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Dog Puts Food in Its Mouth Then Spits It Out! (9 Reasons)

Has your furry friend started putting food in its mouth and then immediately spitting it out?

This behavior can be both confusing and concerning for any pet owner. This recently happened to my dog as i’ll explain below!

It may seem like a harmless quirk, but it could be an indication of an underlying issue.

In this article, I’ll explain the nine likely causes of this behavior and offer solutions to help your pup overcome it.

dog spitting food back out

This problem happened to my dog!

One of the main reasons I’m writing this article is because this recently happened to my border collie. She’s 4 years old and has never done it before, then all of a sudden she started doing it and I had absolutely no idea why…

I wasn’t too concerned because after about 20 minutes of spitting it out she finally ate it, so at least she was actually eating.

But still, I wanted to know why she was doing this bizarre behavior. It turned out, the reason was she has a small cut on the inside of her mouth (number 5 below).

I have no idea how she got this, perhaps from chasing twigs out in the yard. Sometimes she breaks them and they can be quite sharp.

But for some bizarre reason this cut that was clearly annoying her enough to cause her to pick up the food, spit it back out, nose it around, then eat it much later on.

I got an antiseptic oral solution from my vet, and after a few more days the cut had healed significantly. And as it healed she seemed to stop spitting out the food.

I know, weird. But that’s just how our dogs work sometimes!

There are eight further reasons that you’ll want to know about though, so be sure to read everything below!

9 Reasons why dogs put food in their mouth, then spit it back out!

I’ll run through the 9 most common causes behind this behavior. Some are more serious than others and this will be highlighted within each section.

To really know which one applies to your dog, you’ll have to take everything into context and think about the recent events leading up to this behavior. It’s also important to look out for additional symptoms or behaviors that accompany this behavior.

1. Dental Problems

Dental issues are one of the most common causes of dogs spitting out their food. If your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort in their mouth, they may be hesitant to chew and swallow their food.

Check for any signs of dental problems such as broken or loose teeth, bleeding gums, or bad breath. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a dental checkup.

2. Upset Stomach

If your dog has an upset stomach, they may put food in their mouth and then spit it out. This is because their body is trying to reject the food.

Other signs of an upset stomach include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Monitor your dog closely and contact your vet if the symptoms persist.

3. Behavioral Issues

Dogs may also spit out their food as a behavioral issue. This could be caused by a number of things, such as anxiety or stress.

If you suspect that your dog’s behavior is due to stress, try to identify the source and remove it if possible. Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for help.

4. Diet Changes

If you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet, they may be spitting out their food as a reaction to the new flavors or textures.

Dogs can be picky eaters, so it’s important to introduce new foods slowly and gradually. Mix in a small amount of the new food with their old food and gradually increase the amount over time.

5. Mouth Injuries

Mouth injuries can also cause dogs to spit out their food. Check for any cuts, bruises, or sores in their mouth.

If you notice any injuries, contact your vet immediately. They may prescribe medication to help your dog heal and prevent infection.

6. Allergies

If your dog is allergic to a certain ingredient in their food, they may put the food in their mouth and then spit it out.

Other signs of allergies include itching, redness, and swelling. Consult with your vet for an allergy test and to discuss alternative food options.

7. Infections

Infections such as gum disease or tonsillitis can make it difficult for dogs to swallow their food. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, contact your vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

8. Aging

As dogs age, they may develop dental issues or have a harder time swallowing their food. This can cause them to spit out their food.

Consult with your vet to ensure that your dog’s diet is appropriate for their age and health needs.

9. Medication Side Effects

Some medications can cause dogs to experience side effects such as nausea, which can lead to spitting out their food. If your dog is on medication, consult with your vet to see if this could be the cause of their behavior.

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14 tips for healthy eating habits

Let’s run through 14 simple and effective ways to get your dog eating properly.

  1. Stick to a routine: Dogs thrive on routine, so feeding them at the same time each day can help establish good eating habits. Try to create a consistent schedule for feeding and stick to it as closely as possible.
  2. Provide a comfortable eating environment: Make sure your dog has a quiet and comfortable place to eat where they won’t be disturbed. Avoid feeding your dog in high traffic areas or near loud noises.
  3. Choose high-quality, nutritious food: Make sure the food you’re giving your dog is nutritionally balanced and appropriate for their age and activity level. Consult with your veterinarian if you’re not sure which type of food is best for your dog.
  4. Offer variety: While it’s important to stick to a consistent diet, offering a variety of different foods and flavors can help keep your dog interested in their meals. Just be sure to introduce new foods gradually and monitor your dog’s reaction.
  5. Use food as a reward: Use treats and small portions of high-value foods as a reward for good behavior and training. This can help create positive associations with mealtime and encourage your dog to eat well.
  6. Avoid free-feeding: Leaving food out all day for your dog to graze on can lead to overeating and unhealthy weight gain. Instead, offer set meal times and portions to help your dog maintain a healthy weight.
  7. Consider using puzzle feeders: Puzzle feeders are interactive toys that dispense food as your dog plays with them. This can help make mealtime more fun and engaging for your dog.
  8. Make mealtime enjoyable: Spend time with your dog during mealtime and offer plenty of praise and positive reinforcement. This can help make mealtime a pleasant and enjoyable experience for your dog.
  1. Warm up the food: Some dogs prefer their food slightly warmed up, so try microwaving their food for a few seconds before serving it to them. Just make sure to stir the food and test the temperature before serving it to your dog.
  2. Add some flavor: Adding some low-sodium chicken broth or a small amount of wet food to your dog’s kibble can help add flavor and entice them to eat. Just make sure to do so in moderation and factor in the added calories to your dog’s overall diet.
  3. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise: Regular exercise can help stimulate your dog’s appetite and promote healthy digestion. Aim to provide your dog with daily exercise that is appropriate for their age and activity level.
  4. Avoid feeding your dog table scraps: Feeding your dog table scraps can lead to picky eating habits and weight gain. Instead, stick to feeding your dog a nutritionally balanced diet that is appropriate for their size and activity level.
  5. Keep water available: Make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Dehydration can lead to a loss of appetite and other health issues.
  6. Monitor your dog’s weight: Regularly weigh your dog and monitor their body condition score to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight. Underweight dogs may require a higher calorie diet or additional food supplementation, while overweight dogs may need to have their diet adjusted to promote weight loss.

By following these tips and creating a healthy eating environment for your dog, you can help ensure they are eating well and maintaining good health.

If you’re still having trouble getting your dog to eat, be sure to consult with your veterinarian for additional advice and support.


How can I prevent my dog from spitting out their food?

Ensure that your dog’s diet is appropriate for their age and health needs. If you’re introducing new foods, do so gradually and monitor their reaction. Keep an eye out for any signs of dental issues or mouth injuries, and schedule regular vet checkups to catch any potential problems early.

Should I be concerned if my dog only spits out certain types of food?

Yes, this could be a sign of an allergy or sensitivity to a certain ingredient. Consult with your vet for an allergy test and to discuss alternative food options.

Can stress cause my dog to spit out their food?

Yes, stress and anxiety can cause dogs to exhibit a variety of behaviors, including spitting out their food. Identify the source of the stress and remove it if possible, and consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for help

Last thoughts

If your dog is spitting out their food, it’s important to identify the cause and take appropriate action.

Dental problems, upset stomachs, behavioral issues, diet changes, mouth injuries, allergies, infections, aging, and medication side effects are all potential causes of this behavior.

Consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

By taking care of your dog’s health and addressing any underlying issues, you can ensure that they’re happy and healthy for years to come.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.