Your dog spits out food? This is why.
So your dog is spitting out food.
What’s going on?
Is food-spitting dangerous to your dog?
What can you do to stop the food-spitting behavior?
So many questions.
The short answer is: Your dog spits out food because of health problems or because there are issues with the bowl, food, or environment.
But there is more to know!
This is why this article will also tell you:
- How you can stop your dog from spitting out food
- Whether the food-spitting behavior is dangerous to your pup
- When to contact your vet
Let’s do this.
This is why your dog may be spitting out food:
- Health problems (dental issues, foreign body, allergies, stress, and more)
- Issues with the dog’s bowl (wrong height, sliding, making metallic sounds, and more)
- Something wrong with the food (taste, texture, temperature, spoiled food, and more)
- Behavioral issues (picky eater, in heat, power dynamics, and more)
This is why your dog spits out food
There are several main reasons why your dog may suddenly start spitting out food.
Dental problems are one of the most common causes of dogs spitting out their food.
Pain or any other discomfort in the mouth will often make your doggy hesitate to chew and swallow food.
Pain in the mouth can be caused by inflammation of the dog’s gums. But there can be more serious problems, including tooth root abscesses and oral tumors.
This is why every dog owner needs to know the signs of potential dental issues.
Signs of dental problems in dogs may include:
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Broken, loose, or missing teeth
- Bad breath
If you think your doggy is spitting out food due to dental problems, visit your vet for a dental checkup.
And don’t forget to brush your dog’s teeth regularly. Chew toys will also help maintain your pup’s dental health.
My German Shepherd (Max) broke a tooth a couple of years ago. Max struggled to eat regular food for a while but was happy to eat treats. This is because treats are often softer and smaller, compared to regular food for pets. In other words, if your dog suffers from dental issues, it may prefer to eat treats as they require less effort to chew.
A mouth injury can cause your dog to start spitting out food.
So check for any bruises, cuts, or sores in the mouth of your pup.
If you find any mouth injury, contact your vet. The veterinarian may prescribe medication to promote healing and prevent infection.
A foreign body stuck in your pup’s mouth or throat can make swallowing difficult. This can make a dog to spit his food.
Your dog may also spit out its food due to an allergic reaction to a specific ingredient in dog food.
The symptoms of food allergies usually include itching, skin rashes, ear infections, gastrointestinal issues, and a refusal to eat, which may result in spitting out food.
Common food allergens for dogs include chicken, beef, pork, eggs, dairy products, fish, soy, and wheat.
As I mentioned earlier, my German Shepherd developed an allergy to a specific protein in dog food (beef).
As a result, my dog started to spit out certain dog foods. My vet had to create a customized dietary plan for my dog.
Long story short, my pup is now a healthy eater and no longer spits out food!
By the way, there are already dog food brands that make high-quality food specifically designed for dogs with allergies. For example, we recently rated Royal Canin as the best dog food for German Shorthaired Pointers with allergies.
Infections like tonsillitis or gum disease can make it difficult for dogs to swallow food.
Dogs may spit out their food due to gastrointestinal issues.
Gastrointestinal problems may be caused by viral infections, abrupt dietary changes, or exposure to toxins or poisons.
As always, consult a vet if your dog experiences upset stomach, reduced appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting. This is especially important if your dog has a sensitive stomach.
Here, you’ll be delighted to know that there are already dog food brands that make high-quality food specifically designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs. One such brand is Hill’s, whose food we recently rated as the best dog food for Poodles with sensitive stomachs.
Cancer is another medical issue that may negatively impact a dog’s eating behavior.
For example, some cancers can cause nausea in dogs. This in turn can lead to changes in eating behavior, including spitting out food.
Fear, stress, or anxiety
Fear, stress, and anxiety can also negatively affect your dog’s eating behavior. Some dogs may start spitting out food when stressed out.
Here are the most common triggers of fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs:
New family member
The arrival of a new pet or human baby at home can be stressful for your dog. The arrival of a new family member in the household means the restructuring of the pack. Until now, your pup was getting all the attention. But the arrival of the new family member disrupts this established and happy relationship. This can cause stress and loss of appetite in your dog, which in turn can lead to your dog spitting food.
This is a very common reason why some dogs lose their interest in eating and may start spitting out food. Yes, few things can be more stressful to a dog than the sudden disappearance of its beloved owner.
The arrival of guests at home can also stress out your dog. This can lead to loss of appetite and spitting out food.
Moving or home renovation
Changes in your dog’s environment can become another reason for your dog’s hunger strike, including spitting out food.
