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Dog Refusing to Eat in the Morning? Here’s Why & What to Do

By Aviram K.
August 16, 2022
6 min read
Dog Refusing to Eat in the Morning? Here’s Why & What to Do
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Us humans have our own specific eating routine; wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, midday lunch, and then a delicious evening dinner.

But if your furry best friend doesn’t seem inclined to eat breakfast with you, it can be fairly alarming.

Not all dogs eat in the morning. Some don’t need to, were overfed the night before, had their appetite spoiled, anticipate better food, used to free feeding, the food might be bad, are overstimulated, or may not be feeling well. You can encourage breakfast by exercising, feeding privately, changing a diet, or accepting that your dog isn’t a morning dog.

In this article, I’ll give you the various reasons why your pup may not be eating in the morning - and what to do about it.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents
Why Your Dog Won’t Eat Only in the Morning
Should You Be Worried About Your Dog Not Eating in the Morning?
What Can You Do About Your Dog Not Eating in the Morning?

Why Your Dog Won’t Eat Only in the Morning

If your dog has an appetite the rest of the day but scoffs at breakfast, there are a few reasons why.

However, this depends entirely upon your dog, so one size certainly does not fit all. As such, take these as potential reasons rather than tried and true facts.

That’s Not Your Dog’s Natural Way

The first thing is first: for some dogs, breakfast is just not something they are predisposed to wanting to eat. Just like people who don’t eat in the mornings (like me), there are dogs like this too.

Some breeds of dogs, primarily those with more ancient roots like primitive breeds, tend to eat much less.

As a result, they may simply not be hungry or craving food in the morning and are best fed in the later afternoons or evenings.

You will know if this is a natural dietary cycle for your dog or not based on how they eat food when becoming full adults.

It’s hard to base a diet on puppyhood because puppies must consume three meals daily to grow properly. Still, once your dog has reached physical maturity, you’ll see the meals change.

If your dog starts to wean off breakfast, that can be a sign that they weren’t naturally intended to eat first thing in the morning.

Overfed the Night Before

Sometimes the catalyst to a lack of breakfast desire can be traced back to the night before

If you are feeding your dog too much, more than their body needs, or indulge your pup in some extra snacks before bedtime - Fido may simply be too full to eat in the morning!

Appetite was Spoiled with Treats

All of us are guilty of wanting to spoil our dogs and make them happy (and this isn’t a bad thing!).

But like a child given ice cream before dinner, you can spoil your dog’s appetite if you give them treats and yummy things before they need to eat a meal.

The meal will then appear quite bland and unappetizing, so you can’t really blame them for having little to no desire to eat it afterward.

Waiting for Something Better

Continuing on the topic of spoiling your dog’s appetite, if your pup is well accustomed to getting some goodies off your plate… they might be holding out on eating breakfast in the hopes that you offer them something yummier to eat!

Healthy food isn’t always the most appetizing, to be frank, and if your pup has been introduced to something quite indulgent, that may be what they are waiting for.

This is why it’s quite important to only feed your dog food that is good for them and not spoil them with servings from your plate.

Used to Free Feeding

There are two different ways of feeding your dog: scheduled feeding and free feeding.

As you can guess by the names, scheduled feeding delivers meals to your dog on a regiment.

Free feeding is when you leave food out all day for your pup to consume as they see fit or wait for your dog to tell you they are hungry before feeding. Neither way is better nor worse than the other; it just depends on what your dog thrives on.

If your dog is a free feeder who you are transitioning to a scheduled eater, you may find that your pup is not inclined to eat in the morning.

This is because your pup is used to eating when they want to, so their natural cycle may not fit into your scheduled plan.

Overstimulated or Preoccupied with Attention

Dogs are easily distracted, even those with wild appetites.

If your puppy is overly excited in the morning, overstimulated, or you’re giving your furry best friend a lot of love and attention, this could temporarily disable their appetite.

