Dog Spits Out Food: Unraveling Canine Picky Eating Habits

Dog Spits Out Food Causes

We’ve all witnessed it at some point – our usually ravenous canine companion suddenly puts a piece of their food in their mouth and then, much to our dismay, spits it out without so much as an apology.

This perplexing behavior might leave pet parents scratching their heads and wondering if their beloved furball is harboring some deep-rooted culinary disdain. Fear not, for this article aims to unravel the mystery surrounding why dogs spew their chow and what it could mean for their well-being.

Understanding the various reasons behind food spitting can put pet parents on the path of providing appropriate care for their canines. From illness and dietary changes to dental issues and swallowing difficulties, this common canine quirk may be more than just a trivial preference for flavor.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of canine food spitting and explore the hidden meanings behind this peculiar comportment. By doing so, we can ensure that our furry confidants stay happy, healthy, and well-fed.

Key Points

  • Dogs may spit out their food due to various reasons such as dental issues, digestive problems, or picky eating habits.
  • It’s important to identify the underlying cause and address it accordingly.
  • Treatment options may include dental care, dietary changes, or behavioral training.
  • Preventative measures such as feeding the dog in a calm environment and avoiding table scraps can help promote healthy eating habits.

Dog Behavior and Mealtime

Not Hungry

There’s a consensus among canine connoisseurs that sometimes, dogs simply aren’t hungry. Just like us humans, our furry friends have days when their appetite isn’t quite up to snuff. Don’t be alarmed if your dog occasionally spits out food – it could just be a temporary lack of hunger.

Perhaps they’ve already eaten elsewhere (hello, hidden treats) or are experiencing mild discomfort that’s curbing their appetite. Always keep an eye on them and consult your vet if the behavior persists.

Picky Eater

Ah, the picky eater – we’ve all encountered them in the mammal world, and dogs are no exception. Some dogs just have refined palates, and it’s not uncommon for them to reject certain flavors or textures.

If your dog spits out food, you might be dealing with Fido the Foodie! Experiment with different kibbles or add a bit of wet food to pique their culinary curiosity. As long as your dog gets proper nutrition, catering to their snobbish taste buds is not a bad thing. Just keep them on a healthy and well-balanced diet.


Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on a dog’s appetite, making mealtime a rather tense experience. A dog who’s feeling anxious may spit out food, unable to focus on enjoying their meal. Pay attention to environmental factors that could be stressing out your canine companion – rowdy children, noisy surroundings, or even the presence of another pet might be affecting their chow down ritual.

Help alleviate their stress by providing a calm and comfortable environment during mealtime, and consider implementing positive reinforcement or counterconditioning techniques to help them overcome their anxiety.

Taste and Food Preferences

Dealing with a picky dog

Dogs, just like humans, have preferences when it comes to food, and their sense of taste plays a crucial role in forming these preferences. In this section, we will delve into factors that influence a dog’s taste preferences, specifically focusing on kibble preference, and the role of chewing in the perception of taste.

Kibble Preference

Kibble is a popular choice for many dog owners. But did you know that some dogs might spit out their kibble due to taste preferences? Several factors can influence a dog’s kibble preferences:

  • Texture: Dogs can have preferences for the hardness or softness of their kibble. Some may prefer a softer, easier-to-chew texture, while others may enjoy crunchier kibbles.
  • Shape and size: Kibble comes in various shapes and sizes, and dogs may have different preferences depending on their breed or individual comfort level.
  • Flavor: Dogs have about one-sixth the number of taste buds as humans, but they can still distinguish between flavors. A dog might prefer kibble with a specific flavor, such as chicken, beef, or fish.

To accommodate your dog’s taste preferences, consider experimenting with different kibble brands, textures, and flavors.

Chewing and Taste

The act of chewing also plays a role in a dog’s perception of taste. Chewing helps to release the flavors in the food, allowing the dog’s olfactory system to pick up the scent and enhance the taste experience. While generally known to be gluttonous eaters, some dogs might spit out their food and chew it more if they are trying to savor the taste or if they find the taste of the food to be less appealing.

