Dog Won’t Eat His Food But Will Eat Treats

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Author: Jacob Kay

Dogs can eat a variety of food including real food (food we eat). Dogs usually need two meals a day. If your dog won’t eat his food but will eat treats then you must have concern for his health.

Dogs are one of the most hyperactive animals, so they need more energy than any other animal. Balancing between his nutritional meal and treats is very necessary for a dog’s parents.

If you have questions like why won’t my dog eat his food but enjoys treats, I am going to discuss that in this article and also will suggest some remedies.

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7 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Eating Treats but Avoiding His Food

I know it is quite stressful for you if your dog went off food but eating treats. It is also not a normal issue in dogs. It is called partial anorexia. Here are some reasons why your dog won’t eat his food[1] but will eat treats.

Dog avoid his food
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1. Dog Is Sick

As whenever we humans get sick and we also do not like to eat our normal meals. Dogs are not different. They also do not prefer to eat. But when he refuses to eat his food and you show him a tempting treat like the best dog biscuits, then Your dog can not say no.

Therefore, sickness[2] can make your dog stop eating his food unless it is table food.

2. He Doesn’t Like His Food

Sometimes dogs also can be picky[3] about their food. They also get tired of having the same taste every day. In case you have recently changed his food and they may not like the new taste you put in their bowl.

Once he notices that table food can give a different taste, then he intentionally starts ignoring his food so that he can have a food treat instead.

3. Dog Dental Issues

Dental problems are very common in dogs. If your furry friend is having loose teeth then do not worry. “Over 80% of dogs over the age of three have an active dental disease“. says Lorraine Hiscox, DVM from VCAHospital.

Dog' dental issue
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The food you give your dog might be crunchy or he is aged now. If the treat you give to your dog is softer than his regular food then in these cases, it can be an indication that he is having a dental issue.

4. Treat Is the Issue

When there are many owners in the house and they all give small treats to their dogs. In the end, when you give him his food at lunch and dinner time, his stomach is already full. Dogs like table food so they won’t refuse to take rain of treats. They cannot even explain why they are not eating their food enough.

Moreover, In process of training the dog, you have to give a small treat when your dog obeys your command. When the training gets ends and mealtime comes, the dog is already full of treats. There can not be room for any extra meal.

5. Food Has Gone Bad

Most of every food item which comes with packaging has a shelf life. Dog food also has a self-life. You should carefully check the expiry date before serving him food. And buy food which is not going to expire soon.

beyond a doubt dog’s digestive system is very powerful. Most of the time there is no harm to his digestive system even if he eats stale food. But If your dog has eaten stale food by mistake then his stomach can be upset and because of that, your dog won’t eat his food.

6. He Has Become Tired of His Food

Like humans, your dogs also like to eat a variety of food. Dogs can eat whatever they see even some plants also. So, when he eats the same food all day all time, they get sick of it.

The obvious reason why a won’t your dog eat his food but treats. Because treats like ginger nut biscuits are always tastier than normal food. To again gain his interest in his food by changing the brand or flavour of the food for that refer to “Can Dogs Eat Ginger Nut Biscuits?

7. She’s Pregnant or in Heat

Female dogs face hormonal changes during the heat cycle and especially during pregnancy. That hormone change leads to mood swings and results in avoiding food.

Pregnant dog
Jan Dix- Shutterstock

Normally, pregnant dogs eat more than usual, only because of the pregnancy process. But initials days after the mating, female dogs face vomiting and little sickness, so they do not feel much hunger.

If you find out any symptoms like this, then your dog might be pregnant. You should take her to the vet as soon as possible and take extra care after detecting pregnancy.

How to Make Your Dog Eat His Food

It is necessary for you to get your dog’s health back on track. And that starts with balancing his diet. If your dog won’t eat his food and you want to encourage his appetite then the first thing I suggest is to take him to the vet. If there is any medical issue with your pooch then they can guide and cure accordingly.

Make a Consistent Feeding Schedule

Dogs are very accurate about their timing. Schedule his dinner and lunch timing by setting an alarm or reminder. When they get their meal on time their body automatically increases their appetite on time. It also makes your dog more discipline as he gets his meal at a particular time, so he needs to wait for his meal.

Home with multiple dogs and owners can also add a paper and pen beside his food bowl. Now if anyone has already served the food they can tick on it. This practice may be effort taking but this will avoid overeating.

Try New Dog Food

Sometimes your dog also gets bored by eating the same meal every day. You can change his food brand or type. But before buying any new product, make sure to read the ingredients. Some owners also wonder, “Can Dogs Eat Strawberries?” when looking for healthy treat options.

Try another dog food
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Change of food is not supposed to be sudden. You should gradually change his food otherwise it can make him again stop eating food.

Suppose Currently you are giving food “A” and you buy a new one which is “B”. A proper diet transition is, on day one serve 25% of B and 75% of A by mixing them together. After two days, mix both diet A and diet B equally 50-50 per cent. Then on the 5th day, keep B at 75% and A at only 25%. by now check your dog if his stomach adapted to this diet or not. If yes, then it is best to get back to the old diet.

By the seventh day, you can serve a 100% new diet and see how your dog is enjoying his new diet.

Minimize the Treats and Table Food

I know you love to give your dog table food, everyone does. But when the dog finds out that he will get table scraps if he does not fill his stomach with his food. They start avoiding eating his food on purpose.

You should extra minimize giving table food to your dog until he starts eating his food on regular basis.

Make Sure the Eating Area Is Safe

Dogs have a habit to eat in quiet and less crowdy place. If you are serving the food in a noisy and crowdy place then your dog might develop anxiety and because of that, he will start avoiding his food.

dog Eating alone
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You can keep his food bowl a quiet and less crowdy place. Moreover, you can try to keep some silence while the dog is having a meal. Additionally, if there are kids in your house then you should teach them to keep your dog alone while he is eating.

These are some things which you should take care of to avoid the question of why my dog won’t eat his food but will eat treats.

“Anorexia for more than 24 hours should not be ignored, as it is often a warning that something else is going on.” says Ellen Malmanger, DVM from PetMD.


What to do if your dog only eats treats?

If your dog is having only treat food then there can be a behavioural or medical issue. If you have noticed your dog hasn’t eaten anything in the last 24 hours then immediately call your vet.

Will dogs starve themselves if they don’t like their food?

No, even if your dog is picky about his diet. Normally dogs do not starve themselves when they dislike their food. But if they are starving for more than 24 hours then you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

What can I add to my dog’s food to make him eat?

You can make their food tastier simply by adding low-sodium chicken broth on top of the meal. You can also add some flavours which make his bowl more attractive, but make sure that it does not contain any harmful ingredients.

How do I know if my dog doesn’t like his food anymore?

Even if your dog is picky about his food, you still can not find out whether he like his food or not as he will not starve. But if he starts delaying his lunch-dinner time or eating less food than before. those are signs which indicate that he does not like his food.


May your question why won’t my dog eat get answered. Some breeds are very picky about their diet. Those who are having picky dogs should try new things to keep their dog happy and healthy. Despite being picky about diet, there are high chances that your dog is facing a medical issue. In those cases, a vet is the only gate.


  1. Parker, H. (2009, June 26). Dog Not Eating? Possible Causes and Appetite Solutions. WebMD.
  2. American Tarantula & Animals. (2022, October 9). 10 Best Foods For A Sick Dog That Won’t Eat (Care & Feeding Tips). American Tarantula & Animals.
  3. Linder, D. D. E. (2017, March 16). How Do I Get My Picky Pet to Eat? Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School.
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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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