Like humans, most dogs have taste preferences when it comes to their food. Some pooches are eager to eat anything they can put in their mouths (whether it’s edible or not). Others are intensely selective about the foods they consume. They might even prefer to go hungry than to eat something they think tastes bad.
As a dog owner, it can be stressful to see your furry family members reject the foods you try to feed them. Whether you’re switching up your dog’s diet due to stomach sensitivity, excess weight, or some other issue, you might be met with resistance. Here are five tips for overcoming that resistance and getting your picky dogs to eat.
1. Gradually Introduce New Foods
Like all animals, dogs need proper nutrition to thrive. Not all dog food options contain the balance of nutrients Fido needs to stay fit, energetic, and healthy. Sometimes, pet owners don’t know they’re not providing a balanced diet until their pets begin to lose weight or energy. Once they realize there’s a problem, the first thing they want to do is switch food brands right away. But remember to never make sudden changes to your pup’s diet unless it’s absolutely necessary.
It’s usually best to introduce new foods slowly so their stomachs and bodies can acclimate to the change. Try mixing a small portion of the new food into your canine’s current food over a period of seven days. On the first day, just 25% of the bowl should contain the new food. By the seventh day, 100% of the diet should consist of the new food. Many dog owners also find that switching from nutrient-deficient dry food to fresh dog food makes a world of difference for their canine’s health.
2. Set Strict Feeding Times
Animals that are allowed to eat whenever they want may feel less hungry at official mealtimes. It may be convenient to fill their bowls to the brim and not worry about refilling them for a while. But this type of feeding style can be detrimental to your pets — especially those who are picky eaters. It doesn’t give them time to experience the hunger signals that will make them more likely to eat when fed.
Setting strict feeding times tells your pooches that food is only available each day for finite time periods. Therefore, they’d better chow down while the eating is good. You may also want to remove any food that remains uneaten 30 minutes after feeding time. When dogs learn that rejected food gets removed, they may decide it’s not so bad to eat it after all.
3. Cut Back on Treats
Few things can light up a pup’s eyes quicker than the familiar rustle of the treat bag. It’s fun to give dogs treats throughout the day. You may find yourself making up reasons to reward your canines with chewy morsels. Pretty soon, treat-giving can become an all-day affair that’s no longer tied to training or good behavior. This is a surefire way to ruin a picky dog’s appetite for regular dog food.
What dog would choose to eat boring dog food if it knew it could munch on treats all day instead? Excessive treat consumption could also cause weight gain and other health issues. It’s best to limit treats to training sessions or use them occasionally as rewards for good behavior. They are not designed to become your pup’s main source of daily nutrition.
4. Add Bone Broth Powder to Food
Bone broth is high in amino acids, protein, calcium, and vitamins and minerals that support human and animal health. It’s also full of collagen, which is a primary building block of ligaments, skin, tendons, and other connective tissues. Dogs with digestive issues, sore joints, or dull coats may benefit greatly from regularly consuming this simple ingredient. Bone broth can also support your dog’s liver health.
The good news for owners of picky dogs is that most pups love the taste of bone broth. However, pouring liquid broth over dry food might create an unappealing mush. To get around this problem, many dog owners purchase powdered bone broth. They sprinkle it into their dogs’ food bowls to add nourishment and extra flavor. Even the pickiest canines are likely to enjoy food that’s been seasoned with powdered broth.
5. Make Sure There’s no Underlying Illness or Injury
Sometimes, dogs are picky about the foods they eat because they have some type of underlying illness or injury. If you’ve already tried all the tips in this guide and your pups still refuse to eat, take heed. Your furry pals may be suffering silently from health conditions that destroy their appetites or make it painful to eat. A prompt trip to the vet may be the best course of action to rule out any health issues.
Illness, recent vaccination, and dental disease are all common health conditions associated with eating problems in dogs. Some dogs also refuse to eat when they’re feeling anxious or depressed. Once the underlying issue is diagnosed and treated, your pups may slowly regain their appetites.
Canines can be notoriously stubborn, especially when you try to make them do something they don’t want to. Getting picky dogs to eat a balanced diet can feel impossible. But before you give in to your pups’ desires for treats all day, try these helpful tips. They might be the key to unlocking your dogs’ willingness to eat foods that will help them thrive.