How to Get a Fussy Dog to Eat
Like dog owners, our pets can also be fussy eaters. While some dogs are happy to chew on anything and everything, others will only show interest in certain foods they’re familiar with—or refuse whatever you put in front of them.
It can be really frustrating, trying to get a fussy dog to eat. But with a little know-how, you can get your dog to chow down and make mealtime a breeze, knowing they’re getting all the nutrients they need.
- Why is My Dog a Fussy Eater?
- 5 Tips for Feeding Fussy Dogs
- Best Foods for Fussy Dogs
- When to Pay a Visit to the Vet
Why is My Dog a Fussy Eater?
Picky eating can happen for a variety of reasons, and it’s often simply a matter of understanding the cause. Here are some of the main causes of fussy eating.
Our furry friends have food preferences: just as we do. While some dogs prefer wet dog food, others like crunchy dry kibble. Others can smell when their food has been sitting out for a while, or when it’s getting stale. Some dogs are also just picky by nature.
When dealing with stress, some dogs will suddenly stop eating. Anxiety and stress can be caused by anything from boredom, loneliness and separation anxiety to fireworks, thunderstorms, or even rearranging the furniture in your home.1A
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, allergies or food intolerances, they may associate mealtimes with tummy pain. This can result in dogs refusing a particular food, or meals altogether. Additionally, older dogs may have teeth and gum problems which can make eating a painful experience. As dogs age, they lose their sense of smell and taste: resulting in less of an appetite.1B If your own dog falls into any of these categories, it’s important to ask your vet about how you can tailor your dog’s diet. There are many benefits of turkey for dogs with dietary needs.
If your dog isn’t getting enough energy to match their needs, your dog may be craving foods with higher nutritional value. This is one reason that many owners choose Hypro Premium dog dry food, as it’s developed to have the optimal ratio of nutrients and ingredients.
5 Tips for Feeding Fussy Dogs
By following the below tips, you can ensure that your best friend is getting the nutrition they need—without having to resort to unhealthy foods or expensive veterinary diets.
Limit treats and table scraps
Control the number of treats and human food you give your dog. If a dog knows dessert is coming, they are likely to skip dinner. This can also disrupt their eating schedule, which has a long-term effect on appetite.1C Not all rewards have to be edible; instead of a treat, give them more time outdoors, attention or playtime with other dogs.
Your dog may have also found its own food source, and could be eating food from the trash. This is often the case in healthy dogs who aren’t losing weight—so before you worry about a dog’s fussiness, find out whether they’re really skipping meals or simply hunting down tastier ones.1C
For dogs, treats are tastier than regular dry or wet food. However, they don’t offer complete nutrition and shouldn’t replace meals.1C
Stick to a feeding schedule
Dogs are creatures of habit, and like their meals served at the same time each day. If you regularly change the time that your dog eats, they might refuse food in response to this unfamiliar schedule.1D
Try leaving the food out for a limited time—20-30 minutes—which will teach your dog that if they don’t eat, they will have to wait for the next scheduled meal time. This approach is not suitable for small dogs and puppies, as their blood sugar levels can drop rapidly.1D In this case, simply find the right puppy feeding schedule for your furry friend.
Warm up your dog’s food
Another simple trick is to heat up their food. Dogs prefer warm, moist food over cold and dry food:2 as this will release the aroma and enhance the flavour of the food. For dry food, heat it on a low setting in the oven for a few minutes. Wet food can be put in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds. It’s important to know how to soften dog food: be careful not to overheat the food as the nutrients may be lost.
Experiment with new dog foods
Dogs like variety in their diet, and they may get bored of eating the same thing each day. If you suspect their palate has changed over time, try experimenting with different flavours or brands of kibble.
It is important to introduce the new food gradually, to avoid upsetting your dog’s digestive system. You can read our article on changing dog food, or follow this schedule:1E
|Day||Ratio (old to new)|
|1-3||75 : 25|
|4-6||50 : 50|
|7-9||25 : 75|
|10+||0 : 100|
Encourage your dog to eat in a place that they are happy in
This should be a designated place in the house, quiet and free of traffic so they can eat without distractions. If you have children or guests over, ask that they do not interact with your dog while they eat.1F
For older dogs, elevate their food bowl. Standing over a food bowl can be painful for dogs with arthritis or sore joints.1G
Best Foods for Fussy Dogs
There is no single “best food” for fussy eaters: it’s all about finding the protein or carbohydrate source that your dog likes the most. There are many benefits of lamb for dogs, for example—but if they don’t like the taste, they’re unlikely to see these positive effects.
Here are a few tips you can follow when deciding on what to feed your dog.
- For treats from the fridge, pick low-calorie vegetables including carrots, snap peas, cauliflower and broccoli.
- If you’re buying treats off the shelf, low-calorie or dehydrated products are best. Less is more when it comes to ingredients: for example, kangaroo tasty chews.
- Sprinkle a commercially available dog food topper, dog probiotics, or pour a few chunks of a good quality wet food on the kibble. Even adding warm water or low-sodium chicken broth can help.
Across the board, it’s best to look for dog food that meets AAFCO standards. This will ensure that your pet gets a nutritionally balanced diet, with quality assurance and ingredients.
When to Pay a Visit to the Vet
If your dog suddenly has a significant change in appetite or has become very fussy with eating, then this is a strong indicator of an illness: and healthy eating habits may not be enough to combat fussy eating. We recommend you take them to the vet in this case. The most common underlying issues include dental disease, allergies, gastrointestinal issues and arthritis.1H
Our Hypro Premium range can accommodate for a range of preferences, with flavours available in Chicken & Duck, Kangaroo & Lamb and Ocean Fish. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that you’re feeding your dog food that’s not only delicious: but also has a high nutritional value.