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Dog is afraid of eating and drinking out of a bowl.

Dog is afraid of eating and drinking out of a bowl.

Hello John,

Could you please help me figure out why for the last 3 years my 12-year-old mixed black lab refuses to drink out of a bowl and now even a flat platter. She approaches her food bowl with fear as well. If there is even the slightest bit of noise or if her food drops on the plate (flat also) she cowers. She will eat snow, drink rainwater off the deck and water from the bird bath.

Our vet said it was not uncommon for elderly dogs to do this. Because she has cataracts she explained it could be that she feels like she is going into a tunnel. I thought she would eventually get thirsty enough and succumb to the platter, but she circles around it and refuses, so I gave in and poured it on the floor where she lapped it up one glass after another. Is this just a bad habit? Should I just accept that she is old and continue with what I’ve been doing?



(Monday, September 17th, 2018)

I will shortly be looking for volunteers to test a theory I have as to what is causing this issue with at least some of the dogs. It may provide a potential and relatively simple and inexpensive treatment. (Or it may be a dead end.) It’s going to take me a while to find the time to get everything written out. Please be patient.

– John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade

Embracing Science and Common Sense

Dear Karen,

When I first read this I found it mildly amusing. To hear of a dog with even a speck of Labrador Retriever being afraid to eat and drink is like finding a couch potato afraid of the remote. After a bit though I got to thinking were I in her paws and something was making me afraid to do something critical to my very existence it wouldn’t be so funny particularly considering how often she must face it.

Certainly something triggered this but what is moot. I’m betting this dog has other issues. Eccentricities that indicate a predisposition for anxiety. Thunder, fireworks, hot air balloon phobias for instance or just a nervous dog that when something scares her it sticks. In this case, the fact  that it’s associated around one of the basic necessities of life makes it likely that this is a “wiring” problem more so then cataracts alone.

If we were able to make it impossible for her to eat or drink any other way then out of regular bowls she would eventually succumb. I have never known a physically healthy creature to avoid water. Even animals that know full well there are crocodiles in the water will in spite of their fear drink when they must. However with your dog, even if I were willing to wait her out by making it impossible to otherwise get sustenance, what’s the point? She’s likely a dog predisposed to anxiety now going on 13, you’ve coped with this for 3 years, why not for a few more? Why put either of you through it. Besides, at 13 her kidneys may not be as efficient as they once were and it may be dangerous to wait her out.

If you want to try a couple of more things, see f she’ll chew on ice cubes.  Slightly more convenient and less messy for you. Or buy another bird bath made with the same material as the one she will drink out of but where the bowl is removable. After she’s been drinking out of that in the yard for a while. Bring the bowl part in and see what happens.

Trying her out on an anti-anxiety medication for 12 weeks might be worth a shot as well. For most behaviours you’d have to form a behavior modification plan as well but if we could calm her mind, I should think that the pleasure of eating and drinking would be enough positive reinforcement.

John Wade –

Much to my surprise, based on the comments and private emails I receive this problem is more common then I would ever thought. I’m beginning to develop a theory as to why. I need to see some video of dogs refusing to eat and owners attempts to encourage them. So feel free to send. If the file is to large send to my email by uploading to It’s a free service that works simply and well.

Here are some of the videos sent in so far (and comments below the videos):

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291 thoughts on “Dog is afraid of eating and drinking out of a bowl.”

  1. Kimberly

    I have the same problem with my young 3 year old Shih-tzu. She is afraid to eat and drink from a plate/bowl of any material. We feed her straight on the floor. She even barks or growls at her water bowl. Sometimes she does get desperate and lap and then skit back. She will do that several times. Not sure what to make of it. Help?

      1. Laura Cole

        I have a toy Pomeranian who has always been fearful of eating out of her food bowl and drinking water. Ever since I brought her home has a tiny puppy she has been afraid of movement of the food in the bowl, Movement of water in the water bowl, Shadows in the kitchen area caused by her own body, I have radiators that make noises when they turn on and there is one in the kitchen that when the heat goes on in the winner she refuses to go into the kitchen. She is afraid of the Refrigerator noise and my water cooler noise as well. I have to stand over her in order for her to eat and I switched to making my own homemade dog food because she was afraid every time she crunched Kibble in her teeth. She loves going for rides and going outside and she barks like a ferocious dog at anyone who walks by. She is not afraid of people or going to places. Yet feeding her is a chore. As far as drinking water I have to give it to her in a small tiny dish and hold it for her or give her water in a Dixie cup. She refuses to drink out of the community water dish used by my other dog and the cats. It’s actually quite ridiculous how I’ve had to cater to her her whole life but if I didn’t she would never eat or drink water. I have never been able to figure out why she has always been like this.

    1. Erin Mantle

      Was just wondering if you ever figured out anything that helped your dog. I have a 10 year old Shih tzu that does the exact same thing. He will go outside and stand in the sprinklers while they are all on to get a drink, but has a hard time with his water bowl.

      1. Hi Erin,

        Nothing yet. I have some ideas but I’m going to need to create a research on-line survey and “things to try and report back” survey for people to fill out. I have to software in place but I don’t have the time yet to create the forms myself. Unless I get some help from someone familiar with the software I’m using it will be a while as I have too many other projects on the go right now. I hope to find the time soon as this is a puzzle that I would really like to solve.


        1. I have a five-year-old Chihuahua mix that has just started being so scared of her food and water to the point that she will go all day without eating or drinking! We kept thinking it might be the mat we had it on, so we changed that. It didn’t help. We changed the bowls we fed & watered her out of but that didn’t help either. I have been experimenting different ways to encourage her to eat and drink again & tonight I squatted beside her, petting her & talking to her. She finally ate. I also started her on two Bach Flower Remedies to see if that will help. I feel like she has suddenly developed some kind of anxiety issues. Before this started, she was pretty aggressive and not scared of much, other than thunder. We do have to leave her by herself when we work and I wonder sometimes if she didn’t get traumatized during one of the storms while we were gone. I wasn’t aware of the problem was so common until I read these post. Please keep us posted if you come across anything that might help our fur babies!

        2. Hi John,
          any progress on this yet? My 7yo Shih Tzu started doing this with water and later with food.
          I may have scared him by dropping my phone next to his water bowl while he was drinking, although he didn’t look too scared at the moment.
          OK, but it’s been over a month and it was in a different house altogether! We moved the feeding place and changed bowls. He will eat and drink but someone must hold it up for him. If we put the bowl down he stops. He’ll sit and growl at the bowl for half an hour until someone comes and holds it.
          And yes, he quizzically looks up at the human while he drinks or eats. I think I know why this happens but
          How Can I Fix This???

        3. John,
          Was the form ever made available? I have a 7 year old Morkie (Yorkie/Maltese) who suddenly became terrified of her water and food bowls. She used to use the self feeding and watering bowls and when she’d drink the water, sometimes the water would displace and there would be a big “glug” noise as the bubble released so I was thinking maybe that scarred her. But I replaced those with regular bowls and nothing has changed, despite no “glugs”. I caught her drinking really nasty water out of remote areas of the back yard, got rid of all of them, thinking that would force her to use her bowls which, obviously, it has but…she still approaches the bowls skittishly, leading back, ready to retreat quickly. I’ve tried all different kinds of bowls, too. I also thought at one time maybe her eyes are going bad and she might see her reflection in the water and it might be freaking her out so I started putting her bowls where there’s a shadow (it reflects more if it’s in the light). Nothing has helped….except….if/when I OVERFILL. If I have the water bowl full up to the rim, she’ll drink. Same goes for food. It has to be FULL to the top. Once a little bit of the bottom of the bowl starts peeking through, that’s it, she won’t go near it. I hope this helps someone!

          If the survey you mentioned is available, I’d be interested in participating. Thanks!

        4. Bernadette Mulvey

          I have an almost 5 year old border collie mix that has eating and drinking fear. A human needs to stand over each bowl or he won’t eat or drink. So strange. His brother has no issues like that and they were adopted together at 8 weeks

        5. Please help me!

          My 7 year old dogs has all of a sudden become terrified to eat or drink from the same things she’s always eating and drinking from. I’ve tried everything including buying new ones etc. she circles around crying until I pull food out to the floor or tip water on to the floor also.

          The vet said they are not sure and all I can do is put her in an antidepressant and see if it helps. It’s becoming a full time job and I don’t know what do do next

          1. I have an almost 8-year old greyhound (rescued when he was 2) who is on a fear-driven hunger strike. He was licking his food bowl clean at the end of breakfast last week when it fell onto the floor from the stool it sits on and landed with a bang. Now he basically refuses to eat breakfast and has started peeing a little near where I feed him when I try to encourage him. I also put the bowl in his face to show him there was some left, and that must’ve been the kiss of death. He is VERY stubborn and nervous when I try to train him into new behavior. I’ve tried putting the food in different containers and locations, but breakfast is just OUT. He will hesitantly eat some of his dinner at least, and he takes treats… He’s not showing any signs of illness… knowing him, I’m convinced this is all fear related, and I don’t know how to help him because he sees me as part of the problem ☹️

        6. Leischen Celsur

          I have a 13 year old Pomeranian who came to me about a year and a half ago after his first owner died. For the first year he was alright and then in September we moved. Since we moved for about 3 months now, the food and water bowls seem to scare him and he will not use them. I put his dry food on the floor now I put him in the dry empty bath tub and let the water barely run and he drinks water as it runs. He seems scared of bowls now even though he didn’t before. He is a nervous dog, separation anxiety from me but I just thought it was because he had lost his owner of 12 years.

    2. Anthony

      Same here with an older Shih-tzu. I did discover that if I stir the water slightly with my finger she will quickly lap some water. I think her eyesight is going, and she may see her reflection in the water and react negatively to that.

    3. I have a rescue chihuahua minpin who is afraid of eating out of a bowl too. She used to be ok with it but eventually she developed this fear. She’ll be 2 yo in October. Other of her phobias include: being pulled by a leash, the leash itself sudden movement, kids, puppy pads (she slipped on one once and after that she would panic if I put her on one).
      Surprisingly she is not afraid of fireworks.