Common Dental Issues and Pain

Dental Pain

Dental pain in dogs can arise from various issues, such as inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or more severe problems like tooth root abscesses and oral tumors. It’s essential to recognize dental pain, as it can lead to your dog spitting out food or struggling to chew.

Dental diseases can be delayed or prevented by maintaining your dog’s teeth clean and regularly checking for dental issues.  Your dog may not want to eat, or whimper after having their teeth cleaned.

If your dog is showing signs of discomfort while eating, a primary oral issue may be at the root of the problem. An example is masticatory muscle myositis, which is more common in older dogs. Other potential causes include neurological disorders and nausea.

Foreign Body

A foreign object lodged in a dog’s mouth or throat can cause swallowing difficulties and force them to spit out food. Anatomic or mechanical causes include pharyngeal inflammation, abscesses, inflammatory growths, and enlargement of the lymph nodes behind the pharynx. Additionally, a pocket of saliva draining into the body can cause similar symptoms, leading to potential confusion between dental pain and a foreign body.

If your dog appears to yawn excessively, paw at its mouth, or show signs of discomfort while eating, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian to rule out any dental issues, mouth pain, or foreign body that may be causing your furry friend distress. The key to a happy, healthy dog is timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment!

Medical Conditions and Nutrition

Gastrointestinal Issues

Dogs might spit out their food due to various gastrointestinal issues. Some potential causes include abrupt dietary changes, viral infections, or exposure to toxins or poisons. A sensitive stomach can make a dog reluctant to consume its food. If your pet experiences decreased appetite, upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian and provide a bland diet to help the dog recover.


Cancer is another serious medical condition that might impact a dog’s eating behavior. In some cases, the presence of cancer can cause nausea, leading a dog to spit out its food. If you suspect your dog may have an underlying condition like cancer, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve your dog’s prognosis and overall quality of life.


Dogs, like humans, can develop food allergies. These allergies can manifest in various ways, including gastrointestinal discomfort, skin reactions, and a refusal to eat, which may result in spitting out the food. Common food allergens for dogs include beef, chicken, dairy, egg, fish, pork, soy, and wheat. If you suspect your dog is suffering from a food allergy, consult your veterinarian to determine the potential cause and find an appropriate hypoallergenic diet.

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Consulting a Veterinarian

When your dog is consistently spitting out its food, it’s time to seek professional advice from a veterinarian. They are experts in diagnosing and addressing various health issues in dogs. The sooner you consult a vet, the quicker you can understand the underlying reason for your furry friend’s peculiar behavior.


Your dog’s treatment plan will heavily depend on the underlying cause of their food-spitting habit. After a thorough examination, the vet may provide a customized dietary plan, recommend a change in the dog’s current food, or suggest supplementary medication to alleviate any discomfort. If it’s an allergic reaction to a specific ingredient, the vet will guide you through an elimination diet to pinpoint the allergens.


In some cases, if the dog’s food-spitting is due to a physical obstruction or dental issue, the veterinarian may recommend surgery as the best course of action. Don’t panic, they will thoroughly explain the procedure, its benefits, and potential risks before proceeding. Remember that your dog’s wellbeing is the priority, and the vet will always suggest the most viable treatment options.

The treatment options mentioned above are not exhaustive, but they give you an idea of what to expect when consulting a veterinarian about your dog’s food-spitting behavior. Trust their expertise, and soon, you’ll be on your way to solving the mystery and keeping your canine companion happy and healthy.

Prevention and Control Measures

Body Weight and Satisfaction

Maintaining a healthy body weight of your dog can play a significant role in preventing food spitting. A key aspect to achieve this is ensuring your dog is receiving the right amount and type of food. Pay close attention to portion sizes and consider consulting with your veterinarian to identify the most suitable diet plan. Additionally, splitting meals into smaller portions and feeding them more frequently can help increase satisfaction and reduce the chance of spitting out food due to overfeeding or rapid eating.

