How to Feed a Fussy Dog
- by Erika Buenaflor
When it comes to mealtime with your canine companion, navigating the quirks of a picky eater can be quite of a challenge. So, we're here to guide you through the art of enticing even the most discerning doggy palate.
In this article, we'll talk about five effective strategies to transform your fussy eater into a more enthusiastic diner.
What Breeds Are Predisposed to Fussy Eating?
There is no specific dog breed predisposed to fussy eating. However, smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkies tend to be pickier eaters than larger breeds. Some breeds can also have more sensitive stomachs and may require a special diet.
Before you try any strategy highlighted in this article, it is essential to consult your vet, especially if your pet shows signs of general malaise, such as lack of energy, fever, excessive drooling, nausea and vomiting, or diarrhea. Pets with chronic health issues should be kept under close observation, and so should puppies.
5 Ways to Make Your Picky Dog Eat
Use Different Types of Bowls
Believe it or not, the type of bowl you use to feed your dog can make a difference in their eating habits. Some dogs prefer shallow bowls, while others like deep bowls. Other pets enjoy wide or flat bowls, whereas others prefer narrow and deep bowls. Experimenting with different types of bowls can encourage your dog to eat.
Avoid Feeding Your Dog Table Scraps
Feeding your dog table scraps is not a good idea, especially if they are a fussy eater. Table scraps can be high in fat, salt, and even sugar, leading to obesity and other health problems. Additionally, feeding your dog table scraps can make them picky and refuse to eat their regular food.
Think of it this way – if someone gave you a piece of cake or a dessert you love for every meal, would you be tempted to have a salad instead of that? Nutrition-wise, human food is not the best for dogs, as they're not supposed to get the same amount of protein, fat, or carbs as people.
Experiment With Textures and Dog Food Types
Dogs love variety, so it's important to offer them different textures of food. Some options include patties, morsels, gently cooked dog food, stews, wet dog food in pouches or cans, shredded dog food, homemade food, etc. If you have been feeding your dog the same chicken variety from the same brand since they were a puppy, chances are that they're bored out of their mind with that particular food, so why not try something different?
You can also mix different textures together to give your dog a unique eating experience. Some services can cook homemade food for your dog, keeping in mind their specific dietary requirements. If your vet or pet nutritionist guides you, you can also cook your own recipes at home.
Go Out and Exercise Together
Exercise is important for your dog's overall health and can also help with their appetite. Going for a walk or playing fetch before mealtime can help stimulate your dog's appetite and encourage them to eat. Swimming is an even better way to burn some calories, so if the weather allows you, spend the day at a beach. Be sure to fit your dog with a life vest, though, especially if their anatomy makes it more difficult for them to float on the water.
If nighttime walks are something that both of you enjoy, perhaps an accessory like our Shock Ease Lead might reassure you that you're not going to lose your dog or that people will be able to see them in the dark. This lead has reflective stitching and is very flexible and comfortable, too.
Make a Game Out of Mealtime
Making mealtime fun and interactive can encourage your dog to eat. You can try hiding treats in their food, using puzzle toys, or even playing a game of "find the food." This can help your dog associate mealtime with a positive experience. But if your dog is more motivated to eat because you offer positive reinforcement through cuddle sessions or giving them a nice massage, you can try our Self Cleaning Slicker Brush for a change.
Why Are Some Dogs Fussy Eaters?
Sky's the limit when it comes to the number of reasons why a dog might be less interested in their food than usual. Compared to other types of pets, dogs are known for their healthy appetites, so noticing that your dog has completely lost theirs can be concerning. Some dogs can have sensitive stomachs, while others may experience dental issues, making eating uncomfortable.
Stressful environments or experiences, such as moving homes, a new pet, or even a new baby, can influence a dog's mood and anxiety levels and make them lose interest in food.
Several medical conditions can also cause a lack of appetite in dogs, such as gastrointestinal problems or kidney disease. If your dog is constantly refusing food, it's important to take them to the vet for a check-up.
Feeding Advice & Feeding Spaces
Feeding guidelines vary depending on several factors, including age, gender, physiological status, and breed. It goes without saying that a Chihuahua will eat less than a Great Dane, but it's important to closely follow the guidelines as much as possible.
Creating a safe space for feeding your dog is also essential for mealtime. Avoid feeding your dog in a noisy or distracting area, as this can cause anxiety and discourage them from eating. Feeding your dog in a quiet room without other pets or distractions is best. Some dogs may prefer to eat alone, without being watched, especially if they're nervous in the presence of animals or humans. Creating a safe and calm space for your dog to eat can encourage them to enjoy their meals and reduce their pickiness.
Take your dog to the vet if they haven't eaten in 24 hours, as it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
What About Supplements?
Various supplements help encourage a dog to eat again. Natural supplements such as ginger, turmeric, and chamomile can work wonders for seniors who may need extra help to regain their appetite.
These ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties, helping soothe an upset stomach and reduce nausea. Other popular supplements include probiotics, which can improve gut health and aid digestion, and omega-3 fatty acids, reducing inflammation and promoting a healthy coat and skin.
Feeding a picky dog can be a frustrating experience, but by using the tips in this article, you can encourage your dog to eat. Additional tips include withholding treats, warming up the dog's meals to make the food more enticing, cooking dog food at home under the guidance of a vet, and, as an extreme measure, withholding all food for a period of 12 to 24 hours.