    4. We are experiencing the same thing, it all started after we lost our Abbey, 13 year old wheaten terrier who was a very dominant Alpha female, our Zoey 10 year old Mini schnauzer only ate after Abbey finished eating. We were not sure how much Zoey actually ate since we always left food in their bowls. Once Abby passed I noticed the food not being touched so I thought my husband was filling it up and me just not knowing it & sMe with water . I bathed her and noticed how thin she was I weighed her and she lost 3 pounds which was a lot for a 11 pound dog & noticed as well her water bowl not being drank out of and her licking the shower door and floor after a shower and water on the floor .
      I become very concerned I started hand feeding her she refused her food , I tried some hamburger meat and she would eat that but only if I hand fed her or put it on the floor. She will only drink out of a white disposable bathroom cup , I tried every kind of bowl there was I put them in different areas of the home Iike the vet suggested / did not work. Therefore each day I measure a cup of water and make sure she drinks that much & I cook her hamburger & chicken and hand feed her.
      She has always been a bit quirky but she is scared of her own shadow now, I do not know if this is depression from losing her mate. She has never been alone until now.
      I am afraid if we held out until she ate from her bowl or drank we would have a dead dog and I donor want that!! So for now we had feed and water her. People think we are crazy but she is our baby, I don’t know if getting another mate would help or not.

      Suggestions !!

    5. Has it resolved and if so how? I have the same problem with me shish Tzu also 3yr.

      1. Jeanette Hollinghurst

        Our shtzu is three he always drank out his bowl and eat now he will only eat his food if we put it on the floor , he stands then lies down next to his bowl but will not eat ? Sometimes he will bark at his bowl how do we make him eat from his bowl ? We have bought hi 4 new ones no change ? He had his man things chopped off 6/8 weeks ago but was fine now fir the past week or so he won’t have his food out of his bowl , can u help plz

    6. My 4 month old pup is the same but will drink from the plate under a pot plant. I’m going to try putting a heavy object in her water bowl to see if this helps.

    7. joann vitiello

      My 17 yr dog who has glaucoma was suffering from the same problem and would bark at water and would only drink from the floor. My son-in-law’s suggested raising the bowl to the dogs chest concerned the dog suffered with depth perception. It worked, my dog approaches the bowl without concern, no longer afraid . I hope this works for your dog .

      1. Patricia Franklin

        Joann, thank you for your comments, this makes total sense to us as our 9-year old lab/setter mix will drink out of the bottom dish of a plant that is closer to chest level. We’ll be trying this. Thank you!

      2. Bobbette Mattis

        I have the same issue with my 12 year old shitzu. I have to dump his food on the floor. He won’t even take it off of a flat paper plate. His water bowl has to be completely full to the brim before he will drink from it. He prefers also to lap at the wet shower floor when he can. I think it’s his vision causing this.

    8. Samantha

      My 10 year old shitzhu has this exact reaction as well. He will growl at the bowl full of fresh clean water until some one pours water on to the floor, he’s survived this way for well over five years. Have you found any alternatives? We’ve tried special water bowls, plates, saucers and tiny cups, but he continues to growl for the floor. When he eats he will take a mouth full of food and drop it on the floor and eat smaller bites. Perhaps bowl phobia? Just wondering if you had any success since your post.

    9. could all these dogs that refuse to drink—- possibly creating static electricity and getting shocked when they try to drink? I have gotten shocked when I first put my hand in the dish water, during the dry winter time.

    10. Jerry Spradling

      I too have a Shih Tzu that cowers from his food and water dishes.
      The little man would jump in the tub for whatever he could get of water.
      I now just open the faucet and let him drink his fill.
      You can drop some small pieces of something tasty in there and he or she can have a buffet.
      Washing up afterwards is a snap.

    11. Heather

      My schnoodle rarely eats his food from a bowl, I’m tipping it onto my rug. He does drink out of a S/steel bowl though, I think it’s the noise his food makes in the plastic bowl (s/s is a no no as it’s very noisy)

    12. Paige K

      I have a shih tzu also that does the same thing! I have tried everything and it just seems to be getting worse as he ages.

    13. Natasha

      I’m unable to post a general comment. The site will only allow me to reply to one that is already posted. But I hope this helps someone, even if only one person. My dog also stopped drinking from her water bowl (Metal…Which she’d been drinking from for years). She also suddenly stopped eating her food. I tried several different bowls. Started feeding her homemade food on a plate. I gave her water in a cup and bingo! Success. Try a cup. I switched her food and she’s now eating dry and wet mixed which she’s fine with in her metal bowl. Still refuses to drink water from the metal bowl. The cup is annoying. But if you’re desperate, give it a try. Worked for us.

  2. our 8 month old maltese that we got from a rescue all off a sudden has the same problem. He was eating and drinking fine from his bowls and now he is scared to death of them. He will eat the food off the floor with coaxing, and drink the water from a coffee mug and it takes a lot of coaxing for him to drink. Any sudden movement while he is eating or drinking and he freaks out. I don’t know what caused this or what to do. I wish I could send you a video of his behavior.

      1. sandra montes

        My 12 year old mix terrier has been showing signs of the same thing, that’s why I googled to see what was going on. ?????

    1. Michelle

      Our golden doodle is the exact same. He was fine with food and water dishes up until 6 months or so… trying everything. Will eat off floor not plates. Will drink out of a cup sometimes . Afraid of any type of bowl at any height

    2. Holly Obrien

      We have a similar problem here. Our Husky/Chow/Retriver mix has always eaten and drank perfectly fine out of her bowls. Suddenly about two weeks ago she became very ill we had to take her to the ER for vomiting. Ever since then she refuses to eat or drink out of any bowls. She acts as if she is scared of bowls. She will drink a small puddle of liquid off the floor but not out of a bowl. If we put a flat plate down and put a small amount of liquid in there along with her food she will eat and drink that after some coaxing. She will not even drink chicken broth for beef broth out of a bowl and that’s some pretty tempting stuff. All her food and water bowls are kept inside so no chance of any type of poisoning occurring so we don’t think eating or drinking is what made her get sick a few weeks ago. ALSO she has never been particularly skittish of noises, even thunderstorms and fireworks were well tolerated. But all the sudden in the past couple weeks she is jumping at any sudden noises and seems more on edge than she used to be. All blood work at the vet came back clear for any type of disease or illness. We rescued her a year-and-a-half ago and she’s always been such an easy going and well balanced dog so this change in her behavior is completely out of character and very bizarre.

      1. I have a 3 month old Schnauzer who has developed the same problem. Will drink from bowl in crate but not nowhere else. And refuses to eat unless from floor or hand feed?
        What should I try?

      2. Hi we have 7 years old newfoundland female, she was always an anxious dog but lately this is progressing more.. She is afraid if someone calls to our house, she would run to hide somewhere safe.. Lately she is afraid of eating from her bowl, she has metal bowl, but we tried different one and nothing works, she would eat no problem from my hand but I don’t know if this is a good thing to keep doing it? We checked her bloods and her results are OK, she will eat treats and dental sticks from hand with excitement, she is in a good form, running, playing etc, but when it comes to feeding its a problem and we can see she is hungry…
        Can I continue feeding her from hands 9r what other solutions could you give us?

        1. Hi Joanna,

          That’s a lot of work; feeding a Newfoundland by hand every day. Hopefully, you can find an easier solution.

          Left untreated or ‘treated’ with the sort of nonsense advice usually provided by well-meaning amateur dog trainers, veterinarians and vet techs it is not uncommon to see anxiety blossom as a dog ages. Even working with someone that has the correct expertise can have limited impact but better to work with someone that has better quality and more ‘rice’ to ‘throw against the wall’.

          By any chance does the room/area she normally eats have more than it’s fair share of electrical devices? Has anything new been installed anywhere in the home or in particular the room she eats?


          John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
          Embracing Science and Common Sense

          I PRESSED ON

      3. 5 months ago, Our 3.5 year old rescue mix (mostly Doberman and chow) became fearful of his bowls. we’ve tried different materials, shapes and sizes and elevating the bowls. He will eat and drink if we hold the bowls and will drink out of any bowl if our neighbor’s dog is also drinking from same one. So we know it’s not a physical issue. In the last 2 weeks, he’s afraid of his bed and occasionally paces while panting heavily and now is afraid of thunder and the vacuum cleaner. We went to vet for his annual physical and no physical issues. We believe it’s all related to anxiety but don’t know the cause as he’s always been a chill dog and there’s not been any changes in the household or any recent traumatic events.

      4. Holly Brittingham

        Sounds similar to what we are dealing with. Our 14 year old whippet German Shepard mix is suddenly afraid of food and water. She had bad allergies that made her very itchy and this seemed to coincide with this odd behavior. If I lift the bowl up to her mouth, she will eat and drink but otherwise won’t. Vet told us to see how it is in a couple of days but I’ve never seen anything like this with her before.

  3. My chihuahua has the same problem he’s about 3 years old, we adopted him and have been trying to feed him out of different bowls or plates and the rattling noise seems to scare him and refuses to eat on his bowl.

      1. My third rescue shih tzu molly is exactly how everyone else is describing down to a tee. I will email some videos. The only things I know about mollys past are that she lived with an older lady with alzeimers who hand fed her. I wonder if she used to forget to give her clean water so she drank water from else where. I really don’t know. Molly will eat off 2 sheets of kitchen roll but is still a little skittish when eating and sometimes a little reluctant to approach it. Any suggestions welcome. Good luck with all your lil babies. X

    1. julie Ann pearson

      My recently adopted from a shelter female 7 year old Chihuahua is the same way. They even said at the shelter she had to be hand fed. Well, I started he on rotisserie chicken and place it on the very rim of a white desert size plate and she will eat it, but if it gets to the center of the plate she cowers and backs off, so I just nudge it and she eats it. We are working on her favorite things to eat as she is painfully skinny, her science diet small bite puppy food I now put a little hamburger fat on it and feed it to her on the rim of the plate and she laps it down. She can’t resist the fat on it. NOW, she struggles with drinking water from a bowl, but now I found that if I only use sealed ceramic bowl that are white with no rim she will drink if I use my fingers to splash the water to show her it is water. She was looking for water to drink on our wood deck boards? She is afraid of stairs, so I have been using positive reinforcements with chicken to coax her on the stairs, it is a lot of work but I feel she is weird for a reason, I am going to get her eyes checked out too.
      She is also only 4 lbs and needs to put on some weight. Eventually I think she will come around with patients and understanding.

      1. Brittany

        Hi Julie Ann,
        My new 3 y/o rat terrier is very similar. Rescued from a shelter and clearly never socialized, she’s coming around quite well in just 2 weeks. She and my 2 chill cats get along well, much to my relief. However she’s terrified of 3 things: other people, dogs, and the food bowl!! She clearly wants to eat, as I’m trying to make a schedule where she and the cats are fed at the same time and she’s gets very excited when the food bags start rattling. When her turn comes up and the food is poured in her bowl, she stops a few feet away and starts shaking. At first I felt awful, then annoyed, then helpless. She’ll eat from my hand, the floor, and at desperate times, the real chicken on the bowl rim.

        The cats are very good about not bothering her food, but I also don’t want to leave it there all day or night for them to be tempted.

