Dealing With Dogs That Are Picky Eaters
How many times have you heard owners say, “My dog won’t eat!” If this is you, you might be worried that the lack of appetite is due to illness but it could also be because you have a picky eater on your hands.
Most pet owners know that feeding time is most dogs’ favorite time of day. However, there are instances when a dog refuses to eat. Some dogs don’t touch their food bowls while others take a long time to finish their meals.
How do you know if your dog is merely being picky instead of suffering from a disease? And how do you know what to do if your dog is a picky eater?
In this article, we’ll answer these vital questions and present suggestions on what you can do about your picky canine.
|Some breeds, like poodles, dachshunds, and greyhounds, are known for being picky when it comes to their meals.|
Why Is My Dog So Picky With His Food?
A dog’s environment and daily interactions can affect its appetite. Some owners who are worried about their dog not eating food do not know that there are underlying signs why their dog won’t eat. Here are possible reasons why your dog may suddenly become picky.
Your dog may be experiencing stress because of a change in routine, environment, or social interactions. If you move to a new place, have a new pet, or change your dog’s schedule, it could make your dog anxious enough not to eat.
In addition, some dogs who aren’t neutered or spayed have high mating drives that can make them lose their appetites. Other dogs can be so sensitive that even changing their food bowls can make them uninterested in their meals.
Pain or Illness
Your dog may be picky because it feels pain when eating some types of food. If your dog is drooling or shows other physical signs of illness, it could make them appear picky.
Your dog could also be experiencing an allergic reaction to its meals. Some dogs are more sensitive to some types of food which could cause diarrhea and other digestive disorders.
Check your dog’s gums and mouth for any sore or strange masses. If you’re wondering, “Why is my dog bleeding from the mouth?”, it’s best to bring it to a vet for possible tooth fractures, infections, and diseases that may be affecting its eating habits.
A dog’s age can affect its interest in food. Older dogs may find it difficult to eat their meals while pups that aren’t used to their meals may experience discomfort. It’s best to take them to a vet, especially when a puppy is not eating for some time.
Signs of a Picky Eater
These are some signs that your dog is being picky and isn’t sick.
- Your dog willingly eats table scraps instead of their own food. If your pet doesn’t eat its food but is excited to accept scraps from your meal, your dog could be a picky eater.
- Being picky is sometimes tied to your dog’s genetics. Some breeds, like poodles, dachshunds, and greyhounds, are known to be picky when it comes to their meals.
- Your dog is taking a long time to eat its meals. If it takes longer than 20 minutes for a dog to finish its food, your dog could be a picky eater.
- Your dog sniffs the meal before pushing the dog bowl away. They might not like what they smelled or simply do not find it appealing.
- Your dog eats more treats and snacks instead of proper meals.
Of course, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to rule out health issues that could be affecting your dog’s appetite. Once you know that physical issues aren’t causing it, you’ll know for sure that your dog is being picky. Your vet can then help you decide what to do if your dog is a picky eater.
|Human food often contains lots of spices and ingredients that are not good for dogs so it’s best not to give them table scraps.|
Dealing With a Picky Eater
What to do if your dog is a picky eater? Here are some useful suggestions.
Switch up Their Diet
One way to make mealtimes exciting again is to switch up your dog’s meals. So, what do you feed a picky dog that won’t eat?
To dog food for picky eaters, you could try a new brand of dog food or combine dry and wet meals.
Dogs love a good combination of texture and taste. This is why serving them the same meals day after day can make them lose interest. You can introduce the new dog food slowly so your dog remains interested for longer.
Also, don’t forget to do some research beforehand to check if it’s safe for dogs. If you want to serve plums, for example, do a quick search on can dogs eat plums to make sure that your new diet isn’t harmful to your furry friend.
Involve a Dog’s Senses in Its Meals
A dog’s heightened sense of smell and taste affects its appetite so involving all of a dog’s senses during mealtimes goes a long way in making its meals fun and satisfying.
Often, when a dog loves the smell of food, the more they will like it. This means that the smell should be stronger and more aromatic to entice them to eat. If you think that, “my dog is a picky eater and won’t eat another brand of dog food,” you could add toppers to their meals.
Adding cooked fish, chicken, or vegetables like beans and pumpkin can provide a mixture of textures, aroma, and taste that are interesting to dogs.
Make Mealtimes Less Boring
Sometimes your dog may simply be bored during mealtimes. Use puzzle feeders or interesting dog bowls so they will find mealtimes more stimulating and fun.
Do Not Feed Your Dog Scraps from Your Meal
Picky eaters are sometimes made, not born. If an owner habitually feeds a pet scraps from the table, dogs know that they can get something tastier from you than what’s in their food bowls.
Pet owners have to stop doing this as it not only makes their pets picky but could also make a dog prone to obesity. Human food often contains lots of spices and ingredients that aren’t good for dogs so it’s best not to give them table scraps.
It’s also a good idea to limit the number of treats you give your dog. It can affect its appetite and make it less interested in its meals.
Give Your Dog a Time Limit
One way to correct your dog’s behavior is to give it a time limit. Give them their meal and leave it out for 30 minutes. If they haven’t eaten it, take it away. Do not feed your dog anything until the next meal time.
Do the same thing for the next scheduled meal. If your dog doesn’t touch it after 30 minutes, take the food away again. You may be tempted to give your dog treats, but you need to be strong to correct the behavior.
How long can a dog go without eating? Usually, dogs can go without food for three to five days. So, when it’s being picky, your dog may start eating its meals again after a day or two.
Help Your Dog Stay Healthy
Sometimes, a dog’s environment and interactions can affect its appetite. These factors can make it picky and bored with its meals, however, making small changes and correcting its behavior can do a lot to make your dog regain its interest in food.