What Are the Causes of Why Dogs Have Trouble Eating Hard Dry Food?

A pet who stops eating is a cause for concern, but the reason could be as simple as your dog becoming bored with his hard, dry food. Dental issues, digestive problems or other illness also might account for your pup turning her nose up at dinner. Consult your veterinarian to pinpoint the cause before the problem gets out of hand.

It Hurts to Eat

Dental disease can be a common problem, especially in older dogs and small breeds. A dog with bad teeth may eat slowly or not at all. He may drop food that is too large or chew on only one side of his mouth. If your dog has unusually bad breath, yellow tartar buildup on his teeth or bleeding gums, he may have dental disease that requires a trip to the vet for treatment.

Just Add Water

Some medications and vaccinations have side effects that make a dog lose his appetite or cause his mouth to dry out. Travel or hot weather also can dehydrate a dog, making dry food unpalatable in his mouth. Look for sunken eyes, lethargy and a depressed attitude as other signs of dehydration. A dog may refuse to eat his dry food when he is in a strange environment, such as vacation or a move. Moistening food with a few tablespoons of water or low sodium beef broth will make food more palatable. The moisture also brings out aromas and flavors in the kibble to increase interest for lost appetites.

A Bad Taste In His Mouth

The food itself could be the reason your dog doesn't want to eat it. The quality of dry food starts to decline about a month after you open it. Solve this problem by either buying smaller bags of food or by transferring the food to an airtight container. It's also possible your dog finds the food boring or just doesn’t like it. Alleviate this by either trying a new food or reverting back to the old variety if you recently switched. Older dogs may prefer a senior food formulated for easier digestion or designed to entice dogs with reduced senses of taste or smell.

A Sign of Bigger Problems

Refusing to eat also may signal that something is physically wrong with the dog. When you take your pet to the vet, she'll check first for oral problems such as tumors or dental decay. If nothing is found, the vet will check for certain diseases that can affect your dog's appetite such as renal failure, liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease. These conditions can make your pet lethargic and nauseous, which affects their willingness to tackle hard, dry food.