My dog is a fussy eater and I’d like to know why!
This is a question we come across regularly. Some dog owners are constantly frustrated at their dog’s fussy eating habits. They try all sorts of different food ideas but after short periods of seemingly enjoying their food, the dog then reverts to the fussy eater they were before. So why is your dog a fussy eater? What can we do to understand those dogs who are so selective over which dog foods they like to eat and which foods they turn their noses up at?
Do you want to know why your dog is a fussy eater? Dog expert Pamela G Richardson might be able to help. Here’s what she has to say to help dog owners who are wondering why their dog is a fussy eater.
Let me start this segment by saying a dog’s breed, size, and age often dictate whether your dog adores food or could care less. Some dogs are food motivated and others are not. Today’s topic will focus on dogs that are finicky eaters and how to detect if this dog behaviour is a reason for concern.
So when does finicky eating habits become a problem? Or is it a problem?
If your dog has always been a finicky eater there is likely no need for concern. A finicky eater that maintains a healthy weight, is active, and has a shiny coat is not a problem. So don’t stress. Some dogs limit their own food intake because their bodies are regulating themselves. If your dog is not underweight, then the best thing to do is provide nutritious food and let him eat when he is hungry. What should concern you most is change.
If your dog’s eating habits have changed to the point that pounds are lost and the coat is less lustrous than it should be, then something is wrong. If this is the case, your dog’s finicky eating is a symptom not a habit. Many illnesses could cause your dog to be more selective or prevent your dog from eating as he should.
Because loss of appetite in dogs can indicate illness, it is important to consult with your vet if you notice changes in your dog’s eating habits. Gum disease and other health conditions involving organs like the kidney, liver, or pancreas can affect your dog’s appetite. If this sounds like your dog then we’re not talking about a finicky eater. We’re talking about a sick dog that needs your help.
Now, what do we do about healthy finicky eaters?
If your dog has received a clean bill of health from your vet then I’d say your dog is a finicky eater because of a lack of interest in what has been placed before him. Like humans, dogs want and need variety in their diet. Of course your dog is going to avoid eating the same boring food he has been eating his entire life in hopes of getting more exciting food than what’s in his bowl.
Many finicky eaters are selective and picky for one of three reasons.
- One – Medical Issues
Your dog has a medical issue that is affecting his appetite or inability to eat as mentioned at the beginning of this segment.
- Two – Overfeeding
There is such a thing as too many table scraps and treats. Your dog is hardly ever hungry because he’s getting more than enough calories and most likely overweight and possibly undernourished because of it. Cut back on treats and table scraps to see if it makes a difference in his eating habits.
- Three – Boredom
Your dog is bored with eating the same dog food day in and day out. It’s cruel for anyone to suggest that your dog has developed bad habits because he’s holding out for something else besides the same old thing. Dogs need a nutrient rich diet that changes regularly. If you were forced to eat the same meal every day throughout your life, you would develop a lack of appetite and nutritional deficiencies as a result.
But, of course, there are many reasons dogs are finicky eaters. It may be due to an uncomfortable environment. There are too many dogs in the room or the height of his dish is uncomfortable. Try feeding your dog in a different room or using different bowls or plates at different heights to see which one is preferable. Pay attention to not only your dog but to his environment as well.
Now for my number 1 tip to increase your dog’s appetite and say goodbye to finicky!
My number 1 tip to increase your dog’s appetite is variety. Dinner is important. You no doubt prefer variety each time you dine and make food choices for the nutrients found in different food types. Day after day of the same foods is not only unhealthy and lacking in all the essential nutrients your body needs, it’s boring; not only for humans but for dogs too.
You would have behavioral and health issues if you ate the same thing every day. Dogs are no different. Their bodies would appreciate different sources of nutrition while their taste buds would appreciate delicious changes to make their eating experience an enjoyable one. Whatever you do, ensure the food in his dog bowl is nutritionally well balanced and tasty, tasty delicious.
If your dog is turning his nose away from his bowl he is communicating to you that he doesn’t feel well, he isn’t hungry, he doesn’t like it, he is tired of it, or there is something in his environment that makes him uncomfortable.
There is an enormous difference between a high quality commercially available dog food and a poor substitute for dog food. Find out which dog foods are the best, which ones are good, which ones are decent, and which dog foods you should avoid. If your dog is a finicky eater, he is trying to tell you something.
Now let’s recap.
- If your dog has always been a finicky eater there is likely no need for concern. What should concern you most is change. Loss of appetite in dogs can indicate illness, so it is important to consult with your vet if you notice changes in your dog’s eating habits.
- If your dog has a clean bill of health from your vet, his finicky eating habits may be because he isn’t hungry. Some dogs limit their own food intake, so trying to get them to eat when their bodies are telling them differently is not a good thing.
- The problem with your dog’s finicky eating habits may have nothing to do with your dog and everything to do with you and what you are feeding him.
- Your dog’s environment could be the cause. Pay attention not only to your dog, but to his environment as well.