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How Do I Feed My Fussy Dog?

How to feed a fussy dog Cokerpoo sitting next to Mcdug Grain Free dog food

How Do I Feed My Fussy Dog?

For many dogs, just the sound of kibble hitting the bowl is enough to get them racing to tuck in! Yet, if you’ve got a fussy eater, you might be tearing your hair out at their lack of mealtime excitement. There are a whole host of reasons why dogs are less-than-enthusiastic to eat. The good news? Many of them can be fixed! So, in this post, let’s dive into what owners can do to please even the pickiest of pups. 

Why is My Dog Fussy? Is it Normal?

We tend to think that dogs will eat just about anything. But, like us humans, each dog - and how they feel about food - is unique. Having a picky eater is more common than you might imagine, and there are lots of reasons why your furry friend could be unenthusiastic at mealtimes. 

First up, their fussiness could simply be down to individual taste preferences. For example, whilst some dogs will go wild for salmon or duck, others will turn their nose up. Equally, if a dog had a negative experience with a particular type of food in the past, like an upset stomach, they might become wary of similar foods now.

Also, exactly like us humans, dogs are sensitive to their surroundings. Changes in their environment or anything that causes stress, anxiety or disruption can zap our canine pals’ appetites.

Whilst being a picky eater isn’t always cause for concern, dental issues, gastrointestinal problems and other medical conditions can make eating uncomfortable or unappealing.

So, if your pup is suddenly refusing food, or you notice that they’re losing weight, it’s best to book in with your vet to check there’s nothing more serious going on. 

Do Dogs Know When a Food is Good or Bad Quality? 

Is your furry friend literally turning their nose up at what you put in their bowl? Don’t forget that dogs taste with their nose! In fact, they have significantly more olfactory receptors than us humans, making their sense of smell super-charged in comparison.

So, your canine pal is refusing to even try what you put in front of them? They’re likely getting a whiff of something they find less than appetising. 

The reality is, a low-quality food is likely to have a less appealing scent. Instinctively, dogs gravitate towards foods with meats and meat-related fats. Yet, cheaper kibbles tend to be packed full of tasteless filler ingredients and artificial flavours in place of protein. 

Some mass produced brands will even add chemicals to create an enticing smell. As dogs aren’t naturally excited by the smell of corn or wheat, big brands will spray their kibbles with animal digest to give them a deceptively meaty aroma. 

So, whilst dogs might not have the same level of discernment as us humans do, they can indeed smell - and taste - the difference between a high and low quality food.

Am I Training My Dog to Be Fussy?

Sometimes, if our furry best friend is fussy, we need to assess our own habits to check if we’re unintentionally training them to be picky. This is because of a concept called behaviour reinforcement, meaning that the way we respond to our pets’ bad habits could actually encourage them.

If, when a dog refuses to eat their regular food, their owner offers them treats or table scraps instead, the dog may learn that being picky leads to more attention - and tastier options! 

Also, as tempting as it is to show our dogs some love with sneaky snacks, this can spoil their appetite and make their own dinner seem less appealing. Try to limit treats and only use them to reward good behaviour.

It’s best to address any fussy eating as soon as possible. After all, a deeply ingrained habit is more difficult to change - for dogs and owners alike! 

So, How Can I Help My Fussy Dog Enjoy Their Food?

Dogs thrive on routine. So, when it comes to meal times, they generally benefit from a consistent feeding schedule. Having set meal times helps to create a sense of structure and anticipation to eat. Equally, avoid constantly switching up their diet; you can read more about why here!

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