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Finicky Maltese Won’t Eat Dog Food!

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My dog is 14 month old Maltese and is a sweetheart. My one problem is that he won’t eat his dog food. We started giving him human food, that’s it. My husband and I have had days where we don’t feed him any human food and he’s gone without eating for two days….is it terrible that he doesn’t eat his own food? I’ve read stories where people just feed their dogs regular food and they’re fine. He seems good…good bowels, goes out twice a day, etc etc…

Rochelle, Henderson, NV

Dear Rochelle,

This is a common problem and one that is not easy to break.  Your little sweetheart   has trained you well and it may be difficult to break this behavior.

There are two ways to approach this problem.

The first way is to admit defeat and feed your baby people food the rest of his life.  This is something that can be done but it requires a commitment on your part to prepare him a nutritionally complete and balanced diet.  He is relying on you to provide for him and his instincts aren’t going to help.   Most homemade diets are not nutritionally balanced and can lead to long term health problems later in life.  Just think about how badly many people eat and they live relatively healthy lives (at least it appears that way).

Dogs can suffer serious nutritional deficiencies if they don’t receive a proper diet.  There are foods that you should stay away from such as onions, garlic, pork (ham, sausage, pork, bacon, etc), chocolate, diet products made for diabetics.  Also, with such a small dog, it is easy to over feed him and if you aren’t aware of this, he could become obese as well.  To have a recipe formulated specifically for your dog, check out balanceit.com.  This will give you the comfort of having a properly formulated diet based on nutrition, not hype.

The other way to approach this is with tough love.  This involves weaning him back onto dog food.  There are many dogs that are finicky about their food and it is because they have been spoiled with people food.  People food isn’t always bad.  What is healthy for people is often healthy for dogs but their nutritional needs are different.  Small dogs only require a small amount of food and it is sad how many “finicky” dogs are obese because the owners feel like they need to eat more.  When we are done with our Thanksgiving dinner, we can always make room for a little dessert, if its tasty enough.   Most dogs will always eat more if something tastes good enough.

To wean him back onto dog food, I would buy a variety of canned and dry foods.  Some of the newer foods are made with ingredients that are very close to what we would eat, but in a balanced formula.  You can mix the people food you are feeding with the dog food and gradually reduce the amount of people food that is fed.

Offer the food for 15-20 minutes and whatever goes uneaten, it should be discarded. Repeat this 2-3 times daily and eventually he will start to eat some of the dog food.

Dogs can be very stubborn and know how to train their owners quite well.  I hope you get your baby back on track!

Dr. Chris
Your Dog’s Favorite Veterinarian

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  1. Avatar Of Alicia K Bates

    Alicia k bates


    I found this very helpful! My Maltese is 4 months and hasn’t eaten her food in maybe a week… it all started after I dematted her hair…. She won’t touch soft dog food or kibble! I’m gonna try ur tips to see if they help

  2. Avatar Of Marcy Mackley

    Marcy Mackley


    I have a 8 year old Maltese, 3lbs. And I have tried to get her to eat anything. She is so, so picky. But… She loves cat treats.I have bought so many different types @ brands of food to try to see if she would eat. I have truly tried everything. I called her vet to ask about the treats. I need help. All she had ever eat was dry food.also has cataract, both eyes.wet food is out of the question. I tried that. Feed back please. Thanks

  3. Avatar Of Ella ella says:

    Abby will only eat her dog food if we pretend like we are eating it, its crazy but it works. And she gets tired of a food 2 days in a row, we rescued from a relative who passed away. It has been a challenge to say the least.

  4. Avatar Of Dani



    My rescued wolf dog ,from the moment he step foot in my house refused Dog food……many,many dog food bags..thank god my food store will take back the food …reimburse and give them to rescue …anyway ..he eats 3 lb a food a day.
    one lb is cooked organic from me …….1 lb is bones .carcases, anything immaginable and 1 lb is frozen ..he is in amazing shape looking marvelous..i am sorry to say ..but we are not the boos they are …good luck

  5. Avatar Of Sam



    There are several companies that make very good quality raw diets for dogs. They have muscle meat, organ meat, bone, fruits and veggies in them (grain-free). This may be a good option for a finicky eater, as it is very tasty for them and full of nutrition. Nature’s Variety is what I give my dogs but there are several other brands.

