Rottweilers are incredibly loveable dogs and quickly become part of the family. That's why it's easy to become worried when they won't eat their food. In the article below, you will find a number of reasons why your Rottweiler won't eat and what you can do about it.
Every Rottweiler is different, but they are not usually picky with their food. Your Rottweiler may not be eating if they are in pain, are suffering from a medical condition, have poor dental health or they are stressed. Travel, old age, medications and vaccinations can also cause a loss of appetite.
You can find a more detailed list of these issues below, as well as a list of 11 things you can do in this situation. I have also included common eating problems other Rottweiler owners have come across.
9 Reasons Why Your Rottweiler Won't Eat
There are two overarching reasons why your Rottweiler won't eat. Either they do not want to eat, or they want to eat but can't. The nine reasons listed below come under these two categories.
The level of concern varies depending on the cause of your Rottweiler's loss of appetite. Therefore, just keep in mind that you should always consult with a vet if your Rottie hasn't eaten for more than two days. If they are experiencing diarrhoea and/or vomiting, it is safest to speak to a vet immediately.
This point actually covers some of the points below. But dogs can have pain anywhere in their body, for a wide range of reasons. If your Rottie has hurt themselves or suffering for one of the other reasons below, they may not feel like eating.
2. Medical Conditions
There are a number of serious medical conditions that can turn your Rottweiler off their food, including infections, liver disease, kidney failure, cancers, etc. However, there are also some that aren't quite as serious that may still make food less appetising.
Diarrhoea and allergies are common medical conditions in Rottweilers. When you own enough Rotties, you're bound to come across a wobbly tummy or two. Just like humans, dogs won't be as enthusiastic about food when they have a sore stomach or are suffering from allergies.
Joint issues are also quite common in Rottweilers. Some Rottweilers may not be able to eat their food due to the pain they experience when getting up or moving around.
Certain medications can put your Rottie off their food. For example, anti-inflammatories can made them feel nauseous and antibiotics can give them a stomach ache.
4. Dental Disease
Having a chipped, loose or decaying teeth can make eating very painful and difficult for a Rottweiler, particularly if they are fed hard foods like kibble. Gum diseases will also having the same effect, where your Rottweiler wants to eat, but can't due to pain.
Vaccinations have a wide range of side-effects and some dogs lose their appetite following an injection. If the vaccination was more than one month prior to losing their appetite, it is likely a different cause.
Just like humans, dogs can become nauseous from travel. I know this feeling myself, and food is definitely the last thing you want after being jostled around in a stuffy car. However, this nausea should clear up with time and some fresh air.
Stress can come in many forms, but most stress is caused by emotional trauma. This can be caused by significant life changes, such as the death of a loved one (either another dog or a human) or separation from their owners. Less-significant stressors include new environments, changes to the daily routine or the presence of another dog.
Overfeeding is common when training Rottweilers, and is also very easy to do when giving them treats or scraps throughout the day. It is important to know how much food a Rottweiler needs in the day and to monitor how many 'extras' they are getting. This can be hard to track with several family members sharing their food with your dog.
9. Picky Temperament
I have deliberately left this point last because it is important to consider all other possibilities before putting your Rottweiler's loss of appetite down to pickiness. It would not be good to miss signs of an underlying medical condition because you thought it was just in their nature.
Included in a picky temperament is a preference for certain food. This might be a particular brand, flavour or type of food (wet dog food, dry dog food, homemade meals, etc.)
9 Things to Do When Your Rottweiler Won't Eat
Regardless of the cause, there are a number of ways you can help your Rottweiler when they won't eat.
See the Vet
Seeing the vet isn't normally the first thing to do as there are many times that a Rottweiler will be off their food temporarily. However, you should always have this in the back of your mind in case your Rottie doesn't eat for longer than two days or develops other concerning symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea. In that case, you should get in contact with your local vet as soon as possible.
Reduce Treats Throughout the Day
If you feed your Rottie treats or food scraps throughout the day, try cutting some of these out. They may be enough to prevent them from eating their dinner. If you are using treats for training, you could try giving them smaller pieces each time, or easing up on how many times they get rewarded.
As I mentioned earlier, another thing to consider is other people in your Rottweiler's life. You may have family or friends that have been feeding your Rottie bits of food throughout the day as well. Young children are well-known for handing out too many treats!
Have Scheduled Mealtimes
Creating a routine for your Rottweiler helps them understand when they are going to be fed so they can anticipate their meal. If you feed them at the same time(s) each day, their brain will start to send hunger signals at these times.
