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We all want our pets to be healthy and happy, so when your dog is not eating, it’s always a worry. But going off their favourite foods can be common, whether you’re serving up traditional dinners or, like so many pet parents today, you’ve made the move to natural, healthy raw feeding.
All dogs respond to foods differently. If you’re a little worried your dog might be unwell, your first step should be a chat with your vet. But if they’ve got the all-clear and they’re still off their food, we’re here to help. Today’s blog is full of tried-and-tested tips to help your four-legged friends find their appetite again…
My dog is not eating their food
If your dog has gone off raw food and is passing on meal times, it might be because their food makes them feel ill or reminds them of a bad experience. If your dog’s developed an aversion to some of their raw food and is not eating, it could be that there’s something they don’t like about its taste, texture, temperature, or even the environment you’re serving it in. But don’t worry, all of those things are easily fixable.
If you’ve taken the time to choose really healthy, nutritious raw dinners for your dog, seeing them go untouched can be pretty disheartening. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up on raw. Lots of pet owners successfully get past their dog not eating by gradually introducing new raw foods with different flavours or textures, and giving plenty of positive reinforcement at dinnertime.
Going for higher quality raw food to get dogs to eat again
When you make the switch to raw dog food, going for high-quality ingredients and products is really important, not just for their health but for their enjoyment too. Poor-quality foods can be tough on your dog’s tummy, affecting their appetite and ultimately becoming the reason why a dog is not eating.
If you think that could be the problem, look at moving to a higher quality brand with carefully sourced ingredients and minimal processing. Keep a close eye on the packaging so you can avoid foods containing additives, sugars and artificial-sounding ingredients that don’t make sense.
Instead, look for raw foods with clear labelling so you know exactly what ingredients are inside, where they come from and how they’ve been prepared. Check manufacturers’ websites to see whether they’re registered with DEFRA or members of UK Pet Food – if they are, they should be working to the recommended protocols for safety and nutritional balance.
Thinking about your dog's environment
For many dogs, the environment they’re living and eating in can have a big impact on their appetite. If they’re feeling stressed or anxious, they can lose interest in, or avoid, meals they’d otherwise enjoy. So, what might be the cause of that stress – and the reason your dog’s not eating?
The honest answer is all sorts of things, from a change in the weather to a new routine. To get your dog to eat again, try to create consistency and a solid feeding routine that works for them, and you.
Try to feed them in the same space every day and keep it calm so they feel comfortable and relaxed. If your dog doesn’t seem happy in the place you’re feeding them now, try setting up a new feeding area in a different room and see if that helps them eat again. It’s often a good idea to avoid free feeding – where food sits in their bowl for long periods of time – and try to get them to eat at regular times, polishing off their dinner in one go, rather than slowly over time.
How to get your dog to eat raw food again
If your dog isn’t eating, the most important thing is to find out why – and help them get their appetite back as soon as possible. As we said earlier, if you’re worried about their health, a chat with your vet is the best place to start.
If everything looks ok, you’re feeding them in a calm, consistent way and you’ve chosen high-quality raw food, there are a few more things worth considering…
First, the temperature of their food. If you’re using frozen raw food and thawing it out in the fridge before giving it to your dog, it might still be colder than they’d like. Dogs can sometimes prefer their raw food at room temperature, so try waiting until it’s warmed up a little more and smells a little stronger – that could be enough to kickstart their appetite and get your dog eating again.
You could also think about the variety of raw food you’re giving your dog. Just like humans, they get bored of eating the same thing all the time, so if you’re serving up the same flavour or recipe every day, that might be why your dog’s gone off their food. Try offering something new by mixing a new flavour into their current food or choosing a different recipe to give them a range of dinners across the week.
It’s worth experimenting with the texture of your dog’s raw food too – you could try mushing it up (or not mushing it if that’s what they’re bored of), and if they usually have wet food you could switch to nuggets for something new.
To sum it all up...
Whatever kind of food you feed your dog, it’s not unusual for them to lose their appetite from time to time. If your dog is not eating, it’s important to get to the bottom of it quickly, so they can stay happy and healthy – but there are lots of things you can try to get your dog eating again.
Once you’ve ruled out any health problems with your vet, look at the environment your dog eats in, the quality of raw dog food you’re giving them, and the temperature, texture and variety of their meals.
When you find something that works for them, and they’re eating happily again, try to keep their routine consistent, so they feel settled, safe, comfortable and – most importantly – ready for their dinner.