How can I change my fussy eaters appetite?

It has become quite apparent to me that most dogs coming into our store, mainly those who are singular within a household, are being labelled "fussy eaters" by their beloved owners. Now it is very common knowledge that cats can be and are picky with their food (wet, raw or dry) but I have to break the news to fellow dog lovers... your dog has you well trained!

I would like to check a few things with you first, ok?

  • Do you feed your dog their dinner before yours?
  • Is your dog more excited for "human food" rather than their own?
  • Does your dog make you add food to the bowl, maybe table scraps, encouraging them to eat?
  • Do you have family members feeding the dog "human food" when you're not around?

Firstly, your dog is a carnivore. I also call them opportunistic omnivores as they can and will eat mostly everything that is offered to them. Crisps, fried chicken, blueberries, prawn crackers, cups of tea you name it! This is the reason why they will hold out for such high-prize items instead of what you're offering in the bowl. Would you blame them for not wanting to eat the same thing everyday? Therefore, I would utterly and totally suggest transitioning your picky pet onto a quality raw or fresh feeding diet full of variety. Even so, this is not the miracle solution to the problem. It's the doggy parents behaviour we have to modify. 

BELIEVE IN THE PROCESS

In my experience, fasting your dog for twenty four hours usually does the trick. A pet that is used to having titbits and their own food usually has a large appetite after going cold turkey. Although some dogs can hold out for much longer as in the wild they would fast for greater lengths of time.

Once refusing, I would save the quality raw food in the fridge, put it down again later or the next day trying not to make a fuss about eating it. I would give them 15 minutes to explore the bowl and if still no success remove it and repeat. I have never had to wait more than three days but please let me please remind you - feed the dog after you have fed yourself,  provide no food alternatives and make sure other family members are not feeding the dog out of guilt. This is so he or she knows there is nothing better coming to their slobber chops! The longest period without a dog eating (that I have heard of from other raw feeders) is around ten days. 

I often see or get told that pup parents add fresh food to the bowl to encourage their dog to eat kibble. If the dog is not eating the kibble in the first place, this scenario is exactly how you create a "fussy eater". 

HOW I SYMPATHISE WITH OWNERS 

You wouldn't believe the amount of stories I have heard over the years. The reason I can sympathise with "fussy eater" owners is because I had one. Yes, I did... but oh my how the tables have turned. Maela, my eldest dog child, has made me jump through hoops when its comes to food. But once I started analysing her behaviour it all became apparent where I was going wrong. I realised that I would feed her before myself, then off I popped to tuck into my own dribble-worthy plate. As always, she knew that I wouldn't finish my whole dinner and so she would wait for scraps. Additionally, I would feel guilty for her leaving her specially bought pricey food and so I encouraged this behaviour by rewarding with my leftovers.

How silly I was but love made me do it! 

After following the advice I have given above, her "fussy eating" days came to a holt. Especially when I put an end to her dog daddy's titbits throughout the day (that I never known about until he confessed!). Now I have a multi-dog household therefore if she leaves any, it gets eaten. And she goes hungry.

Lets just say her appetite has never been better... 

THINGS TO CONSIDER

If in any doubt please consult your vet, especially if your dog has a sudden loss of appetite. They may be trying to tell you there's an underlying health issue. 

  • Make sure the food is high quality, so great that you would want to eat it. 
  • Dogs can naturally fast but do have a good appetite otherwise. 
  • Having poor dental hygiene could be a symptom of a "fussy eater".
  • There should be no bad behavioural associations with food or their food bowl.

HEALTH IS IMPORTANT 

Please do not starve puppies as they are growing rapidly and need as much nutrition as possible. Also, adult dogs with any medical conditions such as diabetes should not be starved. Your local vet should be consulted.