Your dog may also start spitting out food if you’ve recently switched your pup to a new diet. Spitting out food is just one way of your dog signaling its displeasure with your dietary decision.
Then there are other stressors such as fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud noises. Such stressors can negatively affect dog behavior, including eating habits.
Medication side effects
Just like in humans, some medications can cause side effects in dogs. This may include nausea, which can negatively affect your dog’s eating.
Issues with the dog’s bowl
If your dog’s bowl is sliding across the floor when your pup is trying to eat, the poor doggy may spit out its food in frustration. The same may happen if the bowl is making metallic sounds as the bowl moves.
Then there’s the wrong height of the bowl.
For example, bowls that are too deep can make it hard for your pup to reach food. This may lead to frustration as well.
The wrong height of the bowl may also affect your dog’s comfort during meals. Larger dogs may prefer a raised bowl, while smaller pups may appreciate bowls at ground level.
Your dog may also get frustrated if the bowl is too shallow, with food spilling over the edges.
Also, remember that auto-feeders can also stress out some dogs and negatively affect their eating behavior.
And don’t forget to clean your dog’s bowl regularly. That’s right, some dogs will refuse to eat from a dirty bowl.
Something wrong with the food
Yes, the dog food may have gone bad and you didn’t notice it.
But your dog did!
Which is why, your pup spitted it out.
Which is great, because spoiled food can poison a dog. Never a great experience for dog parents.
So yes, always double-check the expiration dates on the dog food bag or container.
It’s also worth Googling it to see if a given dog food hasn’t been recalled recently. You never know.
Once on Google, why not check if the specific dog food your pup is spitting out is not causing issues in other dogs?
You can even contact a dog food manufacturer to ask about a specific dog food. This may help your dog avoid eating drama. Most dog food bags and containers include a customer service phone number.
Taste of the food
Yes, your dog may simply not like the food you’re serving.
This may happen if you’ve recently switched your dog to a new brand of dog food or food flavor.
Note that you can always add a small amount of wet food to make kibble more appealing to your pup. Also, try adding low-sodium broth as a topper. My German Shepherd loves broth toppers!
Texture of the food
Some dogs can be very peculiar about the texture of their food. Some may prefer moist and soft foods over dry and crunchy kibble, and vice versa.
My German Shepherd, for example, will sometimes spit out its food because the food is too hard or too crunchy.
This is why I often experiment with different dog food textures to entice my doggy to eat its meals more willingly.
For example, I found plenty of success by mixing kibble with wet treats or canned meat.
By the way, changing the texture of food can also help your pup chew better. This can be especially helpful if your dog has dental problems.
Chewing for better flavor
Some dogs will spit out food in order to pick it up again and resume chewing.
This is because chewing helps release the flavors in the food. This can get your dog to eat well and more willingly.
Temperature of the food
Your pup may also spit out its food if the food is too hot or too cold.
Some dogs may even spit out food to check its temperature.
So make sure the food you serve your pup is at a comfortable temperature.
Shape of the food
To persuade my German Shepherd to eat its food more willingly, I sometimes change the food’s shape.
For example, I soak kibble in warm broth, which allows me to make the kibble pieces larger and softer. My dog loves them!
A dog may also spit out food when something else in its environment suddenly becomes a priority.
For example, your dog may suddenly become worried about sudden noises or the presence of other animals or humans. Your pup may spit out food in order to closely investigate the source of the disturbance.
Puppies often turn mealtime into a game.
They’ll drop the food, only to immediately pounce on it.
This is a normal behavior and most puppies will eventually settle down to eat properly.
Speaking of puppies, make sure to feed your puppy food that is specifically designed for puppies. For example, we recently rated Open Farm as the best dog food for Dalmatian puppies, which is also suitable for puppies from other dog breeds.
Your dog may also spit out its food if you suddenly change your pup’s diet.
Your doggy needs to get used to the smell, taste, and texture of a new food, especially if the new food is very different compared to the old one.
So make sure to change your pup’s diet gradually.
Follow these rules if you’re switching your puppy into food for adult dogs:
- Day 1: 10% new food and 90% old food
- By day 5: 50% new food and 50% old food
- By day 10: 100% new food
Your dog may simply be a messy eater.
That’s right, some dogs routinely take food out of the bowl to consume it at their own pace and in a different location. Spitting out food may be part of this messy operation.
Sorry, your dog is not hungry right now!
Perhaps your pup has just eaten something really tasty (hello, not-so-well-hidden treats).
