If your Doberman starts refusing their food, it’s important to find out why and how to help them get back on track. Whether it’s been gradual or sudden, this article will run through the top 5 reasons why your Doberman isn’t eating, when to see a vet, and what you can do about it.
The top 5 reasons why your Doberman isn’t eating:
- He isn’t agreeing with his kibble
- He’s receiving table scraps or too many treats
- He isn’t receiving enough exercise
- He doesn’t have a clear feeding time
- Due to an underlying health issue
I will explain how each of these may be related to your Dobie’s situation! plus, I’ll run through what you can do about each one.
Why Isn’t My Doberman Eating? 5 Common Reasons
After having spoken to my friend about this topic (who has a Dobie) and searching through countless Doberman groups and forums, It seems that these are the top 5 problems that owners have identified.
1. He Isn’t Agreeing With His Kibble
Or his kibble isn’t agreeing with him! Whichever way, if the kibble isn’t quite right for your Doberman it could be causing him discomfort after having eaten it. Unfortunately, dog food isn’t made equal, and the quality can range from terrible all the way to human-grade, and everything in between. This makes finding one that works, difficult.
Dobies are intelligent and they will quickly start refusing the food if they know it makes them feel bad.
If you have noticed your Doberman to have loose stools after eating, showing signs of discomfort, nausea, or even vomiting, it could be his kibble.
2. He’s Receiving Table Scraps or Too Many Treats
There’s heavy debate surrounding whether Dobies and dogs in general, should or shouldn’t eat our leftovers. The answer comes down to whether your leftovers are dog-friendly. There are many hidden ingredients like garlic, onion, salt, and spices that may be toxic for your Dobie.
If your Doberman is consuming table scraps or even just too many treats, it could be spoiling his appetite or making his own food seem very unappealing.
He will also become savvy to the fact that if he waits long enough, he’ll just receive food from you, your partner, or the kids, making his own food not necessary.
The big issue with this is that his own food is formulated to provide him with the nutrients he needs. Table scraps are not, although to him, they are far tastier.
3. He Isn’t Receiving Enough Exercise
As you likely already know, Dobies need A LOT of exercise. 2 hours of exercise per day is standard, and some Dobermans would happily go for more.
Dobermans are an extremely fit breed and their metabolism and bodily functions work efficiently. This means without enough exercise, your Dobie isn’t going to feel the need to eat.
Exercise burns energy and energy comes from their food. If your Dobie isn’t burning enough energy, he isn’t going to be inclined to eat very much.
This is the same for nearly all hard-working, exercise-dependant breeds like Dobermans.
4. He Doesn’t Have a Clear Feeding Time
For many, this is something that you already do, and that’s awesome. But still to this day I know many owners and friends who don’t follow a strict time.
Allowing your Dobie to day-graze (continuously topping up the food bowl whenever it looks kinda low) will give you an unclear picture of how much he’s eaten and it’s impossible to track.
By having set mealtimes your Doberman’s body will learn to be hungry for these exact times. Dog’s need a routine and eating is one of the most important parts of their day to have structured.
Adult Dobies should be fed twice per day once when your household wakes up around 7 or 8, then once again at around 6 in the evening.
5. Due To An Underlying Health Issue
There’s also the chance your Dobie has an underlying health issue.
Health issues are typically accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, or pain. If you are unsure or have your suspicions that a health issue could be at play then visiting your veterinarian is an important first step before doing anything else.
Unfortunately, a lack of appetite is a common symptom of an extensive range of health concerns, so it is certainly something to have on your radar.
Many owners think health issues only account for sudden changes in appetite. But this isn’t true. Health issues could cause your Dobie to refuse his food suddenly and completely, or slowly over a period of time.
Ways To Encourage Your Doberman To Start Eating
Below is a list of tips and best practices that should have your Dobie eating again in no time at all, they will also serve as preventative measures in the future.
It’s important for me to recommend ruling out health issues with your veterinarian first.
1. Stop Table Scraps and Switch His Treats!
The first and easiest thing you can do is to stop giving your Dobie table scraps. And even if you don’t give your Dobie table scraps, it doesn’t mean your partner or kids don’t…
By removing leftovers, he’ll learn that he has to eat his own food and he can’t wait for routine leftovers to fall his way on a daily basis. Sure, once every 1-2 weeks is fine, but for now, stop them completely.
Switching treats? Yep. Switch to a small, low-calorie treat. Zukes Mini Naturals are fantastic! They are tiny morsels of heaven and only have 1-3 calories per treat. They are substantial enough to be considered a reward, yet they won’t ruin your Dobie’s appetite for his main meal.
