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Why Won’t My German Shepherd Eat? Check out these 7 reasons!

German shepherd does not eat

Typically, your German Shepherd comes running into the kitchen when he hears the sound of his food being poured into his bowl. But recently, he doesn’t seem that interested in running to the kitchen or even finishing his dinner.

So why doesn’t my German Shepherd want to eat? Here are some possible reasons why your German Shepherd will not eat:

  • He is tired of his current food.
  • No appetite.
  • He prefers to eat at certain times of the day.
  • It doesn’t feel good.
  • You have dental problems that make eating painful.
  • You are stressed or anxious.

We know how stressful it can be when your beloved German Shepherd suddenly loses interest in food. We are going to spend some time going over seven different reasons why your German Shepherd does not eat to help you uncover the source of the problem.

7 Reasons Your German Shepherd Isn’t Eating

Typically, your German Shepherd will not stop eating for no reason. It is your job as a responsible pet owner to determine why your German Shepherd no longer wants to eat and to make the necessary changes to stop this new habit.

Before assuming that you are not that hungry or even dislike your current food, you should consider other possible reasons why you are not eating. Let’s take a look at seven of the most common reasons why you stopped eating normally:

1. He is bored with his current food

Like humans, dogs can get tired of eating the exact same food every day. If you slowly lose interest in eating, you can try buying another dry food, adding wet food to your dry food, or soaking your dry food in hot water. I wrote an article on the best diet for German Shepherds in which you can find a lot of helpful ideas and suggestions, including all types of diet that you can feed your dog.

You can also see if you are willing to eat some pieces of meat or treats, which can help you figure out if the food itself is the problem! If he’s happy to take ‘human food’ from you, then you know that loss of appetite in your German Shepherd is behavioral – it’s funny how they get their appetite back when it comes to human food or tasty treats! If your dog rejects all the food, the most likely cause is that he is not well.

2. You no longer have an appetite

With age, dogs tend to lose their appetite and may eventually lose quite a bit of weight. This is quite normal as aging can bring physical changes that can affect your German Shepherd’s appetite. Make sure to choose an appropriate dog food for your dog’s life stage, as this can help a lot with appetite problems.

German Shepherds are also known to be one of the breeds that are prone to having a sensitive stomach. I wrote a monster of a post on this topic alone where you can find 13 causes why your German Shepherd can have a sensitive stomach, ranging from mild illness and diarrhea to much more serious conditions like bloating (GDV).

3. You have dental problems or pain

When your German Shepherd suddenly stops eating his dry food, it may be because the food is causing him some kind of pain in his mouth. This could be the result of gingivitis, an abscess, or a damaged tooth.

If that’s the case, you should try adding a little hot water to his food to make it softer or temporarily switch to some bland food and then have his mouth checked at the vet.

4. You are stressed or anxious

You and your German Shepherd are joined at the hip, but you know how anxious and nervous you tend to get when you are out of sight, especially if your dog is very clingy.

If your German Shepherd spends long periods of time alone at home, he could be experiencing excess stress and anxiety, which would directly reduce his appetite. To find out more about separation anxiety in German Shepherds and how to stop it, you can find exactly what you are looking for in this post.

5. He’s a picky eater

It would be great if you could buy a 14kg bag of dry dog ​​food every month and feed your German Shepherd for years to come. Unfortunately, your German Shepherd might not eat because he is a picky eater. If you’re used to receiving treats or leftover food as a snack, why settle for dry dog ​​kibble?

So are German Shepherds picky eaters? The fact is, the owner is responsible for making their dog a picky eater. A little healthy food, especially some fruits or vegetables once in a while is fine.

If you feed him treats just to entice your German Shepherd to eat, you are turning him into a picky eater!

6. It doesn’t feel good

If food isn’t the problem, your German Shepherd might have something else to do. Serious conditions like cancer, kidney failure, and infections could directly affect your dog’s desire to eat.

Your German Shepherd may also have eaten something poisonous while roaming the garden or fields. Dogs are known to eat anything they can find that has been thrown away or even in the trash! Be careful with foods like chocolate or grapes and never leave them where your German Shepherd can reach them as they can be highly toxic.

If your German Shepherd has been recently vaccinated, this can sometimes cause adverse reactions, including loss of appetite. The good news is that this should be short, just make sure your dog drinks plenty of water and stays hydrated.