  4. Chelsea

    My brother and his wife have a dog who is terrified of everything. Anxiety ridden. She is afraid of the water she drinks but will drink after much resistance. She also will urinate at the drop of a hat because of different fears and noises around the house. They refuse to seek the help of a trainer because they don’t believe in it. I have to live with the dog and want to help but am at a loss of what to do. I would hate living in fear like that and I’m sure it’s not enjoyable for her. Any advice? She is a rescue.

    1. Hi Chelsea,

      I agree that living in fear is not a state one should leave a dog when there are treatment options. This sort of problem requires a lot more background information before and advice can be provided. Did the rescue not provide any resources?


    2. Ann Jones

      I have a 10 weeks shih tzu x chihuaha & he seems spooked by his food & water bowls, I think we’ve tried about 5 different ones but it’s made no difference, he seems to prefer to starve rather than have a try, very rarely he will take some water but usually only once or twice a day, my vet said to hand feed him but I don’t want him to get used to that, if I drop his food on the floor he eats it, I tried making a trail of food towards his bowl but once the food trail ends he walks away. totally baffled

  5. My 3 year old whippet mix has the same problem. I rescued him when he was about 5 months old. He will drink out of his bowl as long as I hold it for him. But while I am holding it he looks around scared. Same issue with eating. He will eat all of his food out of the bowl but I have to sit with him and feed some of it to him. Still looking about scared like something is going to happen to him. I know he has anxiety issues. Anything I can do to help him? I do not want him to live in fear the rest of his life.

    1. Sherié

      This is the same behavior my 5lb, soon to be 10 yr old Yorkie-Chinese Crested Powder Puff dog began having one year ago upon moving into a new apartment. It began with just her food. No matter what type of dish, where or what was in that dish, she would not eat it. If I feed it to her by hand she will eat. If I place it on the couch or my bed on napkins and sit next to her she will eat that way, though tentatively. (I hate having food on either of these surfaces, but it seems to be the only way she’ll eat with the least amount of angst). She’ll eat it from my hands if I sit on the ground with her too but any noise at all and she jumps & stops eating. The last few months, she began crying at her water bowl, walking around it & sometimes barking at it. Now, she comes & gets me, brings me to her water bowl, I’ll squat down & place my finger in her bowl and she will drink like crazy. I can’t seem to coax her into drinking throughout the day. She’ll wait until she’s completely dehydrated – often waking me in the middle of the night. If she is at my parent’s house, or outside, or in my truck with me after a walk, she’ll drink water just fine.
      It’s very strange & clearly brings her great anxiety. It hurts my heart. She has become much more jumpy when it comes to noises at my apt and often jumps & skittishly runs off at the drop of a pin. She otherwise isn’t a skittish, anxious dog. It’s quite bizarre and concerning. I’m surprised to hear so many people also experiencing this odd behavior with their adult pets. Hmmm

      1. Hi Sherié,

        Thanks for adding your experience. I agree it is extremely surprising that this issue is as common as it is. That is not to say it’s common but this is one of the most visited threads on the website. Have you tried timed feedings with her? First 24 hours, fast her. No food of any kind but water readily available. Next 4 days, food down for 3 minutes and then taken up twice a day for 4 days with zero treats in between? Again, water should be readily available at all times. In some, it triggers a reset.

        Send video of what she’s doing now.


        John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
        Embracing Science and Common Sense
        London’s #1 Referred Puppy and Dog Trainer

      2. Lisa Robles

        This is exactly how my 10 year old carin terrier/yorkie behaves! I’m so relieved to have found this site and these responses. We haven’t gotten to the issue with the water bowl (yet), so far it’s only her food bowl and only at home. She comes with me to work and eats just fine there. I’ve tried moving her food to various parts of the house and used different containers and surfaces. It’s exhausting and I feel so bad for her.

        We just went to the vet yesterday and they suggested I try switching her food to wet and see what happens, it was the same result. Now we’ll go back to see if there is some sort of antianxiety meds I can give her but I’d rather solve the problem than drug her.

      3. Hi Sherie,
        I suffer exactly from the same problem. Did you find a solution?

  6. Our 8 yr old Australian Terrier has the same issues. We first noticed bowl anxiety with his food bowl about 4 yrs ago. He was losing weight to the point that his ribs were showing. I took him to the vet but they found no obvious physical problems. One day my wife poured his food on the floor and he ate it immediately, and has gained back his lost weight. However, his water bowl anxiety has continued. His coat is dull and his poop is dry and hard. He’ll lick water off the sidewalk, out of puddles and from the creek but he can’t bring himself to drink out of a bowl or plate. He’d lay by his bowl until my wife holds it for him to drink. Now, he’s resisting that. His vision seems to be ok because he can see squirrels in the yard from the window. Help!!

  7. My Maltese Shihtzu x has started doing this too. I bought a self filling bowl, which made bubbling noises. This frightened her, so I switched back to her original bowl… But now she’s afraid of that too! She gets so thirsty I’ve found her drinking water from the shower floor (so unlike her). I’ve resorted to leaving different bowls all around the house. I hope this works. Do you have any ideas?

    1. Kerrylee

      My 9 year old Maltese shihtzu chopper” is frightened of both food and water bowls. He barks at both bowls, and is scarf to walk past them. Water bowls outside he is also afraid of, but quickly drinks from it. What do I do??


    My dog has this fear too. hes 4yrs old. it just started a month ago. his vet acted like I was crazy. he fears the blanket too. and when I pet his head near the left ear towards the neck he yelps and runs away. he is a pomchi. I got him from the breeder at 8 weeks old. he has anxiety previous to these new fears.

  9. Michael McKee

    My female Border Collie will not drink from a bowl outside but will drink from the same bowl if I put it in the house. She is 18 months old. She will drink from a small mud hole in the back yard.

  10. Renata K


    I have a three year old rough collie that has been having a similar problem for the past year. First we started out by changing the location of his water and food bowls and that helped for a while. One day while drinking from his bowl something fell and our dog got very scared from the noise. Since then I have changed the bowl from a round metal one to an oval plastic one and it helped a bit but still he can go without drinking for a long time . He will come up to the bowl stand over it might take one or two licks and will run away as if he is very afraid of something . I want to help him get over this because I can see that he goes through this fear all every day. Usually I hold the bowl of water for him and he will drink that way without a problem. Please advise on what I can do . Thank you

    1. Sabrina

      My 5 year old poodle is just starting to gain this fear. Something in her ceramic bowl made her jump (I think she actually knocked it and the water started moving in it) and from then on she refused to drink from it. For two days at night time she stood in the kitchen whining and I couldn’t work out what she wanted. I’ve tried switching bowls and that works for a time until she does something to scare herself again. I noticed if I put the bowl down and the water is moving it partly triggered this. At the moment I’m giving her water out of a pot I have to hold which isn’t sustainable!

      1. Sabrina

        !!Update!! Since knocking the bowl seemed to be the cause of why she refused to be drinking from it I bought a new set of bowls where the water and food bowls are in one unit (More solid, less harder to knock based on overall shape). She then watched me fill water from the kitchen into her little water pot and then I poured the water into her new bowl. She then drank from it with some encouragement and I gave her lots of positive reinforcement (petting and positive words, no treats). I did that the first few times she drank from that bowl and now she seems to be fine! It’s harder for her to knock this bowl and have the water move around so fingers crossed this is resolved!

  11. I am very surprised that searching the internet it seems like there are no “experts” that have any idea what is going on, despite this being a common issue. My Schnauzer is exactly the same way, terrified of any bowl of any material shape or size. She stands there contemplating approaching what is terrifying because she is very thirsty. A few laps and then you hear nails scuffing at the ground as she is trying to run away as fast as possible. There are no bugs, ants etc that could set her off… nothing. Yet she goes outside and drinks from the planter water trays with her face pressed up against the pot to get in there… none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

    1. Hi James,

      I don’t think it’s common at all. That’s one of the factors contributing to why in those rare instances people like yourself encountering this are struggling to get to the bottom of the why and what to do about it. It’s also unlikely that “nothing” sets her off. I’d be curious in your case to see what happened if you used a planter water tray in the exact same area her current water dish was. If she spooks does she stop using the outside water tray. I’d also try removing the outside water tray and put an identical water bowl as her inside bowl in its place and see what happened.


      1. Bobbette Mattis

        I have the same issue with my 12 year old shitzu. I have to dump his food on the floor. He won’t even take it off of a flat paper plate. His water bowl has to be completely full to the brim before he will drink from it. He prefers also to lap at the wet shower floor when he can. I think it’s his vision causing this.

  12. Suzanne Brookman

    Have a Lhasa Apsa she is 9 years old and has just started this I have to pour her water on the floor for her to drink it and just started thinking her eye sight is getting bad and can not see the bowl good???

  13. My 12-year-old Maltese is also afraid of his water bowl and his water bottle. The only way he will drink is if I stand next to the bowl with my foot next to it or my hand touching the bowl. He will eat but he’s kind of skittish of that too. I have thought of everything you have said above. We have tried everything! This has been going on over a year now. He’s had these fears off and on but it seems like this past year has been really bad. Now he has decided that during the night he wants to sleep with his face right next to my face or my husband’s face and he used to love to sleep under the covers but he doesn’t want his head covered up anymore. He wants his head on the pillow touching my face. He also wakes up all throughout the night barking because he wants to get a drink but I must be standing touching the bowl for him to drink. It is really driving me crazy and interrupting our sleep so much that it is upsetting me!!!

    1. Hi Sue,

      That’s a pretty late onset for this sort of thing. I’d have him thoroughly vetted. Blood work, xrays, detailed dental etc. If it’s not physical it likely is a relationship based problem. If he’ll drink with you touching the bowl then it’s possible that bit by bit he’s become manipulative and you receptive to his machinations.


      1. Leean Birmingham

        Is there any more info on this, dog afraid of drinking, my lab too has been doing this for a long time it’s sad and pitiful. And yes he has issues.

        1. Hi Leean,

          This is it so far. However the comments, some with input/suggestions grows weekly. The more video I get sent the greater the likelihood I’ll see some pattern that we’re missing.


        2. Desiree Steele

          My 8 year old Yorkie Just suddenly started this behavior after a grooming session at a new place!! I’m suspecting maybe has something to do with her inner ear ….. not sure if this theory but will flush her ears with colloidal silver and see if it makes a difference… anti anxiety remedies have not worked

  14. Maria Kuczer

    My 3 year old rescue has become afraid to drink from her metal raised bowl. Vet said could be her reflection. Suggested seeing a behaviorist. I can’t afford that. She eats from the same type of metal bowl right next to it even when her tag hits it. She has always be a anxious dog. Afraid of other things (Fireworks, storms, quick movements, noises). I have tried different bowls outside and inside. She will drink from the floor and my hand and puddles. But needs coaxing each time to come and drink. I’ve tried milk in the water and chicken broth but sometimes she drinks it and sometimes she doesn’t. Vet said not to let her drink from my hand. I’m so afraid of her becoming dehydrated. It’s been a week and so far physical came back fine. May do blood work. Vet doesn’t think meds will help. Any help you can provide is appreciated.

