Some dogs won’t eat no matter what you give them. You might serve them their favorite food, but they will still be picky and make a fuss before eating it. It can mean that your dog is a picky eater.
But why are some dogs fussy eaters? Keep reading to know the answer and ensure that your dog gets the right nutrition!
Why Is My Dog a Picky Eater?
You might think that your dog is simply stubborn. However, this may not be the reason why your dog is fussy about food. A picky dog eater may not be eating because of old age or even because you are changing their foods too often. Here are some reasons why your dog may be a fussy eater.
A dog’s appetite changes with age. Elderly dogs tend not to eat much and often try to skip meals. This can affect the dog’s health. So, if you find your aged dog is a picky eater, you may need to consult the vet. A change in diet may help.
Separation anxiety affects one in four to six dogs. Dogs might become anxious due to storms, loud fireworks, or simply loneliness. Anxiety can lead to a lack of appetite. If you find that your dog is a picky eater suddenly, it is best to spend time with them and comfort them.
Bloating happens when your dog’s stomach expands because it is filled with gas or food. If your dog is bloated, it won’t eat and will be picky. You should consult a vet immediately, as depending on the severity, your dog may need medication or treatment.
Some breeds of dogs such as labs and pugs love to gorge on food, but others metabolize food faster and therefore are picky eaters. Some of the fussiest eaters include Dachshunds, Poodles, Boston terriers, and French bulldogs.
Frequent Changes in Food
There needs to be consistency in the type of food you are feeding your dog. While it is good to provide some variation, do not offer too many choices as that will confuse your dog. If you change your dog’s diet too many times, it is likely to become a fussy eater.
If your dog is feeling sick or is in the estrus cycle, they are likely not to want to eat. At this time, your dog will not even eat their favorite meal. So it is best to consult a vet as your dog may need medication or at least a different diet.
You need to have a proper schedule when feeding your dog. Feeding your dog at odd hours can affect its health. It is best to figure out a schedule and stick to it. Your dog needs meals at proper hours. It will keep them healthy and happy.
Some dogs may not be picky about food but about where they are eating. You need to provide them with some space to have a nice meal. Choose a comfortable spot where they can eat in peace. If they are not distracted while eating, they are likely to eat a full meal.
Some dog parents tend to feed their pets scraps while having dinner. This is a bad habit because your dog’s stomach gets full through scraps, and then they fuss over eating healthy food. It is best to avoid giving scraps to solve the problem.
Too Many Treats
If you give dogs too many treats, you are likely to spoil them. They will not only lose their appetites but also feel that it is alright to not have proper meals and wait for treats. This will affect their health as treats cannot provide adequate nutrition and make them gain weight.
Type of Food
The reason why a dog is a fussy eater may be as simple as the fact that they don’t like the food. Your dog might think that their dinner is not tasteful. You can make some gradual changes to the diet. It is also important to check if the food is completely fresh.
If your dog has an upset stomach, they are not going to eat. They will also appear fatigued and drink less water. When this happens, it is best to allow your dog to skip a meal. If the stomach upset seems severe, you can call the vet.
How to Make Your Picky Dog Eat
Even if your dog is a fussy eater, it is possible to make them eat. You can train it to get used to mealtimes. If your dog is picky because of an illness, it is best not to force it. Consult a vet to know about alternative foods. Here’s how to make a picky dog eat:
Do Not Give Many Options
Some variety in diet is always a good thing, but too many options can spoil your dog. If your dog is already picky about food, try to limit the options you are giving. If you continue providing different foods every day, they might think that is the norm and expect the same.
This is not a good thing, and it will become quite challenging for you to feed your dog. If your dog understands that they are not getting options, they are likely to eat more.
Use the 30-Minute Rule
According to the 30-minute rule, you should give food to your dog and leave it out on the dish for half an hour. If by 30 minutes your dog does not start eating, take the dish away. This will remind your dog that food will always be unavailable and that they need to eat when it is given.
This can cure pickiness quite quickly. Your dog will realize that they cannot waste time and avoid eating as that food will not be available at another time. This will prompt them to eat whenever you serve the meal.
Create a Meal Schedule
A meal schedule is extremely important. Like humans, dogs need to eat at proper intervals. Otherwise, they can have various gastrointestinal problems. You need to create a feeding schedule and stick to it. Provide the same quantity of food during each meal so that there is consistency in the schedule.
Even slight changes can make your dog picky and stubborn at times. If there is a consistent routine, your dog will expect food at those particular hours. Hunger will motivate them to eat all the food that you provide, and they won’t be fussy.
Give Treats After Meal
Motivation may be necessary to get the fussiest of dogs to eat a bowl full of food. So, you can give them a treat once they finish the meal. If you make this a habit, then your dog will expect a treat once the meal is finished.
This way, you can train them to finish their meals properly. Now you may think that treats will spoil them. However, one treat at the end of the meal will not do that. It will be an addition to the meal that your dog will look forward to, and that is not a bad thing.
Provide a Flavorful and Healthy Meal
If you have a picky eater dog, you may need to change the meal. Some dog owners often only provide dry or wet foods without any supplements. You also need to check if the nutritious meal that you are providing is flavorful.
You can do this by combining some broth, fresh vegetables, and occasionally even some eggs. A combination of new and old foods will make the meal interesting for your dog. They will want to eat the food because they like the taste of it, and it will also be healthy.
You may also add food supplements to add nutrition and stimulate their appetite.
Make Sure They Can Eat Peacefully
Meals are supposed to be enjoyed, and if your dog cannot eat in peace, they are likely to not eat at all. So be careful while choosing where to put down the dog dish.
Select a place that is not in the direct path of the family members. If there are too many people around, your dog is going to get distracted. So, select a space away from the living room, and let your dog eat in peace without any interference.
How to Change Your Dog's Diet
If you are wondering what to feed a picky dog, you can include some changes in your dog’s diet. However, you need to start slow to prevent upsetting your dog’s stomach. Start with a small amount of new food and slowly increase that amount.
While changing your dog’s diet can help provide more nutrition, you should not do it suddenly. Sudden changes will affect your dog’s appetite, and it may not eat at all. If you find the new food is making your dog sick, consult a vet immediately.
When Should I Be Concerned?
At times it is alright to let your dog skip a meal if they are being fussy. But, it can also be a cause for concern. If you find that your dog is not eating for about 12 to 24 hours, it can be a sign of some health issues.
If you have a puppy who is a picky eater who is not yet six months old, you should not even wait that long before consulting the vet.
Some other times when you should be concerned about your dog being a fussy eater are:
- If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes
- If your dog is old and is eating only soft foods
- If your dog is having symptoms of any gastrointestinal disorder
So, what can I do if my dog is a picky eater? You need to observe what has changed or what has caused this behavior. Once you understand that, you can easily help your dog to get back its appetite through the methods we explained earlier. If you are unable to identify the reason, it is best to consult a vet.