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It’s easy to get concerned when your furry friend seems reluctant to eat in the morning. It can be even more frustrating when you don’t know why they won’t eat, and all you want is to help make them feel better.
If only dogs could talk!
If your dog won’t eat breakfast, this isn’t necessarily a cause of concern as there are a few reasons they might not want to eat.
If you notice that your dog is behaving strangely and isn’t eating in the morning, keep reading to find out why this might be and what you can do to help them.
Why Your Dog Won’t Eat Breakfast
Rule Out an Underlying Cause
If your dog has always eaten their food each morning and suddenly stops, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet to make sure they are not unwell and that there is no underlying problem.
If there is, the veterinarian will suggest the appropriate course of action or offer the necessary treatment.
Consider Your Dog’s Eating Routine
One straightforward reason why your dog may not be eating in the morning is because of their feeding routine, or lack thereof.
If you have your dog’s food bowl constantly filled all day so your pet can eat food whenever they like, they won’t form any eating schedule.
They won’t know when breakfast or mealtime is, and so this might be why dogs won’t eat food in the morning. They know they can eat any time they wish and don’t associate the morning with feeding time.
Types of Feeding Routine
There are two main types of feeding routines that pet owners follow. These are free feeding and a structured feeding schedule.
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Free feeding is something many new pet owners do. They worry that their dog is going to starve and tend to overcompensate.
Free feeding is where you constantly keep your dog’s bowl filled all day and allow your puppy to eat when they like. Free feeding means that instead of eating set meals, they eat a little bit here and there.
When a dog is fed like this, they don’t see the need to eat at a specific time and so don’t recognize the idea of breakfast. This may be why they fail to eat first thing in the morning.
Another reason why free-feeding can be harmful is that it can lead to your dog gaining weight, as they can eat whenever they like. Again, this can lead to serious health complications.
Putting your dog on a structured feeding schedule is generally considered the best thing to do, as it allows them to recognize set meals, such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Therefore, this can help build up a dog’s appetite at these times of the day, and they will know when it is that they will be fed.
The way it works is, rather than leaving your dog’s bowl full with food all day, you only fill it up with dog food at certain times of the day, such as in the morning, evening, and night.
You then allot a time window where the food is left out for your dog to eat, and if they don’t eat it in this time frame, you remove the kibble so they can’t access it.
Your dog will start to recognize that if they don’t eat at these set times, they won’t be getting fed and, therefore, will go hungry.
This will train them to know when feeding time is, and they will be more likely to stick to this schedule and eat their food at those dedicated times.
They know if they miss their morning meal, it may be a while before they get to have more food, so they will make sure to eat so they don’t end up going hungry.
Instead of continuously eating, your dog will eat a big meal at dedicated times as they will naturally start to feel hungry at those points in the day.
This will help prevent your dog from overeating and will keep them at a healthy weight.
An Example Structured Schedule
7 am: Morning Walk
Taking your dog for a walk in the morning means they can go to the toilet and can help gain an appetite.
8 am: Serve up your dog’s kibble
Only leave your dog’s food out for half an hour.
During the day: Your puppy should be full from the main meal, so they shouldn’t need any more food for a while. You can feed them a few treats, but keep this to a minimum.
5 pm: Take your puppy on a walk for some exercise and to increase its appetite
6 pm: Serve up your dog’s dinner
Take the food away after half an hour.
What to do If Your Dog Won’t Eat Their Morning Meal
If your dog still isn’t eating in the morning when trying to implement the structured feeding schedule, then there is no need to worry yet.
It will take a little while for your puppy to adapt to their new structured schedule, as they are so used to eating whenever they want.
In time, food will appear to be more valuable to them because they don’t have access to it as often, and so they will learn that when you offer food to them, they should take that opportunity to eat.
Most dogs will adapt quickly, but if you are getting worried, just take a little visit to the vet and ensure everything is okay.
How To Make Your Dog Eat
Online Dog Training Course
If you’re struggling to get your pet to eat and stick to a scheduled feeding plan, then one thing you could do is try an online dog training course.
These give you some great tips for how to get your dog to eat at specific, normal times and what you should do to encourage them to start eating when you serve up their food.
The one thing you will learn in any food training is that consistency is key, and as you keep reinforcing the structured feeding schedule, your pets will eventually get used to it.
If your dog isn’t eating in the morning, then most likely it’s just because their eating schedule needs to be re-addressed.
A quick trip to the vet can be made if you are worried, but generally, you just need to implement a good schedule and stay consistent with it. Your dog should adapt to it in no time!
Still Have Questions?
Ask a Vet!