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Why Won’t My Dog Eat Dry Dog Food?

by Irene Hislop

22 August 2019

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Measuring out dry dog food and pouring it into your pup’s dish does not involve a lot of effort, but it is still frustrating if your dog only turns up his nose and walks away leaving that food uneaten. You’ve carefully picked out a quality, nutritious food such as Leader or Go Native, so why is it sitting uneaten and abandoned in the dog’s dish? Dogs will go off their food for a number of reasons, and dog owners should understand them.

First, you need to investigate a few things when your dog won’t eat dry food. When did your dog stop eating? Was it sudden or gradual? Is your dog doing anything new or different? Is he eating other foods but not his dry dog food or has he stopped eating entirely? Is he behaving normally or does he seem off form? It can be helpful to make a few notes about these things, because if he is refusing to eat his regular dry dog food for more than a couple of days, he needs to see the vet.

Things that Put Dogs Off Their Dry Dog Food

Every dog is different, and these things are not mutually exclusive. Because some of them are quite serious, it is important to have your vet give your dog a complete check-up if your dog won’t eat dry food.

  • Dental Problems: One of the most common reasons for a dog to stop eating dry food is dental pain. If your dog’s teeth are sore, crunching into that dry food is going to be painful even if he loves the stuff. But your vet can help. Your dog might need a tooth or two removed or he might just need a good cleaning. Canine dental health is important. Giving him dental sticks and brushing his teeth with dog toothpaste (never human toothpaste!) can help ensure he enjoys good dental health for a long time. But older dogs are prone to trouble with their teeth.
  • Kibble Size: We make dog food for small, medium and large dogs for many different reasons, but kibble size is an important one. If your small dog won’t eat dry food, he might just be struggling to chew pieces of kibble that are too big for his mouth.
  • Illness: Dogs will go off their food if they are unwell. That’s why it is important to see your vet before doing much to coax your dog to eat. Just getting the food into him won’t cure his illness. If he is ill, he needs to see the vet for proper treatment.
  • Overfeeding: If your dog is eating other things, he might not be very hungry for his dry dog food. Many dogs would much rather fill up with table scraps and treats. If you let a child have their fill of sweets and ice cream, you would not be surprised if they turned down dinner. The solution here is simple. Stop the extras. And make sure everyone in the household is on board with this. Dogs are very clever is sussing out who the soft touch is!
  • Pickiness: Yes, dogs have preferences. While some dogs are happy to chow down on your favourite shoes and whatever they can slurp off the ground, others have a very short list of what they like to eat. They might turn up their nose at the dry dog food you’ve purchased simply because it is not their favourite flavour.

Encouraging Your Dog to Eat Dry Dog Food

connolly's red mills dry dog food leader natural dog nutrition dog food train me with salmon

If his teeth and health are fine but your dog won’t eat dry food, you can take some steps to encourage him to eat the healthy dry dog food you’ve purchased in an appropriate size for him. The first step is to ensure your dog is actually hungry. Cut out the treats, except for those you give him when you are training him. Training treats should be small and low calorie, as our Train Me treats are. Reduce the amount of food you are feeding. The best schedule is to divide the food into two meals, morning and evening.

You can entice him to eat his dry dog food by adding something he loves to it. Try some table scraps such as boneless cooked meat without any sauce or seasoning. Dogs also love eggs and cheese, so you can mix that into his dry food as well. Some dogs really love to have a little bit of wet food mixed in with their kibble.

If you have multiple dogs, that can be part of the issue. Dogs have a strict sense of pack order, and a younger, timid dog might be reluctant to eat near an older, more assertive dog. Your dog could even be reluctant to eat near you, particularly if he is a rescue who might have experienced abuse. Try giving your dog his own space to eat undisturbed, preferably in a room alone.

Exercise is a great appetite stimulant. Dogs can get down in the dumps and lose their appetite. A daily walk burns up some calories and stimulates his mind too. Don’t we all feel a little hungrier after a bit of fresh air? Dogs do too.

Picking the Right, Irresistible Dry Dog Food

If you changed brands and now your dog won’t eat dry food, he might not like the new one. Or it might be that he is upset about a sudden change. Changes to your dog’s diet should be made gradually by mixing the old and new foods.

The first criteria for your dog’s food is that it is healthy. Look for a brand that uses quality, local, traceable ingredients. We’ve sought out the very best natural ingredients for all of our dry dog foods – Leader, Go Native and Engage. And we make them in a variety of formulations to suit every dog’s size, age and activity level. We have special foods for working dogs and those with sensitive stomachs and food intolerances. Our Go Native range offers an especially tempting array of flavours to appeal to even the pickiest dog. If your dog has rejected chicken, beef and lamb, they might love herring or duck. If your dog won’t eat dry food, you don’t have to switch to a wet food diet. Give them an option that is as irresistible as it is nutritious from Connolly’s Red Mills.

Irene Hislop

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