Go for a Walk Before Meals
Walking before meals will help burn off excess energy and promote digestion. This may be all your Rottweiler needs to realise he/she is actually hungry. This could be an early-morning walk before breakfast, a walk after work before dinner, or a good game of fetch in the backyard at those times.
Here is a good article on many ways you can exercise your Rottie.
Try Different Food
What goes into your Rottie's mouth will greatly effect whether they want to eat it again. Some dog foods have ingredients that may upset a Rottweiler's stomach and some dogs have their own preferences in how the dog food tastes.
If buying commercial dog food, try using a different brand. You can also try using the opposite type of food. If you are using dry kibble, switch to wet food and vice versa. If you are making homemade meals, try different foods and make sure they are dog-friendly ingredients (eg. avoid onions or garlic).
You should also check the use-by date on your dog's food. Stale or off dog food will either make your Rottweiler feel sick or will not be appetising.
Make the Food Easier to Eat
You can also try making the food more appetising by warming it up. As with any food, it will always taste different depending on whether it is hot, cold or room temperature.
Softening kibble with warm water is another way to make it easier to eat. This is particularly helpful if your Rottweiler is struggling with pain when chewing.
Hand-feeding is not ideal in the long-term, but may be what your Rottweiler needs if they suffering temporarily, such as being sick from a medication. Use hand-feeding as a way of getting your Rottie the food they need to recover.
Check their Teeth and Nose
Take a look at your Rottweiler's teeth and gums to determine if they are struggling with a painful dental condition. Inflamed gums, broken teeth, loose teeth and decay are all conditions that may prevent your Rottie from eating. Having a blocked nose can also put them off their food, so make sure to check for debris trapped in their nostrils as well.
Try Feeding in a Different Location
Finding a different feeding location could help reduce stress when your Rottweiler is eating. Some dogs prefer to eat alone, while others prefer to be close to their family. Some may like being outside and some may prefer being indoors. Experiment with your Rottie's dinner location to see if it is just a matter of eating in a place where they feel safe and calm.
Loss of Appetite and Other Signs
Below are a list of other signs and symptoms owners have noticed when their Rottweilers won't eat. Having secondary signs can help narrow down the true reason behind their loss of appetite.
Won't Eat but Drinks Water
It is normal for dogs to still drink water when they have a reduced appetite. However, if your Rottweiler is drinking excessive amounts of water, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Things like kidney disease, liver disease, infection, fever, diarrhoea, etc. all can make your Rottie extra thirsty. Because these conditions can be serious, this is something your should talk to your vet about.
Won't Eat Food but Will Eat Treats
If your Rottweiler still eats treats, this suggests that they are not fond of the food they are being given at mealtimes. The fact that they still eat treats tells me that they have not lost their appetite, but it is something about their meals that is putting them off. Here are some things to consider:
- Dental problems: Treats are easier to swallow, compared to chewing food and aggravating sore teeth and gums.
- Overfeeding: Treats throughout the day are filling up your Rottie's stomach before dinner.
- Wrong type of food: Your Rottweiler likes the treats but does not like the food you are providing at mealtimes.
- Mealtimes: Something about the mealtime is stressing out your Rottie. Consider changing where they eat their food.
Won't Eat and Has Diarrhoea & Vomiting
This is a serious problem. This combination of symptoms requires a vet as soon as possible within 8-hours of the onset of symptoms. Your Rottweiler may have eaten something poisonous, be having a severe allergic reaction, have organ failure, etc. All of these are serious conditions that need to be treated.
There is still a chance that these symptoms are simply caused by an upset stomach, but it is safer to consult a vet. It's not worth risking a serious medical condition.
Won't Eat and Just Lays There
Lethargy with a lack of appetite usually means your Rottweiler is not well. It is common for Rottweilers to experience joint pain from conditions like arthritis, dysplasia or osteochondrosis. This can make it difficult for them to get up and eat a meal. In this case, your Rottie should still eat when hand-fed.
However, this is also something you will observe in your Rottweiler towards the end of their life. Rottweilers live around 8-10 years (click here for more information). If your Rottie is around this age, there are a number of age-related conditions causing these symptoms.
Regardless of the cause, this is certainly something that you need to speak to your vet about.
Won't Eat Dog Food but Eats Human Food
It is okay for Rottweilers to eat 'human food', provided you are not feeding them any foods that are toxic to dogs (onions, garlic, chocolate, etc.). In fact, a lot of human food is what dogs would be eating in the wild anyway (mainly meat).
Dog food is highly processed and some Rottweilers may not like it for this reason. This is also why I prefer my dogs to eat homemade food, but I understand that this is expensive and time-consuming. If you want to continue with commercialised dog foods (whether wet or dry), try a different brand or type of dog food.