My St Bernard Won’t Eat, What to Do?

Is your St Bernard refusing his tasty dinner, the same one which he has enjoyed until recently? Many things can be the reason why Saints refuse to eat, from being fussy eaters to being sick.

If Saint Bernard won’t eat, you should check if the dog is sick. Another reason for not eating is a full stomach. If he gets larger portions than he should or eats too many treats and human food he won’t be so interested in dog food and his regular meals. Behavioral issues like separation anxiety may affect St Bernard’s appetite. Your St Bernard might be perfectly healthy but be a fussy eater. Any adult St Bernard that refuses all meals for 24 h or more, needs to go to the vet.

If signs of infection or sickness like vomiting, diarrhea, or absence of bowel movement are associated with lack of appetite that are clear indicators the dog should be examined by the vet immediately.

So in case you experienced this with your dog and want to get more details on reasons and how to fix it keep reading this article.

Why My St Bernard Won’t Eat?

Before you decide what has to be done with your dog that has stopped eating, you need to discover the reason why your St Bernard won’t eat go through these questions

  • Does he show any signs of illness?
  • Is your dog on some medications currently?
  • Does he eat treats but won’t eat a meal?
  • How old is your St Bernard? Seniors might eat less then usual… while puppies can be quite fussy eaters
  • Have you notice some behavioral changes in your St Bernard?
  • Have you changed your Saint’s routine recently for some reason ( vacation, moving to another house, new baby in your home…)?

Main Reasons for St Bernard Not Eating :


If your St Bernard shows some other signs like vomiting or diarrhea, he might have caught some kind of infection. You should see the vet.

Lack of appetite accompanied by the absence of bowel movement may indicate conditions like bowel obstruction. Again, visit the vet as soon as possible.

If your Saint refuses to eat, the reason might be liver disease. If he displays symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, seizures together with appetite loss, rush to the vet.

Conditions like cancer or kidney failure may cause a lack of appetite. If your Saint urinates more than usual but also drinks more water than usual, it’s recommended to check his kidneys.

If you notice abdominal swelling, abnormal odors that come from your Saint’s mouth or ears, abnormal discharge from eyes, ears, nose may indicate cancer.

It doesn’t have to be cancer, as these symptoms might be signs of many other illnesses but still, it’s necessary to take your Saint to the vet without delay.

Different kinds of pain will also cause a lack of appetite in your dog. If he has any kind of problems with his teeth or gums ( broken tooth, abscess, gum disease…), he will refuse his delicious kibbles. Note that St Bernard dogs are prone to dental issues

On the other hand, if your St Bernard is on therapy, taking some medications, that could also be the reason why he eats less. Some medications simply decrease appetite in dogs.

The same can happen if your dog has recently been vaccinated. One of the adverse reactions might be appetite loss.

Routine Changes/ Separation Anxiety

St Bernards like routine like any other dog. They are creatures of habit. If someone or something disrupts their routine they might react by refusing to eat.

What does the routine change mean in the mind of one St Bernard?

  • Moving to another home. Big change, new environment, unfamiliar place, he needs some time to adapt.
  • Moving to another home with another family. This is a huge change.
  • Someone moves out of the house. Either dog’s owners went through divorce /break up or one of the kids left home to go to college. In any case, Saint will most likely show signs of separation anxiety and suffer from appetite loss.
  • Vacation. A beautiful trip, carefully planned… but it might trigger anxiety in your St Bernard as it breaks his routine.
  • Someone new comes to the house. This might be your new partner or your newborn baby. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the situation in the house is different from yesterday.

I think you got the point. Dogs like routine so much that even a change of their food bowl location might result in appetite loss.

The time when you usually feed your dog is also important. He must get his meal at approximately the same time every day.

Being left alone for many hours on daily basis may trigger separation anxiety in St Bernard ( which this breed is prone to). So if you constantly leave alone your dog every day, eventually he might start suffering from separation anxiety which can decrease his appetite.

Also if you used to work during the day and then change the shift and start working during the night will also upset your pet and provoke reduced appetite.

The Age of St Bernard

Like in humans, senior St Bernards may have reduced appetite. It’s quite normal. Senior dogs have different nutritional needs, decreased sense of smell and taste, lower levels of energy.

Older dogs require a lower-calorie diet. But be careful here, a lower-calorie diet doesn’t mean a low protein diet, on contrary, senior dogs need high-quality proteins.

If you feed your senior St Bernard with low protein food, he may face even greater muscle mass loss. The food for your senior should be low in fat but high in fibers to ensure good health of the gastrointestinal tract.

Diet should contain some supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, and chondroitin ( both are claimed to improve or maintain joint health)

Always check nutritional values on the food pack, make sure you choose a high-quality brand.

Seniors may also experience different health issues like dental problems, joint issues which can affect their appetite.