  15. My dog will drink out of the bowl part for water and won’t eat or even touch the food I get really worried because she goes around eating the cats drive and canned food.
    We have tried everything wet,canned,dry but none will she eat.

    1. This isn’t that uncommon. Cat food is often more palatable to dogs then their own food apparently because the protein content is significantly higher. The protein quality is often higher as well. Separate feeding times or separate feeding areas where the dog can’t access the cat’s food (up higher) may help. It may take as much as 4 days of stubbornly missing served meals before your dog caves and goes back to it’s own food. I would also check the quality of the food. Send me the brand name and a picture of the list of ingredients and I’ll offer an opinion.



    Dear John: This summer, I started to give my Lab water in a metal bowl from the outside hose. He drinks it up in a sec. Now he will not drink from in house metal bowl . Comes,the winter and I won’t have access to the outside hose. I am afraid he will not drink at all.What to do?

    1. Is he healthy? How old is he? Has he been playing catch the water coming from the hose? If he’s old enough to rigorously exercise do so then take him to his water bowl in the home and video what happens and send to me. If he drinks stop worrying.



    Dear John: Thanx for your reply. My rescue Lab is now about 6/7 yrs and I have had him for about 51/2 yrs. He is healthy but is very, very lazy & a couch potato. He was bred to be a hunter but did not want to hunt as the breeder did not want his lazy genes mixed with his hunting dogs and make them lazy so he put him in the shelter; I got him the very same day. From day one my Lab “Sonny” never jumped, kissed or cuddled. He just lolls around. When I take him to the dog park, he lays on the cement while all the other dogs are frolocking. A friend suggested I take the outside water bowl and fill it with the hose water but bring it into the house. I did this and “Sonny” followed me into the house but would not drink from the raised metal ‘hose’ water bowl. When I went out to get this water, I fell down and twisted my right knee and could not walk….”Sonny” has now stopped eating his reg. food too. It has been three days, no food, no water and I am on a walker laid up. Now I am really worried. ….Adele

    1. It’s unlikely he’s not drinking for three days. He’d be near death. Food possibly. Either way take him to the vets. It’s possible he’s drinking somewhere (toilet maybe). When you take him to the vet – mention his life long lethargy and get some blood work. Thyroid may be off.



    Thanx John for your reply. When I saw how lazy he was, I did take him to the vet and checked his thyroid which turned out just fine. All in all, he is very healthy and used to gobble his food. Now that I am laid up, he is not eating nor drinking nor does he have access to the toilet. Thank you for your insight. …Adele

  19. Donna Everhart

    Well. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a quirky eater/drinker. We adopted our small Yorkie when he was three, back in Dec 2012. When we first got him, he ate/drank – no problem. He will be six in Nov, and for the past 1.5 to 2 years, he’s become nervous about eating, more so with the drinking. Like many of the others above, he approaches his water bowl, same one he’s had all along, (color is pale cream/with little black bone designs) and growls or barks at it, and I have to “encourage” him by saying, “noooo, drink your water. Drink your water.” Bark. Bark. Bark. RRRRR. RRRRR. “Noooo, drink your water, that’s GOOD water!” Like the others, if I approach his bowl and act like I’m going to fill it up more, he’ll drink a few laps. Sometimes I just tell him to drink, and eventually he will. I’ve tried ignoring this, and he’ll give up and not drink at all, and I KNOW he’s thirsty. Even if I’m not in the house, i.e. if I’m outside, I can hear him barking at it. My husband’s conclusion – he’s not doing it to get attention, he’s truly thirsty, and he wants it, but…

    The food is weird too. He’s better about that than the water. I had to sort of “re-train” him to get him to eat. I put one piece of kibble down at a time, and then he “circles” me while I sit on the floor. More than one piece? He won’t eat. It’s like it screws his little head up.

    Since he was “normal” when we got him, I have tried to figure out what went wrong and where. I fed him a homemade diet and he at that off a plate. To be honest, I think his first trip with us (a long 13 hour ride) back a couple years ago was the turning point. Getting him to eat in that strange environment where the noise level was much higher (my in-laws house – they are old and talk loud and have the TV loud, etc) might have been the trigger.

    Somehow, we’re getting by.

  20. It’s really funny my dog that is 12 yrs old started not drinking water out of her bowl. My wife bought gravity feed water bowl so we never noticed she wasn’t drinking water. Then she started whining every night 2 to 3 times in the middle of the night to go outside. At first we thought she needed to go to the bathroom but after awhile I’ve noticed the dog licking the water off the grass. So we thought maybe it was due to the gravity feed water bowl so we went back to the metal bowl but she still refuses to drink. So now I have to put water on a plate or out of my hand even off the floor she will drink but not out of bowl.

  21. My 8 year old dog (Eski-poo) stopped wanting to eat and drink from his bowls a couple of years ago. Two issues I thought had happened: 1) he had some bad teeth and has since had them removed. 2) Last winter when drinking from his metal bowl I think he got a “shock”. Not sure if either one of these has caused a food/water bowl phobia. He will drink from the lake, or any outdoor bowl, or if I lift the bowl to his face. Otherwise he starts to drink/eat and then runs away like he’s been shocked or scared by something… I wish I knew 🙁

  22. My 8 year old dog (Eski-poo) stopped wanting to eat and drink from his bowls a couple of years ago. Two issues I thought had happened: 1) he had some bad teeth and has since had them removed. 2) Last winter when drinking from his metal bowl I think he got a “shock”. Not sure if either one of these has caused a food/water bowl phobia. He will drink from the lake, or any outdoor bowl. He will drink non-stop when I lift the bowl to his face. Otherwise when he starts to drink/eat at his normal bowl he runs away like he’s been shocked or scared by something… I wish I knew 🙁

  23. Jackson

    My dog Blanket is a 8 year old chihuahua terrier mix I adopted from an unknown but clearly abusive life 5 years ago. He has always been afraid of bowls, but it has usually resulted in him waiting a long time to eat or drink and then finally getting the courage to nervously do so.

    Over the summer, our cat, who had been his companion the whole time I’ve had him, passed away, then we welcomed two new cats into our home, the head to get most of his teeth extracted due to bad and worsening oral health that has been an ongoing problem.

    Somewhere in the midst of those changes, he switched from being able to work up the courage to eat and drink on his own eventually to not. Instead, he will bark at us until we hold the bowl at a specific tilted angle and even then he will only sometimes drink. We changed the food/water locations many times, but it has not helped. Sometimes if we put the water in the middle of the bedroom doorway he will drink on his own but obviously that is not a practical place to put it since we keep stepping in the bowl or slipping on the water around it.

    His food we were able to manage by putting it in a large silicone bowl and placing the bowl outside when we put him out there (bringing it in when he comes inside so slugs don’t get in the bowl). We have not tried this with the water but I know that he can sometimes find areas in the backyard where there are little bits of water. We also don’t have a sillicone bowl for the water because I got the other one years ago and have had trouble finding a second.

    It has gotten to the point where he spends half the night barking at us to let him in and out or to hold the water bowl so he can drink. We live in an apartment so letting him bark is not an option.

    I’m also having trouble determining whether it is a factor of either of the changes in cats or the fact that the cats (try as I might to stop them) eat his food and drink his water, or a factor of pain related to the now two month old tooth extractions or if it is a maladjustment to having no teeth or something else, since it started in the midst of a lot of big changes.

    I should also mention that I have spoken with the vet about this a little less than a month ago and we decided to put him on some herbal anxiety treats (composure) that we give a couple times a day. Haven’t noticed any changes and if anything he is continuing to get worse at the same pace. Yesterday I also went to brush his teeth for the first time since surgery and noticed his gums were bleeding BEFORE I actually put the toothbrush in his mouth. Made me wonder if he is having pain related to the extractions and wondered if dogs can get dry socket or anything like that, as I know my partner’s dry socket took a long time to recover after he got 3 teeth pulled at once in the spring.

    1. 12 1/2 yr schnauzer, same issues with food & water. Never an issue until about 2yrs ago. 1yr ago I bought Calm & Peaceful + Senior Formula from Kingdom of Basil & started her on 100mg Sam-E. She has some moments of anxiety but only last a few minutes. I also covered her water bowl with plastic table cloth. She drinks now where she would not at all before. Some days she won’t eat off her glass plate, maybe 1x per week, but if I throw the food to her on the floor she eats. Since the product from Kingdom of Basil it is very tolerable. I will never abandon her, she is everything to me. Hope this might help you some!! Also after giving her the Sam-E & herbs we had a thunder storm, usually she is terrified for hours, she didn’t react at all, I almost fainted. Godd luck!!

  24. Jeanine

    I have an 11 yr old Chihuahua that I adopted from a rescue 7 yrs ago. He would never drink out of his water bowl. I assumed it was became he didn’t like having the water splash on him. I put water in his food, so he gets plenty of it that way. He also will not eat out of a bowl, so the moistened food I have to hand feed him. I bought a hamster water bottle and finally he will drink water out of that. He’s smart, he let’s me know when he’s thirsty. I wonder if as a puppy he may have used a water bottle in the cage, I’m thinking one of those Amish puppy mills.

  25. Katherine Nicolson


    I just reading all the above comments and it seems that I am experiencing the exact same issue with my 4 year old Chihuahua. He will only eat his food if it’s put on the floor. In fact if the food is left on a plate he will run over to us and start jumping up and down to grab our attention and for us to follow him to the plate. When I first got him he had a little bowl and would eat out of this then all of a sudden one day he was too scared to eat out of his bowl. We then started using small saucers and however he ended up running away from it. Another recent development is that he won’t drink out of his water bowl unless one of us stands next to it!!!! It’s absolutely ridiculous but he needs to eat and drink being a small dog. He has always been quite a timid dog; for example he won’t walk down certain roads, and will refuse to walk past certain large breeds. Can’t afford to pay for advice but if you still looking into hypotheses I’m happy to send a video to demonstrate this behaviour

    1. Yes please send video. I’ve had a few sent to me so far. If enough people send enough video we may collectively figure out this puzzling problem so I can provide some guidance.


  26. ed allen

    I wanted to volunteer that our 8-year old black lab suffers from this issue. I am convinced of the cause if not a major contributing factor. Originally his stainless steel bowls were on a wrought iron stand and I twice observed where his dog tags got caught in the stand and when he backed off, the stand followed, and when he then freaked out, the bowls and stand went flying halfway across the kitchen. We remove his collar in the house now, and switched to ceramic crock bowls on the floor but he hasn’t forgotten the haunted feeding station incidents.

