Dog Won’t Eat in The Morning? Here’s What to Do

dog refusing bowl of food in the morning

If your dog won’t eat in the morning, that usually means they aren’t hungry yet. The best way to fix this issue is to ramp up their appetite. Ensure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and that you aren’t feeding treats right before their meals. If your dog ate the night before, they might still be full from that meal. 

We are taught from an early age that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How can you have energy when you start off with no fuel? 

When it comes to dogs, we naturally follow the same course—we want to start their day off right to keep them healthy and happy!

When you bring in a new 4-legged member of the family and set his food bowl down to start his day right, you expect him to wag his tail and scarf it down. But what if your new pal turns up his nose and is uninterested? 

Here are some helpful tips to answer your questions and give you ‘food for thought’ on why you can’t get your little (or big!) friend to eat in the morning. 

Let’s Rule Some Things Out

First off, you know your dog and his habits best. If your dog’s habits have suddenly changed, you may want to rule out any underlying problems. 

Check the Food

Check the food to make sure it hasn’t expired or gone rancid. In the summer months, food can quickly become rancid if kept in a garage in the heat. 

Make sure you are keeping the dog’s food in a cool, dry place that stays under 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Keeping the food in a sealed container (and in its original packaging) helps preserve the integrity of the oils in the food. 

Also, it protects the food from being contaminated by insects or other animals who may help themselves to a treat if given a chance. 

Check Your Dog

If your dog is has skipped breakfast and is not eating his regular portion even later in the day, he may not be feeling well. 

If he is dehydrated, has parasites, a broken tooth, allergies, or infection, these could be reasons for a sudden loss of appetite. 

Your dog may need a health check-up at the local vet if you notice a continuous disinterest in food.

Check the Environment

Yes, even the surrounding environment can affect your dog’s eating habits. If you have recently moved to a new house, have gone on vacation, or have changed your daily rhythm, your dog may need time to adjust to a new routine. 

Dogs are emotional animals! He may be depressed and missing his old routine, you, or another friend.

But, if the food is good, your dog is healthy, and no life-changing events are happening in your dog’s life, there are other reasons breakfast may not be his favorite meal of the day.

Tips and Tricks to Encourage Breakfast

If you have ruled out any potential health problems and your dog is still not interested in his first meal of the day—he may just not be hungry yet. We have some ideas to get his appetite revved up!

Don’t Give Him Dessert First

Many people try to tempt their dog with tastier offers if the first offer is rejected. But the truth is, dogs are quick learners. This is a bit like telling your kid they can skip straight to dessert if they are not hungry for breakfast. 

You may inadvertently teach Fido that if he rejects a well-rounded breakfast, a better offer is on its way. 

If you want to get your dog on the breakfast bandwagon, the best practice is to pick up the food bowl and offer the same food again in 15-30 minute increments. This way, your dog learns mealtime is mealtime and treats are treats. 

Walk the Dog

Another way to encourage breakfast is to build your dog’s appetite with exercise. If you love to run, you can get a morning run in before putting down the food bowl. 

If you don’t wake up until after coffee, you can leave the exercising in his court and play fetch while you sit out on the patio with your morning brew. 

You can also put some of his food into a toy to build his interest. After a good morning workout, there’s a chance that breakfast may be just what the doctor (or Bingo) ordered!

Try a Private Dining Experience

If you have two or more dogs, it could be that Rover needs his own space to feel comfortable chowing down. 

Each dog has its own personality. Some dogs enjoy eating in the company of their friends. Some dogs are more interested in their meal when they know their table is reserved and no unwelcome distractions will butt in and interrupt the experience. 

You can cut down distractions by separating dogs for mealtime. Also, try raising or lowering their ‘table’ to see what level creates the best dining experience. 

Try Something New

Although dogs typically don’t get tired of eating the same kibble day in and day out, they do sometimes get excited when a new food is presented. 

If your dog is losing interest in his first meal, he may just not be “feeling it”. You can try a different kibble, adding some liquid to his food, or introducing wet food to change it up. 

If you decide to make a change, make sure you introduce the new food gradually to prevent a tummy-upset. You can talk with your vet and get a recommendation for your dog’s age and weight.

Healthy Habits

If you have checked your dog’s health and have tried ways to interest your dog in breakfast to no avail—hope is not lost! 

While much can be said for starting the day off with some solid nutrition, as long as your dog is eating a regular portion and maintaining a healthy weight, that’s what counts. Your dog is unique, do what works best for him and for you. 

Here are some ways to establish healthy habits and set your mind at rest.

When Enough Is Enough

When it comes to dogs’ eating habits, we want to strike a balance between enough and too much. 

When a dog eats breakfast as his biggest meal of the day, he has time to burn off the calories throughout the day and maintain a healthy weight. 

How much you should feed your dog depends on their age and activity—dogs who are less active need less food. Many times, the recommended amount on the dog food bag is actually be more than your dog needs. 

An excellent way to check if your dog is a healthy size is to look at its waist from the top down. If you can see his waist tucked behind his ribs, this is considered an ideal weight. If the difference between the ribcage and waist is pronounced, this is underweight. If you see bulges at the hipline, decrease the meal portion or treat-time or introduce more exercise into his routine.

Feeding Frequency

If you are feeding your dog on a once-a-day routine, earlier is better than later. Many experts recommend twice a day as ideal—a heavier breakfast and a lighter dinner. 

This gives your dog nutrition throughout the day while he is burning calories, and a smaller portion at night lets his stomach rest easy while he sleeps. 

If your dog has a more sensitive stomach, or underlying health issues, like diabetes, he may do better if fed smaller portions more frequently. 

Breakfast is Not “Required”

Finding a dependable vet is an excellent asset as you find balance with your dog. It is always better to be safe than sorry! So if your dog’s lack of interest in breakfast is concerning, you’re not sure if he is getting enough food or the right kind, it is best to consult your vet.

So there you have it. Now you have some food for thought when it comes to your dog’s breakfast. 

There’s a lot to be said for the old adage: ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’ Still, focusing on creating and maintaining healthy habits with your dog is more important than a time of day. While breakfast is good—fed, happy, and healthy is best! 

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