When Your Dog Won’t Eat in the Morning: Causes And Solutions

Most humans have a habit of eating breakfast early in the morning before getting on with their day. But sometimes, our dogs won’t follow our routine and instead skip this important part of the day.

If your dog won’t eat in the morning, it could be due to various reasons, such as anxiety, illness, or a change in routine. Observing their behavior and consulting a veterinarian can help identify the underlying cause. But there are more things to know about this behavior.

What are the possible reasons why dogs refuse food in the morning?

Just as there are dogs that don’t know when to stop eating, there are also some that don’t want to eat a lot. There are many reasons why dogs may avoid their breakfast. Picky eating, dental issues, and anxiety are only a few of these.

Picky eating

There are dogs that get stubborn with their food and only eat what they deem tasty. Some get used to eating the same food and don’t want to change it even if it may be better for them. Some dogs expect that you will give them treats later in the day so they will skip breakfast on purpose if it’s not up to their taste standards. In this situation, try to find out what your dog likes and offer that in the morning.

Anxiety or stress

The reason why your reasons why your dog won’t eat in the morning might be anxiety. Dogs can get anxious in the morning from all the commotion happening in the house. The neighborhood can get loud early in the morning while people prepare for work and school and these sounds can stress out your dog. 

Living in an unfamiliar environment after moving to a new house can also stress out a dog. Your dog’s separation anxiety can also be triggered if it knows you are leaving for work after breakfast.

Dental issues

This happens due to periodontal disease. It can start as gingivitis but then spread and infect other tissues around the teeth. Sometimes, dogs will chew on wood or other inedible objects and break their teeth leading to pain.

Dogs will avoid eating because they will associate tooth pain with eating food. This is why it is very important that dogs get their teeth brushed regularly.

Recent vaccination

Ensuring your dog receives proper vaccination is crucial and should be undertaken by a skilled veterinarian. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that vaccinations may occasionally lead to certain side effects, resulting in temporary discomfort for your furry friend for a brief period. The American Veterinary Animal Association lists these as the most common vaccine side effects:

Discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site
Mild fever
Decreased appetite and activity
Sneezing, mild coughing, “snotty nose” or other respiratory signs may occur 2-5 days after your pet receives an intranasal vaccine
American Veterinary Animal Association

You shouldn’t be too worried if your dog refuses breakfast 1-2 days after its vaccination. If the problem last much longer than this, then you should inform your vet about the situation.

What are common misconceptions and myths related to dogs’ eating habits?

Even though we have knowledge of many reasons for this behavior, there are a few myths that people believe about it.

I can just feed my dog table scraps for breakfast

No, you can not. This is because table scraps can cause an imbalance in a dog’s diet. Our food contains some excessive ingredients like fats, carbs, and salt that can harm a dog. Feeding table scraps will also cause the dog to become a picky eater and only choose food it deems tasty.

My dog skipped breakfast today, so I should worry

There is no need to worry. If a dog doesn’t eat breakfast occasionally and it can be considered normal dog behavior. Even we humans, sometimes skip breakfast when we have had a late dinner, or just want to sleep more during the morning. If this behavior continues, then you should worry and call a vet.

I should force-feed my dog so it doesn’t get malnourished

Actually, this may only worsen things. Forcing dogs to eat can be a negative experience for your dog, especially if you do this while feeling angry and frustrated. Dogs will associate this negative behavior with food and will avoid it even more as a way to escape from the negative feelings.

What practical tips and techniques can entice dogs to eat breakfast?

In case your dog seems determined to skip breakfast, there are a couple of strategies you can experiment with to assist them in returning to their usual eating routine.

Establish a routine

If you want to encourage your dog to eat breakfast, you should restrict feeding time. Prepare a schedule of when you want to feed your dog. Decide if you want to feed your dog before or after the morning walk.

When the time for breakfast comes, fill up its bowl and wait. Once a certain time passes, pick up the bowl and don’t give any food to the dog until the next feeding session. This will teach it that food is not always available and it should eat when it gets the chance.

