How to Turn Your Finicky Dog into a Good Eater

Some dogs will eat anything, like our favorite "test dog" Sweet Lips. Literally. She is actually hard to test treats on because she is ...well how do I say it... she is not very discriminating.  If she is out in a farmer's field - she will eat cow manure. Like I said, she does not have a discriminating palate.

While some dogs will eat anything, other dogs are extremely picky. You sometimes think that the moons have to align themselves right for them to show any interest in their food. It can be very frustrating.

What can you do?  Here are a few tips for dealing with a finicky dog:

  • Make sure your dog is OK . If your dog has developed the habit of being picky about what he eats, the first step to the solution is to take your pooch to the veterinarian for a check-up. This is especially important to do if the finicky eating developed suddenly, if it is accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhea, if your dog is showing other signs of illness, or if the finicky eating is associated with weight loss. Visiting the vet will help you rule out any underlying medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal or oral disease that may be causing the finicky eating.

  • Check the food. If your dog receives a clean bill of health, the next step is to evaluate the food you feed. Make sure it has not spoiled. Both dry and moist foods can expire, and it is also possible to buy a bad batch of food. Check the expiration date and take note of any odd odors in the food.

  • Feed a good food . You should be feeding a high-quality nutritious diet approved by your veterinarian. A quality brand of food will supply your dog with all the nutrients he needs, eliminating the need for diet variety.

  • Consistently feed one type of food. Constantly changing foods may cause your dog to "hold out" for something tastier, creating a finicky eater. Change can also cause vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs. Feeding human food snacks can have the same affect and can also lead to obesity.

Tips for getting your dog to eat:

  • If you have been feeding your dog the same food for an extended period of time, he has always been finicky about eating it and you feel that he is unhappy with the taste, then you could gradually switch to a new quality food. To do this, mix the old food in with small amounts of the new food, then slowly increase the new food and decrease the old. This will prevent gastrointestinal upset. Make the change over at least 2 to 3 days.

  • When changing foods, pick a new flavor or texture that may better suit your dog's desires. For example, you may want to try feeding a semi-moist food instead of dry, or you may choose lamb and rice rather than beef and rice. If you are selecting a softer food, keep in mind that these foods can cause more tartar build-up on your dog's teeth, and they are generally more expensive. Adding small amounts of a moist food to your dog's dry food may be a better alternative.

  • Heating the food is another trick that can help finicky dogs to eat. This helps to release the aromas that are appealing to your dog. You might try microwaving your dog's moist food, or adding hot water to the dry food. Stir the mixture around before giving it to your dog to make sure there are no "hot spots" created by the microwave warming.

  • Mixing something extra into the food can also be helpful - break up a dog biscuit, add a little meat-flavored baby food or sprinkle in a small amount of shredded cheese. This will make the food more appealing. To make it more difficult for your pooch to pick out the goodies, mix the special additives throughout the food. Be careful with this option. Too much of that "something extra" can lead to obesity. Also, don't spoil him so much that he becomes more finicky, as explained above

  • PureBites are another VERY good way to get your dog to eat. They are made with only one ingredient. Choose from Cheddar Cheese, or prime quality cuts of USDA inspected chicken breast, beef liver or ocean whitefish. They are freeze-dried to lock in flavor, so dogs just love the taste. This is a healthy low-calorie snack that is perfect for all dogs - even those with food allergies, diabetes or obesity.

  • If your dog is a real go-getter that doesn't slow down long enough to eat, you might want to make him work for his food. Filling a treat-dispensing toy or a Kong toy with his meals may prove more interesting to your active canine.

One more thing - unlike humans, dogs do not need variety in their meals because they have all the nutrients they need in their dog food.

Until next time,

Dr. Jon

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