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Help If Your Dog Won’t Eat His Dog Food

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One of the most frustrating and concerning things a dog parent can experience is that moment when their dog simply refuses his dog food. I’ve been down this road, and my previous Cocker Spaniel was by far the most finicky dog I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life. Getting my dog to eat a high quality food which allowed for healthy digestion while pleasing her palate is something I strove for the first few years of her life.

The saying about “when we know better we do better” certainly applies to this self-admitted dog mom who now can honestly say, “I think I created that finicky dog’s mindset.”

Here’s what to do if your dog simply refuses to eat his dog food and some things that worked for us that will hopefully prevent your dog from ever experiencing food rejection.

Help for dog food selection

Seek Veterinary Counsel

If your dog suddenly stops eating, you should always seek medical attention to rule out any underlying causes. If your dog’s veterinarian runs a blood work panel and any other necessary tests, this will also help ease your mind.

Buy With Confidence

First and foremost, I need to feel comfortable that the dog food is nutritionally safe and sound. My dog’s best friend is Zola, a 12-year-old mixed breed. Her mom sought my advice several years ago as to what food would be good for Zola and her special needs. Zola deals with some digestive issues and the veterinarian suggested a single source protein. Zola was rescued from a local shelter after being confiscated as “evidence” in a drug bust. The shelter workers reported that Zola’s issues were emotional and that she turned her nose up at many different foods.

With some love and TLC from her dog mom, Zola began her journey as a Natural Balance® pooch. The beauty in trying this line of dog food is that you can ask questions live with an expert veterinary technician at the Natural Balance website along with having the Buy With Confidence™ guarantee.

Natural Balance dog food

Mix It Up

Like people, a dog’s palate is very discerning. There is one school of thought that dogs may get bored eating the same meal day after day. After all, we know that dogs are smart creatures of the highest order and have tastes and preferences just like humans do.

Instead of feeding Zola the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet dog food in kibble only or canned only, her mom rotates and mixes up the two, along with a recently added third option!

She is very happy and digestively in check with the  Duck and Potato Natural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Diet.

Natural Balance dog food
Decisions, decisions.

Allowing a dog to have different textures and tastes keeps their palate happy and may help prevent dog food boredom.

The Icing on the Cake (aka the Bonus Topper on the Dog Food)

This portable and totally clever formula from Natural Balance comes in a roll. It looks like something you would find at a the deli counter, but it is nutritionally balanced for dogs. Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls are a meaty treat that can be chopped, grated or crumbled into your dog’s daily food or served as a meal in itself.

Twice a week Zola’s mom tops the Duck and Potato canned food with a few slices of the Duck and Turkey formula. The ingredients are ones I feel good in feeding our dog, Dexter, so he gets to have some bonus treats throughout the week. And the piece de resistance: it’s accented with super healthy fruits of cranberries and apples (the former which helps support a healthy urinary tract). Finally, a way to get my dog to eat his veggies!

Natural Balance dog food

To Guffaw or Not to Guffaw: That Is The Question

Some dog parents might read these tips and think “now just wait a minute, you might be creating a finicky palate there like you did with your Cocker Spaniel.”

Not in the least. A big no way. Why?

Dogs that are given a selection of choices all in the same line are more likely not to develop a finicky palate and, in fact, are happier and more voracious eaters. Don’t you sometimes crave a crunch and now and then get a carb fix for say, mashed potatoes? Do you like softer foods sometimes? Well, dogs are the same way!

The mistake I made with my previous dog was food hopping from brand to brand to brand. I know better and so I do better. I am a more experienced and more learned dog mom and feel confident in how and what I feed and why. Zola’s mom let me feed Zola a recent meal topped with the dog food roll slices, and here’s the result:

Your Dog Just Won Best in Show

I consider myself to be a highly engaged, active, health conscious dog parent, and it’s safe to venture a guess that many folks reading this article can relate.

Something that I did with my dog and that Zola’s mom does with her pooch is praise them to the highest heavens when they are ready to eat and when they are finished (like they just won best in show). You want eating to be the best thing a dog can do and show them this in your tone, mannerisms, and praise. With Zola, she needed extra TLC because of her unknown and likely neglectful past.

Never bother the dog while he or she is eating.

Does your dog have a word or a happy phrase associated with eating? For my dog, it’s “Do you want your puppy food?”

For Zola, her mom says, “Okay Zola, time to eat” in a very happy, sunshine-invoking voice.

Each time you are ready to feed the dog, you should couple it with a verbal reward (praise). Say something like, “Yes!” or “Good doggie,” in a positive, happy tone of voice. Repeat after meal time with praise. I make a big to do about meal time for the dog in this household and he knows it by the wag of his tail.

My dog knows that about 10 minutes or so after dinner, he gets to play ball. He loves his food, eats it all up, and then his reward is play time.

Never scold a dog if he or she will not eat the food or seems not to respond to your praise. No matter how upset you are or what the dog did to frustrate you, remember that words carry a heavy weight and dogs have retain memories. Positive reinforcement is key.

Natural Balance dog food selection

Bottom Line

A natural balance in a quality dog food means the protein, fat, carbs, and other nutrients are minerals are properly balanced.

Dogs, like people, deserve a nutritionally sound diet that promotes overall good health and longevity.

Zola is living proof that a combination of a loving home, plenty of exercise, vet visits, and a quality diet are the keys to life well lived. She is a very happy 12-year-old picture of good canine health.

Stay tuned because we’ll have future dog feeding tips and updates in future posts.

Natural Balance dog food
The circle of good health begins with the proper food for your dog.