    1. Thanks for the input. Every little bit helps. Is your dog sensitive by nature? Does he suffer from separation anxiety and/or is particularly clingy. Afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks or other loud over head sounds?


      1. Wendy Mowry

        Not sure if this helps, but we actually observed the day our Maltipom developed a fear of his food and water dish. While he was eating, he got a shock from static. He was using a metal bowl in a iron holder. We laughed and really didn’t think anything of it, because our house tends to be dry in the winter and his fur was long and had a lot of static at the time. But when it happened a few more times he would bark at his bowls and became reluctant to eat. So I put his food and water in ceramic bowls, thinking That if he didn’t get a shock he would be fine. That helped a bit, but he was still very skittish. So then I tried clear glass bowls, and plates. I even started removing his collar, thinking he was afraid of the noise. So after reading what you said about anxiety and fear of fireworks, it makes sense. So I will just continue coax him along.

  27. My 10 year old Shih Tzu has been refusing to drink from a bowl for as long as I can remember. We have a stand alone shower where he goes and stands until someone pours water out of a glass for him. He’s not fond of eating out of bowls either but he will. He prefers to take his food out of the bowl and put it on the floor then eat it off the floor. I’ve had him since he was 2 months old and he’s always done this.

    I’m fine with the way my dog is. I just wanted to add his story.

  28. Marichu D.

    I thought I was the only one having this problem, every time I ask my vet, they seem puzzled. I have a 4 month old pitbull terrier mix…she just recently started to be afraid of eating out of her bowl. I’ve been spoon feeding her for the past 3 days now. People say to just leave the food there and she’ll eventually eat, but I tried that, and she ended up not eating the whole day. I’ve been using a plate to feed her from, since I noticed that being close to her bowl scares her. I thought she might’ve been scared seeing her reflection in her stainless steel bowl, so I bought her a plastic one, but she’s still afraid. She’s also been more nervous than usual and barks and cries through the night, which she’s never done before unless she has to use the restroom. I really hope you can give me some type of advice. Thank you

  29. My dachshund has been doing the same thing mentioned by others. Afraid of water and food bowls. We feed him wet food from a plate on the floor and he eats no problem. We tried the same trick with water, but no luck. So we tried putting a small amount of organic no-salt chicken broth into his water and he lapped up the whole bowl. Might be worth a try.

  30. David Jung

    From all the various comments it seems to me that majority of the dogs posted about here are all rescue dogs. Now from what I can tell is that they’ve been abused regardless of scars or not. Remember that scars are just an indication of abuse so anything mildly subtle like a bruise under the fur is likely to go unnoticed by the rescue. It is likely the previous owner has hit the dog with the bowl or a similar feeding object. To see if this is the case empty the bowl and while near the dog drop the bowl next to them and see their reaction. You have to watch the reaction extremely carefully, if they’re reaction is immediate (before the bowl has a chance to reach the floor) or if they instantly run the opposite direction to hide, then that is could be a sign of abuse or sheer negligence of a prior owner. Since these things could happen by accident, don’t make immediate assumptions of abuse. You can also ask your family members if they’ve recently dropted the bowl on the dog recently.

    If being struck by the bowl was not the case, and you believe it is due to cataracts, try an elevated dog feeder. There are plenty on Amazon. Get one that goes about next to lower jaw level so that dog is staring at the bowl at an angle so he doesn’t look straight down and get scared from tunnel visioning.

    Other things you can try are a “U” shaped bowl like the ones used in pig stys. You can also try forced starvation (though it is not recommended), by starving the dog for 24 hours where by the end of the day the dog will eat or drink pretty much from anything or anywhere. The method is usually used for dogs who’ve turned picky due to their owners giving them house food.

    Hopefully this helps the majority, and lastly don’t expect any immediate changes always give a week or two to settle in before moving to a different solution. Dogs take time and patience.

    *PS* it says, “Ask the Dog Gut Newsletter”. Don’t think that was intentional.

    1. Hi—just wanted to let you know that my dog, not a rescue, just started not eating out of her bowl. She’s 8. Timid, but not too anxious. She’ll drink, but not eat. The bowls are slightly elevated. And, they are mismatched. I broke one of the original from the set and replaced it with a small “human” bowl—years ago. She gets a mix of lean meat and kibble and will not eat. She’ll bark until I place it on the floor.

  31. christine

    I have a very healthy 4 year old golden…..who has eaten out of the same bowl for the 4 years Ive had her….just recently we lost our other dog whom she knew since birth….but still, eating was fine….we recently brought home a new puppy…she was definitely a little aloof at first but has accepted the new puppy just fine…..its been 3 weeks since we’ve had the pup…and eating has been fine..until 3 days ago…..cowering away from the same bowl…same food…I tried changing food and she will only eat out of my hand….which is literally in the bowl…..she hasn’t had an ounce of anxiety since we’ve had her…this is totally new…..Im not sure she’s had any water either!!! like you said, I sort of have the mindset….she knows where it is, so when she’s dying of thirst she will get water!!! but its so frustrating and worrisome at the same time!

    1. Hi Christine,

      You may have noticed on this thread it’s mostly tiny dogs. I suspect there’s something different going on in your dog’s case. Perhaps a sensitive tooth. Get it checked out at the vets.


    2. Holly A Obrien-West

      That sounds very similar to what we are experiencing with our medium sized dog. I posted our story up above but also wanted to respond to you. We haven’t had a lot of life changes except for our dog getting sick a couple weeks ago. Ever since getting sick she refuses to eat or drink out of bowls and has become rather skittish about sudden noise.. Prior to this she was always happy to eat and drink from her bowls and had absolutely no issues with any type of anxiety and no fear of noise. I have to hide liquid in with her food on a flat plate and literally stand there and encourage her to eat and even then she looks scared. Such a total change from her normal behavior. All blood work at the vet came back normal

  32. Hi there. My 14 year old Bichon’s has been scared of her water and food bowl for the last several months. She has been an anxious dog all her life ( we got her when she was 13 weeks) but now she is the most anxious I have seen her. She jumps up every few minutes like something scared her and she doesn’t drink or eat much unless I spend much time coaxing her to do so. I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago and everything is good from the blood work except she was slightly dehydrated. I feel so bad for her and wish she would go back to eating from her bowls. The best she drinks is if I fill her waterbowl up to the tippy top and she might get 3-4 licks before she jumps back in fright. She doesn’t eat well because of her anxiety either. She takes a quick bite and runs and then walks back slowly and eventually takes another quick bite . She is very slim and vet said she is very slim and doesn’t need to lose anymore weight. So sad have you been able to come up with any possible solutions since last year?

  33. So I have a 5 pound chihuahua, she is 3-4 years old. She has always been kind of scared of the water bowl but she would drink out of it just very cautiously and only a few laps at a time. We went away for a few days and when we got back she was not eating or drinking from the bowls. I had to hand feed her, she od now eating. But she will jot drink water from her bowl I even changes bowls. She will drink water from a cup though, so this is how I have been giving her water. It doesn’t matter the size or shape of the cup she will drink it up. She will also drink rain water and eat snow outside. I’m not sure what to do?

  34. Good evening John,

    I came across this thread looking for answers why my 6 month pug puppy just started barking at his bowl. We got him a new elevated water and food set up. He started barking at the food bowl. The water bowl is exactly the same as the food bowl and he has no problem with drinking the water. It is a slightly larger bowl than his previous one. I put his food back in his old one (he never once barked at this one) and he started barking at that one too. He hasn’t eaten too much today so I eventually put it on the floor and he ate it right up. At first I thought it might be the new bowl but since he wouldn’t eat out of his old one, I’m not sure now. Will upload video of him doing it next time. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!!

  35. I have a 10 year old terrier mix that we adopted back in September, 2015. He was a stray so not sure what he was up against in his ‘previous life’. He has pretty severe separation anxiety to the point that he hasn’t been left alone since we adopted him. We hired a behaviorist to help us with his anxiety and was making good progress. But now, he won’t eat.

    He used to eat and drink no problem – we would feed him 1 cup of mixed wet and dry food with his arthritis medicine mixed in in the morning and night. He would eat it up, no problem, would even sit and wait for it patiently as we got it ready.

    We had to leave him for 2 weeks to visit family across the country. He was with another smaller dog that he has met before, but when we came back, his food issues sprung up.

    We can’t get him to eat. It’s been like this for 2 months, and has gradually gotten worse. At first, it would take a couple tries to get him to eat out of his bowl, then he refused. We moved to a plate, and same thing, would eat off that a day or two and then refused. Over time, we’ve moved to hand feeding. Now – he won’t even eat out of our hand. He’s shaking the whole time and cowering in the corner whenever we bring the food near him.

    We’ve been to the vet, done blood tests, and the only thing we’ve found is his thyroid wasn’t working right, so he’s now on thyroid medication. Other than that, he’s as healthy as he can be (after 4 repeat blood tests per the vet).

    We’re at a loss as to what to do!

    1. I’d like to see some video. I’d like to help however while the description of the behaviour is in keeping with the experience of many others with regards to eating and sometimes drinking the time lines don’t make sense. A dog that refuses to eat or drink simply dies and these dogs are obviously not dead. In fact in the images I’m sent they don’t look even underweight. I’d like to know more about the times they do eat or drink. It might provide some clues.


  36. Linda Claxson

    I have a 9 year old Shih Tzu bitch that simply will not drink water from a bowl of any kind. She drinks water from puddles and literally searches for it whenever she goes outside but will not touch it in a bowl. We have tried big bowls, small bowls, deep bowls, shallow bowls and every type of material imaginable – nada! Funny thing is she will eat out her bowl. We’ve always just accepted this and done what we can to make sure water is available outside (we make puddles) as well as inside but she is now on crate rest for a slipped disc so we’re worried we won’t be able to get her to drink. I keep putting water bowls in her crate but immediately tips them over to make noise to get attention as she hates the crate. I don’t know what to do. We cannot leave her outside to find water as she’s not allowed to walk and with her being on medication I need to know she has access to water 🙁 I really do not know what her issue is with bowls but I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks

  37. Patricia

    This is amazing to find, my poodle/terrier mix has recently started doing the water dish he goes to take a drink and gets a little then jumps back it takes him forever to get a drink often he will come get me to go to the water dish with him. He has just had his dental so I know his teeth are good he does have a cataract which we were blaming that. He hasn’t ate off a dish in sometime his tags scared him we removed collar but he still eats off a mat or the floor. It is a comfort to know others are going through this. He is a rescue has been with us 5 years he is 11 years old. (as far as we know Vet said he was 6 when he came to us. He was from a hoarder bust so he had many issues this is just one more to deal with I am just hoping to learn how to help him.

