Why Doesn’t My Dog Eat All His Food At Once? (8 Reasons)

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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Like every living thing, food is an essential part of your dog’s life and proper nutrition is necessary for them to carry out basic bodily functions. It can be a bit worrisome to notice that your dog no longer finishes his food, but you should be aware that your pooch’s eating habits are prone to change.

Your dog may not eat all his food at once for several reasons, including overfeeding, dental problems, illness, pickiness, GI obstruction, stress, food allergies, and stomach upset. It could be that they’re bored of eating one type of meal. But If you think it’s caused by more serious issues, ensure you visit your vet.

Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to hunger but others may be in the middle or very selective about what they eat. It’s important to know your pooch and the amount of food appropriate for their breed, size, and activity level.

Also, take what is the amount stated on the label of your dog’s food with a grain of salt. They’re merely averages and not a standard quantity to feed your pooch. Nevertheless, it can give you important information about the contents of your pet’s food.

Are Dogs Supposed To Eat All Their Food At Once?

There’s no rule that says dogs should eat all their food straight away. But it may become a concern if they end up eating little only a small amount of food. While It’s not uncommon for dogs to eat halfway or skip meals some days, eating little to no food for longer than 3 days may warrant that you get them checked.

There is no reason to be worried if your pooch leaves behind a handful of kibble in his bowl. All you may need to do is just cut down on the amount of food you serve them.

Although some dog owners believe free feeding is a great way to minimize leftovers and ensure your dog finishes his food, you could be putting your pooch at the risk of being overweight besides the practice being unsanitary. Your furry friend should have a feeding schedule and it should last for about 15 to 20 minutes before the food bowl is removed. Make your dog understand that once he misses any food session he can never get the meal back.

Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn’t Eat All His Food At Once

There are so many reasons why your pooch may not be eating all his food. Not every one of them is a serious issue that requires medical intervention. But if you are worried about your canine counterpart remaining their food, here are some of the most common reasons :

1. Overfeeding

The fact that you may be feeding your dog more than it can normally take is one that you should be aware of. Your dog’s body has a way of regulating their food intake hence anytime they are satiated they naturally stop eating.

Remember, there’s no fixed as to the exact quantity of food your dog should consume, however, do well to serve them according to age, size, activity level, and medical status. Make sure you create a daily feeding schedule for your pooch and stick to it. If you still need a guide you can resort to your vet.

2. Intestinal Blockage

Intestinal blockage occurs when the intestine of your dog is partially or completely blocked causing the passage of intestinal contents to be stopped. The cause of intestinal blockage is the swallowing of hard objects like nuts, toys, bones, and so on. In such cases, your pooch may experience various symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. If you suspect intestinal blockage in your dog, visit your vet immediately.

3. Dental Issues

People often neglect the possibility of dental diseases but it’s a common problem in canines and you definitely cannot expect a dog with a broken tooth or bleeding gums to readily gobble up every bit of their dry kibble. If we are talking about a pup, you should bear in mind that they may find it difficult to chew solid foods because they may be in their teething phase, which is a natural part of their life. You can help by feeding softer food or adding water to their food to soften it.

4. Problems with Food

Your dog may be right here. It may be that you didn’t quite check well before serving him spoiled food or perhaps, the taste or the quality of the food isn’t the best. If you want to change to a new dog food make sure the transition is slow and your dog has enough time to adjust to the new diet without any stomach upset.

The possibility of food allergies is not out of question. In some cases, drug reactions can be the culprit. Whatever the case may be, it’s imperative to eliminate those allergy-provoking diets and monitor your canine to ensure their food is healthy.

5. Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is a condition caused by a lot of factors ranging from less serious to more severe problems. It’s a common reason for little or no appetite in dogs. Other symptoms associated with abdominal pain are restlessness, abdominal swellings, vocal expression of pain, postural and behavioral changes in your pooch.