Go Forth and Enjoy

The next time you are at PetSmart®, check out the Natural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Line. In addition to the food, they do have a LIT Limited Ingredient Treat® selection worth checking out.

Check out the Natural Balance website to find out more and ask any questions live with the expert veterinary technician.

Visit the Buy With Confidence guarantee link to learn how the folks at Natural Balance stand behind the products.

Natural Balance dog food

Is your dog a good eater? Do you ever struggle with finicky food issues?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Natural Balance. The opinions and text are all mine.



  1. Both dogs are beautiful. We have 2 dogs and they have never turned down any food. I wasn’t familiar with this brand but I’m going to check out the dog food roll as a snack. They love snack time!

  2. I don’t have a cute puppy but I definitely don’t suffer from this with our cats. Our cats are little piggies they eat all the time.

  3. I have two dogs that have recently become picky eaters. After a recent trip to the vets, we discovered they were tired of their food and just needed a bit of a switch. Wish I would have read this sooner.

  4. Smart to suggest the visit to the doctor first and foremost. Blood work can tell us so much! I love the pictures, oh my goodness it’s cuteness overload!

  5. My dogs are not fussy eaters but if they were I really like what you wrote about the Natural Balance Line of food. How clever to add to their meals a few days a week from a few different lines of the Natural Balance brand within the same formula by adding some of the canned food and slices from the food in their rolls to their kibble allowing fussy dog eaters to get tastes of foods in different textures to change things up.

  6. My dogs are loving the LID sweet potato and fish food from Natural Balance. Nelly has allergies, so I try to be pretty careful with what I give her. I have to check to see if the dog food rolls are grain free. If so I might pick one up for a treat. I like the idea of using it a couple times of week.

  7. My Husky was often a picky eater, but she loves all things Natural Balance! I feed her all their food products; kibble, wet food & the food rolls. She gets so excited for meal time!

  8. These doggies are all adorable! We have two dogs and they are wonderful and so important to us. We really try and take care of them including their food. Thanks for this information!

  9. Great tips about seeking your vet and ensuring your dog’s food is safe. Mixing it up is also important, because all food is different in what they are providing. We wouldn’t eat the same frozen dinner 3x a day for our entire life and think we are getting a balanced diet.

    1. The 6 yrs old cockerspaniel that I recently adopted was so very spoiled. He was only Fed table food likes of bologna sandwiches, and ice cream and all by hand.!! He refuses to eat out of his bowel, but will drink his water from the bowel. I’ve tried nature’s balance and 3 others including wet and mixing wet with dry, I am frustrated. He doesn’t even take treats. Please help me.

  10. Mixing things up and food toppers always work wonders. Fortunately, we’ve never had any big refusals to eat – even when our dogs have been really sick. My niece had to switch to raw recently, however, because her depressed dog wouldn’t eat a thing.

  11. The concept of feeding dogs (and cats) has vastly changed from when I was a vet tech eons ago. At that time, pet food companies preached the gospel of “find a good food and NEVER EVER CHANGE or…will create a finicky pet.” Of course, that also can cause problems with animals who accept/eat only one type of food and later must change to a therapeutic diet…or a fav goes away. Great post!

  12. Natural Balance sounds like a fabulous brand for doggies. We don’t have pets at the mo, but we have 2 super picky children so I can imagine how worrying it would be for dog owners if their beloved pets weren’t eating properly 🙂

    Louise x

  13. Terrific advice on checking with your vet! When our pug was a senior, she totally quit eating dry food. We tried everything and took her to the vet and he suggested that we try wet food for her because with her age (she was 15 at the time) and her teeth/gums, it may be hard for her to chew/digest the food. We found a favorite brand she loved and that’s all she would eat.

  14. Shasta’s allergies have him eating a single protein rotational diet and I use the soft food the same way Zola’s mom does. I also try to ensure most of his treats during that “protein’s rotation” are made with the same protein, though that isn’t always possible.

  15. Monte doesn’t eat dog food. But one thing we have noticed is that now and then … he just isn’t hungry. He will skip a meal and be perfectly happy. So we try not to stress about it and sure enough he eats happily the next time. He has two small meals a day so… he isn’t going a whole day without.

  16. I cook for Layla and she gets tough love when it comes to food, She will get one treat during the day (she eats in the evenings – not a morning eater) and if she has eaten that treat I know she not sick, so you eat your dinner and nothing else from me. She has learnt that that is the rule in the house and does it now

  17. Such good advice, It’s also important to set and keep a schedule so that your dog doesn’t “train you” to feed him/her according to their tummy. Natural Balance and their Buy with Confidence promise have been a pivotal change for our dog Sully. All because I did the research up front on the Buy with Confidence webpage and was able to make a darn near perfect choice for him and his needs!

  18. Ruby is not a finicky eater. She will eat anything and everything which creates its own set of problems. LOL. I didn’t know NB made rolls. We will definitely give that a try.

  19. I have two of the most food motivated labs on the planet and have never had any issues with either of them refusing to eat unless they were really sick, except the one time I dared to give them some (very expensive) dehydrated sweet potato treats. Seriously, you would have thought I’d offered them rocks! 😉

    However, my pit bull, Piper is not really food motivated, which I did think meant she was just finicky but after reading this post, I am connecting some very important dots. Like Zola, Piper is a rescue and she came to me with some serious stomach issues. She too was put on a grain-free, single protein diet. She does best on fish or bison and we found a brand that works really well and I’m always so afraid of messing up her system by switching brands. No one (vet, pet food store) ever suggested the idea that we could switch between the canned and the kibble and toppers from the same brand! Thank you!!

    1. HA rocks! You are so welcome. We have been switching, too, and it really works. The dogs are never bored and are healthy.

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