2. Change Kibbles If Necessary
When it comes to switching kibble, there are a few things to consider.
How long has your Dobie been on his or her current kibble? If he’s been eating his kibble without issues for the last year, the kibble is likely fine, but he could be just bored of it. Alternatively, if he’s only just switched to a new kibble in the last 2-4 weeks and is now refusing to eat it, it suggests he doesn’t agree with it.
There is always a natural transition period when adjusting to a new food that may cause some irregular bowel movements, but that shouldn’t take more than 5-7 days. And he certainly shouldn’t refuse to eat the food.
If it’s the kibble, it’s more likely going to be caused by a new kibble that he’s recently switched to. So once again, you may need to try another.
Tips for choosing a new kibble:
● Avoid common allergens like chicken, beef, lamb, and pork.
● Opt for salmon, duck, turkey, or other kinds of fish as the main protein source.
● Ensure the food is from a reputable and premium brand.
● Avoid kibbles with a high ratio of carbohydrates compared to protein and fat.
● Try opting for a kibble that is made for sensitive eaters (made with fewer irritable ingredients).
● Always transition to a new kibble slowly and gradually to avoid unnecessary upset stomachs.
3. Incorporate Wet Dog Food Into His Diet
Frequently recommended by veterinarians is to follow the 80% dry food 20% wet food split which means removing a small amount of dry kibble and replacing it with canned wet dog food.
Wet dog food is higher in protein, the meat is closer to its natural form, it’s higher in calories, has fewer preservatives, additives, and flavorings, it’s considerably tastier and more palatable than dry food, plus it comes with wet gravy. Dogs goes bonkers for it.
Adding wet dog food is like supercharging his kibble. He won’t be able to resist.
A couple of tips. Be sure to calculate the calorie difference correctly, you can’t just add a random amount of wet dog food on top of his usual kibble, it should always be done properly. Never go more than 20% wet dog food as it’s very rich and too much of it could upset his stomach.
Before buying random wet dog food, check to see if there’s an available wet dog food version of the dry kibble you have. Many manufacturers do this nowadays.
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4. Make His Own Kibble Tastier
If you don’t like the idea of mixing in wet dog food, there are some alternatives.
Things you can try:
● Adding plain meat broth/stock to his kibble
● Adding plainly cooked meat to his kibble
● Adding a tablespoon of peanut butter to his kibble
● Use dog food seasonings on top of this kibble
● Add water to his kibble (to make it a tad soupy)
Try just one and see how it goes.
If you want to try using meat stock, ensure it doesn’t have a high salt content. And if you want to use peanut butter make sure it doesn’t contain Xylitol or high salt.
Sometimes even making his kibble wet with plain water will be enough for him to start eating it again. In fact, if you are not already making his kibble wet, it’s a very good idea to start. Moist/wet kibble is far easier to swallow and digest than when it’s dry.
5. Improve His Exercise Routine
Another easier area to focus on would be his current exercise routine. Consider his daily activity level and be honest, is he receiving enough?
You may take him for a long walk for 2 hours, but is it just a stroll with no running? Adult Dobies in their prime (2-7 years) need intensive exercise involving running, jumping, hiking, sprints, swimming, and so forth. A light stroll may not be enough.
Perhaps your Dobie is only receiving 1 hour per day when he would be better off with 2 hours.
If his exercise routine could do with some improvement, it will certainly go towards an increased appetite and empty food bowls.
6. Follow a Rotation Diet
The rotation diet is something to consider in the future to prevent boredom from happening. The rotation diet involves having at least 2 different kibbles that you are sure your Dobie likes, then every 2-4 months, switch them, and keep repeating this throughout the year.
By switching him back and forth between two kibbles he’ll remain interested in his kibble for a lot longer.
Just ensure that each transition period is done slowly and gradually over the course of one week.
Most owners have the best results sticking to the same brand and variation of kibble, but using two different flavors. This keeps the ingredients fairly consistent without big changes.
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When To See Your Veterinarian
There is no wrong moment to seek help from your veterinarian. You don’t need to wait a certain amount of time before you give them a call and IMHO it’s always better to be on the safe side by ruling out health conditions first, but this is your call.
A veterinarian once told me that “no healthy dog would starve themself” which means if he completely refuses food (even tasty meat) then a trip to the vets is likely necessary.
Fluid intake is even more important. Not eating is one thing, but if he refuses to drink too, call your veterinarian as soon as possible, don’t wait.
Thank you for reading! I really hope I have answered your questions and have helped you identify some likely causes and solutions. If I have missed out on any information you were expecting to see, please let me know! I love hearing feedback and adding relevant sections where necessary.