Or perhaps your doggy is experiencing mild gastrointestinal discomfort that’s curbing its appetite.
So wait for 10 to 15 minutes and try feeding your dog again.
If your dog continues to reject food, contact your vet.
Some dogs are just picky eaters. They will spit their food at the slightest sign of a “wrong” smell, taste, or texture of food.
If you’re lucky to own such a picky consumer, try different brands or types of food until your pup agrees to eat it.
Once you find the right food for your picky pup, avoid significantly changing the food’s flavor or texture in the future.
Some dogs can be affected by neophilia. This is a condition where dogs show a strong preference for new flavors, rather than sticking to the same food. Neophilia can be reinforced by continually offering different foods to your doggy. Yes, picky eating habits can be learned.
Bored with food
Dogs can get bored with eating the same food day after day. This is especially likely if the food is bland or of low quality.
So try different dog food brands or different proteins, fats, and other ingredients.
You can also try changing the flavor of kibble every week. Mixing fresh and frozen fruits and veggies can also do the trick.
Pregnant or in heat
Female dogs often experience significant mood changes during a heat cycle or pregnancy. This can greatly affect their appetite.
For example, dogs often experience food aversion and vomiting in the early stages of pregnancy. This is when they may start spitting out food.
A dog male can also spit out his food if it detects in-season females.
If you have more than one pet at home, power dynamics between household pets may influence your pup’s eating habits, including spitting out food.
Your dog is aging
As your dog ages, its appetite decreases. This is because an aging doggy no longer burns as many calories as during the good young days.
If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to contact your vet to rule out any underlying health reasons for the reduced appetite.
I don’t think there are any effective ways to increase an aging dog’s appetite. Still, you can always try adding a tasty topper. This works wonders for many aging dogs.
VIDEO: Why my dog is not eating & what to do about it
Common foods that dogs spit out food
Yes, there are certain foods that dogs spit out more often than other foods.
DRY FOOD (KIBBLE)
Dogs may spit out kibble for the following reasons:
The size of the kibble may be too large or too small for your dog. This can make it difficult for your pup to eat kibble comfortably.
Your dog may also dislike the hard and crunchy texture of kibble.
That’s right, not every dog enjoys the taste of kibble.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Your dog may also spit out certain fruits and veggies. The dog may dislike their taste or texture.
Here are some of the fruits and veggies dogs like to spit out.
Grapes and raisins
Some dogs will spit out grapes and raisins. This is great news, considering that grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs.
Raw onions and garlic
Raw onions and garlic are also toxic to dogs, so it’s great that some dogs spit them out too.
Some dogs will also spit out citrus fruits. This is because of the strong taste and acidity of citrus fruits.
Here are some examples of human foods that your dog may spit out.
Sweets and desserts
Too much sugar in some sweets and desserts may prove too much for your doggy.
Most dogs can’t handle the heat from spicy foods. They’ll often spit them out.
Many dogs will spit out beverages such as tea, coffee, and alcohol. Which is a good thing because these drinks are toxic to dogs.
How can you stop your dog from spitting out food?
Here is how you can stop your dog spit out food.
Switch back to the old food
If you’ve recently switched your dog to a new diet and your pup is spitting it out, the new food may be the problem.
This could be due to the smell, texture, or flavor of the new food.
So switch back to the old diet and see what happens.
But if the diet switching was done for health reasons, talk to your vet to discuss the issue of food spitting.
If you think the bowl is the reason for your dog spitting out food, get your pup a new bowl.
The new bowl should be the right size for your dog’s breed. Here, consider the bowl’s height, depth, and width.
And make sure the new bowl is stable. Silicone or rubber-bottomed bowls should prevent your dog’s bowl from sliding on the floor.
Also, remember that larger dog breeds and older dogs with joint issues require raised bowls.
Some dogs may also suffer from a nickel allergy, so try a plastic bowl.
Daily walks and regular exercise are not only key to your dog’s health but will sharpen your pup’s appetite.
Work for its food
That’s right, make your pup work for its food.
For example, introduce puzzle feeders that will make your dog work around some clever dividers to reach its food.
This will not only make mealtime more interesting for your doggy but may stop your pup from being too picky about food when it realizes that it has to earn its next meal.
Change the feeding environment
Feed your pup in another room where no one is around, including other pets.
This will allow your dog to enjoy its food in a quiet and comfortable place.
Stick to a routine
Make sure your dog is fed at the same time each day. This will help establish healthy eating habits. This may even prevent your dog from dropping food.