  38. Patricia

    This is amazing to find, my poodle/terrier mix has recently started doing the water dish he goes to take a drink and gets a little then jumps back it takes him forever to get a drink often he will come get me to go to the water dish with him. He has just had his dental so I know his teeth are good he does have a cataract which we were blaming that. He hasn’t ate off a dish in sometime his tags scared him we removed collar but he still eats off a mat or the floor. It is a comfort to know others are going through this. He is a rescue has been with us 5 years he is 11 years old. (as far as we know Vet said he was 6 when he came to us.) He was from a hoarder bust so he had many issues this is just one more to deal with I am just hoping to learn how to help him.

  39. Danielle

    My almost 4 year old Cockapoo will not drink out of his water bowl anymore. He used to drink out of the same bowl with no problems. Now I have to literally pick him up and put him in front of it, he’ll take a couple laps and then cower and literallyfreeze, sinking to the ground with his tail between his legs. He’ll try to back away and I’ll have to pick him up, reposition him and start again. He’s clearly thirsty!!!! As for food, we had moved to feeding him on a paper plate but now even that has started to go downhill. Same situation. Pick him up and put him in front of it. It’s a long process. He’s otherwise healthy. Just neurotic about something it seems!! He not really skittish otherwise either! I know he’s not consuming enough water and its stressing me out!

  40. Laura Csrtwright

    I’ve recently adopted a 6 year old standard poodle with eating issues. She’s skittish anyway but oddly not afraid of thunder or lightning. We have a wrought iron feedin stand with stainless bowls and she’ll during water just fine but is incredibly reluctant to eat out of the bowl. She just stands there looking at the food. I can coax her into eating some, but she’ll stop after a few bites and back away, looking at the food. If I stick my hand in and give her the same food by hand, she’ll eat it. We’ve taken the stand away and put nonskid bowls down instead. Again, she’ll drink but eat very little. Just stares at it and eventually walks away. She’s under weight and I’ve not managed to add any weight in the 6 weeks I’ve had her.

  41. Hi,
    I don’t have much to add, but I am so glad my dog is not the only one with this issue. He is a 2.5 year old Malti-poo who up until last week would gobble up his food in 1 minute as soon as I put it down. Now he won’t go to his food unless I am holding the bowl and dumping a few pieces at a time onto the floor for him. Before, I would have been hesitant to even put my hand near his bowl while he was scarfing down his food – now it is the only way he will eat! If I just put it down in his bowl or a flat plate, he stands in front of it growling and shaking, like he wants it but is afraid of it?! He is a fearful dog – sensitive to noises, thunder, fireworks and pops and booms are the worst but very friendly with most other dogs and people. Not sure what to do, so far water is ok but I am worried that will be an issue as well. He did get over his fear of walks (which took about 6 months, and fear of walking on wood floors – yes, this was real) but the food thing seems even more troublesome to me. He has been on a calming supplement from the pet store (a natural type with herbs) for the last few months, which seems to have helped somewhat with his other fears (at least the walks and wood floors) but now this! Will it get worse – will it go away?! It seems to have happened overnight. Worried about my little guy!

  42. Our 10 year old Yorkie started refusing to eat out of her bowl 8 months problem just put her dry food on the floor. Suddenly she acts afraid of her water bowl and we are trying all of the things mentioned in messages above. She will drink when we hold a small bowl or a glass at eye level…I am wondering since she needs water to stay alive if this could be an act for attention? We both work and don’t know what she does while we are gone… Our plan is to take her to the vet for a checkup as soon as we can afford it in a few weeks! We love her and don’t want her to be afraid!!

  43. I have a chi mix who is 3, and has had bowl/plate issues since we got her. She was about 12 weeks old from a pet store. She was with other puppies bigger than her and she wasn’t as assertive as the others. We figured they always beat her to the food bowl so she learned to stay away or else get beat up. She does drink water out of the water bowls however. Food? Most of the time, we become impatient and just hand feed her. Although if really hungry, she will eat ONLY carrot pieces off of a plate..and will growl if any other animal tries to get near her. (Only carrots on a plate – nothing else will she go near). Hand fed, she loves her kibble, meat, a variety of veggies and some fruits. She also watches tv, barks at cats and dogs (only) on the tv.

  44. Lesley Corriveau

    I have an 8 year old Chihuahua and for the past year he goes to his water bowl takes one lick and whines. He won’t drink unless I am petting him and will stop if I stop petting him. He will whine all day long. I go to pick him up to take him to his water bowl and he shows resistance but drinks as soon as I pet him. He eats the snow and drinks the water out of the puddles. He also goes to his food dish takes a little and then runs, then repeats.

  45. Rachel Steele

    Hi there!
    So glad to read this post but sad there are still no answers. We have a 2 year old lab mix who ate out of bowls fine when we got him a year ago (he was near starved) then got sick from eating something bad outside, during that time he stopped eating and drinking so I ended up hand feeding him. Since then he has been indifferent to food except when I hand feed him. He will lick food off a spoon with gusto but completely ignore his bowl. He won’t even approach his food bowl when we first put it down, he refuses to come eat, only later will he eat some food but typically he pulls it out of the bowl to eat off the floor. This is a lab we are talking about here! Who runs several miles a day and doesn’t seem anxious as a rule (he is super friendly and confident) I sure do hope we can get insight! Happy to send a video.


  46. Elizabeth

    We have a Saint Bernard, 8 years old. We got Benny when he was a puppy. He never had problems to eat in his stainless steal bowl on an iron stand. A couple o moths ago he started refusing to eat. We tought was because we were given him too much treats. We decide to stop the treats and only offer him the food. He ate a few bites and stop. After two days we were very concern because he start to get weak and with a hard time to get up. My husband decided to try to give the food on his hand and he ate a lot. My husband try to put the bowl on the floor and Benny got scared and didn’t get close. Looks like he is afraid of his food bowl. His water bowl is made of the same material, but he is not scared of drinking water from that. Benny has a dog door and he can go out to the fenced backyard any time. I don’t know if a animal got inside the house to eat his food and scared him. Do you have a suggestion?

  47. Catherine Friedman

    Really glad I did this search. I have a 13 y/o mutt of some sort who is avoiding water, it is all I can do to get her to drink and I am concerned that she only drinks if i am with her. That said she will drink out of any old nasty water hole outside and even lick the pavement but fights drinking out of her bowl. She does have anxiety issues. Glad to hear she isn’t alone!

    1. Love to see some video to post as well. If we get enough, we may see patterns that will help with developing a strategy to help what it appears to be a fair amount of people with dogs suffering in this way. You can send them to me as an attachment to or or if the file is too large for free via

  48. I’ve got 4 small dogs (about 15-20lb each). One of them is a 9 1/2 year old 18lb male miniature schnauzer. He’s always been a finicky eater, and I have to remove his collar to keep the tags from jiggling on the stainless bowl. But he’s generally a happy confident dog, who is not the least bit fazed by fireworks or thunder.

    His fear of eating and drinking out of his bowls started about a week ago. We turned on the ceiling fan, as it was starting to get warm in the house, and I suspect he got frightened by the reflection of the moving fan blades. We’ve since turned off the fan.

    He comes to the mess area when I call the pack for mealtime, but he’s hesitant to eat or drink. At best he may take a couple of nibbles from his bowl, or he may eat a little from my hand. I’ve tried moving his food bowl to a different location, but that didn’t work.

    I may try feeding the pack at different location, perhaps on the deck during the summer. I may also try to find other bowls that don’t reflect as much.

  49. Jonathan

    My 10 year old fox terrier has the same issues. She will only drink water from her bowl if I put my hand on the edge. I suspect yet sight, but am not 100% sure. She won’t eat out of her food bowl either. I spill it on the carpet for her, and her water she will jump back several times like the water is boiling and then she will drink it off the carpet. I’ve tried numerous bowls, dishes, cups. She will drink out of a flower pot outside which has a dish under it, so I may try a home made pot on a dish with a hole and rim. I’ll upload a video later of her drinking…

  50. My 10 year beagle has kidney disease. He has vomited but hasn’t since Saturday 9/31. He was eating fine up to then. All of a sudden he has stopped eating. Still drinking water. I have two questions first could he be associating vomiting with food and second how can I get him to eat. I tried everything to get him to eat. He looks like he’s hungry but I really think he’s afraid to eat.

    1. Hi Marsha,

      He might associate the discomfort of vomiting with food and be hesitant but most dogs perceive vomiting as a hobby rather then an inconvenience. You should contact your veterinarian immediately as I suspect something else is afoot.


  51. Michelle W.

    We have an almost 2 year old rescue lab/golden mix with the same exact issue. Started her out with metal bowls. Since day 1 she very anxiously walks up to the bowl, grabs a mouthful, walks a few feet away, dumps the food on the ground and eats it there. Same with water. She will anxiously walk up to it, very carefully lean as far forward as she can (while leaving her back legs in the bent position – in case she needs to run, I guess) and drink quickly, then scamper away while looking at the water bowl from a distance. Since she has been in our care, she has never had a scary experience to cause this behavior, but she has always been anxious of new people (submissive urinating), and new things (like a newly delivered ups box sitting in the foyer). I had read that some people thought it might be the reflection in the metal water bowl, so we switched her to hard plastic. Nope. Same thing. She will GLADLY drink up rain water or water from the hose outside. So strange. I will try to get footage and send it in to you. Would love to know why she does this. No health issues associated, clean vet checkup, but it’s just strange! 🙂

      1. My 4 yr old Carolina dog who we rescued as a puppy has recently become afraid of his food bowl but not his water bowl. He eventually eats but it takes a little coaxing which is strange. Both bowls are on the same riser and both are metal. He also has become unsure of where he walks. A flooring transition between our living room and kitchen is now avoided.

        He has always been a little anxious and afraid of spoons, feet (we cannot put our feet near him) and water.

        We think he had a rough time before we got him but the sudden fear of his bowl is strange.

  52. April Thompson

    My 2 year old american pbt is afraid to eat or drink from his bowls. He was fine as a puppy but as he got older it changed. I have noticed that sometimes if I sit in a chair next to his bowls he will eat a little. He eats just fine outside but still refuses to drink. He’d rather drink the collected rainwater off the ground than out of his bowls.

