiar, it should not be alarming. Reinforce the training so they can eventually learn to eat from their bowl.

Seeking Attention

If you tend to give attention to your dog whenever they fail to eat, they could adopt this as a manipulative behavior. Your offering him attention reinforces the behavior in the long run. To change this, feed him in a quiet environment away from any distractions. Also, offer the food to him only for a specific period of time before taking it away. This way he will get used to the feeding routine.

Vaccinations and Spaying

While vaccinations are necessary for the health of our pets, they at times come with adverse side effects. Some of the common side effects include lethargy, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. If you observe a loss of appetite in your dog a day or two after they have had their shots, there should be nothing to worry about. Keep encouraging them to eat.  Some dogs experience loss of appetite after spaying or neutering procedures have been conducted too.

Dog Won’t Eat Dry Food Anymore – Dog Won’t Eat Kibble

Why won’t my dog eat dry dog food? A dog that has been eating dry food but refuses to anymore could be experiencing a health problem. It could also be because he simply is a picky eater and has become bored by his current food.

When your dog won’t eat dry food anymore, try and find out if they are okay. In most cases, an ill dog will not eat. This is especially if the issue has to do with dental or gastrointestinal problems. If you rule these out, try and feed him other kinds of food and omit his kibble to see if he budges.

If he can feed on treats, wet foods or human foods, your dog is just being a picky eater. Here are tips that can help him become a better feeder.

Stick to Dry Food

Where your dog won’t eat kibble but savors other delicacies, you will need to correct his behavior. Stop offering him other foods whenever he refuses to eat dry food. Stick to feeding him the same type of food at a regular time. If after 15 minutes, he has not eaten, get the bowl out of his site and only feed him again during his regular time. When he gets hungry and realizes there are no other offers, he is bound to resume eating his dry food.

Enhance his Meals

Some dogs fail to eat because they do not like the texture of their kibble. To counter this, try and enhance the taste of his dry food. You could try to add some broth or puree to make his meals more palatable. These enhancements should help him get back to eating his own food.

Dog Won’t Eat But Drinks Water

When a dog won’t eat but is drinking water is likely to suffer a stomach upset. This is more so where the drinking is not extreme and is later followed by vomiting. A dog that won’t eat anything else but grass could also be trying to induce vomiting. In some cases though, the failure to eat is accompanied by excessive drinking. In such cases, you should be concerned.


When a dog suffers constipation, their appetite is suppressed and they easily become dehydrated causing them to drink lots of water compared to normal times. In case your dog is not passing stool as regularly as he is used to, seems lethargic and is not playful, check if he is constipated. If he is, offer solutions for constipation in dogs to ease his discomfort.

Organ Failure

This is most common in senior dogs. A dog that doesn’t eat but drinks water too much could be suffering liver or kidney failure. Diabetes and cancer are other illnesses whose onset could be indicated by these symptoms.

These conditions can be managed if intervention is made early enough. Where the loss of appetite is accompanied by an unusual urge to drink, see your veterinarian immediately.

Where your dog won’t eat but drinks yet seem fine and exhibit normal behavior, there should be no cause for alarm. Keep observing the dog and see if the loss of appetite resolves within 24 hours. If it doesn’t, seek advice from your vet.

Dog Won’t Eat or Drink, Just Lays around and does not Move, Is Shaking and Lethargic

Where loss of appetite has nothing to do with issues with the food, failing to eat will be the first sign of illness. The illness may be something serious or something that will go away with simple interventions.

Where this is the case, the inappetence is accompanied by other symptoms such as the dog just lying around without moving. You might also see them shaking and appear lethargic. Limping, withdrawal from people could be other additional signs that your dog is not well. Seek emergency healthcare so your pooch can be treated.  Vomiting and diarrhea are other signs of sickness.

How to Get a Dog to Eat

To boost the appetite of a dog that won’t eat his food for whichever reason, you can make the following interventions.

  • In case of a home with multiple dogs, feed them in different crates or rooms to cut down on the intimidation.
  • Reduce or eliminate treats offered to your dog as these prevent them from eating.
  • Keep their feeding schedule constant and avoid changing it frequently. Train your dog to feed at a specific time so they learn to be disciplined in their food consumption.
  • When switching dog food, introduce the new food by mixing it with some bit of the old food. Keep increasing the amount of the new brand gradually. For every increase in the new food, decrease the old with an equal amount until a complete switch is done.
  • In case your dog is sick and won’t eat, try hand feeding them.


1 Comment

  1. Not eating or drinking. Lays in closet all day. Shaking and limping. Two separate Vets can find nothing wrong. Wheaten Terrier 10 years old. Has lost 5 lbs in one week. Neurological possibly ?

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