If your dog won’t eat out of his bowl, it can be puzzling and concerning. However, there are some common reasons why dogs may refuse to eat from their bowl and techniques you can try to encourage your pooch to chow down.
Common Causes of Bowl Aversion
There are several possible explanations for your dog not eating out of his bowl:
Illness, mouth pain, or loss of appetite can lead to disinterest in eating from the bowl. Conditions like gum disease, oral tumors, and throat inflammation cause mouth discomfort. Nausea, gastrointestinal issues, and systemic diseases also reduce appetite. Always rule out health problems first with an exam by your veterinarian.
Stress and Anxiety
Dogs may refuse food due to stressful events like re-homing, introduction of new pets, loud noises, or changes to their environment or routine. Separation anxiety can also cause a dog to avoid eating when their owner leaves. Helping your dog relax and feel secure may resolve loss of appetite.
Picky Eating Habits
Some dogs are just fussy or get bored with their food. This is especially common in breeds like Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Offering variety by switching proteins or mixing in wet food may entice picky eaters to eat from their bowl again.
Dogs that are easily distracted may neglect their bowl to focus on noises, smells, people, or other animals nearby. Feeding in a quiet room away from commotion can allow some dogs to settle down and eat.
Traumatic incidents like choke collars corrections when eating, having the bowl moved abruptly during meals, or being startled while eating can create negative associations with the food bowl. Re-training with positive reinforcement helps overcome fear of the bowl.
Some dogs prefer eating in certain locations or from certain bowls. Raised feeders, mats under the bowl, or feeding in a different room may get your dog approaching his bowl again.
Tips to Encourage Eating from the Bowl
If your dog has started shunning his bowl, try these tips to get him eating from it again:
- Check for health issues and address any pain, nausea, or disease.
- Minimize stress and distraction during meal times.
- Hand feed initially, then gradually move hand closer to bowl until dog is eating from the bowl.
- Warm food to increase aroma and palatability.
- Add healthy mix-ins like broth, cottage cheese, or rice to pique interest.
- Try different proteins like chicken, beef, fish, or eggs.
- Because some bowls are not designed properly, dogs will feel uncomfortable when eating. In order to make it easier to eat, dogs will take the dog food out of the bowl. If your dog keeps doing this, consider changing his bowl.
- Offer praise and rewards when your dog eats from his bowl.
- Consider raising the bowl on a stand if your dog has neck, back, or joint issues.
- Change bowls – stainless, ceramic, or plastic may appeal more.
- If the owner does not wash the bowl cleanly and the smell remains in the bowl, the dog’s nose is very sensitive and he will pick the food out of the bowl and eat it. So wash and sanitize bowls frequently.
If you suspect your dog has an underlying health issue leading to inappetence, it’s important to have them examined by a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Persistent refusal to eat is serious and can lead to dangerous health complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my dog only eats treats?
Reduce treats and avoid free-feeding. Hunger should motivate him to eat from his bowl. Hand feed his kibble as treats initially.
Why does my dog eat around his bowl?
He may not like having his whiskers touch the bowl sides. Try a shallower, wider bowl. Raised bowls also help.
Why does my dog flip his bowl over?
Dogs do this to communicate boredom or frustration with the food. Try more stimulating foods and make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.
What if my dog eats too fast and chokes?
Invest in a slow feed bowl to prevent inhaling food. And separate dogs at mealtime if competition leads to gulping food.
Why does my dog take his food out of the bowl to eat it?
This instinct goes back to when dogs had to forage. Place his bowl on a mat or cookie sheet to contain spilled kibble.
While it may take some experimentation to discover the triggers, in most cases you can identify why your dog has stopped eating from his bowl and implement solutions to get your furbaby’s appetite back on track. Pay attention to any signs of illness and contact your vet if loss of appetite persists. With time and positive reinforcement, your pup will be happily chowing down from his bowl at every mealtime.