My dog won't eat is it behavioural?

I am at my wits end and really need some advice.
I have an 17 month old Australian Labradoodle, he is severely underweight. If it wasn’t for his fluffy coat I am sure someone would think I was neglecting him. He has various tests and although has needed a course of antibiotics and folic acid for 4 weeks my vet has advised that this would not prevent him eating.
He goes days without eating anything, he smells his food and walks away. He was on raw natural instinct and started to gain weight but then just stopped again.
A friend suggested it was a form of separation anxiety and to stop being the one that feeds him but that hasn’t worked either.
My vet has given us royal canin vetenariary food that is prescribed to anorexic dogs, he won’t eat the wet but my daughter can sometimes get him to eat a little if she makes a game of it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Steph & Ozzy

Hi Steph & Ozzy, welcome to the forum.
I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles, I have had first hand experience of a similar issue and I know how it feels.
Has he always been fussy with food or is it something that started recently? Have there been any change of circumstances around the same time (house move, kids going to college etc)? Does he refuse tasty food too? What happens if you wave a slice of ham at him?


He has never been a big eater, when he first stopped eating I transitioned him to raw and he ate twice a day for 2 weeks then stopped again. Which was when he started losing weight, he would eat a slice of ham if I offered it to him. I have never given him food of my plate and he never bothers us when we are eating.
Out of desperation last night my husband gave him left over roast chicken and he ate it in 2 seconds flat because he was starving. No change in the house and I have brought a plugin adaptil just in case something is stressing him.


I assume the vet has checked tummy and teeth already and he found nothing abnormal. It may as well be a fussy eater: my dog sometimes goes on hunger strike, the longest has been 3 days without touching any food whatsoever. Raw food can give very hard stools at the beginning, before the body learns to metabolise bones and if that’s been a particularly painful experience for him, he may struggle to eat it again.
I don’t want to dismiss any health problem as I’m no vet, but if he eats other foods he may just be a very stubborn pooch :slight_smile:
Does he get left alone just after meal time? When he refuses to eat, do you leave the bowl with the food down or do you take it off him?
Have you tried sprinkling tasty stuff like grated cheese over his food? That shouldn’t be done all the time but it helps understanding if he’s just being fussy.


Hello Steph and Ozzy and welcome to the forum!

Also you mentioned tests, antibiotics and folic acid…

He has various tests and although has needed a course of antibiotics and folic acid for 4 weeks

…and I wonder would you be able to please give some more background information about what he was tested for? Reason for asking is to hopefully be able to rule in, or out, any relevance to his current behaviour.

A couple of extra questions which may be relevant are firstly, does he have regular mealtimes? How often is he fed? And here is perhaps an unexpected one to ask … What sort of bowl does he feed from?

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He has had pee, poo and basic bloods with full translation, then additional bloods to check the small intestine and pancreas. He is quite happy in himself but when it gets to 4 days he does lay around as I think he is lacking energy.
He is fed twice a day at the same time, I have stopped being the one that feeds him as my friend said he is very attached to me and it might help him spread the love a bit of my daughter or husband feed him. He had various bowls some ceramic and some metal.

If I offer him a bit of ham or cheese he won’t always take it. He is not often on his own, I do work but sometimes I work at home, my husband runs his business from home somis there most of the time.
I put the food down, he sniffs it and walks away. I lift it if he hasn’t gone back in 20 minutes.
I have tried mixing stuff with his food and again he might eat a bit one day but not again.



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Hello and welcome to the forum Steph and Ozzy,
I don’t have much experience of a dog not eating but I did have a very brief period of my dog being reluctant to eat. I don’t think that was the same thing from what you have described. We were using metal bowls at the time and she had jumped back as if startled. After that, she clearly wanted her food but seemed scared to go to her bowl. I took the food out of her bowl and she ate it. I then changed to ceramic bowls and have had no issues. I think perhaps she may have had a static shock or something.

