Earlier, we talked about dogs that suddenly stop eating their meals. Pseudo and true anorexia is resolved as soon as we address the source of the problem. But picky eating is a different problem. How to pick dog food for picky eaters? Let’s find out.
Though picky eating is a kind of true anorexia, it is a completely man-made phenomenon and it can be a lifelong issue for many dogs.
No other animal refuses to eat a meal; it is in our primitive instincts to eat food when we see it. The reason why we moved away from this instinct is that we have enough to eat. Food, for us, is no longer something we need to fight for. Medium to upper-class families doesn’t have to worry about their next meal.
Pet dogs don’t have to worry about food either. They have a good life, with enough to eat all their lives. They don’t have to fight for food and naturally, the novelty wears off. This is how picky eating becomes a habit.
It is okay if your dog chooses not to eat for a day, but if they are constantly turning their noses at certain meals, it is a reason for concern. If your dog skips almost as much as a meal a day, they are a picky canine.
If your dog has been finicky all their life but they still have a healthy weight, minimal shedding and an overall happy persona, it is not a problem.
It becomes a problem when their finicky nature causes them to lose weight, hair, energy and become cranky. This simply means that they are losing out on important minerals and nutrients in the long run. So, how do we make them eat? And how do we pick dog food for picky eaters?
Let’s find out!
1. Establish Meal Times
Picky eating is common for those who are free fed. Free feeding is a method where the owner replenishes their dog’s food every time they have a nibble. This is terrible practice. It can cause obesity and it may be why your dog has lost all interest in their food.
Food is not the same as water and every animal must struggle for food; this restores to the importance of food. But when food is always there, it loses its value.
In order to give food its rightful importance, you must establish meal times. A puppy must eat around 3 to 6 times a day depending on its month and an adult dog must eat around 2 times a day.
Give them meals according to their calorie intake and allow them 10 minutes to finish it. If they cannot finish it in 10 minutes, take it away and do not give them anything till their next meal. This helps them get into a habit of meal times and appreciate food a lot more.
2. Meat With A Strong Scent
So, what is the perfect dog food for picky eaters? You must pick meals that have meat with a heavy scent. They are more likely to favour pork over chicken because of the scent. So, choose recipes with a strong, inviting scent. If it is too smelly for you, it probably smells great for your pooch!
This also means that you should pick a dog food that contains real meat. Finicky eaters are quick to spot artificial meat flavours and will stay hungry for the rest of the evening.
Always go through the ingredients list and make sure the product uses at least one named meat at the primary ingredient. Steer clear from products that say ‘by-product’ (like chicken by-product or meat by-product). Instead, pick a product that contains named meat like chicken, pork, salmon, duck etc.
3. Gradual Assimilation
You should rotate their diet a few times to make sure they are getting the right kind of nutrition.
Picky eaters don’t like to experiment with new food. But this does not mean you shouldn’t swap their meals. Just make sure you make the change gradual and less ‘traumatizing’ for your pooch.
Start by introducing 20% of their new meal to 80% of their old meal for 5-7 days. With every passing week replace 20% of their current meal with 20% of their new one until they are having 0% of the old meal and 100% of the new one.
The key here is to take it slow. If you feel your dog is showing less interest in the new concoction, take it down a notch and give them what they are comfortable with. Make the change as gradual as possible.
4. Reduce Table Scraps
Finicky eating is very common for dogs who get a good helping of treats and/or human food. Sometimes they adopt a taste for high-calorie treats and are no longer interested in their meals.
Dogs can get accustomed to an unhealthy diet and lose interest in food that is actually beneficial to them. This can cause health problems in the long run. So, make sure you reduce their treat intake.
Treats shouldn’t make up for more than 10% of their diet and some human food items should be reduced to as rare as ‘once in a blue moon’. Once they stop filling up on treats and other food items that are not good for them, they will look forward to their next meal!
So these are a few tips that should keep picky dogs healthy, happy and well-nourished. Let us know your experiences with finicky eaters. How did you change their habits and were you able to succeed?