If nothing else seems to work and you are concerned, you should schedule a visit to the vet as soon as you can.

7. Likes to eat at certain times of the day

Just as you may not like to eat breakfast at 6 a.m., your dog may have a habit of eating only at certain times of the day. Although this may be concerning at first, you should keep track of how much food in total your German Shepherd is eating throughout the day. If you still eat about the same amount, you may prefer to eat at specific times of the day!

My German Shepherd used to eat one meal in the morning and one in the afternoon, however now that he is older he prefers to eat both in the evening. You won’t eat them all at once (not recommended to prevent bloating) but you will eat them 2-3 hours apart.

The following steps

So, now that you think you can know why your German Shepherd is not eating, it’s time to make some changes to see if you are right. The first thing you’ll want to do is see if your current food is the problem by switching to a new diet or eating style. Here are some ideas to change the feeding BEHAVIOR of your German Shepherd:

  • If you’ve been hand-feeding your dog, try pausing for a bit.
  • Take your dog for a long walk before feeding to increase his appetite.
  • Don’t feed your German Shepherd an hour before or after exercising – this also helps prevent bloat (GDV).
  • Swap out your German Shepherd’s bowl as some dogs don’t like to see their reflection in stainless steel or glass bowls, so you could try switching to a ceramic one instead.
  • Always make sure your dog’s bowl is clean.
  • Praise him a lot when he eats from his bowl.
  • Make mealtime fun – Try putting a lid on your food so you have to take it out first.
  • Keep your dog’s meals separate from yours and close them while your family is eating so you won’t be tempted to give him leftovers.
  • Try an interactive feeding toy that can make your dog’s food fun. They are especially good if your German Shepherd is easily distracted by his surroundings.
  • If your dog refuses your food, take the bowl away from him after 15 minutes and put it back in a few hours later.
  • Limit treats to workout times only.
  • It is also important that you remain calm and confident while changing your German Shepherd’s feeding behavior. If he feels that you are stressed and anxious about his loss of appetite, he may also become stressed and not eat at all!

If your German Shepherd is still not interested in eating and other eating behaviors have started to change, you may want to call your vet to have it checked out. A sudden lack of appetite and consequent weight loss can be a sign of other problems.

Change your food

If your dog slowly lost interest in food over the course of a few weeks, he may no longer like his current food. Here are some ways to guide your diet to increase your appetite.

  • Choose a more fragrant meal. If you smell your dog’s current food and find the smell unattractive, your dog could too! Try to choose a food that smells more meaty and has a stronger smell.
  • Add wet food or soak your food in hot water. Both methods will change the texture, taste, and smell of your dog’s food. The more it smells and tastes like meat, the more likely you want to eat it.
  • Fortunately, I have never had to change my German Shepherd food and she has been on it for many years since I was an 8 week old puppy.

Hopefully this will fix the situation and return your dog to normal eating habits.

Take him to the vet

Visits to the vet can be expensive, but so are the treatment methods for the condition or illness your dog may be currently experiencing. I would always recommend having a decent pet insurance policy as this will always give you peace of mind.

Remember: your dog’s appetite and weight loss will harm his health, but if they are the direct result of some other underlying problem, you will need to address those issues first. Here are some conditions and diseases your vet will be looking for:

  • Cancer
  • Kidney failure
  • Infections
  • Mouth and teeth problems

After a thorough evaluation and discussion about changing your German Shepherd’s eating habits, your vet will hope to be able to determine what the current problem is. If that’s the case, don’t worry as you should have a treatment method ready to go, and your dog will be back to normal eating very soon!


It’s not exactly normal for your German Shepherd to stop eating, but it’s not that uncommon either. When your German Shepherd stops eating, you need to take steps to find out the source of the problem and how to address it. Here is a summary of what you can try:

  • Change your food or type of food in case you get bored.
  • Add wet food or hot water to your food to increase your appetite and make it more flavorful and fragrant.
  • Keep an eye on his other behaviors to see how his moods and movements have changed.
  • Call the vet and make an appointment to have it checked.
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I love the animals. Reading and writing about them, their customs, their peculiarities or the attention they require is exciting, and I also believe that it makes us better people. I share articles that solve the questions that dog caregivers face on a daily basis.

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