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Saint Bernard Refusing To Eat

Refusing to Eat May Indicate a Dental Issue

We have a Saint Bernard, 8 years old that is refusing to eat. 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?


Hi Elizabeth,

Although since he will eat out of your hand and so it might suggest this might not be the case, I wonder if he has dental issue. Something like a cracked tooth might cause a sudden onset of reluctance to eat. Try the vet first. If you can send a video of him taking the food from your hand and refusing to eat out of the bowl it might help. Send to my email address [email protected] using a free service called which can handle larger video files.

Will he eat out of the bowl if it’s on the ground? In another room? Outside?


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14 thoughts on “Saint Bernard Refusing To Eat”

  1. Shwetha

    Hello John,

    I’m shwetha, please help me here my st.bernard Casper doesn’t eat all of a sudden and she is unable to get on her feet when she sits down or sleeps. She eats biscuits a lot And cooked chicken if given separately and that to just a little bit.

    We are giving her syrups and antibiotics after consulting vet and she has some rashes on her back which is being healed now sometimes if we feed her from hand she eats.

    Please help John getting too worried she is 4yrs old

    Thanks in advance
    Please help

    1. Hi Shwetha,

      Thanks for reaching out but you’re reaching in the wrong direction. You are describing a serious problem that is highly unlikely to be related to behavior. You need a veterinarian’s assistance for testing which hopefully should lead to a diagnosis and treatment. Something seriously wrong so don’t delay.


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

  2. i have a 2 month st.bernard and he is going on two days that he wont eat what should i do? he does drink water.

    1. Go to the vet’s right away. If your dog was an adult and was drinking I’d keep an eye on it but wouldn’t be too worried. However, a large breed dog in the exponential growth period of it’s life not eating is a very serious concern. Get on it.


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

  3. kiran nukala

    Hi John
    We have 7 months old St. Bernard. From past three days she is not eating cooked chicken and last two days she vomits in night. Please advise us.

    1. Hi Kiran,

      You need to take her to a veterinarian.Something is seriously wrong. Young growing large breed dogs don’t do this unless something is physically wrong. This site is for behavioral issues as opposed to physical issues. Wish I could be of more help. Best of luck.


    2. Hi, my 3 year old saint bernard is underweight and doesnt like any kind of dog food i buy! And I’ve tried them all, why isnt he eating alot? He’ll only eat human food.

      1. Hi Jessie,

        If the vet feels he doesn’t have any health issues, parasites, etc., I’d say the problem is that his will to make you feel bad enough to feed him human food is stronger than your will to teach him you’re not a diner short-order cook that makes meals to order. Have you tried feeding him good quality food on a schedule where he’s offered a meal twice per day that is only available for a maximum of 3-5 minutes and he gets nothing else in between meals, (and I mean nothing)? If you can stick to that for a full week, he’ll sooner or later be anticipating and eating his meals as if it’s his birthday. Don’t try this unless you have a clean bill of health for him provided by a qualified veterinarian.

        – John Wade (

  4. Helen Casteel

    I have a Saint Bernard she is 5 years old and all of a sudden she stopped eating or drinking could you tell me why

    1. Hi Helen,

      First person to ask is your veterinarian. You’ll need to give more information than you’ve provided for me. For how long? Has she done this before? Any recent changes in her life? Any changes in your life or anyone she’s close to? Is she drinking?


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

  5. caroline

    Hi John, My Bella is 5 months old. For the past 4 weeks she has gone off her food which she loved. I cut her meals from 3 times a day down to 2 this didn’t really make her more hungry at dinner time. She was only on Royal canin giant puppy kibble, So maybe she wanted something else?, I added kangaroo mince the first night she loved it ate all her food, the next night she only picked out the kangaroo, 3rd night didn’t want it. So I made her some steamed chicken, rice, and vegies, again 1st loved it, after that she would just eat the chicken vegies and rice and spit the kibble out. I know her kibble is very important to her growth and development so I really dont want to change it. I made a broth with chicken bones and she enjoyed that for a few nights but still not eating her whole bowl full. she may eat up to 5 cups a day but thats on a good day. There has been no vomiting or diarrhea, she seems happy and still has energy. Please help I really have no idea what to do now. Is this typical fussy behaviour for a saint?

    1. Hi Caroline,

      At her age, and taking into consideration her breed’s growth rate and the nutritional requirements to meet those demands I find this odd. Even though she seems happy and has energy (a very good sign), if you haven’t been to the vet, go in for some blood work and have her teeth, gums and throat etc. looked at.

      If the vet says she’s healthy. She’s likely playing you. Still weird for her age, but without fuss put the food down, unaltered and walk away. Come back in 3 minutes and take it up, again without fuss. Put down at next scheduled feeding. No snacking/treats etc. in between. In a week, if you have the resolve yourself, she’ll be eating like it’s her birthday dinner every day.

      – John Wade

  6. Miranda Stewart

    I have a 1year old St. Bernard female . She has always been picky with what she eats. I often have to mix hamburger or sausage, chicken with her food for her to eat it. But I’ve noticed she hasn’t ate much the last couple days and she wouldn’t even eat the chicken I tried giving her this morning. So I cooked her a T-bone steak but it took her awhile to eat that. She didn’t eat the bone or the fat. And I had to feed it to her??

    1. Hi Miranda,

      Is she drinking water? If not, or not what you think is enough go to the veterinarians immediately or the vet emergency clinic if you can’t get an appointment right away. If she is drinking enough and is eating, albeit in a fussy manner, it’s likely she’s playing you. I don’t want to advise on how to address this until the veterinary has cleared her as nothing is physically wrong.

      – John Wade (

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