Picky Eaters

ILittle Pit Bull by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.comt’s feeding time in your household. As a conscientious pet parent, you carefully measure out your dog’s food according to the feeding amounts listed on the bag of dog food or according to your veterinarian’s instructions. Your dog runs along side of you, wagging his tail with eagerness as he awaits your placement of the dog dish on the floor. As you set the bowl down, the dog sits down, stares at the bowl, cocks his head to the left, and stops wagging his tail. After a moment, he gets up and walks away.

Sound familiar? This happens all the time in homes all over the world. How does it make you feel when you’ve gone through the effort of trying to provide your dog with the best dog food only to have him reject it? It’s disappointing. But you’re not alone.

There’s a number of reasons why your dog is rejecting the food.

Sick

Whenever I feel sick, I don’t feel like eating much. The same holds true for your dogs. When a dog feels sick, it will stop eating. Before you examine other causes of inappetence in your dogs, you should visit the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Pain

Dental health is important in our canine companions, yet many people are still unaware of its importance. If your dog has very bad breath, calculus build up on their teeth, and red gums, this is a strong indication of dental disease. If you’ve ever had teeth problem, you know just how painful that can be. I recommend having your dog’s teeth cleaned at least once per year to remove the calculus. In some circumstances, your dog may need to have some teeth extracted. Get rid of the source of pain, and there’s a good chance your dog will go back to eating.

Not Hungry

One of the simplest explanations is your dog is simply not hungry. Depending on what you feed your dog, your dog might eat less than usual. For example, my dog Freckles started out eating Life’s Abundance Dog Food with a passion. But after a few weeks, she started to eat less of it. Life’s Abundance is full of wholesome ingredients, many of which are fruits and vegetables. I don’t know about you, but when I eat a big helping of vegetables with my dinner, I feel full to where I don’t want anything else. When I first started noticing her eating less, I reduced her portion. Some dogs may actually do better eating multiple meals each day. So in Freckles’ case, instead of feeding her 1 cup once a day, I could start feeding her one half a cup twice a day.

Other reasons your dog might be hungry include eating other foods throughout the day. How often do you give your dogs treats? What kind of treats? Does anyone give your dog table scraps? Could your dog be a dumpster diver, going through your trash to find a tasty morsel? Does your dog eat grass or dog waste? All of these things could contribute to inappetence.

Undesirable Food

My son hates eating vegetables. It’s a strange thing, though, because when he was much younger, he loved eating vegetables. There is something about the taste and texture he doesn’t like and there’s a good chance if your dog won’t eat he’s trying to tell you, “I don’t like it!”

No matter how much you tell your dog, “It’s good for you,” he still won’t eat it. Do you feed your dog kibble but he prefers canned food? Will he eat certain canned food but not all canned food? Would your dog prefer a raw or home-cooked diet? Is it possible the food has spoiled or expired or maybe the batch of food you purchased was simply a bad batch? Dogs explore the world through their noses and their astute sense of smell could be telling them something isn’t right with the food you’ve given them.

Some resources will tell you to feed your dog one food for its entire life. How absurd is that? Dr. Karen Becker compared feeding your dog the same food every day to telling humans to eat oatmeal every day. Sure oatmeal is good for us but eating it every day would leave out a lot of nutrients our body needs to thrive. There is a big difference between surviving and thriving.

So next time your dog shows no interest in eating, schedule an appointment with your vet to check for health problems. Consider having the teeth cleaned and explore your environment to make sure your dog isn’t consuming calories throughout the day in the form of treats or other materials. Verify your dog food isn’t expired. It’s tough watching someone you care for not eat. But it’s more important to stay calm and be proactive in your approach to solving the problem.

 Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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