When your dog won’t eat out of its bowl, it can be a stressful time for you as a pet parent. However, if your dog is otherwise healthy and has eaten in the past 48 hours, there is no immediate cause for concern.
Even so, it still begs the question, why won’t my dog eat out of his bowl? There are many reasons why a dog might suddenly avoid their food bowl. It ranges from simple causes to more complex behavioral issues. It may take some detective work on your part. But keep reading with us today to get to the bottom of your dog’s unusual behaviors.
Why Won’t My Dog Eat Out of Bowl?
Dogs stop eating out of their food bowls for many reasons. Some are as simple as needing a different bowl type, while others involve a behavioral aspect, such as a need for security when eating. If your dog hasn’t eaten for more than 48 hours, make sure to contact your vet immediately. Your dog needs to eat at least two meals daily to stay healthy. So a sudden disinterest in any food is a sign that something is amiss with their health.
Like many dog behaviors, dragging food away from the bowl may have an instinctive component. When wild dogs make a kill or scavenge for food, they will drag their food away from other dogs. If you have more than one dog, your pooch may engage in this behavior to protect their food from being taken by their housemates.
Establishing a mealtime routine that is non-competitive for your dogs is important. Feeding your dogs too closely together may lead to resource guarding behaviors, especially if your dogs have different eating habits – some will graze while others will eat quickly. If you feed your dogs separately, and one tends to take their food away from their bowl to eat, it’s a good idea to close the door or use a gate to keep them in place until they are finished.
Height of Bowl
Raised dog bowls are generally not necessary for our furry friends. Not only do our dogs not need to eat high off the floor, but in some cases, these bowls may be detrimental to them. This is because raised dog bowls may be associated with bloat in dogs. This condition causes the stomach to twist after filling with food, gas, or fluids. The results from studies are varied, but there are concerns about this risk regardless. So, if eating from a raised bowl causes your dog to struggle with gas, they may avoid eating from it in the future.
Your dog does not want to be disturbed when they eat. Frequent distractions and interruptions can lead to anxiety, aggression, and resource guarding issues. When you have small children or other pets in your household, be sure to teach them to respect your dog’s need for privacy when they eat. If your dog’s bowl is in a high-traffic area, your dog may need more privacy when they eat, so consider moving it to a new spot that is quiet and safe from disturbances.
Incorrect Type of Bowl
Your dog’s bowl is important. Your dog’s bowl should be made with a material that is easy to clean, does not have an odor, and is not noisy to eat from. If your dog is anxious around mealtimes, consider if their bowl is too noisy for them to eat from. If it slides around a lot, they may struggle to eat or become nervous that someone will take the bowl away from them. So, it may be worth considering a different type of bowl for your pooch.
Your dog learns through association. So, you may need to do a little detective work if your pooch suddenly seems nervous around its food bowl. Has something recently fallen while your dog has been eating from their bowl? Have other pets in the house disturbed your dog when they were eating? If your pup has an anxious disposition, it might be more susceptible to this kind of response. Moving your dog’s bowl to a new spot may help to alleviate the problem.
Does Not Like The Food
Another simple reason your pup may stop eating from their bowl is their dislike of their food. This may be the case if you have recently changed your dog’s diet. However, it is unusual for a dog to suddenly dislike their food or “get bored” of it. Dogs have fewer taste buds than we do, so they are less inclined to want different foods daily.
Many dogs will go off their food if they are in pain when they eat. You might notice your dog pick up pieces of food and then drop them off. Some dogs will also spit out pieces of kibble when eating due to difficulty chewing.
Some dogs will also avoid drinking cold water when they have dental issues due to the colder temperatures causing them pain. It’s important that your dog gets dental checkups at the vet regularly to avoid painful conditions like periodontitis. You can also provide your dog with plenty of dental chews and toys to reduce gum disease risk.
How to Make Your Dog Eat From His Bowl
If your dog won’t eat out of its bowl, there are several things you can do to remedy the issue. These include changing their food bowl, changing the food bowl location, changing their placemat, or limiting the amount of time that they have access to their meals. It’s worth noting that a healthy adult dog will not get bored of their kibble, so any changes in behavior will have some other underlying cause.
