For pet parents with picky eaters, mealtime can feel like a top chef quickfire challenge. They are running around asking themselves what will my pup eat today? How do I get balanced nutrition into my pup’s little body when they won’t eat anything but cheese (or whatever their one thing is). We rounded up some of our best tips to help pet parents through picky eating.
1. Rule out any allergies or medical or food safety issues first
If your pup is newly picky or has started refusing food they’ve eaten for months or years, consider that there may be an underlying medical issue or something wrong with the food. See your vet for a checkup to find out if anything is going on. Allergies, upset stomach, dental pain, and other illnesses can make dogs not want to eat.
When it comes to food safety check with the FDA and/or manufacturer about recalls. In 2007, the FDA learned that some cat and dog food contained melamine and was sickening and killing pets. Some pet parents who lost pets reported that their pets were refusing the tainted food until they were forced to eat it. While this situation has been remedied if your usually un-picky dog is refusing to eat, it might be worth looking into as you’re better safe than sorry!
2. Try a few different options
Dog hates kibble? Try fresh food. Dog refusing turkey? Try food with another protein as the base like lamb, chicken, or beef. There are so many different foods on the market today that trying a few things might help you figure out what your dog needs. Remember to transition food slowly to avoid stomach upset - as that won’t help your pup’s appetite.
3. Wait your pup out
Offer your pup their food for 15-20 minutes at mealtime. If they don’t eat, pick it up and try again a little later. If you’re using wet or fresh food - keep food safety in mind. Discard or properly refrigerate leftovers if they are not shelf-stable. To avoid wasting food, use only a small amount. You can increase the portion or offer more if your pup is eating.
3. Add some flavor with “human” food
While feeding only home-cooked is not the way to go here (we will talk more about this next) there are some foods you can add to your dog’s dish to help inspire them to eat more. These include low sodium chicken or vegetable broths, fresh or frozen vegetables, scrambled eggs (no butter or cheese), and believe it or not, some plain popcorn.
4. Avoid feeding only home-cooked
The reason we avoid only home cooked or “table scraps” is that it is easy to lean on these because it’s what your pup will eat. The problem is, by feeding these foods you might be creating nutritional imbalances. By adding some of these foods to food that is deemed complete and balanced nutrition by AAFCO your dog will be getting some if not all of the recommended nutrients. The goal here is to get as much nutrition as possible into your picky eater - and it can be a challenge.
If you have a picky eater, work with your vet to determine why your dog is picky and how you can help. At Ollie, many of our pet parents report that their pups were picky eaters before finding our food. For those with specific tastes, we offer four delicious recipes that are made with gently cooked human-grade proteins. To get your pup set up with their own meal plan, contact us today and tell us all about your pup.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.