The overstimulation and excitement can quite genuinely cause them to forget they have a desire to eat!

The best way to check this theory out is to stop exciting your dog upon waking up and try to give them food in a totally neutral, calm manner. If the dog eats, you’ve discovered the problem.

Something is Off with the Food

For the record, our dog’s noses are pretty adept at sniffing out the smallest of details that our noses can’t.

A dog’s sense of smell, on average, is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours.

If your dog usually eats breakfast and suddenly begins turning their nose up to the morning’s offering (especially if you feed something different from the other meals), then it is worth considering that there could be something wrong with the food. Even if it is a new batch, there could have been something amiss in the manufacturing or a small hole in the bag that allows bacteria to sneak in.

Try offering something different and see if your dog eats it. This could be a telltale sign that there is something unpleasant about your food batch if your dog continues to have an appetite when you take it away.

Not Feeling Well

Much like us, if your dog isn’t feeling well, they won’t want to eat.

This is especially common for ailments such as stomach upset, a dental ache, or any other pains and discomforts.

If your dog is one that normally eats in the morning and suddenly refuses, not feeling well is likely the reason.

Should You Be Worried About Your Dog Not Eating in the Morning?


Whether or not you should worry about a lack of appetite in the morning depends on your dog.

If your dog had always enjoyed eating in the morning and suddenly stopped, that is a cause for alarm.

A sudden loss of appetite usually indicates illness or something wrong, so it would be a good idea to get your pup checked out at their veterinarian.

If the loss of morning appetite is also accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, drooling, or whining, you can definitely bet that something medical is occurring. It could be a simple thing like a belly ache or more serious like poisoning.

However, if you have a pup that was never really keen on eating in the morning and tended to do so because you pressured them into it, then it isn’t much cause for panic if they simply refuse to eat at some point.

What Can You Do About Your Dog Not Eating in the Morning?

If you have a lifestyle or a daily routine that requires your pup to eat in the morning, there are a few things you can do to re-stimulate that appetite.

This is also valid for those who find their dog does do better on morning meals than in the afternoon, so it’s time to get Fido on the right track.

Rule Out a Medical Cause

The first thing is first: always rule out a medical reason for not wanting to eat in the morning.

If it is due to a medical problem, remedy the issue, and your dog will go back to normal. If it’s not, try these other suggestions.

Stimulate Appetite with Exercise

The best way to get that appetite running is to burn the calories!

Taking your dog out on a walk or romp before breakfast might just do the trick. If your dog is just waking up and not really all that active, they will be less inclined to need food.

Get their heart pumping, and food should be at the forefront of their thoughts.

Feed in Private

If you live in a multi-dog household or have a fairly chaotic home with many people present, the overstimulation could be why your dog isn’t eating.

As such, try feeding your pup in a private and quiet place and see if that encourages breakfast consumption.

It can even be as simple as feeding your pup in the bathroom with the door closed rather than in the kitchen in the middle of the hustle and bustle!

Check the Food or Consider a Diet Change

Some dogs really are picky, finicky, and stubborn eaters.

The crux could be a case of your dog really doesn’t like the food. Like, _really, really, really _doesn’t like it. In this case, getting Fido to eat will be an indefinite battle. Sometimes, the easiest solution is just finding a diet that works for your dog.

Try different foods that still offer the same nutritional needs that your dog has. See if there is a particular flavor or brand that they like a lot.

For the foods that didn’t pass the test, you can donate them to the local animal shelter or rescue, so it’s a win/win situation all around.

Make Food Less Available

This suggestion might sound cruel, but hear me out: you’re not taking food away from your dog; you’re just simply making it only heavily available when you need them to eat.

Making food less available throughout the day (and portioning meals out to a little bit less for the evening) can adjust their body to need food in the morning. Essentially, you’re encouraging your dog to actually be hungry in the AM hours rather than the PM hours.

EatingDog FoodMedical
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