So, leave your pup’s bowl for breakfast for about 10-15 minutes. Then take it away until the next meal. This will ensure your doggy will be really hungry by the time the next meal is served.
The right temperature
Always ensure the food is at the right temperature.
If you’re feeding your pup a freshly cooked meal, let it cool down before serving. The same goes for canned food or kibble that’s been soaked in hot water.
By the way, many dogs prefer their food slightly warmed up. So microwave your pup’s food for a few seconds before serving.
Just make sure to stir the warmed-up food and always test the temperature before serving it to your pup. No one likes hot surprises!
Enhance the flavor
Mix your dog’s food with water or broth.
You can also add a small amount of wet food to your pup’s kibble.
All this will enhance the food’s flavor.
Add food toppings
Adding a tasty topper can make your pup’s food more enticing.
You can add the following:
- Ground beef or cooked, unseasoned shredded chicken: This will add tasty protein and enticing texture to your pup’s meal.
- Beef broth or low-sodium chicken: This will soften your dog’s food and add an appealing flavor.
- Sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin: This will provide your dog with additional nutrients and a different food texture. This in turn may encourage your dog to eat its food properly. Make sure the sweet potatoes are plain, not seasoned.
By the way, I sometimes add peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, eggs, or canned food to my German Shepherd’s food. But I always make sure the toppers are safe for my pup.
My German Shepherd also loves natural food enhancers, such as turmeric, mint, parsley, and oregano. These herbs greatly improve the food’s smell and taste.
And yes, all these toppers not only enhance the food’s flavor and smell but also add extra nutrients and vitamins.
Pretend it’s your food
Pretend you’re eating your dog’s food just before serving it to your pup. Dogs like to copy what their owners do, including good eating habits.
Use food as a reward
You can try using treats as a reward for good behavior and progress in training. This should help create a positive association with mealtime and encourage your pup to stop spitting out food.
But don’t overdo the treats. This is because treats (and snacks) should make up no more than 10% of your pup’s daily calorie intake. Too many treats can lead to obesity and other health issues.
Also, remember that dogs are intelligent animals and can quickly learn behaviors that reward them with treats. For example, if your pup receives treats right after it ignores regular food, the dog can quickly associate the refusal of normal food with getting treats.
Best treats for your dog
Yes, your dog needs treats.
Treats can serve important functions, such as:
- Dental hygiene
- Stress reliever
- Training tools for learning new commands
In fact, we recently reviewed the best treats for dogs when reviewing the best dog food for Dobermans. Yes, these treats are suitable for most dog breeds!
Praise your pup for eating
Praising your doggy for eating is a great way of motivating your pup to eat properly and stop spitting out food.
I often show my German Shepherd appreciation with motivational words such as “good boy” right after my pup keenly swallows another chunk of food. The positive feedback lets my doggy know that I’m happy with its proper eating behavior.
Provide stress-free environment
Stress is a common cause of eating issues in dogs, including spitting out food.
For example, many dogs hate significant changes, such as relocation, travel, and other stressful events.
So look for signs that may suggest stress in your pup. These signs may include:
- Sudden changes in behavior, including eating behavior
- Barking for longer and more frequently than usually
- Other unusual signals suggesting stress or anxiety
Don’t leave food out all day for your pup to graze on. This can lead to overeating and unhealthy gain of weight.
Instead, feed your dog at set meal times.
While it’s important to stick to a consistent diet, offering a variety of foods will keep your dog interested in its meals.
But remember to switch your dog to a new diet gradually and always monitor your pup’s reaction to a new food.
Access to water
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of fresh water, especially in summer.
Dehydration can lead to a loss of appetite, which may cause spitting out the food.
Dogs in heat
It’s not easy to settle down male dogs which are surrounded by females in heat. Such overexcited dogs will often refuse to eat properly.
So close the doors and windows in your house and take your overexcited pup on long vehicle rides away from home. This should settle your doggy down.
The good news is that female dogs’ heat cycles only last for around 7 to 14 days.
Rule out medical issues
Always check your dog for any potential medical issues that may be causing your pup to spit out food.
If you’re suspecting health issues, contact your vet.
When to contact a vet
If your dog consistently spits out food, you should definitely call your vet.
The vet will rule out any underlying health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems, dental issues, and more.
The veterinarian will also recommend an appropriate medical treatment if required.
The treatment plan for your dog will greatly depend on the underlying cause of the food-spitting behavior.
Your vet may:
- Suggest a dietary change
- Prepare a customized dietary plan
- Recommend medication
If your dog is consistently spitting out food due to an allergic reaction to a specific food ingredient, the vet may guide you through an elimination diet to pinpoint the responsible allergens. This is exactly what happened to my German Shepherd. My dog no longer spits out food.
