Many dog owners have encountered the frustrating dilemma of their pet dog not eating his or her meals but still showing interest in treats. This can be distressing for owners and detrimental to the dog’s well-being. In this article, we’ll look into possible causes behind this behavior and offer solutions on how owners can address it.

Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Eating His Food But Will Eat Treats

Are you having difficulty getting your pup to eat his meals but allowing them treats? One possible explanation could be that they have become distracted while other items are in their environment.

why is my dog not eating his food but will eat treats

Medical Reasons:

  • Physical Illness or Injury
  • Dental Problems
  • Digestive Issues
  • Medication Side Effects
  • Changes in Diet

Behavioral Reasons:

  • Anxiety & Stress
  • Hunger/Craving for Food
  • Feed Habits & Routines
  • Location of Food Bowls & Water Fountains
  • Owner Behaviour towards Feeding

Understanding Medical Reasons

If your dog suddenly stops eating their food, it could be due to underlying medical issues. A trip to the vet can help identify any underlying problems. A sick or injured dog may refuse food due to pain and discomfort; dental issues like broken teeth or abscesses make eating uncomfortable; digestion issues like constipation or diarrhea lead to loss of appetite; certain medications have been known to have this effect as well; finally changes in diet may create an upset stomach which in turn decreases appetite.

Behavioral Reasons

Dogs may refuse their food due to behavioral reasons. Anxiety and stress caused by loud noises, changes in routine or environment can affect a dog’s appetite. Boredom with the same food may also contribute. The feeding schedule and location of food and water bowls also play a role; dogs may turn down food if it’s too close to their potty area. Finally, owner’s behavior towards feeding can influence their pup’s appetite – overfeeding/underfeeding, feeding at the wrong time or being pushy all contribute factors towards this phenomenon.

How to Motivate Your Dog to Eat His Food

If your pup is refusing his food, there are steps you can take to motivate him to eat.

Making food more appealing

Add some tasty treats or wet food to your dog’s dry kibble for added appeal and to encourage them to eat more frequently.

Change Your Feed Location

Are you looking to change the location of your feed? If so, read on!

If your dog’s food is placed near their potty area, try moving it to a different spot. Dogs tend to be naturally clean animals and may refuse to eat in that same location.

Change Your Feed Routine

Establishing a regular feeding schedule for your dog can be extremely beneficial. Feeding them at the same time each day in the same place helps them become used to the routine and encourages them to become more interested in eating.

Reduce Treats

If your dog is eating treats but not their meals, it could be time to reduce the number of treats they get. Overfeeding treats can decrease a dog’s desire for regular food items.

Consult Your Vet

If your pup’s lack of appetite persists, it may be time to take them in for a checkup. They can perform tests and suggest a diet tailored towards each individual’s nutritional requirements.


Dogs that are reluctant to eat but still eating treats is an increasingly common occurrence that may have various causes. Understanding these causes, medical issues, behavioral reasons and feeding habits and routines all play a role. To encourage your pup to eat by making food more appealing, changing up the location and routine of feeding, and decreasing treats could all help alleviate this issue. Ultimately consulting a vet if the problem persists is always recommended.