Is Your Dog A Finicky Eater?
After the recent dog food recall, we had to switch foods. We bought a small bag of a different dog food brand to try it out, and our dog happily scarfed it down. He'd come running when he heard food being poured into the bowl. We bought another small bag - same thing. He'd never acted like this before, and normally he's just not very excited about his food. He generally lays around around all day before he shows any interest in what’s in his bowl. So of course, we invested in the biggest (and most expensive) bag of food this company makes. And as soon as we opened it, he couldn't care less - back to his old ways of ignoring his food and seemingly eating only because he knows he has to eat to stay alive.
And while he does eventually eat, is active and is at a healthy weight according to the vet, he doesn't always get all of his allotted food for the day and rarely eats on a convenient schedule.
If your dog has had a recent veterinarian check up and has no apparent health problems but remains a finicky eater, here are some things to try to get him more excited about his food.
Create a Schedule
Get your dog used to a feeding routine: If your dog doesn't eat within five minutes, take the food away. This way, if your dog doesn't eat, he'll have to wait and will become accustomed to eating at certain times. Smaller dogs need more frequent meals, but missing a meal every now and then won’t hurt a larger dog.
Dogs who aren't very active don't need as much food as active dogs. The more energy your dog is expending, the more calories it will need during the day - try going for a longer walk or for a trip to the dog park to see if your dog eats right away. If he's hungrier after exercise, he might not need as much food as you are giving him on days when he is less active.
Many of us have dogs that follow us everywhere we go. If we leave the room, the dog won’t eat. Try eliminating distractions to the best of your ability: You could wait until you're sitting down at your own kitchen table so your dog knows you're not going anywhere, or feed him in his crate after putting all of his toys away so he can focus on eating.
Make sure that feeding your dog a positive experience so your dog doesn't associate it with your irritability or punishment.
Crumbling your dog's favourite treat over his food is a great way to entice him to eat it - but make sure that you're using healthy treats. For example, feeding fatty foods like cheese and peanut butter too often can lead to health problems such as pancreatitis down the road. Try low-fat people foods like fruits and vegetables if you know your dog likes them.
Note that fruits, veggies and canned tripe all contain loads of fibre - it's best to start of very slowly with these.
Supplementing your dog's food this way is a great way to offer him additional nutrition. If you notice this works really well and your dog is interested in his food, he might have simply needed a bit more variety. Just a warning - if you do decide to use mix-ins it will likely have to be a permanent decision because your dog won't want to go back... Would you?
Have you solved your dog's finicky food behaviour? Leave us some of your own tips in the comments!