Mental Stimulation

Another way to address food spitting in dogs is providing mental stimulation through interactive feeding toys or food puzzles. These activities not only make mealtimes more exciting, but also help slow down the eating process, reducing the possibility of food being spat out. Moreover, incorporating training exercises or play sessions during meal times can also help engage their minds and promote healthy eating habits.

  • Interactive Feeders: Slow feeders, treat balls, and other puzzle-like feeding devices
  • Training Exercises: Teach your dog commands like ‘wait’ or ‘leave it’ to improve discipline during meal times
  • Play Sessions: Hide food in different locations, encouraging your dog to sniff out their meal and working their cognitive skills

Noise and Resource Control

Creating a calm and quiet environment for your dog during meal times can be helpful in preventing food spitting. Minimizing loud noises and distractions allows your dog to focus on eating and enjoy their meal. If you have multiple pets, ensure they are fed separately to avoid competition over resources. This can foster a sense of security for your dog, reducing any stress they may feel during meal times, and make it less likely they will spit out their food.

Remember, always monitor your dog’s eating habits and consult with a veterinarian if you are concerned about any changes in their behavior or experience difficulties related to food spitting. By taking these prevention and control measures into account, you can help promote a positive meal time experience for your furry friend.


In summary, dogs spitting out their food can be attributed to a variety of factors. Sometimes, it’s related to their digestion. When dogs experience nausea or other underlying digestive issues, they may opt to spit out their food to avoid further discomfort. Abrupt dietary changes, viral infections, or exposure to toxins are just a few causes that might lead to such behavior.

On another note, our furry friends’ instincts play a significant role in their food-related habits. Dogs in the wild must ensure their food is safe to consume and spitting it out can act as a precaution. Moreover, they may also play with their food, which can involve spitting it out, as a way to satisfy their innate curiosity.

The presence of saliva in a dog’s mouth should not be overlooked either. This vital fluid aids in the initial steps of digestion and acts as a lubricant for comfortable swallowing. However, excessive saliva production or issues with their mastication process might lead dogs to inadvertently spit out their food.

In a nutshell, understanding your dog’s behavior when it comes to spitting out food requires keen observation and consideration of several possible factors. Keeping a close eye on your pet’s health along with maintaining a consistent diet and caring environment will ensure their well-being and avoid any unnecessary surprises during mealtime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog drop food before eating it?

Dogs may drop food before eating it due to dental issues, sensitivity or discomfort in their mouth, or simply out of habit. Make sure your dog’s teeth are in good condition and consider softer food options if sensitivity seems to be the cause. Additionally, some dogs might be trying to savor their food and enjoy the process of eating by playing with it a little.

What causes a dog to spit out the first bite?

If your dog spits out the first bite of food, it could be due to a variety of reasons such as taste, texture, or temperature preferences. It might also be an indication of mouth pain or discomfort. Consider changing the type of food, or check for any issues in your dog’s mouth and consult a veterinarian if necessary.

How to prevent a dog from dropping food?

To prevent your dog from dropping food, you can try feeding them smaller portions at a time, offering them a food puzzle to make eating more engaging, or experimenting with various food types to find one that suits their preferences better. It’s also essential to ensure that their feeding area is calm and distraction-free, so your dog can focus on eating.

Is oral dysphagia causing my dog to drop food?

Oral dysphagia, a condition where dogs have difficulty eating or swallowing, could be a reason your dog drops food. Symptoms of oral dysphagia in dogs may include difficulty holding or chewing food, frequent coughing, choking, and excessive drooling. If you suspect your dog has oral dysphagia, consult a veterinarian for further assessment and treatment options.

Why does my dog reject treats?

Dogs can reject treats for several reasons, such as picky eating, behavior issues, or underlying health problems. Try offering different types of treats to see if your dog has a preference or consult a veterinarian to rule out any health concerns. In some cases, a dog may reject treats because it’s full or not feeling well temporarily.

Why does my dog walk away after eating a little?

If your dog walks away after eating only a small amount of food, it might be a sign of lack of appetite, an upset stomach, or a medical issue. Observe your dog’s overall behavior, and if they continue to show a lack of interest in food or display any other unusual symptoms, consult a veterinarian for proper assessment and guidance.