To find out how to get a picky dog to eat, one thing that you must figure out is why they are being picky.
Now, the issue with dogs being picky is basically the same as with humans. Some of them are like that right from the beginning while some will develop picky interests along the way.
If your dog has always been a picky eater, there is probably nothing to worry about (your vet should be the one to certify that, though).
However, if they just suddenly became picky, there is definitely something to worry about.
So, let us look at reasons your dog might have suddenly become a picky eater.
Why Do Dogs Suddenly Become Picky Eaters?
The following are reasons why dogs could suddenly become picky eaters:
- It could be your fault.
- Old age
- They just don’t like it.
Could Be Your Fault
Before you get all defensive, why not hear us out?
We are not saying that you set out to make your dog discriminatory against certain foods, we are just saying that some things that you do could be the reason that your dog is picky.
The major thing you do that could make your dog picky is feed them scraps from your own plate.
While some dogs will eat anything, regardless, some others will start to prefer the scraps you give and decide to swear off their own food.
Think about it, if you allow your toddler eat all the junk food they want, you’d have a hard time convincing them to eat something else.
That said, sometimes, it isn’t about you giving your dog human food but about you giving them too many treats at all times of the day.
Treats should be a reward of some sort. Giving your dog treats indiscriminately could make your dog crave those over the food they should actually be eating.
Another way it could be your fault is that you are not serving them quality food.
As we mentioned before, there are dogs who don’t really care and will eat anything.
However, if you are dealing with a dog that is picky, they probably know what good food is and know that you aren’t serving them that.
They Might Be Ill
This is also pretty obvious. It is possible that your dog has suddenly lost their taste for food because they are ill. A lost appetite could be indicative of basically any kind of illness ranging from diarrhea to cancer.
However, sometimes the problem is not necessarily that your dog isn’t interested in eating but that eating is either painful or uncomfortable for them.
So, if your dog has a toothache, a problem with their jaw or some sort of digestive tract problem, it might translate into picky eating.
It Might Just Be Old Age
Isn’t it interesting how our furry friends are like us in so many ways? Well, it isn’t unusual for a dog’s appetite to reduce the older they get.
This could either be due to an illness that is growing old related or just because they are growing old. And it is fine because the older your dog gets, the less active they get and, invariably, the less food they need.
In fact, senior dogs shouldn’t be eating as much as they used to when they were adults. However, they should eat and you want to be concerned if they do not eat at least once a day.
They Just Don’t Like It
Yup! Dogs have personalities which could translate into the kind of food they do or do not like.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Not Eating
This requires paying attention to your dog. If you notice that their being picky is accompanied by weakness, drowsiness or some other ‘sickness’ behaviours, you need to take them to the vet.
You also want to report to your vet if you notice that your dog throws up after they’ve eaten or they do try to eat but seem not to be able to.
How Do You Get A Picky Dog To Eat?
Your picky dog might eat if you try any of the following:
- Give wet food instead of kibble.
- Add beef or chicken broth to food.
- Add food toppers.
- Switch food brands.
- Switch major ingredient.
If your dog seems fine but isn’t eating or isn’t eating as much as they should, consider switching up their meal.
If your dog isn’t eating their kibble, consider switching over to wet food and see what happens.
This could work if your dog just doesn’t like what you normally serve or if they have lost their appetite.
Something else that could work is adding beef or chicken broth to your dog’s dry food.
The idea is that dogs eat with their noses first; if they like the smell, they might be tempted to eat.
Also, wet food is easier to chew and digest too. So, it is a good idea for dogs who have issues with their teeth, jaw and digestion.
You could also consider adding food toppers. The idea of food toppers is both to make dog food more enticing and to make up for some nutrient deficiencies.
That said, the problem could be with the food brand. So, getting recommendations and switching brands or even recipes (from chicken to beef or bison) could help.
It could be that your dog is just bored of having the same recipe.
If you have done this in about three (3) different combinations and still nothing, you need to call on your vet.
However, if you have been feeding your dog human food, you’ll need to wean your dog off it. It might not be easy but you’ll have to be firm until your dog gets the message that your food is yours, not theirs.
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Preventing The Issue Of Picky Eating With Your Dog
Before you even bring your pup home, you (and your significant other, if you have one) must decide what and what your dog will eat. Get yourself informed about what dogs should and should not eat and also what healthy dog food you can afford.
Also, bear in mind that smaller dogs will not eat as much as bigger dogs. Plus, of all the developmental stages, adult dogs will eat the most.
Finally, do not feed your dog from your plate. Whatever they eat, make sure they eat it from their own feeding bowl.
This way, you are able to contain their expectations and restrict expectations for food to whatever is in their feeding bowl.
While you might already have botched things with your adult dog, you might be able to prevent your pup from being a picky eater.
How To Get A Picky Dog To Eat — FAQs
Will A Picky Dog Starve?
A picky dog will most likely not starve itself. If your dog is not eating because they do not like what you are giving them, they’ll eventually cave once they get hungry enough.
However, if your dog hasn’t eaten for more than a day, they are most likely not being picky. So, you might want to check that out as soon as possible.
How Do I Know If My Dog Doesn’t Like His Food?
If your dog doesn’t like his food, he’ll most likely just be playing around with it. You might notice him pushing the food around in his plate, as if he is looking for something more interesting.
Additionally, your dog might just immediately leave the food there after they’ve smelt it.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Isn’t Eating Enough?
To find out whether your dog is eating enough, you’ll have to pay attention to their energy levels, their coat and fur and also their bones.
An adult dog should be fairly energetic, barring any medical condition. So, if your dog always seems sluggish, he is probably not eating enough.
Especially if you notice his coat isn’t shiny and his bones are jutting out at the hips and you can see his ribs.
If you think your dog isn’t eating enough, consider speaking with your vet because the solution might be a change of food brands instead of an increase in the amount of food your dog eats.
Is It OK To Feed Dogs Wet Food Only?
It is totally OK to feed dogs wet food only. In fact, some dogs might prefer wet food because it smells better, has more flavour and is easier to digest.
However, you’ll have to give your dog a bigger amount of wet food at a time, as opposed to dry food. So, this means that you’ll be spending more money and will need more storage space if you go for wet food alone.
Should You Add Water To Dry Dog Food?
You don’t need to add water to your dog’s dry food as your dog is capable of chomping on the bits and digesting.
However, if your dog has a gastro-intestinal issue or problems with their jaw, dry dog food might be a difficult one to chew and digest. So, adding water could be a good idea.
However, instead of adding water, consider adding broth for the flavor. Also, if you’ll be adding water to kibble, be sure that you give your dog the exact amount it can finish in one sitting because the water will make the kibble spoil quicker.
Why Is My Dog Not Eating But Acting Normal?
If your dog is not eating but is acting normal, it could be because they just don’t like what you’re feeding them. This could be about the main ingredient (beef, chicken etc) or the brand in general.
Also, your dog not eating but acting normalcould be because they are full. It is possible that you’ve given them treats and scraps from your table throughout the day that when it is meal time, there is just no space anymore.
So, consider tracking down how much bits your dog eats during the day and cut that down if it is too much.