Stray Dogs won’t eat Dog Food

Giving stray and homeless dogs shelter is an admirable thing to do indeed.  The problem arises when the stray dog won’t eat dog food. How do you encourage them to eat dog food? Will they change their behavior? And start eating dog food? What could be the problem?

Our article has it all!

Stray dog wont eat dog food

Why is my stray dog not eating the food?

Your stray dog is new at your place and life has not been that fair to him before. Commonly, the stray dog doesn’t eat dog food or homemade food at all. There are various reasons for this

He is not used to it

Stray dogs eat from garbage, food leftovers from dumps, or any other roadside bite they would get to eat. They are not aware of the “concept” of proper eating. Moreover, stray dogs may not eat the food at all because they are not familiar with the food. They are used to their dump diet and reject anything that seems foreign to them.

Dogs take time to adjust to new environments. In the process, they may lose their appetite. After a certain time and with your care, they will adjust themselves and start eating.

The stray dog is undergoing emotional stress

A new place and the new owner can scare away your pup. A sudden change of place can cause emotional distress in dogs. They get uncomfortable and may lose their appetite. Maybe your dog is afraid and just needs a little lovey-dovey from you to encourage him.

Your stray dog is sick

As most stray dogs eat from dumps, there is pretty much a chance he is sick. Also sometimes, they hunt to eat or eat fecal matter along with food. This can cause worms and parasites, skin allergies and infections, or gut problems in dogs.

Stray dogs can also have bad oral hygiene. Check their dental health. Make sure that your dog visits the vet as a priority after you have adopted him.

The dog is in pain

A dog doesn’t eat food when in pain. Many times stray days are highly neglected or abused dogs. You need to check their body thoroughly for any sign that they might be in pain.

You are giving him dry dog food or kibble

Stray dogs eat from dumps. Now you know how that food is. The dog may not be aware of Kibble or dry food at all. So he will not recognize it as food. Try feeding him wet food first. You can simply add water to homemade food or dry food to make it wet.

What to do if the dog doesn’t eat dog food?

when the stray dog refuses to eat dog food, here is what you can do

  • Sit near him and try to pat his back. The dog should feel loved within your company.
  • Offer him water first. All dogs recognize water and this is the beginning of your friendship with him. He should know that the offering coming from your place is known to him.
  • Inspect his body. See if he is injured, or hurt or if there is any other visible sign of trauma. Treat your dog for that.
  • Visit the vet to make sure, your dog is not suffering from any disease. This will also help you to know what and what not to feed them. For example, the dog is diabetic or has stomach issues. So will know that you have to take care of his diet.
  • If there is no such problem, start with raw vegetables and food. Feed him carrots, leftover bread, biscuits, etc. See what he picks to eat. A dog takes time to adjust his eating habits and stray dogs need some effort at first because you don’t know what he has been eating before.
  • Give homemade food first. You can simply mix different leftover foods and offer them to your dog.
  • Offer him bland and easily digestible food like rice, boiled chicken, etc.
  • Mix a pinch of turmeric in his food. Turmeric is a natural healer.
  • Feed him wet canned food first and then shift gradually towards dog food and kibbles.
  • Switch his food to dog food gradually. Initially, feed him one portion and keep increasing the portions while decreasing other food. This will ensure that his gut health stays fine.

How long does it take for a stray dog to adjust?

Changing places is stressful for dogs. Also, dogs have memory and their past can haunt them. A stray dog will take up to 3 weeks to adjust to a new place. At first, he will take three days to get familiar with your place, and three weeks to adjust himself to a new routine. Then after three months, he will be bound to you with his soul.

Make sure your stray dog eats at the same place and at the same time. It will help him to understand and adjust to the new feeding routine.

Can you force-feed your stray dog?

Well, in no way your dog is going to starve himself to death because he simply doesn’t like the food or is not feeling comfortable. But dogs can be stubborn and may go on a little food strike at first. So little force-feeding can help him to accept the fact that he needs to eat and the sooner the better.

Also, your stray dog starts eating within the first 24 hours. If the dog doesn’t eat for 2 days then this is a symptom of serious illness. You need to consult your vet as soon as possible.

What is the best appetite stimulant for dogs?

If your dog is rejecting to eat, you can give food stimulants to get a rescue dog to eat dog food. Herbs like celery seeds and peppermint are very good natural appetite stimulants. You can also feed your dog white meat as it is a light, appetizing, and attractive diet for dogs.


Your stray dog won’t eat dog food and there could be various reasons. He may be sick, in pain, feeling distressed, or, simply not used to it. Address his problems. Try feeding him a soft textured diet first that is gentle on the stomach and switch gradually to dog food.

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