  53. Cristina

    I thought my dog was the only one. He is a maltese 9 years old and this started happening about a year ago. He doesn’t like eating from the bowl that he has had for about 7 years. I sometime put his food on the floor and he will eat from it but with fear. I have put it on a flat plate and he will eat but you can tell he is afraid. At first i thought it had something to do with the wall the bowl was next to because when i would move his bowl from the wall he would eat the food. But then he started doing the same thing. Then we moved his bowl on top of carpet and he ate it just a few times then he did it again. So im not sure what is going on. My kids also mentioned that if they were to move the food around with their finger he then was okay to eat it. What have you come out with as far as what it could be?

  54. I have two pugs from the same litter and have had them since they were puppies (they are six now). One is more anxious than the other. He struggled with fear of eating from the bowl for years. He would eventually eat from it, but it would take several minutes of him trying to get up the courage and then retreating in fear. It was painful to watch. He eats off of the floor with less hesitation. Interestingly, we were given the tip to add water to their dry dog food as it is supposed to be easier on the system. Since we started adding water, he digs right in! I hope this helps another furry friend. Good luck!

    1. My lab was just whining over her bowl and I walked up to her thinking it was empty and it was full. I sat down at our kitchen table and watched her and she ate all her food. I notice when she eats she looks up at a stainless trash can that is about a foot away. It could be the reflection that is throwing her off. Some days she seems more confident (hungry) than others. She has always eaten better if we are all at the table or I’m standing near her cooking. I guarantee if you put a little chicken broth or cooked ground beef on her dry food she would have no problem eating alone. I always thought labs were laid back but they can be pretty neurotic.

  55. Reply —
    I have the same problem with my 12 year old Shih-tzu. She is afraid to eat and drink from a plate/bowl of any material. We feed her straight on the floor. She even barks or growls at her water bowl. Sometimes she does get desperate and lap and then skit back. She will do that several times. Not sure what to make of it. She goes outside and will lap up rain puddles in a heart beat .I moved her from out stable home several times now. I have to put her food on the floor . I spend all night telling her to drink her water cause she just stands there stalking the bowl and growling her water bowl.

  56. Catherine Willis

    I’m floored by the amount of people with the same problem. I, like everyone else came on here looking for a solution for my 6 y.o. Maltese puppy mill rescue dog. I’ve had her for 6 months and it’s been a problem all along. Like someone commented earlier she has taken to waking me around 2am. I also thought she wanted to urinate but no, she prowls the yard looking for puddles while I stand bleary eyed in the doorway. It’s Australia! We have no puddles!

  57. I gave up and put mine down last weekend because if it teeth very expensive . I already went down that road. If it’s fear I can not protect her 24/7, she stopped sleeping with me scared of the bed. Last weekend when I took her out she was sniffing in the asphalt and looked up at me like she had no idea who I was. There would be days of not eating she had lost weight and was only an 8 lb Shitzu. In my mind she had to many issues for my wallet. In loving memory to my Ginger

  58. So glad to know I’m not the only one going through this, although it doesn’t make it any easier. I rescued my yorkie mix 2 yrs ago. Bought his food and water bowl the same day I brought him home. He ate and drank from them with no problem up until a few months ago. Now he’s afraid of them, and will very reluctantly grab a few pieces of food and then take off. Will not touch the water at all. Put a bowl of water outside, which luckily he will drink from. He will only eat his food if I dump it on the floor, or outside in the grass. Very frustrating for sure as I don’t know why this suddenly started after 2 yrs. He’s not anxious about anything else, fireworks and thunderstorms don’t bother him at all. Wish he could tell me 🙁

  59. Sadie is a 2 year old Jack Russell. I found her 8 months ago on Craigslist. She’s the perfect dog, smart, attentive, doesn’t bark much and easy to train and minds well. But she is scared to death of white bowls and plates. I can put her favorite food in a white bowl and she wont go near it. If I put it in her dog bowl or on the floor she eats immediately. Weird huh?

  60. Our 10-11 year old pug will not eat out of her raised bowl we tried to get her used to it tonight put she just let me hold her in my arms and did nothing but shake… i was wondering if you could give me any tips for this problem

  61. Robert Rogge

    I have an American bulldog mix a few weeks ago we took her to the vet for sedating to have her hips looked at she would up getting sick most likely kennel cough and now we’re having problems getting her to eat from her dog bowls we tried buying canned dog food wich she will eat seldom from a spoon but will not touch her food in the dog bowl we cooked up some chicken breast today which she ate no problem i dont want to resort to only human food any ideas

  62. Sherryy

    I almost didn’t google the subject of “tea cup dog afraid of eating and drinking out of bowl.” I thought it was too unique to my pet to be on here. Glad I did, While I don’t see any resolution, much to my surprise do see it’s very common and mainly small dogs, but some large? I thought it was the tin bowl, she was bullied by the other dog, she sees spirits, it was our recent move, she’s experiencing pain or she is old (11 yrs). My dog is a teacup (5lbs) female Pomeranian. She will drink and eat from my hand, drink from shower, tub, ground, almost anything but her bowl. On occasion I can tilt or hold her Bowl and she will lap a few sip and run away, perhaps return and lap a few and run. (Odd thing) She has the same behavior with food, (she has always carried food from her dish a short distance to devour it), but now she approaches it with a sense of fear. Wants to eat, attempts to approach it then runs. I’m thinking maybe my sons much younger(2 yrs) 5 lb Multipoo was intimidating her. Still not sure if this isn’t part of the problem. I just make sure I get some food in her daily. She is getting old and I want her to be healthy and don’t leave me for much more time. What have we figured out? Oh today I put water in a Dixie plate and I had to hold it at first, then she drank it all.

  63. Rob Benjamin

    Same problem with my 7-year old plus Yorkie. Until about 6 months ago, he shared both food and water bowls with our other dog, a 7-year old plus Chihuahua.

    Both are rescue dogs adopted the same day, and both get along well. Both are getting Royal Canin dry Yorkie mix for over a year. The Yorkie has always eaten food gingerly, grabbing one piece at a time, then jumping back to chew it before going back for another piece.

    Water had been less of problem, but now he won’t drink from the bowl unless it is full to the brim.

    We tried giving him food and water in smaller white ceramic bowls, and he has the same reaction.

    Re other issues, he has had severe skin allergies for the past few years and is on a daily dose of Apoquel. He eagerly awaits this since we wrap in in a pill pocket.

    He also eagerly eats ANY dog treat we give him and goes crazy when he thinks he may get a pizza crust.

    My grand-daughter will sometimes take food from his bowl and scatter it on the floor. He eagerly eats it when she does this, and will sometimes do the same if I do it.

    As others have mentioned, even though we pull him back in as soon as we see it, when he goes into our backyard, he immediately drinks from whatever standing water he can find. I can video all of these behaviors, but would like to know what a video would show that all these descriptions are not telling.

    1. My two year old is has stopped playing, barks at any noise. He jumped out of my arms three months ago in our workshop,now he will not even go in the workshop. He is still very loving and smart, is there anything I can do to help him be happy again?
      Thank you, Barbara

      1. I’m afraid I don’t understand. Is this related to this thread? If not, post it in a more appropriate thread. Either way, I’m unsure as to how I might respond. Did he injure himself when he jumped? Is that why you think he has stopped playing and is edgy? I’d take him to the vets but tell them he took a fall from a considerable height and hasn’t been himself since.

        John ‘Ask the Dog Guy’ Wade

  64. Kelly Thompson

    I found this site trying to figure out why my dog was afraid of his bowl. (He is a bloodhound mix). After I read some of the above issues I remembered something had once fallen off the counter into his food dish. We started feeding him away from the counter and “Voila” he ate out of his bowl no problem. Whenever we forget and give him water or food near the kitchen counter he takes a bite/sip and backs away from the bowl. He’ll move too and from the bowl. Whem we move the bowl away and he’s fine. So think about if there is something that may have spooked your dog.

  65. My parents 5 year old Boston just started doing this. If my dad puts the bowl on the living room floor and lays down next to I’m the bowl she will stretch out and still pull away but she will drink

  66. Mary Molly

    My last Mini Schnauzer had this problem. She uses a Stainless steel bowl. I found that when I switched to a plate she was fine. When I got my next Mini Schnauzer I was surprised that at 7 mths she started having the same problem. She is a confident dog with NO other fears. But I do know what is causing the problem. As she goes to reach for her food, her metal tag clinks the bowl right when she is about to grab a kibble. She is disturbed that her food is clinking at her. She manages to grab one piece and pulls it away from the bowl to eat it. She wants so bad to eat but is afraid it will clink at her. So the answer is to feed your dog without her collar….remove the tags….or feed her on a plate. Problem solved!

  67. Starlene Dunn

    Our little dog is scared of her food ( not sure about water as she rarely drinks) and there is no tag, no noise. I am amazed there are so many dogs with this problem and no one seems to know why. We have tried everything, and have an appointment with a pet psychic next week.

    1. Hi Starlene,

      I won’t dismiss anything yet, however every pet psychic I’ve ever encountered has been a fraud. Let me know if he or she comes up with anything interesting though.


  68. Barbara

    So glad to know I am not the only one experiencing this weirdness. Mr Darcy has been without these anxieties for 5 years. He is a bichon/poodle mix. He remains a happy eater, but two weeks ago, freaked out at his water bowl, and it has been a struggle ever since.

  69. I rescued my mixed terrier from the street 10 years ago. Just recently he is terrified of his food dish and will not eat from it. He drinks water from dish right next to food. He was just at the vet for regular annual visit, and had full bloodwork done and is fine. He will eat from floor so it is not the food. He will go without food for many days (well over 5-6), or more . I cannot keep going through this, I love him dearly, (he is also my service animal), & a visiting therapy dog. I simply do not know what to do anymore as I have tried several different bowls, even paper ones. Hev will not even eat hot dogs, lunchmeat or anything else out of any dish, only his water. Please, any suggestions? My vet does not know why., but he cannot just starve himself to death, so what can I do?

    1. Did they veterinarian check his throat? Someone posted a comment a while ago about discovering a throat irritation that meant that when the dog swallowed it hurt which some dogs might associate with their food.


  70. Jessica

    My 6 year old Golden Retriever has been acting like this for a few weeks. I know why– he had tonsillitis. His sore throat made it uncomfortable to eat, and he decided it was the bowl that was the culprit of his pain! Now he won’t eat or drink anything from a bowl. (I have tried 3 different dishes of different shapes, and different types of food, and changing the water so it’s fresh each day…) He drinks out of the toilet now and will only eat out of my hand. I’m tired of that, so I’m just leaving his food bowl out and hoping he’ll get over it and eat at some point. Never been a bad eater until now, so I think he will get hungry enough and decide it’s OK.

      1. Jessica

        I took him to the vet because he wouldn’t eat, and the vet noticed the swollen tonsils. After a couple weeks of antibiotics, he ended up having a tonsillectomy. He’s still afraid of his bowls, still drinking out of the toilet!

