Solving Fussy Eating in Dogs: Expert Advice for Pet Owners

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Solving Fussy Eating in Dogs: Expert Advice for Pet Owners

Fussy eating in dogs is a surprisingly common issue that many pet owners struggle with. What's even more interesting is that quite a few of these picky eaters end up tipping the scales towards being overweight. It's a tricky situation, driven by owners' well-meaning attempts to coax their pets into eating by offering calorie-laden treats and alternatives. But fear not, there are ways to encourage healthier eating habits in your dog without resorting to bribery.

One strategy to entice your dog to eat their regular food is by incorporating tasty additions. Think of it as jazzing up their meal with a little extra flavour and nutrition. Adding a dollop of wet food, a splash of warmed chicken broth, or a handful of cooked vegetables like carrots or green beans can make a world of difference.

Another trick to tempt reluctant eaters is by gently warming up their food. Heating their meal releases more aroma, stimulating their senses and making it more enticing. However, be cautious not to overheat the food, as you don't want to risk burning your pet’s delicate mouth.

You could also consider introducing a rotational diet to add variety to your dog's meals. Just like humans, some dogs are stimulated by novelty in their food choices. By rotating between different flavours, textures or brands of dog food, you can prevent mealtime monotony and reignite their interest in eating. This approach not only keeps mealtime exciting but also ensures your pet receives a diverse range of nutrients from various sources.

A final top tip to help entice a fussy eater is to make mealtimes fun by introducing puzzle feeders. These fantastic tools help provide mental stimulation, which can be particularly appealing to pets who may be disinterested in food due to boredom or lack of engagement. By engaging pets in a challenging activity to access their food, puzzle feeders can reignite their interest in eating.

Additionally, puzzle feeders encourage pets to use their natural problem-solving skills, which can boost their confidence and overall well-being. By providing a stimulating activity during mealtime, puzzle feeders can make the experience more enjoyable and fulfilling for fussy eaters, ultimately helping to establish healthier eating habits over time.

It's essential to approach fussy eating with patience and understanding. Avoid succumbing to the temptation of constantly switching to different, often less nutritious, options in a bid to please your pet. Instead, focus on gradually introducing changes and experimenting with different strategies to find what works best for your dog.

Remember that consistency is key. Establish a regular feeding schedule and stick to it, avoiding free-feeding or constantly offering treats outside of meal times. This helps regulate your dog's appetite and encourages them to eat when food is provided.

Lastly, while addressing picky eating habits is important, it's equally crucial to recognise any sudden changes in appetite or refusal of food, as these could signal underlying health issues. If your dog goes off their food suddenly or refuses food altogether, seek your vet's help, as it could indicate a potential health concern.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.