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What to Do if Your Dog Won’t Eat His Food but Will Eat Treats

Laura Day

August 7, 2019

What to Do if Your Dog Won’t Eat His Food but Will Eat Treats

As a dog owner, you know that your special furry friend needs a daily balanced diet to grow up big and strong. Well, that can only be achieved by eating real, nutritious food! Treats are yummy and they are fine to give to Fido occasionally, but they should never make up most of his meal.

If your dog isn’t eating his food all of a sudden, but will gladly take treats or table scraps, something is wrong. Your job is to get to the root of the problem and get him back on track before he gets sick. If you are looking for answers, you have come to the right place!

Today, you are going to get a guide on why Spot may be eating only the tasty snacks so you can figure out how best to help him eat as he should again.

Why Your Dog is Eating Only Treats

There are a few different reasons why Spot may be turning his nose up at his dinner, and having this selective loss of appetite. Not all of them are indicative of some serious problem, but it could surely turn into one if you don’t try and break him of this behavior.

He is Sick

Most dogs will eat everything in sight. If your pup is generally a healthy dog like that, but has suddenly lost his appetite, he could be experiencing some sort of illness. To find out exactly what that sickness may be, you will have to talk to your regular vet and have your dog examined. However, you can begin to understand what you may be dealing with if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Sometimes, your pet vomiting is not an indicator that something is seriously wrong. He could have eaten too fast or got ahold of something he wasn’t supposed to. You may still need to take him in to get checked out, though, especially if he refuses to eat his regular food afterward.
  • No one likes to talk about poop, but it is one of the most telling signs of how we are faring when it comes to our health. The same can be said of animals, too! Healthy poop is supposed to be solid, but not too hard. Diarrhea should not be a normal occurrence. If it has become more frequent, your poor little doggo could be feeling under the weather.
  • No one wants to be super active when they don’t feel too well. Dogs are the same way! If Fido is less active than normal and he also won’t eat, take him to get treated at the local vet.

He Doesn’t Like His Food

Some dogs are just plain picky. If you have ever been in charge of a toddler, you’ll be familiar with this refusal to eat certain foods. Your pup is not unhealthy or in danger; he’s just fussy! That can be really annoying and frustrating, but you can’t force your fur baby to eat something they don’t like.

He Has Dental Issues

He Has Dental Issues

Very few living beings can stomach the thought of eating while in pain. If your dog has gum disease or any other dental problems, eating may cause him to feel quite uncomfortable. We all shrink away from things that make us anything less than happy, and this is the case with certain foods you may be giving him.

Maybe the treats you have are softer than Spot’s regular food, and that is why he’ll eat those but not the bowl of kibble you sat before him.

The Food is Spoiled

A surprising amount of pet owners think that their pet’s food will be okay as long as it is sealed in a proper storage container. That’s not true. Pet food spoils like human food does, so you should always check the expiration dates and the food itself. If you notice any funny smell, visible mold or other concerning things, you should get rid of the old food and get something new immediately.

Who could blame a dog for not wanting to eat rotten food?

What You Can Do

It is imperative that you get your dog back to eating his regular food before health problems arise. The more you let him get away with eating only treats, the more he won’t want to go back to his regularly scheduled kibble.

Luckily, there exist quite a few solutions to your problem that you can and should try!

Try Out a New Food

If you suspect that your pupper doesn’t much care for his food, try out something new! There is a world of flavors and textures out there that your pup may want to experience. Maybe substituting your dry kibble for some wet dog food for a while will do the trick. If he does not like the next food, try again until he does. Once he does seem to like what’s on the new menu, stick to it.

Go to the Vet

This is something you should be doing regularly anyway, but it becomes more important to schedule an appointment when your pup isn’t eating as he should. An exam done by your veterinarian should help clear up the issue by ruling out any illnesses or other medical conditions that could be turning him off of his meals.

Stop the Treats

If your pup continues to gobble on treats instead of noshing on nutritious meals, he may continue to skip the healthy food in favor of the junk. Like a stern parent, do what is best for him and stop the treats altogether for a while. Once he realizes that he doesn’t have them to fall back on, he may go back to his bowl when he gets hungry instead of begging for the bag.

Be Consistent

Something you can do to help your pet learn that he needs to eat his dinner before he can have treats is to be consistent. This means that you make a food schedule and stick to it. Give him the same food at the same times every day. Only give him treats when he has earned them, not just when he asks for them.

Over time, the pup will learn what is expected of him during mealtimes and during training.

Be Patient

No matter what, you must be patient and understanding with your dog. He does not understand the concept of liking it or leaving it. He also does not comprehend that treats are like potato chips for humans.

It’s up to you to keep your puppy on track, so get through it one day at a time, trying every method you can until something works. Shouting and having a tantrum yourself does not help either of you. Have patience and you will prevail!


Bringing a new family addition into the home is extremely exciting! Becoming a new puppy parent comes with a ton of new joys, challenges and responsibilities. PupBox was created to help new puppy parents like yourself, by providing all of the toys, treats, accessories and training information you need, when you need it. CLICK HERE to learn more about PupBox.


And remember, puppyhood is fast and is gone before you know it. Make sure to savor the time when your pup is young, and take lots of pictures along the way!