St Bernard pups might become fussy eaters because their owners are deceived by their big, beautiful eyes. Puppies quickly learn that if they refuse to eat dog food for long enough, their owners will take away the dog food, and offer them something they think is a lot tastier.

It’s a good idea to feed St Bernard puppy several times a day at the same time, for ten minutes at a time. If he doesn’t finish his meal, just take it away. He’ll be hungry at his next mealtime. When he’s happy to eat dog food, you can make his diet diverse by adding a range of treats. Keep mealtimes enjoyable. By doing this, you’re establishing good eating habits from the start.

Be careful if your St Bernard puppy starts refusing his meals, and react instantly. Take him to the vet since growing large breed dogs don’t do this unless something is physically wrong.

Fussy Eater

If your adult St Bernard is used to getting treats all day long, it’s completely normal that he is not so interested in his main meal. The same goes for table scraps. If you feed your dog with too much human food, he will lose interest in his kibble.

Sometimes dogs may become bored with their food. If they eat the same every day, they may have decreased appetite. In that case, try to change something, add some tasty topping, soak his kibbles in the warm water, add unsalted chicken broth, offer him wet food if he used to dry one…

How Long Can St Bernard Go Without Eating?

Adult St Bernard can survive up to 5 days without food but that’s not normal and you shouldn’t let your St Bernard that number of days without a meal.

As previously said, if your St Bernard won’t eat for 24 h or more, you should take him to the vet.

Bear in mind that water intake it’s more important than food as dogs can go far less without water than without food.

How Can I Stimulate My St Bernard’s Appetite?

First of all, rule out any health issue as a reason for appetite loss. In case your St Bernard shows some signs of compromised health like diarrhea, absence of bowel movement, pain, teeth problems, nausea, etc you should take him to the vet.

But if you have a perfectly healthy St Bernard then you should try to find the right way to stimulate your dog’s appetite.

In case your St Bernard is coping with separation anxiety or he needs some time to adapt to a new situation ( a new home, a new person in your home, etc), be patient with him. Spend more time with him, try hand-feeding.

Helpful tips for stimulating your St Bernard to eat:

It can happen that your dog is either bored with his food or is simply a picky eater. In that case, do some of the following:

  • Make sure your St Bernard doesn’t get any treat nor table scarps
  • If possible let him has his meals in different time then yours
  • Stick to the feeding schedule
  • If your dog is a picky eater, give him a small quantity of food and wait for 10 minutes, then remove the bowl, no matter if he hasn’t eaten. Bring the bowl back on time for the next meal. Don’t give him any food in between. Once he starts eating from his bowl increase the quantity of the food. Praise him every time when he takes the food from his bowl.
  • Make sure your St Bernard’s bowl is always clean. If the food bowl is made of stainless steel or glass, do replace it with a ceramic one as dogs usually don’t like to see their reflection.
  • If your dog is bored, maybe he needs some fun. Put some lid on the food bowl and let him try to remove it. Or serve the food in some kind of toy ( KONG, puzzle, snuffle mat). This will make the mealtime more interesting. The problem you might have with feeding toys is that their capacity is rather small, so you have to refill them several times during one meal. You can even sprinkle kibble on the floor and let your dog eat like that and not from the bowl.
  • If your dog won’t eat, try hand-feeding
  • Take your dog out before a meal, exercise is great for working up the appetite. Don’t forget to wait at least one hour though before you feed your pet to avoid bloat.
  • If you think that your St Bernard is bored with current food, try to find another one. Stick to the high-quality brand that will fulfill all his nutritional needs but also will have a more appealing meaty smell. Just make the transition slowly, step by step, combining old and new food for at least 10 days
  • You can also soak your St Bernard’s food into the warm water ( to change a food texture and make food more appealing) or warm up his wet food. Some nice, tasty topping over his food can make a significant difference and improve its flavor.
  • Although St Bernards adore thier human families and they are very friendly and loyal dogs, do provide a calm place for your dog’s mealtime. If your kid is trying to play with your Saint when he needs to eat or your dog is distracted in some other way, that’s not good.
  • If you have a senior St Bernard, raise his bowl as it might be challenging ( and painful as well) for him to bend down to eat. If you raise his bowl about 18-24 inches off the ground, that might reduce joint stress.
  • Of course, always check if your dog’s food hasn’t been spoiled before your serve it to your St Bernard


If your St Bernard refuses to eat, it might be a sign of some disease. They can also become picky eaters especially if you let them. So you might have a perfectly healthy St Bernard with bad eating habits.

Remember that dogs can go without eating up to 5 days but you shouldn’t let them starve to death. Rush to the vet if your dog refuses to eat for 24-48 h.

I hope this article will help you find the right cause of appetite loss in your dog and what to do about it.

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