Why Is My Dog Not Eating His Food But Will Eat Treats?

By Coty Perry

Many dogs that have nasal diseases, like cancer or infections, often cannot smell their food and will only eat treats. Some dogs have lung disease, which can cause them not to want to eat much due to their compromised ability to breathe. 

However, your dog doesn’t necessarily need to have a nasal or lung disease only to want to eat treats.

Your dog might not like the food you give him, which is why he refuses. Dogs sometimes act like toddlers when it comes to food. While you might assume their food tastes good to them, they just might not like it. 

Changing your dog’s food can help your pup to eat a regular diet and not a diet consisting of only treats. 

Why Is My Dog Not Eating His Food But Will Eat Treats?

There are several issues your dog might have that can cause them only to want to eat treats. You can first assume that he might not like the food. Before switching foods, you should consult your dog’s vet first to be sure that changing foods is safe for your pup’s health. 

The vet might have some recommendations for foods that might be easier for your pup to eat. However, your dog could have health issues that cause him to refuse food. Besides nasal and lung disease, your dog could have an upset stomach or is full from filling up on all the treats. Some common reasons your pup might only want to eat treats are:

Dental Issues

Your dog could be experiencing tooth pain or other dental issues that cause them not to want to eat. Dental problems are common in dogs that primarily eat a diet consisting of crunchy food and are also common in small breeds and seniors. 

To prevent dental issues in your pup, you should practice routine teeth brushing. Check your dog’s mouth for signs of infection or injury and make a vet appointment immediately if you believe dental issues cause him to eat less food and more treats. 

Stress and Anxiety

Like humans, dogs also suffer from stress and anxiety. Your dog could be stressed due to separation anxiety, a change of routine, thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises. 

Your dog could show signs of stress and anxiety if he whines, paces, excessively grooms, and refuses food. If you believe your dog is suffering from stress and anxiety, contact your vet to see the next steps you need to take.


If your dog isn’t feeling well, he might not want to eat. He might just want to eat treats because he is not hungry enough to eat a meal. Something as minor as an upset stomach could cause your pup to refuse food and only want to munch on some treats. 

If you believe it is more severe than an upset stomach, you should take your dog to the vet to be examined.  This will allow you to rule out any other illnesses before taking more steps to investigate the issue further.

Final Thoughts

While there are many reasons your dog might not want to eat his food but will eat treats, it can be challenging to pinpoint the issue right away. 

It can be helpful to start by switching foods and developing a routine feeding schedule. If that still doesn’t work, your dog should be examined by his vet to resolve the issue.

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Coty Perry
Coty is a self-proclaimed cat whisperer and animal lover. Growing up his mom ran a dog training business out of his childhood home so you can say it was complete chaos 24/7. Today, when he comes home after a long day of writing about animals, he’s greeted by his two loving cats Marley and Cozmo.