Create a pleasant environment

Being over-excited might prevent a dog from eating properly. The same happens if a dog feels anxious. A house with younger kids or more dogs might be loud and not allow your dog to calmly eat its meal.

To fix this, choose a time to give your dog a private and calm breakfast experience. Take it to another room and give it space to eat. Don’t pet it or interact with it during the meal. Remove all toys that can catch its attention.

Warm up the food

If the dog shows no interest in its breakfast, maybe something is wrong with it. If the food is too cold and has lost its taste, consider warming it up to make it more appealing. “The warmer the food or fluid in the mouth, the more TRPM5 reacts and thus the stronger the electrical signal sent to the brain. For example, the sweet taste of ice cream will only be perceived when it melts and heats up in the mouth.” say researchers from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.

The food you give might also be expired. Make sure to check the bag of kibble for its expiration date and throw it out if expired. The dog might also be bored with its food and wants to try something else. You can try getting some other brand of high-quality dog food and see if it likes it better.

Introduce food puzzles

Using food puzzles can cause a dog to feel more interested in the food. While the dog is eating, it can also get some mental stimulation. Food puzzles also allow the dog not to overeat, and to avoid ingesting air.

You can also get your dog to exercise first before feeding it breakfast. Some dogs prefer to spend some energy and then earn their calories. Besides all this, make sure that your family members are not feeding the dog in addition to its schedule.

What should you do when transitioning your dog to a new diet?

If you are noticing morning meal rejection in your dog after transitioning to a new diet, you may have done it wrong. Doing this should be a gradual process that spans around 7 days. You can start by gradually mixing the new food with the old food. Start with smaller amounts and then increase them every day. With time, your dog will get used to the new food and not notice it has been changed. This will also prevent the dog from suffering from gastrointestinal problems.

When should you seek professional veterinary advice regarding your dog’s refusal to eat in the morning?

If you observe that your dog continues to exhibit signs of discomfort and persistently refuses to eat breakfast even after a few days, it’s advisable to consider the possibility of an underlying medical issue. In this situation, try to look for other symptoms like pain, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, or behavioral changes. Noticing them will only make you sure that there is a more serious problem, and then you can call up your vet for help.

What information should you communicate during a veterinary visit?

Besides the fact that your dog lacks appetite in the morning, there are a few more things that will interest your vet. For one, the accompanying symptoms will make it easier for the vet to get a real picture of the situation.

Afterward, the veterinarian will likely inquire about the onset of the issue and its duration. You will also need to tell the diet, schedule, and type of food you’re feeding a dog. Taking the bag of dog food with you may also be beneficial.

So what should you do if your dog won’t eat in the morning?

This situation can be common and can happen to any dog. That said, it is still important to address it to ensure the dog’s overall health and well-being. By understanding the reasons behind the loss of appetite and implementing the strategies discussed, you can encourage your dog to eat breakfast consistently. Just a simple warming up of food or creating a calm atmosphere can help a lot.

However, if the problem persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consulting a veterinarian is crucial. You can also contact a canine nutritionist for help. With patience, persistence, and a little creativity, you can help your dog develop healthy eating habits and enjoy its morning meals.


How long can a dog go without eating?

If the dog is healthy and drinks water regularly, it can survive for around 5 days. Some dogs can do it for longer, but at that point, some serious damage can occur to the organs.

Can skipping breakfast affect a dog’s health?

If your dog won’t eat in the morning from time to time, it will be fine. Nevertheless, if this persists for an extended period, it may result in certain nutrient deficiencies and potentially contribute to the dog’s malnourishment.

Why is it important for dogs to eat breakfast?

Breakfast is important because it is the thing that provides energy for the day. By getting all the needed nutrients in the morning, the dog can have the strength to exercise and train during the day.

More Dog Behavior Resources

Here are a few other resources talking about other unusual behavior in dogs and how to deal with them.

You can find a lot more information on weird dog behaviors on our site Dogisa!

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