Most dogs are perceived as being obsessed with food, but some dogs can be picky or fussy eaters. This tends to be a more common issue with smaller breed dogs. However, picky eating can be a problem for any size dog of any breed. It might be hard for us as pet parents to imagine being excited about eating the same meal every day, but the truth is that it’s good for your dog’s health. If you’re struggling to get your dog to eat their food because they’re a fussy eater, we’ve put together some tips to help you encourage them to enjoy it.
Remember That Dogs Can Eat the Same Foods Daily:
Your dog will not get bored of eating the same food at every meal. While this might get boring and repetitive for us as humans, dogs really don’t care and as long as the food that they are getting has all the nutrients that they need to thrive, there should be no reason to change it or try to get them to eat something different. In fact, keeping to the same foods at every meal is actually healthier for your dog in many cases since it keeps your dog’s digestive system healthy and working correctly. Most pet parents know that switching your dog’s food too often can lead to stomach upset, so if your dog is going off their food it might be because you’re feeding them too many different options. If you want to switch your dog over to a different food, it’s best to introduce it gradually.
Choose a Very Nutritious Diet:
Some pet parents of fussy dogs make the mistake of thinking that their dog is going to starve if they don’t eat the food put in front of them, and attempt to encourage them to eat by offering them home-cooked food or feeding them more calorific treats. However, along with being very time consuming, doing this also means that your dog is unlikely to be getting all the nutrients his needs.
Dogs can pick up on this and can sometimes learn to refuse their food because they know it’s the best way to get a tastier treat that they prefer. Instead, choose a high-quality, nutrient-dense food for your dog like raw food meals from Bella & Duke, which are pre-prepared, easy to serve and designed to meet all your dog’s nutritional needs. Bella & Duke also provide some tips for dog not eating that you can use to encourage your fussy dog to enjoy their food more.
Stick to a Routine:
Remember that dogs love routine and a dog that knows what’s going to happen next is always going to be happier and more content. Set two separate times a day to feed your dog, or three times if they are a puppy under six months of age, and stick to these times as much as possible. Bear in mind that dogs should not be fed one hour before or after exercising, so decide on the best feeding times depending on when your dog is walked. Sometimes, changes in a dog’s eating habits can be caused by the slightest change in their routine or environment, so make sure that everybody in the family is on board with your new routine.
Your dog might be laid-back and loving most of the time but if you’ve just gone through a significant life change such as moving house, getting a new pet or having a baby, this could be the reason why your dog is not eating as much as they usually would. This is likely to be the case if your dog’s loss of appetite came on suddenly after the change and they are exhibiting other symptoms of stress such as a lack of energy and unusual behaviours like snapping or growling more often.
While some life changes might be impossible to avoid completely, it’s important to understand the effect that these can have on your dog and make sure that you are supporting your pet as much as possible while they adjust. Any new pets, for example, should be kept in separate rooms for at least the first week and you can scent swap with blankets and toys to help the two animals get to know each other via scent before they are introduced face to face.
If your dog is not eating as much food as they used to, it could simply be because they are not using up as much energy as they should. This might also be the case if you’ve noticed that your dog is more boisterous than usual at home these days or is showing signs of boredom, like chewing at your furniture or whining a lot. A tired dog is a happy dog, and in most cases, a hungry dog too. Walking your dog for longer, going for an extra walk each day, playing active games like fetch with your dog or sending them to a doggy daycare facility where they can play with canine friends all day long can help your dog burn off more energy which should help to kick start their appetite.
Rule Out Underlying Conditions:
In some cases, a loss of appetite can be caused by an underlying illness or health condition in your dog. This might not always be obvious in the first instance but if your dog has not eaten much for at least a couple of days and is struggling to drink water too, this usually warrants a visit to the vet. Most of the time, a loss of appetite can be caused by easily treatable conditions such as a stomach upset caused by the dog eating something that it shouldn’t, but it may also be a sign of a more serious condition like pancreatitis or kidney failure. It’s best to have your dog checked by a vet as soon as possible to rule out any underlying conditions and get treatment if necessary.
Make the Food More Appealing:
Most dogs will be more enticed to food that has a strong aroma to it, so there are several things that you can do to make the food smell absolutely irresistible to your dog. Bone broth in the food can smell delicious to your dog and might spark their interest in their meal. If it’s safe to do so, you might also want to consider heating the food up a little, as this will give off a stronger aroma compared to cold food. There are plenty of meal topper options that you can add to your dog’s food to help make it more appealing for them.
Turn It Into a Game:
If your dog is a high-energy breed that needs a lot of mental stimulation, they might develop more of an interest in eating their food if it gets them thinking. Slow feeding bowls are a great choice for fussy dogs since they make the dog forage for their meal or you could turn it into a game by hiding the food in various areas around the house and having your dog search for them.
Dealing with a fussy dog can be frustrating when you’re not sure what to do to ensure that they eat enough. Keep these tips in mind to encourage better eating habits in your precious pet.