When your dog stops eating from their bowl, it may be tempting to continually hand-feed them instead. However, you teach them to develop a new habit when you do this. Many hand-fed dogs will develop a preference for eating from your hand. It is because it’s often easier for them and involves bonding with their owner.
Ensure you encourage them to eat from their bowl where possible to avoid this problem. It’s both inconvenient for you and potentially unsafe for your dog if they need to go for boarding or to the vet and refuse to eat from a bowl for an extended period of time.
Change The Bowl
Your dog’s bowl should be ceramic, stainless steel, or melamine, as these are the safest material choices. These materials are easy to clean and often dishwasher safe, so removing bad smells from your pup’s bowl could put them off eating is easier. Your dog may also avoid their food if it tastes off.
So, if your dog suddenly avoids eating from their bowl, consider swapping their current one for a new one to see if anything changes. The bowl’s material can also play a role in them being put off of their food – for example, some dogs dislike the sound of their collar tag clinking against their food bowl. If you notice this, consider swapping to a bowl with a different material to reduce the noise.
Change The Feeding Location
Dogs need privacy and security when they eat. Without these two things, your dog may develop resource guarding behaviors due to anxiety and stress. This is especially true if you have young children or other pets in your house who could disturb your dog during mealtimes. Be sure to place your dog’s food bowl in a quiet and secure location where they will feel safest.
Remove or Change The Mat
Some dogs benefit from having a placemat under their food bowl. Not only do these help to control the mess, but they also keep the bowl from sliding around too much. For older dogs and those with mobility issues, mats can also help keep them stable as they eat. If your dog’s placemat is particularly old and losing its grip, consider replacing it with a new one. If old food is causing the mat to smell bad, your dog may also avoid eating from their bowl for this reason – make sure to wash it or replace it!
Add Some Toppers
Sometimes your dog will avoid eating from their bowl due to a lack of appetite rather than an issue with their bowl. If your pup needs some encouragement, consider adding a tasty food topping to your pup’s meal. Some good options are low-sodium chicken broth or bone broth. You can also try mixing wet food with your dog’s dry food to pique their appetite! Just be sure that you don’t transition your dog to a wet diet suddenly without a gradual change.
Make The Food Available on a Limited Time
Some dogs will avoid eating altogether if they know that they will get more valuable food later. Treats or table scraps might come to mind. If this sounds like your pup, be sure to hold off on the extras if they are avoiding their full meals in favor of tastier treats. You can also make your dog’s food available for a limited amount of time to encourage them to eat. Leave it out for half an hour or less. You should do this at the same time each day so that they can adjust to the routine. For raw meat, do not leave their food out for more than two hours, as it will begin to spoil!
Size Up or Down The Bowl
The size of your dog’s bowl matters. For example, a brachycephalic breed like the English Bulldog may benefit from a larger but shallower bowl. This makes it easier for them to access their food. Larger breeds may benefit from deeper bowls to prevent the food from spilling out onto the floor. Breeds with long ears may prefer smaller but deeper bowls so that their ears do not hang into their meal. Each dog is different, so get a bowl that meets their needs.
When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?
It can be a worrying time when your dog goes off their food. Your dog’s loss of appetite can be caused by a wide range of things. In order to determine how to help your dog, it’s important to identify the underlying cause. If you’ve already tried everything else we have discussed, it may be time to talk to your vet.
True anorexia in dogs is when your pup refuses to eat altogether. This is caused by serious illness and warrants an emergency vet visit. Pseudo-anorexia occurs when your dog is hungry and wants to eat but has difficulty eating due to some underlying cause. This could be from pain in the mouth or throat, for example. If your pup stops eating for a day or two but is otherwise healthy, it’s generally safe to monitor them initially. But if your dog is also quiet, vomiting, lethargic, or has not eaten at all for 72 hours or more, it’s time to seek veterinary help.
Overall, your dog may simply need a different food bowl, a new place to eat, or re-training to eat from their bowl. If your dog has not eaten at all for more than 48 hours, always talk to your vet as soon as possible. This is a sign of a serious health issue and should not be taken lightly.