It sounds like you are doing the rights things to deal with a fussy eater. Hopefully someone with more experience should be able to offer further advice. It sounds like it may be a complex issue.

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It is good you have been considering various factors… from bowls, underlying health to stress & depression.

As well as full bloods I would probably have a full worm count done too.

I am assuming as not mentioned there aren’t any obvious physical presentations. I am mindful it is difficult to feel over for lumos bumps distortions on a dog with a heavy thick coat.

I haven’t seen comments re worming/flea treatments…I have my personal views. i wont go so far as to advise you to opt from current protocol, however, maybe worth considering if this could be a factor.

You mentioned your dog was prior doing ok on one brand of raw. Maybe worth considering some other flavours or brands. I have fed brand you have but have seen willingness to eat other brands. i feed nutriment & occasionally wolf tucker…another member on here feeds Paleo Ridge. Maybe worth trying other brands as they can vary. Also worth checking with suppliers on bone content as it can vary between protein sources too.

Despite my current preferences I accept that raw is not the only feeding option. Personally I would be tempted to feed a better quality cold pressed over and above most conventional kibbles.

I might also be considering if anal glands are okay, not over fulll, impacted or infected.

Not been mentioned so I will also throw in adequate water consumption into the equation.

If sorting the issue asap is your aim I might be tempted to change a number of factors all at once, however, if your aim is to try to narrow down the issue then perhaps consider changing one or two factors at a time.

Finally you don’t mention exercise & mental stimulation amounts. I am not suggesting your dog needs more of either but these factors maybe worth considering…particularly if you feel your dog is perhaps depressed &/or sulking.

I have no idea as to what your regime &/or house environment & (dog), house rules are…maybe worth looking closely at this as one small issue mights just be a factor

Very aware I have mentioned a number of things to possibly consider…Very keen not to appear to be criticise or worry you so please take my comments as intended…(simply various things to consider or rule out with view to moving forwards.


Please will you be able to explain a little more regarding the testing:

… What were the results of the tests that prompted antibiotics and folic acid to be prescribed for him for 4 weeks?

Hi Steph and Ozzy
Just wondered if you have ever tried Pure it is on the food directory, it is an air dried food, in a few flavours and you put warm water with it and let it hydrate for up to 15 minutes lots of positive reviews on the website of lots of people who were in your situation and at the end of their tether, , Copper used it for a while and loved it ,but now he is on Cold pressed. They can send out the food very quickly if you order it early one day it comes the next, may be worth a try. I hope that you get the problem sorted out. :slight_smile:

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Hi Steph & Ozzy,

I am hoping this is just the food that Ozzy does not like! A simple change in diet could be all that is needed.

I would highly recommend these guys if you want to try your Ozzy out on some tasty food. If you drop them an email they will usually provide you with a free week to test out as well before committing to anything.

Works wonders with my dog!



I can’t add much to the discussion other than the fact that a dog’s appetite is stimulated by smell and I wonder if this is why tinned Chappie is so popular for anorexic ones. Wet food is usually aromatic and palatable so for a fussy dog I would always try that. I notice that when I cook for my dogs they are are even more excited about the food and I am sure it is because of the aroma. I would therefore say that it is best to give food at room temperature, never cold and (if possible), warm. Home cooking is not for everyone but it may help for a few days or so to establish whether your dog likes it. The above mentioned Butternut Box is expensive but is high quality and might be suitable for a dog with a poor appetite because they don’t have to have a lot of it quantity wise. I have tried it on my dogs and it smells very nice indeed.


Definitely agree that it is expensive, so that is something to watch out for. I do hope Steph that it is just a fussy Ozzy at the moment, please keep us posted on how you get on.

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I forgot to say that (as mentioned above), Pure may be worth considering. They now do a veg mix which can be rehydrated. The owner just adds their own cooked meat, poultry of fish. Haven’t tried it because my dog’s are settled on cold pressed food but otherwise I would be tempted because it is like home cooking but made easy and safe.


Steph and Ozzy …Update please ! :slight_smile: