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5 Reasons Why Your Great Dane Isn’t Eating (& What To Do)

If your great dane won’t eat, It’s both worrying and hard to know what to do. These friendly giants can become very sick if they don’t consume sufficient calories and nutrition.

This article highlights the 5 common reasons why food refusal happens and offers appropriate solutions.


5 Reasons Why Your Great Dane Isn’t Eating

After having scoured Facebook groups and online great dane forums, the following 5 reasons are by far the most common. Let’s run through them.

  1. His current kibble upsets his stomach
  2. He’s receiving too many treats or tidbits throughout the day
  3. He isn’t following strict meal times
  4. He isn’t active enough
  5. He has an underlying health issue

1. His Current Kibble Upsets His Stomach

Great danes can be sensitive eaters, and if their kibble doesn’t digest well, it could be causing them discomfort after eating.

Danes are intelligent, and it won’t take long before he’ll start to refuse the food if it makes him feel bad. It could be that the food is low-quality, or that he’s not agreeing with a specific ingredient.

If you can recall your dane having diarrhea, loose stools, vomiting, or lethargy shortly after having eaten his recent meals, it may suggest it’s the food that’s the problem.

I will explain the solutions to all potential causes in the following section.

2. He’s Receiving Too Many Treats Throughout The Day

Treats or tidbits, they both have the same effect. Although treats are an important part of any dane’s day, it’s important that amount of treats he consumes is monitored. If he consumes too many, it could be spoiling his appetite for his real food.

What happened to one owner (from one of the groups) was that her great dane became so accustomed to getting treats and tidbits throughout the day, that she completely refused her own food because she knew that eventually, her owners would give her table scraps.

You would be surprised just how quickly he will become savvy to this. Too many “better” options will suddenly start to make his own food seem boring and unappealing.

So it’s worth thinking, how many treats, tidbits, and table scraps do you give?

3. He Doesn’t Follow a Strict Feeding Schedule

For most, this is commonly known and already implemented. But I have to include as I still speak to many owners who don’t do this. Sticking to a strict schedule is super important!

By sticking to the same times every day, your dane’s body will naturally prepare itself and work up an appetite for exactly when he’s supposed to eat. Dog’s in general, love having routines, and eating is a very important part of their day they need to have scheduled.

If you don’t stick to the same times every day, or if you are leaving his food bowl down with food in it throughout the day, you’ll never have a clear picture of how much he’s eaten, if at all.

4. He Isn’t Receiving Enough Exercise

Although we need to be careful with our dane’s joints and bones, exercise is still necessary and very important. Great danes should receive about 45-60 minutes of exercise per day, preferably split up into two sessions.

Exercise and activity, in general, are important to keep his metabolism fired up and working correctly. Exercise requires energy, burns calories, and therefore creates a big appetite.

Aside from dedicated exercise which may consist of a short hike, brisk walk, or light jog, he should be somewhat active indoors too. He should be engaged in some form of daily command training as well as some friendly tug of war or hide and seek.

Both physical and mental energy burns calories, and both work up an appetite.

5. He Has An Underlying Health Issue

Lastly, your great dane could be refusing food due to an underlying health issue.

If your great dane is showing other signs like vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or lethargy it’s important to visit your veterinarian for a health check-up. In fact, it’s a good idea to visit your veterinarian anyway as a precautionary measure.

Unfortunately, not eating, food refusal, and a lack of appetite is a common symptom for a lot of health issues, so it is certainly something to consider.

If your great dane refuses food completely for 2 days, you should visit your veterinarian regardless.

And you must also watch his fluid intake. Fluid intake becomes even more important than eating. If your great dane refuses to drink as well as eat, call your veterinarian right away for further assistance. They will probably schedule an appointment for you on the same day.

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag | 

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6 Ways To Get Your Great Dane Eating Again

Assuming that your great dane is healthy and your veterinarian has ruled out health issues, the following tips should be just what you need to get your friendly giant eating again.

1. Cut All Tidbits & Change Treats

The first and easiest thing you can do is cut out all tidbits and table scraps. If you aren’t giving your great dane table scraps anyway, that’s awesome. Human food really isn’t good for dogs so it’s best to avoid it anyway for the sake of their health.

Secondly, it’s time to switch to low-calorie treats like Zukes Mini Naturals. These little bad boys are less than 3 calories per treat. They are tiny morsels of heaven for any dog out there.

You get to keep rewarding your great dane for his good behavior and obedience and at the same time, keep his appetite intact! These little treats are more than enough to use as a reward, stay away from huge chunky chews that could potentially ruin his appetite.

If you want to return to them in the future, that’s fine. But while he’s struggling to eat, avoid heavy treats.

2. Consider Changing His Kibble

If you think it’s the kibble that’s causing the issue, then it could be time for a change.

When changing, be sure to opt for a premium brand like Orijin, Acana, Wellness or Taste of The Wild. These brands use some of the best ingredients on market, plus they are tailored towards working breeds like great danes.

Opt for a kibble that has a high protein, medium to high fat, and low carbohydrate ratio. This kind of macronutrient breakdown best mimics that of a wild diet, which, traditionally, digests the best.

When choosing a new kibble, opt for one that uses salmon, duck, turkey, or other kinds of fish as the main protein source. Why? because chicken, beef, lamb, and pork are all classed as common allergens known to upset many stomachs (despite their popularity). It’s worth a shot as it could be the very issue causing him to refuse his food.

And finally, transition over from the old kibble to the new kibble slowly (add a little of the new food in each day, while gradually removing the old). Switching foods over the course of a week should avoid upset stomachs.

3. Consider Feeding Him 80% Dry 20% Wet Food

Frequently recommended by veterinarians is the 80% dry kibble split with 20% wet dog food. If you haven’t heard of this split before, it’s very interesting.

Wet dog food is vastly more nutritious, more palatable, tastier, higher in protein, it has fewer additives and preservatives plus it makes the food nice and moist. Pretty awesome, right?

Wet dog food is ALWAYS a winner. So by mixing in a small amount in replacement of his dry kibble, it will give his food a welcomed boost of excitement.

Be sure to calculate the calorie difference correctly, though. Calories need to be more or less correct.

Never add in more than 20% wet dog food. Wet food has its perks, but it’s incredibly rich and could upset stomachs if too much is given.

4. Make His Existing Kibble Tastier

If you aren’t fond of the 80-20 split, you can always try making his existing kibble tastier, as long as you believe the kibble isn’t to blame in the first place.

Try adding the following to his kibble: (not all together)

  • Add unsalted chicken broth
  • Add a tablespoon of peanut butter (without Xylitol or salt)
  • Use dog food seasonings
  • Mix in a small amount of plain cooked meat
  • Add a little water to make the kibble moist

5. Follow a Rotation Diet

This is a way to combat boredom and keep things interesting. Although it does involve knowing for sure two different kibbles that your great dane gets on well with.

Once you know of two different kibbles (preferably the same brand but just a different flavor) you can rotate them every 2-4 months. That’s all, you use the same two, but keep switching them every 2-4 months.

This keeps his food appealing and exciting for him without the risk of him getting bored of it.

6. Stick To Mealtimes & Time Restricted Eating

The first thing is to set proper mealtimes and stick to them every day! Preferably when your household wakes up around 7 or 8 in the morning, then again at 6 in the evening.

When you feed him, give him 10-15 minutes before removing the bowl. The time-restricted eating approach means removing his food until next mealtime if he decides to leave it.

By the time next mealtime comes around, he should be eager to eat his meal. His survival instincts would have sparked when he realized that food isn’t always available.

This is a tried a tested technique and many owners have had success just after the very first removal. Always give fresh kibble, and never remove un-eaten food three times in a row (by this time he’ll need nutrition) and preferably a vet appointment.

Hopefully, it doesn’t go as far as needing to implement time-restricted eating and the previous tips would have worked.

One important thing to remember is that “no healthy dog will starve themselves” so this technique usually kicks the fussy eating very quickly.

When To See a Veterinarian

I know it can be worrying when your great dane refuses to eat. So, how long can you try different things before needing to visit the vets?

Well, if your great dane completely refuses to eat, wait no longer than 2 whole days. But if he’s refusing to drink fluids as well, you should call right away for their guidance.

But, as always, there is no wrong moment to contact your veterinarian other than too late. So if you are unsure and want a professional opinion, you can call as soon as you feel you need to.

Thank you for reading! I hope I have answered your questions and have given you actionable tips to try. If you think I missed out on something you were expecting to see, please contact me! I am happy to add in relevant sections.


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.