6. Picky Eating Habits

As a general rule of thumb, some dogs have large appetites while others couldn’t care less about eating. However, picky behaviors sometimes can develop as a result of over pampering your dog, spoiling them with treats and human food.

If you are always sure to show up with tasty treats after serving your dog, then it may be that he’s just patiently waiting for that exotic moment! But in reality, you are just paving a way for your pooch’s finickiness.

7. Underlying Health Issues

If your dog suddenly begins to shy away from eating, you may be dealing with more serious health issues. First, check for other possible symptoms like lethargy, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and pain. On suspecting any of these symptoms, make sure you let your vet know about it.

Underlying health problems that can cause loss of appetite include infections, hormonal changes, kidney problems, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more.

8. Stress and Anxiety

Sometimes when you notice that your fur baby doesn’t eat all his food as he used to, it could be as a result of stress factors and nervousness. If your pooch is not accustomed to loud noise, strangers, or new places, he may readily become anxious or stressed when exposed to these experiences. Your little friend may also want to have you around why they eat due to the fear of separation anxiety.

Also Read: My Dog Has Diarrhea at Night Only

What Should You Do If Your Dog Won’t Eat All His Food At Once?

In most cases where your dog doesn’t eat their entire meal at once, there’s no serious health concern. Perhaps, you may be overfeeding them and may need to reduce the food quantity you serve them. However, if you observe a significant change in their eating habits or the emergence of other symptoms such as nausea, lethargy, pain, fever and diarrhea, bring them to your vet.

Generally, your canine companion should be fine with high-quality dry kibble coupled with vitamin-rich veggies and healthy treats — making up only 10% of their dietary intake. To make their diet even better and more palatable, you can add some minced, boneless chicken to their kibble and it must be salt-free.

For a teething pup or a dog with dental issues, dry kibbles may not go too well for them. A good way to soften their kibbles while adding valuable nutrients is by mixing those dry kibbles with chicken broth. Again make sure that the chicken broth is low in sodium. You use water as a substitute for the chicken broth.

As a matter of fact, not all dog breeds are very fascinated about eating. If at all your pooch is feeding well, it doesn’t matter whether they clean their plate or not. On the other hand, it should be a reason for concern when your pooch is starving. More serious conditions can possibly induce such changes in food patterns, and your veterinarian should intervene as soon as possible. Routine physical exams and proper monitoring can improve your chances of detecting potential causes early.


Should Unfinished Dog Food Be Left Out or Disposed Of?

It’s best to discard leftovers of your dog’s food after each mealtime. This will help create a good eating habit and consistent feeding schedule. Besides that, contamination is also a huge possibility. And also, wet dog food is usually prone to spoiling because of its high moisture content.

Is Eating A Little At A Time Normal For Dogs?

Dogs are supposed to have a feeding routine that lasts for 15 minutes. Except in some health cases, slow or picky eating habits can stem from excessive pampering and spoiling them with too many treats. Some dog breeds are naturally finicky but when you are aware of that from the get-go, it’s easier to instill in them healthy eating habits.

Will Dogs Starve Themselves To Death If They Don’t Like Their Food?

If you stick to a regular feeding schedule, your dog is unlikely to starve to death. Even finicky eaters still succumb to eating when extremely hungry. However, some medical issues, such as intestinal blockage, may make eating impossible for your canine companion.

Final Thoughts: My Dog Doesn’t Eat All His Food At Once

While there are a lot more reasons why your pooch may not finish their food, we should understand that dogs are like humans to some extent and can decide to stop eating without any special impulse. Moreover, most dogs can tell when they are satiated.

If your dog doesn’t finish their food, it doesn’t automatically mean there’s something wrong. Just keep an open mind and monitor your pooch in case there are other symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, or weakness. In case of any marked change in eating habits or the presence of any other symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit your vet.

Hope this answers your questions? And I’m glad to see that you are doing what’s within your power to ensure that your four-legged friend is happy and healthy.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.