First things first: if your dog has a pulse then your dog is indeed food motivated. A common thing I hear from people is that their dog isn’t that motivated towards food. Let me tell you about three possible reasons that your dog may no be excited about food.

1. Overfeeding

Dog food in metal bowl on old floor.

The dehydrated food that most people feed is packed with calories and expands in a dog’s stomach. Combine that with all the extra treats that dogs receive each day and this usually equates to a dog that feels sickly just smelling more food. Here are a few hard and fast rules that will help improve your dog’s appetite if over-feeding is the issue. Here’s what you’re going to do:

  • Check with your vet to make sure there is no underlying physical cause for their reduced appetite. If your dog has a clean bill of health, keep reading ..
  • Use the quantity recommended on your dog food package to get a rough estimate of how much your dog should be eating. Keep in mind that that quantity is usually 5-10% than most dogs actually need. The dog food is a product, and the more you use, the more you buy.
  • Use a lined measuring cup! Stop using plastic containers and estimating, you should be precise in your measurements.
  • Pick up any food not eaten within 10 minutes. Dogs are opportunistic eaters. If your dog is walking away from the food then they are most likely receiving more than their daily caloric need. Assuming your dog is physically healthy, trust your dog to know that they’ve had enough.
  • If you are especially concerned that your dog might be hungry mid-day, you can always offer food again at lunch time. But do respect that the only way your dog can say “no thanks” is by turning their head away. Don’t force it.
  • Track the quantity of food that your dog chooses to eat for one week. That’s right … a full week. A full seven days. Measure and write down the quantity of food that is left over after 10 minutes and subtract that from the amount given.
  • Avoid adding gravy or wet food. If you feel the need to add a little something special you can grate some of the meaty roll into your dog’s food like you are adding in fresh pepper. This is often enough to stimulate your dog’s appetite.
  • Now average your amount together. And divide by the number by seven. If you feed twice each day, divide that number by 2.

2. Stress, Fear and Anxiety

Chronic stress can suppress a dog’s appetite. This leads most people to leave food out throughout the day, which can exacerbate the problem. Keep your dog on a feeding schedule. If your dog walks away from their food bowl, be sure to pick it up. Talk to a professional trainer that will help teach you how to build your dog’s confidence, and minimize his or her day to day stress.

3. Medical Issues

A sudden loss of appetite or change in eating habits could be an indication that your dog should be brought to the vet. This will be easier to spot in a dog that is already on a healthy feeding schedule.

There are studies that show that small quantities of food are more effective at stimulating an animal’s appetite than a larger quantity of the same food. Biologically, brains are programmed to be suspicious of foods that are offered in abundance. With this in mind, here’s a tip that will get your dog excited about meal time: measure out the ideal quantity of food for the day based on your dog’s weight, age and activity, and offer it in smaller portions throughout the day.