How to stimulate appetite in a dog with low interest?

I have a two year old female pit bull who has never really shown interest in her food. This is despite the fact that we cook her good human quality food and serve it with high quality kibble twice a day. We vary it to keep it interesting. She will eat maybe one full meal a day, but that's it. Lots of times we have to hand feed her to get her to eat even that. OTOH she happily works for treats and shamelessly begs for whatever someone else is eating. Since she rarely gets food from begging, she's skinny, all her ribs show. It makes me nuts. I've taken her to the vet and she's not sick. She's active, muscular, and energetic. Just really skinny. Any suggestions?

Asked by Otter on Aug 27th 2009 Tagged food, eating, appetite in Food & Nutrition
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My Pit (R.I.P. Woofie), finished breakfast by dinner and dinner by breakfast. This only changed when we added a second dog to the house. Then she did not want to take any chances on the new pup eating her food!
I can't see Otter's body from the one picture to tell if she is too thin or just "buff". Woofie was always very fit and muscular, not an ounce of fat. Otter may be the same way.
Did the Vet feel she is underweight? Or just agree she is skinny?

The more you worry about it the less likely she will eat normally. Treats should be limited and begging is a huge no-no.

The varied diet may interest her nose, but her tummy may not agree. Wild preditors eat limited prey animals for a reason, their bodies are set to digest them. Only small amount of variety are included in their diets to round out nutrition. I have included a link to foods you should not feed your dog, just in case....

Snickers answered on 8/27/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


At 2, there's not really any reason to feed her twice a day. Try once a day feedings so that she feels more satiated, more likely to finish the meal, and may help her maintain weight better. Place her food bowl down, give her 15 minutes to eat.. if she only picks at it or doesn't finish it, pick the bowl up and try again the next day.

Here is an article on how a dog's stomach works:

Kolbe answered on 8/27/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer

K-10 Von Canein

You're doing alot of things right, including human food. I am not sure what you mean by high quality kibble. There are only a few on the market that are actually high quality. Many "high quality" foods contain corn, which is bad for a dog. Many dog foods contain cancer causing kidney killing preservatives, also. Check your kibble out at Click on reviews, enter your food, and see what is really in it. Here is a video on how to make a good quality food your pet will gobble up. I would start out by reducing the amounts of fruits and veggies, but work those amounts up to the recommended level on this video. Enjoy, and I really hope this helps.

Note: if you do not have easy access to goat products, regular dairly products will do just fine.

K-10 Von Canein answered on 8/27/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


It is highly unusual for a healthy dog not to eat all it needs. Perhaps you need to have another vet look at her.

It is also quite possible with all the human food you are giving her, she isn't getting the complete and balanced diet nothing but kibble would provide. What does your vet say about it? Most vets are against home made diets,

Aster answered on 8/27/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Bam-Bam, CGC

"Complete and balanced diet nothing but kibble could provide" Please. Sorry, last time I checked, wolves weren't out there counting calories and making sure they had enough CORN in their diet. It amazes me the things you come up with sometimes. Just because it isnt' something you would do doesn't mean it's bad. I feed raw and my Bam-Bam has gained 22 lbs in about a month on it, and on kibble he had plateaued and was underweight. Hmm.
Otter have you tried making meal times into training sessions and using those meals as treats? Do you free-feed or give an allotted time to eat? Something you may try is putting the bowl down for, say, 15 minutes, and then it gets picked back up until next mealtime. You can put plastic wrap over it and put it in the fridge until then. Hopefully she'll learn to eat when the bowl goes down or else risk going hungry.

Bam-Bam, CGC answered on 8/27/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer

Cocoa Pebbles

my dogs were like that, then I switched to feeding them once a day. Only left the food down for 30 min max. It took a couple of days but they are great eaters now.

Cocoa Pebbles answered on 8/27/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


yep I think also a two year old has no need to eat twice.
Maybe try the once a day to see what happens. It may be too much food also.
What are your portions to her?
I say treats that are dry box ones have no value.
Maybe what you are feeding is not appealing to her. And then add ins are not needed.
There is nothing wrong with home cooked meals in my book. But, maybe the kibble is not right for her.
Some dogs seem to not be able to maintain weight on certain kibble.
It sounds as though you are really trying to figure out what is wrong. I would try one meal early evening, place the bowl down and is the problem you walking away? some dogs have to company and you said you are hand feeding. Try place a chair near her and read a book. If that is not what it is then leave her and come back after 15 minutes to see what she ate. You can try that use the good food for training, do a little session and toss the handful left into the bowl, when she eats praise.
Also is the bowl scary??

Dieta answered on 8/28/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


I find that many dogs will eat their food, especially when they work for it. They love to hunt and also learn tricks. This is Play for dogs and relieves boredom. With pieces of meat I train my dogs to do tricks. Also for the hunt, I take dry kibble and throw 1 piece across a room & excitedly say go get it. Before throwing hold kibble and get dogs interest. ..when she's looking at kibble throw it and pretend your gonna get it. Later you'll just throw it and they usually run to get it. They get exercise, play and it stimulates their brain learning things. Another thing to do is to put bowl of food in front of dog & have her wait to eat it till you say ok. Again, this makes them want it even more. I feed my dogs 3xs a day (this you don't have to do -- but I do it to increase their play time. They get food measured and I just divide it into 3 portions. I use their regular kibble for teaching tricks as well...Also look for meat to be #1 ingredient in dry food no by-product

Member 851648 answered on 8/29/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I would try a food that is formulated for high energy dogs like Nutro's Adult High Energy formula (the orange bag!). It has extra protein and fat! It doesn't have ground yellow corn, chicken by-products, or artificial colors and preservitives. It also has 3.5% linoleic acid for skin health.

Mom also put us on a feeding schedule like some of the others recommended. She feeds us twice a day and puts the food down for 15 minutes and picks it up until dinner. You can add canned or pouched food to help entice her appetite too! We love it when Mom mixes in the Natural Choice pouches!

Let us know what you find that works!

Maverick answered on 8/29/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer