wikiHow to Get Your Dog to Eat Dry Food

Three Methods:Considering Why Your Dog Will Not Eat Dry FoodAdjusting Your Dog’s DietTrying Other Strategies

Do you have a dog that won’t eat his dry dog food? Before doing anything else, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for a thorough check-up because picky eating may indicate a more serious problem. If your dog is just picky due to conditioning, then you will need to take steps to change your dog’s eating habits. These steps can include getting a high quality dry dog food, feeding your dog on a schedule, and adjusting your dog’s diet over time.

Method 1
Considering Why Your Dog Will Not Eat Dry Food

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    Take your dog to the veterinarian. There are two main reasons a dog may be a picky eater. The first reason is that your dog may be sick. The second reason is that your dog is a picky eater because he has often had the luxury of wet food or human food.[1] To find out the cause of your dog's picky eating, you will need to take him to the veterinarian for a checkup.
    • If your dog is well, then he may be a picky eater due to conditioning. In this case, you will need to work with your dog to change his habits.
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    Consider when the picky eating started. Be sure to tell your veterinarian when the picky eating started. A dog that is sick may become a picky eater overnight. You may notice that your dog only nibbles at his food or that he is not eating at all. This may be because he is nauseated or has lost his appetite.
    • Medical conditions such as heart, kidney or liver disease, digestive problems, tumors, or dental problems can all be a cause of picky eating.[2]
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    Be aware that many problems may result from picky eating habits. Even if your dog is healthy, being picky eater may cause health and behavior problems ranging from mild to severe and even life-threatening. These problems may include:[3]
    • Obesity
    • Pancreatitis
    • Nutrient deficiencies
    • Difficulty treating a chronic disease later in life
    • Diarrhea
    • Behavioral problems, such as begging

Method 2
Adjusting Your Dog’s Diet

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    Understand the importance of feeding your dog a high quality dog food. Dog food is formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of dogs. Dogs have different requirements than humans for fat and protein and particularly for minerals and vitamins. They cannot thrive for long on human food.[4]
    • Dry dog food helps to remove some of the bacteria and plaque that collects daily on your dog's teeth.
    • Nutrients in dog food, like calcium, help to build strong teeth and bones.
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    Make sure that meat is the main ingredient in your dog’s food. The most desirable ingredient in dry dog food is meat. Examine the ingredient labels on a few brands of dry dog food. If meat (not meat by-product) is the first ingredient (or the first two or three) there is a good chance that it will be a better tasting dry food.
    • Steer clear of any dog food that lists corn as a top ingredient.[5]
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    Adjust your dog’s food slowly. If you are trying to switch your dog from one brand of food to another, begin by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the old food. Over the a course of one to two weeks feed more and more of the new food and less and less of the old food until it is only eating the new food.
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    Mix wet food with human food. If your dog is hooked on human foods, then you can start the conversion to dry food by giving your dog wet food that is the same brand as the dry food that you want him to eat. Mix some of the wet food in with the human food that your dog likes to eat. Then, reduce the amount of human food and increase the wet food over the course of a week or two until you aren’t feeding any human food.
    • After your dog is eating the wet food, then start mixing in dry kibble with the wet food over a two week period gradually feeding less and less wet food until the dog is only eating dry food.

Method 3
Trying Other Strategies

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    Provide small amounts of human food to keep your dog happy. If the picky eater is just not able to break the human food habit you can add a small amount of meat broth (can be warmed) or a tablespoon of pureed banana or pumpkin to the dry food. You can also add cottage cheese or a little bit of a hard-boiled egg. Just remember that human food should not be more than 10% of the total daily food fed to your dog.[6]
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    Cut out treats. While you are making the switch to dry food, stop feeding your dog treats all together. You should also only feed your dog twice a day until your dog is regularly eating dry dog food. After the dog is regularly eating dry food you can begin giving treats again, but never use human food as treats or the dog may relapse.
    • It is especially important to be consistent with your dog. Make sure that everyone in your household is aware of the rules and does not break them.[7]
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    Place a time limit on feeding times. Having a regular schedule for your dog’s mealtimes and taking the food away when meal time is over will encourage your dog to eat when the food is offered. It is a good idea to put food out at the same times each day and to leave the food out for your dog for 15 minutes. After this time, pick the food up and discard any leftovers. Then, feed your dog again in 12 hours and follow the same protocol. Do not give your dog anything to eat between mealtimes.[8]
    • If after 2 days your dog still refuses to eat give him a little of the food he is used to eating (about ½ the normal amount). Then, try again. You may also want to doctor up the dry food with a small amount of human food (no more than 10%) to increase the chances that your dog will eat.[9]
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    Try hand feeding. You can also try hand feeding your dog. Sit with your dog and place a few pieces of kibble in your hand. Then, offer it to your dog to see if he will eat it. If your dog is used to you handing him human food, then he may accept the kibble from your hand as well.


  • You can add a little (less than ¼ cup) of warm chicken broth (low sodium) to dry kibble to make it more appealing.
  • You may need to try a few brands of dry food before you find one your dog like. Purchase a small bag so you’re not out a lot of money if your dog doesn’t like your choice.
  • If your dog bothers you or begs for food while you are eating it is well place the dog in a different room. Do NOT give into the begging.


  • Make any food changes gradually. A sudden switch may upset the stomach causing vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • If your dog suddenly becomes picky make sure to contact a veterinarian if this continues for more than two days. It may be sick.

Article Info

Categories: Feeding Dogs