  71. Jonathan William Shantz

    My 12 year old chihuahua does the same thing and I’ve spent hours studying this sudden fear. Some things I’ve taken into consideration is my dog may see his reflection in the water dish. Also he may see his shadows (ears) on the floor or wall. So couple things I’ve tried… I’ll sit with him while he eats or drinks and it seems to work. Also, I’ve bought black bowls and dishes to limit his reflections and have put them in a darker area of the house where little shadows can be casted. Seems to work, but I also think he just likes me on the floor now with him while he eats. Try it

  72. My Cooper went blind 2 years ago and became scared of bowls. He won’t drink at all. We got a plate for food and add water to the food, but now he is getting scared of the plate. It takes a lot of coaxing to get him to eat. He’s clearly hungry and it makes me very frustrated.

  73. sara pendleton

    Hi John. I have a 15yr old lab who has dementia and he barks at his water bowl until i scoop it up into his mouth and eventually he will drink this is n9t a problem except at 3am when he does it until i wake and neighbours are complaining any ideas how i can ease this for him? Thanks

    1. my little terrier had dementia and I had to syringe water into her mouth. Careful not to drown them though, little bits at a time. She didn’t know how to lap any more. Otherwise she was eating and walking and happy enough.

  74. This started out of the blue with my 2 year old Pomeranian. About a week ago and it’s getting gradually worse. He won’t go up to the bowl – just ignores it. (Food, not water). Then I would slide the bowl quietly over to him and he would eat everything. Tonight that didn’t work, so we put it on a plate. I don’t mind putting his food on the floor but I hate to think of him experiencing such anxiety. He is pretty hyper, though not fearful of anything else. I just figured he was a Pom so of course he was hyper! But it’s clearly more than that – I’ll take him to the vet and have his tonsils checked and let you know.
    – Louise

  75. Carol Ann Rowland

    I have had my 3 year old beagle for a bit over 2 years. He has been afraid of water throughout – won’t walk past the bathroom if he can avoid it, and was nervous about approaching his water dish and we’ve noticed lately that he has his neck stretched/extended to an extreme, so that he could drink with his body as far from the water as possible.

    Today he started just whining and not drinking. It went on for hours before I figured out what was wrong. I managed to finally coax him and have him drink, with support.

    He also is often afraid of his food dish but that he eventually gives in for. Sometimes it helps if I take one piece of food and take it out of the dish and hand it to him. If I can get him to eat one morsel then sometimes he will feel able to continue, with caution at first.

    A friend of mine has suggested getting a water bottle like what they use for guinea pigs and see if he’ll drink from that. I don’t know why he is getting worse now.

  76. Wow… and I thought I was the only one! We rescued our cute little Havanese six years ago, and just this year she became deathly afraid of her food bowl. At the time we were using the kind of bowls that sit in a stand. Since she would still drink from the water bowl, I tried switching them around, but no luck. I also tried moving the stand to different locations. She eats dry dog food, and she would only eat pieces that had been dropped on the floor. I had to start feeding her by hand, which means that if I’m not home she doesn’t eat.
    About 5 months in we bought a new stand with bright new bowls, and for a few weeks she ate heartily and enthusiastically. Suddenly, however, she became deathly afraid of the new food bowl as well. Like before, she still drank water but would have no parts of the other bowl. I tried everything I mentioned before, but she remained terrified of the bowl and would only eat from my hand or morsels that fell onto the floor.
    Since the other bowl sets had been ceramic, I switched to stainless steel but no luck. I also took her bowls off the stand, but this didn’t do any good either.
    It has been around 8 or 9 months of this now. The vet believes that if she starves long enough she will eat, but I hate to see her go through that. Wish I knew what to do.

    1. Hi Yvette,

      I agree. There are instances where I don’t have any problems waiting a dog out, but that’s normally when the dog has decided it doesn’t like a necessary change in the food offered. There are some species where this can be dangerous (parrots or overweight cats) but healthy dogs aren’t known for problems in this arena. If they’re healthy they’ll eat sooner or later. However, in this case, the dog is afraid not being stubborn. I too hate to see a dog struggling on the basis of fear. I’d love it if you’d send some video of your dog struggling with this. I hope with enough videos I’ll be able to see a pattern.

      Have you had this dog’s teeth checked? I ask because I’ve worked with quite a few Havanese and some of them have had dental issues? Not conclusive but does her breath smell worse than one would expect?


  77. Sylvia Rodriguez

    I’m having this exact same problem it started when I bought a flowing faucet for the cat he freaked out now he won’t even get near his own bowl for food or water but has no problem eating from underneath the table when something drops or outside the plant container that has water in it.

  78. Ellen Mancuso

    I have a 4 year old Chihuahua/Min Pin mix. At only 4 pounds, she is afraid of everything! Noises, falling tissues, people, moving too fast, food & water bowl. She has to drink her water from between the cobblestones in the yard. Although after a walk, she will take sips from the bowl. She will eat from her dish if someone’s finger remains in the dish along the side, while she eats. Definitely neurotic. Has been this way almost from day one…at 6 weeks old. She will only go to certain family members and feel comfortable. She will remain calm in familiar surroundings. Likes to play with her toys as long as she is around familiar people. As there are two other (small) dogs in the house, I believe she is intimidated by them. Could be some of the cause for her behavior. Tried different methods to help her, but to no avail.

  79. I have a rescue chihuahua rat terrier mix who has zero issues eating of his bowl before. He’s now 7 years old and only recently started acting fearful about food. I have to hand feed him and sometimes he will relax enough to eat from the bowl. I too have to tag off his collar to make sure the tags don’t make noise. He is fine eating treats. The pattern now is he refuses breakfast, I go to work, take him for a nice walk, come back, hand feed him, coaxing him all the while. Repeat for dinner. Have not tried putting food on a plate yet but that’s a good idea. This seems fear-based and not about being spoiled.

  80. I would like to know if all the water is tap water in all these cases I would also like to know the geographic location of these comments connected to the dates not all of these cases are the same Source problem however what needs to be explored is whether there is another reason outside of the bowl and the water which is affecting all of these dogs or most of them is it sound that humans don’t hear is it Earth changes that we don’t perceive is it underground Drilling there has to be a Common Thread here I find it hard to believe that it’s the bowls again I would like to know if all of the water referred to is only tap water and where these people are located on the date they say these problems have begun to occur it seems that most of the dogs are older dogs another question is is there a Common Thread of dog food I find it difficult to believe that all these dogs are neurotic unless they’re nervous system has been interfered with mr. Dog guy can you get more information along the lines I suggested

  81. My 3 year old medium mixed breed dog is like this. I hate to say it but ever since we rescued him as a puppy he has exhibited signs of low intelligence to the point that we are sure he must have suffered some head trauma. He is afraid of everything, he sometimes barks at us like we’re a stranger even though we just left the room, he growls when we pet/give him love and he refuses to eat or drink from bowls. He would literally die if he couldn’t get water from outside. I know this is not the case with every fearful dog but I am very sure that he has had a brain injury and is the animal equivalent of mental retardation. It’s quite sad.

  82. Our 12 year old toy poodle is afraid of her water bowl. The videos I see is exactly how she is reacting. I purchased a dark bowl for her water and I go with her when she wants to drink. I put my hand on the bowl and all is well until I release my hand. So now I wait for her to completely finish and we all are better off now. She is not afraid to eat. I have always used a small fruit type bowl and she has never reacted as she does to the water bowl.

  83. Kelly Mac

    We just on July 17 got 2 Shih Tzu a brother and sister , they are now 9 weeks old . Missy eats and drinks great from anything and everything . Gizmo drinks great but will only eat if we put his food on the floor or I feed it to him and his is something I do not want to get in a habit of.. we have tried Metal , plastic , ceramic , shallow , deep .. I’m at a loss .. Help !!! Do I have a OCD pup??

  84. Our dog just started doing this today. She is a 3 year old Brittany Spaniel (not a rescue). But unlike the videos she is terrified to even look at her food or water bowls. Twice today she has tipped her bowls over and ran inside in ungrounded panic. Her species is a hunting type and today a small creature came in our backyard and she tried to kill it (but she did not succeed). Do you think she is paranoid because of this? Thanks

  85. My dog stop eating from her bowl , she just want to eat from the floor ( actually a tray where I put her food and her bowl of water) my major problem is that she doesn’t eat dog food and it is really a mess, I have to wash it after every meal, she eats meat, but she does not like vegetables , so I use them as a pasta sauce , like sweet potatoe or pumpkin etc… She does not care for food or treats, how can i get her to eat from the bowl again….. she drinks fine, but she is afraid of the food bowl does not matter which one, I already put in a paper and cut around the food and still she did not eat…

  86. I got my cross shih tzu/pekingese from a breeder when she was 10weeks. The mother had been taken away at 7 weeks ? When I went to look at the pups they were in a garden shed with a couch in it but never seen any feeding bowls When I got my dog home she wouldn’t eat from a bowl or plate. I put her food directly on the floor and she ate it then, She has sometimes eaten from a bowl as I persevered but then refused. She cowers and approaches the bowl or plate on these occasions just like the video of the lab at top of this discussion but she will not eat from it at all and have to resort to putting the food on the floor. She also apparently suffers from white dog shaker syndrome I was told by my vet as at a year old she was confronted by 2 other shih tzu’s and she started to shake uncontrollably and also drooled puddles of water from her mouth. This has became worse as she has grown older, she is now 8. She suffers from any loud noise, thunder, sudden noise of any kind makes her shake uncontrollably . She nevertheless is in good health, plays and loves toys especially her ball which she retrieves and brings back to me. I taught her within half an hour to do this she is really pretty smart dog. She also barks when my door bell rings and when a stranger will keep this up until I say to fling her ball for her and then she will play with them. Sorry this is a bit all over the place, I am just thinking about her behaviour as I am writing this. No idea if anyone else has this pattern with their dog, but would be interesting to know. Oh and she suffers badly from being left on her own even if I get out of my daughter’s car or leave with a friend for even 5 minutes she cries and performs until I return. I live on my own and must admit the fact I find it hard to leave her and especially if I want to go on holiday knowing she is like this.

  87. Did you ever come to a better conclusion on what is going on with these poor pups?
    I have a rescue dog (pit/Dane mix) who has been afraid of the water bowl the entire time we have had him, and recently now will not eat out of his food bowl either.
    He even gets scared if the bowl is in his kennel with him.

    1. Hi Leah,

      The comments contain some ideas. One I hadn’t encountered before was tonsilitis. I’m hoping more people will send in video of their dog’s behaviour as I think we might see some patterns after a while.


  88. After so many posts – what’s the verdict on your research?