As canine nutrition consultants, we know that there isn’t a one size-fits-all-solution when dogs begin to refuse food and it depends on health status, but at least one (and hopefully more) of these things can help:
- Change the diet (be sure it’s balanced) Dogs can associate feeling nauseous with something they ate in the past that seemed to have caused the nausea, and if that something happens to be the usual diet, food aversion happens quickly.
- Change the feeding bowl. A flat plate can seem attractive to a dog who usually eats from a bowl. Some dogs refuse any type of feeding utensil, but will eat food off a placemat on the floor.
- Sometimes an area of a room or even an entire room becomes a “bad place”. Negative experiences like nausea and vomiting may be related to that location. Try another place in that same room, or feed the dog in different room.
- Change the texture of food. If soft foods are usually fed, try something crunchy like dehydrated bits of meat sprinkled over regular food, crushed rice cake (just a little), etc. If hard foods are usually fed, switch to soft foods like boiled chicken, poached fish, etc.
- Try a different temperature of food. Warm it up or try it cold. Most dogs prefer warm food, but some are eager even for some frozen foods like peas, or a frozen ice cube of chicken broth to lap at.
- The sense of smell may be altered for some dogs. Stronger scents seem to gain attention. Try a drizzle of canned sardine juice on food, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, dollop of tomato paste, baby food (chicken in broth is a favorite), or poach liver in a good amount of water, so you can drizzle the liver juice on food. Freeze leftover broth in an ice cube tray for easy warm-up as needed. Here’s how to do it.
- Dogs are masters at body language, and when you worry, the dog worries too. Feeding a bite of cheese with a combination of dread and hope doesn’t work. Make it a happy game. Hid a pill in cheese? First tiny bite has nothing it in, second bite has nothing in it, third has the pill and fourth has nothing in it again.
Be sure to feed a diet that’s correct for your particular dog and his/her health challenges and keep your chin up. You can do this!