Dogs are often indiscriminate eaters, chewing everything in their paths. What do you do when yours is a fussy eater instead? Dealing with a dog who is very fussy about what it eats can be awfully frustrating. Sadly, picky dogs abound. If this is your case, you're probably wondering why it's so. Read on to find out!
People often assume dogs are super easy to please. Feed them, wash them, play with them, and you’re good. It's even worse for puppies who often care less about what they eat as long as they’re eating something.
Sometimes they munch on the good, the bad, and the downright disgusting. There’s not much you can do except hope they outgrow this phase with a little help from you.
Do you think this is annoying? It is, no doubt. But, perhaps you should be thankful that they’re at least eating. Dealing with a dog who is very fussy about what it eats can be awfully frustrating. Sadly, picky dogs abound. If this is your case, you're probably wondering why it's so.
Could it be just a phase? Could it have something to do with their breed? Or worse, could it be a result of some health condition?
Read on to find out!
What makes a dog a fussy eater?
It truly does! Some dog breeds just have certain predispositions when it comes to their diets. The following breeds are more likely to turn up their noses at the plate of food than others –
ü English cocker spaniel
ü Bichon frise
ü Boston terrier
ü Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
These are all rather fancy dogs. Perhaps, bouts of pampering have led them to develop a finer palate. Maybe.
Other than that, some have allergies and would prefer a certain type of food to others.
Others such as the Boston terrier have a delicate digestive system that makes them likely to gas often. They can be picky about their food, but finding a suitable one solves this problem for you. Do some research on your dog’s breed to find out whether it could be the cause of their fussiness.
We don't advise you to jump to conclusions here. However, your dog could have some sort of illness or dental problems that affects their appetite.
For instance, a dog with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) will associate eating with pain or discomfort. Chances of them eating freely would be slim. This is for your vet to figure out and hopefully proffer a suitable solution too.
They are being naughty
Dogs are often much smarter than you might give them credit for. Spoiling your dog with treats, especially from the dinner table, could give them the impression that a little fussiness and some puppy dog eyes will fetch them anything they want. It becomes a case of who's more likely to cave. Be strong. Eventually, they will want to eat just about anything you give them.
Humans aren’t the only ones who get anxious at times. Your dog could face this challenge for various reasons such as boredom, loneliness, fear, or even some separation anxiety. Spending time with them and reassuring them will make a positive difference here and help them feel better.
They are just not hungry
Not everything has a deeper meaning. They could have had their fill at the neighbor's place earlier.
They might even have a schedule they’d prefer to keep. Sounds weird, right? Not so much. Dogs are creatures of habit.
Try not to force it. Keep an eye on them and figure out which of these is the case.
Also, consider the taste of the food. If the food you give them is bland, change it. Perhaps invest in better dog food or whip up something nice that could have them running to their plates instead of away from them.
These are all possible reasons why your dog will get much too fussy.
If you've read this far, then this is probably a big problem for you. Not to worry, we’ve got a few tips and tricks that can help you deal with your dog's fussiness.
On that note, here's how to help your dog eat better –
A sense of normalcy
This is especially important in a new (adult) dog’s life. Try to find out what they like to eat, perhaps from the shelter. Then, continue this diet for a while before weaning them off.
Develop a standard routine
Dogs enjoy a regimented lifestyle. That's why they will stand outside the door during closing hours, wagging their tails expectedly, because they know you’re coming back to them. Do the same thing here.
Come up with a feeding routine and stick to it. Beyond timing, also consider the location. With time, they will get used to it and be less fussy about food.
Don't force-feed your dog
A better option is to feed them only when they are hungry. They are more likely to keep an open mind and eat what you offer here.
Remember, food is different from treats. They may like treats but not food. Do not fill them up on treats, even as a reward for good behavior. This could make them even more likely to push food around the plate.
Avoid being all over the place
Just because they rejected or didn't eat a particular food as well as you would like doesn't mean you should change it instantly. Constant diet changes in dogs can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Also, try not to take things off your plate and give them out of pity. They will make it a habit of coming to the dining table for scraps and might even get annoying about it.
Just make sure their diet is balanced (by dog standards) and you should be good.
Pro tip - A balanced diet looks something like this (for a 15lb dog) –
ü 3 ounces cooked protein
ü 1 and 1/3 cup of cooked carbs
ü 1 tablespoon cooked or uncooked vegetables
ü 1/2 teaspoons fat source.
Make it nice
Dog foods, especially canned ones don't always look appetizing. We advise you not to add random things from your plate in a bid to spice it up or make it look pretty. Instead, choose a high-quality dog food that tastes great and is healthy for your dog.
Also, the quick ‘recipe’ above should give you a guide on how to combine foods for a healthy yummy plate. Tailor it for your dog’s taste.
For instance, the protein source could either be dark meat chicken, beef, eggs, pork, lamb, or turkey. Find out if your dog has a specific taste for something and go for that one.
Talk to your vet
Don't think a fussy attitude is normal for dogs or that it's not worth a trip to the vet. Take them over to the vet for some professional assessment. They might run some diagnostic tests to figure out if they've got some sort of underlying health condition and possibly prescribe ways to handle this.
A fussy dog can be a cause for concern and worry on the part of a dedicated pet owner. You just want to see your precious dog eat and be healthy. Follow the tips above and you should see a significant change in their diet habits in no time.