What to do with dogs who won’t eat

by Audrey Harvey, DVN

Some dogs have gourmet tastes, and turn their wet noses up at regular dog food. This is more common in smaller dogs, which can be very finicky indeed.

Fussy eaters are made, not born. Dogs are fast learners. They quickly realize that if they refuse to eat the dog food they are given, then there’s a good chance their owner will give them something that is more appetizing. After all, no dog owner likes to see their best friend go hungry.

Problems with Fussy Eaters

I would love to spend my days eating chocolate and drinking my favorite red wine, but that’s not good for me. They don’t contain all the nutrients I need to stay healthy. The same goes for your dog. If he will only eat the best steak or finely diced chicken, he will ultimately end up with nutritional deficiencies.

There is a more practical reason that you need to deal with your dog’s gourmet tastes. If he only eats the best meats, he will be very expensive to feed. It doesn’t make sense to spend more money on your dog’s food than you do on your own.

What to Do if You Have a Fussy Fido

The first thing to do if your dog refuses to eat anything but the best is to take him to your vet for a full checkup. There may be a medical reason for his fussy eating habits. For example, a dog with sore teeth will happily eat soft chicken breast, but won’t be comfortable chewing on dry kibble.

Choose a food for your dog that is of good quality and nutritionally balanced. Initially combine some dog food with a small amount of his regular meal and over the next few days, increase the amount of dog food and reduce the diced steak or chicken breast, until you are just offering him dog food.

Feed him twice a day, but only leave his food out for 10 minutes. After that, you must take it away. If he doesn’t eat all of what he is given, he will be hungry. This may make him more interested in eating at his next meal time. It may also make him gaze at you with his soft brown eyes, and beg for more of his favorite food. Don’t give in!

If you are concerned that your dog really won’t eat, you can start the process by hand feeding him, which may make the transition to dog food easier. When he is quite happy to eat his new food, try feeding him from a bowl. It’s important to remember that hand feeding is only for a short time; otherwise you will have made a rod for your own back.

It can be a long slow process but with patience and persistence, any dog can be taught to eat a wider variety of foods. If you keep in mind that it is for his benefit, it will be easier for you.

DOG for DOG is an all natural dog food and treat company with a mission to help dogs in need. You buy one we give one! 52,000 pounds were donated in 2013

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