Your vet may recommend surgery if the food-spitting occurs due to a more serious dental issue or physical obstruction.
Frequently asked questions
Why does my dog refuse kibble but eat treats?
Your dog may refuse kibble but will eat treats for a number of reasons, including:
- Behavioral reasons (doesn’t like kibble, bored with kibble, pregnancy, and more)
- Medical reasons (gastrointestinal issues, dental problems, pain, and more)
- Other reasons (wrong bowl, spoiled food, power dynamics with other pets, and more)
Is it safe for my dog to eat food dropped to the floor?
Dogs’ immune system is more robust than humans. In fact, some dogs routinely drop their food on the floor before eating it. For example, some dogs may drop kibble in order to “hunt” it.
Still, while your pup’s immune system can handle most common bacteria, the floor can pose other hazards.
For example, the floor may contain toxic substances such as cleaning products, food items that are not safe for dogs, or small items that can pose a choking hazard or intestinal blockage.
Try placing a food mat under your pup’s bowl. This may help define the zone where your dog is allowed to drop their food before eating it.
Why does my dog drop food in front of me?
Dropping food in front of you may be a sign of your dog wanting to share its “hunt” with you.
Dogs descended from wolves, which are social animals that live and hunt in packs. In wolf packs, members often bring food back to share it with other members of the pack.
Also, wolves often share their food with those pack members who can’t hunt themselves – that’s you!
But there could be other reasons for dropping food in front of you.
For example, your dog may be trying to get your attention. If your pup learns that dropping food in front of you rewards it with your attention, your doggy may continue this happy habit. This is particularly likely if you react to the dropped food in an engaging way.
Note that dogs often don’t distinguish between positive and negative attention from their owners. To dogs, any attention from their owner is rewarding.
Should I take dog food away if my dog doesn’t eat it?
Yes, if your dog doesn’t eat its food within 15 minutes, take the bowl away. Offer your pup a new meal again at the next scheduled mealtime. This will help maintain a feeding schedule, encouraging your pup to eat its food at set mealtimes.
And remember that dog food can spoil if left out for too long. This is especially true for wet and fresh food.
Why is my dog flipping its food bowl before eating?
Flipping a food bowl may be an indication of boredom or frustration in your dog.
For example, simply eating may prove boring to your pup. Flipping the bowl adds an element of excitement or challenge.
Your dog may also be uncomfortable with its bowl. So make sure you consider your dog’s size and age when buying a dog bowl.
Is oral dysphagia causing my dog to drop food?
Your dog puts food in its mouth then spits it? Yes, oral dysphagia can cause your dog to drop food.
Oral dysphagia refers to difficulties with swallowing caused by problems in the dog’s mouth or throat.
The symptoms of oral dysphagia may include spitting food, difficulties with chewing, excessive drooling, gagging, coughing, bad breath, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
How long can a picky dog go without eating?
Most dogs can go without eating for 3 to 4 days. But there have been cases of dogs not eating for longer than 4 days.
Will my dog starve if it’s not eating?
Not usually. This is because a dog’s survival instinct will usually override its need for a hunger strike.
Still, if your pup is refusing to eat for more than 24 hours, contact your vet. Your dog may be unwell.
By the way, I have extensive experience in dealing with a dog that suddenly started to spit out food.
My male German Shepherd (Max) started to drop food last year.
I absolutely had no idea why.
Was it may fault?
Was my dog in danger?
So I took Max to a vet that specializes in dog nutrition.
It turned out that my dog had an allergic reaction to a specific protein in dog food (beef). The vet determined the allergy through the elimination diet that pinpointed the allergen.
Based on this, the vet created a customized dietary plan for my dog.
Long story short, Max no longer spits out food!
I can again take my German Shepherd to a posh restaurant (only kidding).
So yes, this article in not only based on scientific research and expert opinions, but also on my extensive personal experience in dealing with a compulsive food thrower.
As you learned in this article, your dog spits out food because of health problems or because there are issues with the dog’s bowl, food, or environment.
But there is more to know!
This is why this article also told you:
- How you can stop your dog from spitting out food
- Whether the food-spitting behavior is dangerous to your pup
- When to contact your vet
All this information will help your dog enjoy a healthy and happy life!
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Check out our Editorial Process for details on how we research and review pet products and topics.
And don’t forget to visit our About page for more details about our editorial team.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of illness, pain, or distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.