Why won’t my dog eat their raw food?


When talking to others about raw feeding, we often come across people that have tried this diet for their dog and it has been unsuccessful. After speaking with people and knowing of their feelings of disappointment as they are firm believers in this way of feeding, we wanted to investigate the reasons this can happen and share some resolutions to the problems.

The 2 most common situations we heard were:

  1. The first time trying to feed a BARF diet it went down like a lead balloon – they sniffed the bowl and turned away from it.
  2. They have fed their dog raw for a while and then one day they just stop eating it.

With situation one this can be a fairly common issue with dogs that have been fed processed dog foods for a long period of time. Processed dog foods are created to emit a smell that draws your dog to it and fresh raw food does not carry such a strong scent due to the natural raw ingredients. As dogs rely on their sense of smell, the appeal can be less and in turn, they do not eat. Also, this may sound crazy but they may not know what to do with it as it is not a bowl of the same looking food – there is colour and different size objects in there for them to eat!


Now with situation two, this can happen due to behavioural issues – yes dogs have them too! There may be changes in their behaviour (not listening to commands they normally follow) or their surroundings have changed (you have a new addition to the family - pet or human). If this is the case, them not eating their food may be a challenge of who is boss in the home and leader of your pack! This may sound funny to some but when we think about their ancestors in the wild, the pack leader is the one who is in control of the food and this may be what your dog is trying to achieve.
Also, rest assured this is not just a problem that people have with feeding a BARF diet, it also happens with dogs that are fed kibble. We have heard the term “picky eaters syndrome” used several times!

What is important to know is that another reason could be that your dog has a health problem and is not eating their food they are telling you they are unwell. If your dog normally devours their food without any delay, this change maybe health-related and we would suggest speaking to a dog health professional – holistic vet or vet.

There are several different ways to deal with these issues –

  • Be strong and do not feed them anything other than their raw food meals. Doing this will mean that your dog may not eat for a day or more, hence why we say to be strong! The thought of any member of your family not eating is horrible, but if raw feeding is what you believe to be the best this may be worth it. Follow your normal routine with their food and continue with your day for the next 10-15 minutes once you have placed their food in front of them. Don’t pay any attention to them not eating their food and after the 10-15 minutes, put the food away. Repeat this process at every normal meal time until they eat their food. Don’t let them eat anything else in between - they say that ‘good things come to those who wait’! We have spoken to several people that have chosen this route with their dogs and they have never had a problem since! A healthy dog will never intentionally starve themselves. As long as you are offering them food they will eat it when they are hungry.
  • If the above idea is not appealing to you then you can try sprinkling a little basil or parsley on their food to add an extra smell for them to investigate. If your dog is okay with dairy you can also try a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or natural yoghurt through the food.
  • If you are unsure if this is due to a health problem try to feed them something that they would normally snap up – a piece of carrot or liver treat.

We do like to add to any raw diet blog if your dog is dealing with any complex chronic disease e.g. end-stage cancers, animals on antacids or high levels of immune-suppressive drug therapy, then we would recommend you get expert help prior to beginning the transition to a raw diet.

We hope this has been helpful to you! If you haven't already, please see our other useful Raw food blogs.

Love from the Aurora Pets family x


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