This may come as a surprise to many dog owners out there, but sometimes dogs are choosy on what they eat. There are a number of reasons why dogs may become picky eaters. Regardless of why they become this way, we as dog owners want to do what we can to get them to eat. So, what can you do if your dog is a picky eater?
When a dog is naturally picky
Smaller breed dogs tend to be naturally picky eaters. They take their time eating their food and sometimes don’t finish it all in one sitting. Larger breed dogs, on the other hand, tend to be extremely food-motivated, meaning they’ll eat just about anything you send their way, in minutes flat.
Therefore, if you have a dog that’s always demonstrated pickiness for his food, there’s no reason to be concerned. So long as your dog looks and acts healthy, he’s fine. If, however, you have a dog that normally vacuums up his food, then one day changes his eating habits, there’s a reason to be concerned.
When a dog becomes a picky eater
One reason why a dog becomes a picky eater is because you, the dog owner, have been overfeeding him with treats and/or table scraps. When your dog gets accustomed to something such as steak from under the table, getting excited for his dry food will not be so easy. One way to prevent your dog from ever becoming a picky eater is to not feed him table scraps. He won’t know what he’s missing and will continue to enjoy his own food.
If you demand feeding people food to your dog, you could compromise by adding vegetables to his dog food. That way he’s still making a connection between his food bowl, his own food, and the people food you’ve included.
Let’s say that it’s too late. You’ve already fed people food to your dog, and now he’s become a picky eater. He refuses to eat his own food unless some kind of added on treat is mixed in, yet you don’t want to keep feeding him this mixture. One thing you need to do is hold firm.
Hold firm. Let’s repeat it: hold firm. Your dog is being stubborn by not eating his food, so you need to be as stubborn. Leave the bowl out for 15 minutes. If he refuses to eat, take it away, and try again during his next feeding time. Your dog will not die if he skips a few meals. It can be one meal, or it can be three meals. Either way, your dog will survive just fine. When he does feel like he’s not going to make it any longer, guess what he’ll do. He’ll eat his food. Any food is better than no food.
Change foods. Another reason your dog might be a picky eater is because he doesn’t like the kind of food you’re giving him. Don’t be afraid to change brands and flavors. Be sure that whichever dog food you buy, corn isn’t the first item on the list. Dogs are naturally carnivores and need the protein from animals.
Let’s say that you switched brands of food a few times, yet your dog refuses to eat. Then you can assume he is, in fact, waiting for his share of your human food. Go back to the idea of holding firm, as mentioned above.
Be stingy on the treats. Your dog should be given treats for specific reasons, such as because he performed a trick, or accomplished something you’d been working on during training. Treats should not be given to your dog when he’s sitting around doing nothing. Try to limit your treats to “training time” so that your dog doesn’t start thinking that he has access to delicious food whenever he feels like it.
Something more serious. One other reason why your dog may be a picky eater is because of an illness or old age. Joint pain, lethargy, and depression can all suppress a dog’s appetite or keep him from wanting to walk to his bowl. Lyme disease, and other health issues, is a cause of many of these symptoms, thus if your dog is naturally a voracious eater, then changes his ways, you may consider taking him to the vet. It’s not always stubbornness that’s keeping your dog from eating. It may very well be a health concern that needs to be addressed. If your dog demonstrates other symptoms, such as lameness, low energy levels, or sensitivity to touch, see your vet.