Why is My Dog A Picky Eater?
Has your dog suddenly has lost interest in eating their kibble?
Are they knocking over their bowl out of boredom with their food?
While it could mean you have a picky or fussy eater on your hand, changes in appetite could also signal a greater health problem that should be addressed right away, particularly in young puppies, senior dogs, or pets with known underlying health conditions.
‘Some dogs eat to live, other dogs live to eat’
Some dog breeds are known to have bigger appetites, but much of it is due to the environment they are raised in.
Think about the last time your feed your dog, how long did it take them to finish off the bowl? If it’s taking them far longer or they’re just picking at their food you may have a fussy eater on your hands.
Dogs that take 20 minutes or longer or don’t empty their food bowl are likely to be picky eaters.
A Dog That Holds Out For Table scraps is a Picky Eater
Dogs that refuse to eat their kibble but are able to diligently wait for you to give in and eat table scraps or human food falls into that category of a finicky eater or fussy eaters. They have learned to wait you out for what they consider a far more appetizing meal.
As a pet parent, it is our responsibility to ensure that our dogs are feed a proper nutritionally balanced diet and a healthy diet that helps maintain a healthy weight on a feeding routine.
We want our dogs to have healthier eating habits and healthy nutrition.
Does a Dogs Genetics Impact Their Appetite
Certain dog breeds are notorious for having ravenous appetites like Pugs and Labradors, while others like greyhounds are thin by nature. With their fast metabolisms, they gain little to no weight. Siberian Husky and Yorkie breeds are notorious for being picky or fussy eaters.
How the home environment impacts appetite
Feeding your dog may sound straightforward, however, how and when you give your pet food can affect how much they eat.
To avoid finicky eating behavior, create a consistent feeding routine:
- Set and stick to a mealtime feeding schedule to the degree possible.
- Vary their food choices, type of food, try mixing in a little wet dog food or bone broth to a bowl of kibble or plain dog food crating tasty morsels.
- Leave food out for no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
- If your dog doesn’t eat anything, take the bowls away.
- Don’t give your pet any more food or treats until their next scheduled feeding time
Picky eating can also result from changes at home, anxiety, and other stressors.
Just like humans, some dogs express emotions through changes in eating habits.
If a dog’s food is constantly changing, served in an unfamiliar environment, or if there is harassment from other household pets, you might notice changes in the dog’s eating behavior and lack of enthusiasm for eating.
Ensuring a fussy eater feels safe and comfortable will keep them open-minded to trying to eat.
Picky eating that is not caused by a health problem, can still lead to some frustrating and potentially serious health complications, ranging from malnutrition, upset stomach, gastrointestinal upset, and weight loss.
Sudden changes in a dog’s diet can reinforce pickiness and sometimes result in diarrhea.
If your dog is consuming fatty food, or if you’re feeding it to your dog to entice them to eat, it can also cause pancreatitis, which may manifest in symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, weakness, lethargy, and fever.
One option is to try making simple foods, like rice and boiled white meat chicken with no bones and no skin, or lean ground beef.
You can safely offer this for a few days to see if your dog’s appetite improves, but if you do opt to cook your pet’s food at home over the long run, consult with your vet.
Research has shown that the vast majority of dog food recipes available online or in books are not nutritionally complete and balanced.
It’s worth noting that most dogs’ default food, dry kibble or dry dog food, is highly
balanced and nutritious for the most part; adding chicken broth as a dry food topper is a nutritious way to enhance the food quality and get a fussy easter to eat.
Try feeding a picky eater kibble mixed with Active Dawg USDA certified all-natural chicken bone broth.
Considering that picky eating can be health-related, but in most cases it is behavioral, there are tricks pet owners can use to train their dogs to eat better.
Setting strict feeding times shows your dog when it’s time to eat and that their time to eat is a finite window.
If your dog is a picky eater, free-feeding is not an effective option. Setting strict mealtimes and not free-feeding pets will instill in them that mealtime is for eating.
Apart from feeding your dog at the same time every day, you should also consider taking away uneaten food after a certain amount of time 20 to 30 minutes. Your dog understands that when food is offered, it’s time to eat it.
Otherwise, the food goes away.
Cutting back or eliminating treats is another key part of retraining your picky eater. If your dog is being overfed with treats, just like when you overdo it with junk food, they are more likely to feel full and therefore avoid eating their kibble.
Be aware that picky eating just based on personality is not uncommon.
Among small breed dogs especially, picky eating is fairly prevalent, but even the most food motivated larger breeds, like Labradors, can be picky.
Some dogs learn to be picky, typically due to their owner’s counterproductive feeding behaviors.
Humans can cause their dog to be picky with their food by giving them too many treats, overfeeding table scraps, consistently constantly changing their food, or by failing to address any stress your dog may be experiencing.
Bottom line, rule out health issues, then move forward with changing both your and your dog’s behavior to eliminate picky eating and a little tough love can go a long way for both of your sanity.