Dealing with Canine Picky Eaters

Tips on How to Help Dogs When Their Eating Patterns Change

Dogs are known for eating anything and usually without any hesitation. However, some dogs are finicky eaters and will turn away from their bowls. Some dogs may have a dislike for their type of food, but typically a dog is never late for dinner. If you have a dog that has lost his enthusiasm for mealtimes and loses interest in food and possibly even his favorite treats, it’s important to figure out why your dog is not excited about his meals.

Sometimes a dog may lose his appetite or develop less eagerness to eat due to a health issue. If the loss of appetite or change in the amount of food a dog eats is something that occurs suddenly, it is worth a vet visit after a couple of days. If a dog has recently had any symptoms of gastrointestinal distress such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, the vet is necessary. A good eater doesn’t become a bad eater overnight usually without a switch in diet or a medical issue. A vet visit is necessary to ensure your dog’s mouth is not causing him discomfort and making eating painful. Even a hungry dog will be reluctant to eat if chewing or a toothache makes eating agonizing. A vet will do a physical exam and check your dog’s mouth for bad teeth, sores, mouth ulcers like human canker sores or even foreign objects causing culinary discomfort. Once any dental or mouth health issues are resolved and a dog is recovered, their appetite should quickly return to normal and eating will be a pleasure for them again.

Dog Food Snobbery and Bad Dining Habits

If your dog is healthy, you may be partly to blame. Humans can create and encourage bad dietary habits in their pets. Extra treats ruin a dog’s appetite and sometimes even make them refuse to eat their food in attempts to get more of their preferred favorite foods. Plus, any dog will prefer special treats to the healthy nutritious food provided in those bowls when if he acts cute or does a trick, he can eat something special. Table scraps and multiple household members giving treats can lead to overfeeding of a dog and cause a tubby puppy. Table treats and excess treats are not good for a dog’s health and should be avoided. The maximum number of daily calories a dog should get each day from treats is 10% of his total daily calories and if everyone is giving then that 10%, feeding changes need to happen. Treats prevent a dog from eating the nutritionally balanced food in proper in adequate amounts for health.

Reduce extra treats and table scraps and put a spoiled rotten dog on a daily scheduled meal routine. It will not hurt a dog to go a day or two without eating. Without treats and table scraps, he will eventually get hungry enough to eat what he is supposed to. Always provide the correct amount of food and on a schedule. Leave the food down and wait. A healthy dog will not starve even if he’s acting like it’s the end of the world without treats and scraps. If your dog is not a puppy or a diabetic, he can go hungry until he decides to clean his bowl. This breaks a bad habit and teaches a dog that his food comes from the bowl and not family fingers under the table.


Dog Food Follow-up

Dog food can expire and get spoiled. This can deter eating due to the animal fats in his feed going rancid. It is incredibly important to be consistent in a dog’s food. Each time you change their diet, you run the risk of causing a dog’s dietary distress and always provide food that provides complete and balanced nutrition as stated by an AAFCO seal or notice on the label.  If you must switch diets, all food changes need to be done gradually by mixing the new food in daily increasing portions until a dog is eating only his new brand and flavor. Often a dog gets bored of the same kibble and a gradual and slow change of pace can perk up a slack appetite. If your dog is a finicky eater who will not eat dry food no matter what, mixing a few tablespoons of delicious canned food as a topper or mix it in to jazz up that kibble and add more flavor and aroma. Since dogs have such a strong sense of smell, warming the canned food or some chicken broth and adding it over the dry food can make it seem more gourmet and have more appeal. It will also warm it to slightly above room temperature which appeals to poor eaters. Another trick is to always have playtime or a good walk before meals to stimulate their digestive system and teaching a dog to associate a game of frisbee with dinner can be a good training method to encourage eating, especially when it’s followed up with the mandatory after-meal walk dogs need and love so much.

Good Attitude for a Good Eater

If you have a good attitude about your dog’s diet, so will he. If he feels he’s getting extra special attention and more table food if he doesn’t eat his food, he will only learn to associate not eating with additional attention. Making meals positive, relaxed, and affectionate encourage dogs to clean their plates and share your good attitude. Always praise your picky eater for eating his meals and show affection and kind words. Making sure your dog has a nice dining environment is important to so they can enjoy the meal and not compete with other pets and not deal with any distractions. By providing the bowl for a set period, ideally, 20 minutes and not longer, your dog will learn to eat his fill on schedule and as a result, have to poop at regular times making time better-spent bonding than cajoling them to eat. Behavior modification can resolve picky eating problems in most dogs but if a dog does fall ill or is still uncooperative, a behavioral specialist may be needed and should be discussed with your vet. Just be firm, patient, loving, and have a paws-sitive attitude and a dog turning his snout up at premium dog food can stop being a problem usually.





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