    • Avatar Of Yashak 86

      yashak 86


      as a fellow Maltese dog owner , i would recommend for you to cook your dog food. Maltese requires a high level of proteins an vitamins that dog food wont provide
      unlike other dogs, Maltese diet needs to have at least 40 percent of meat 20-30 percent of grain an 20-30 of vegetables. must prevent the consumption of certain veggies like onions and garlic,no nuts in their diet. carrots and peas are great, corn not that much in fact corn should be removed from Maltese diet.
      as i mention before its hard to get the right balance of vitamins for this specific breed. and when you do find a product specialized for this breed it comes up very costly. even though veggies r high in vitamins their not that soluble, one way to solve this issue is beef liver. a portion of beef liver has enough vitamins to eliminate veggies out the menu. however liver contains high level of vitamin a in such amounts that any fruit or vegetable will pale in comparison. luckily these dogs are very resistant to vitamin a. but to be on the safe side you should limit beef to 2 or 3 times a week. or feed them liver as treats cut in small pieces. you should cook meats and organs by boiling them and then baking them or grilling them after boiling. do not use chicken liver it contains lots of hormones that would make your dog prone to obesity.

  6. Avatar Of Linda Green

    Linda Green


    I cook for my dog every nite. He eats steak chicken chop meat pork and all beef hot dogs. I do not have a problem. If he is not hungry he will not eat.

  7. my 4 rescue chihuahuah’s aged 17, 16, 16, and 16 have Lived on a diet utilizing the same amount for roughly 17 years, one quarter cup of the highest quality Kibble, when its not available I use brown rice, or barley and add a human multivite(solgar vm 75 in capsule form)mixed in a large bowl I add carrots cooked till soft then mashed, I boil, roast or saute a chicken breast with olive oil, I cook with skin on then remove skin afterwards… I then take parsley romaine lettuce , and chop it finely, I check the chicken for bones, then cut it into small piecesadd it to the bowl, I give them baked sweet potato in this mix mashed skin removed I give them this for dinner, I Leave plain Kibble in their bowls if they are hungry If available I use Kashis version of grape nuts, in fact, grape nuts are amazing, altho I much prefer kashis version of it, feeding dogs is pretty much an act of love, art kindness and attention to one set of rules make sure you dont give them raisins, onions, avocado, Grapes, wine, grape juice. if you must give them spinach, you have to cook it. no chocolate. I read Labels avoid sugar, it just rots their teeth. dont give your dogs bones unless they are the kind you get from the butcher a bone they cannot choke on. always make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water in a clean bowl. My German Shepherd, Lady, Lived to be 20.My vet has been a sweetheart and respects the fact that the only time I need to see him is for yearly shots, and the one incident when lili, the mother of the chi’s went out looking for her companion Pook, the chis daddy, who passed at the age of 19, she was hit by a car, broke her back and leg and lives and walkswith a bit of atrophe in the leg that was broken, she is healthier then any dog I have ever been blessed with. a good diet is the best defense.

  8. Hi Karen, thanks for your response. I’ll try to explain my perspective.

    I’m glad that your dogs are doing well with their pork bones but as an ER doctor, I see a lot of sick dogs. The number one presenting complaint is vomiting and/or diarrhea. Some of the sickest of these are dogs with pancreatitis and greater than 50% of them have eaten some type of pork product. I’m sure there are plenty of dogs out there that never get sick from them but I see a lot of dogs with problems from pork and bones in general. I recently had a client who’s Westie got a bone stuck in its esophagus that caused a perforation and death. As a doctor with ethical and legal responsibilities, we have to recommend what we feel is best for the majority of dogs.

    If someone feeds their dog raw pork necks and they end up with pancreatitis or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or if someone with HIV catches Salmonella from their dog on a raw diet, there are serious consequences to that dog or person.

  9. Avatar Of Jo-Ann



    Have you researched whatis in commercial dog food? My attorney says there is only one dog food company that processes their own food and has never had a problem. All the others put all kinds of junk in the foods. My dog was almost killed by one of them. My vet gave me a recipe for making their food so they get human quality food in the blance they need it and I cook for them daily. Your dog is smart, not spoiled!

    • Avatar Of Donna




  10. Avatar Of Karen



    My golden retriever and Silky X love their raw pork neck bones. They prefer these than any other (turn their nose away from others).
    I read above that you don’t recommend pork but you have said nothing to back up your advice. Why not pork?

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