We tend to think of dogs as being voracious eaters who will devour every edible item offered to them. This isn’t always the case. There are some finicky dog eaters who can make feeding time a real challenge. Dogs who are finicky about their food are more common than you might think. This problem is more frequently seen in homes where there is a single dog. When there’s no competition for food from other dogs, a dog may feel he can afford to be picky and hold out for a better offering. If your dog’s finicky eating has become a problem and he’s becoming thin or malnourished, you need to take action. What should you do when your dog won’t eat?
Rule Out Medical Problems
If your dog refuses to eat, the first thing you need to do is rule out an underlying medical condition. This is especially important if your dog was previously eating well. An examination and a few simple blood tests may be all you need to rule out medical reasons for his lack of appetite. You’ll also want to have your dog’s teeth checked to ensure there isn’t a dental problem making it painful for him to chew.
Reevaluate His Eating Habits
Ask yourself if you’re giving your dog frequent human treats during the day. If so, this may be part of the problem. If your dog has been given bites of filet mignon during the day, he’s going to be less than enthusiastic when you put a bowl of dry dog food in front of him. Question family members to make sure they aren’t contributing to the problem by giving your dog treats. Could your dog be stealing food or raiding your garbage can? This can cause digestive upsets which can reduce a dog’s appetite for his regular food. Plus, it can be downright dangerous if your dog ingests the wrong food. Be sure to keep garbage cans out of reach of your dog.
Develop a Feeding Routine
Dogs thrive on structure and are more likely to eat if fed at the same time every day. Establish a set time for feeding and try to stick to the schedule. Once you place the food in front of your dog, allow him 10 minutes to eat. If he doesn’t touch it, remove the bowl from his sight. You want to reinforce to your dog that feeding occurs at a certain and he needs to eat when the food is put in front of him.
Provide Your Dog with an Eating Area Free of Distractions
If your dog is a finicky eater, feed him in a quiet area free of noise and distractions. This is particularly helpful if your dog tends to be high strung or nervous. Make sure there are no children or other family members around to distract your dog while eating.
Reevaluate What You’re Feeding Your Dog
Did your dogs finicky eating behavior start after you tried a new dog food? Reevaluate what you’re feeding your dog on a daily basis. If your dog has been overindulged with dog cookies and human treats, he may refuse to eat dog food. You may need to retrain your dog to enjoy dog food again. If you’re feeding dry dog food to your dog, try adding some warm water to his food to soften it a bit to make it more appealing. Resist the urge to mix human food in with his dog food as this will just reinforce his picky eating behavior.
A few simple changes may be all that’s needed to get your dog to enjoy his food again. If these tips don’t work for your dog, you may want to schedule a follow up visit with your dog’s veterinarian.