Why is my dog a fussy eater?

There is something disconcerting about realising your dog has left their bowl of food untouched. Naturally, we start to wonder if something may be amiss. This is especially true when our dog turning up their nose at dinner time becomes the norm.

Some dogs will earn themselves a reputation as ‘fussy eaters’ and can go through periods of not being very interested in their food. Owners may rotate from one food to another, desperate to hit on a ‘winner’ that will get eaten every time. However, with a truly fussy dog, you may be fighting a losing battle.

Some dogs are born fussy; why is this?

The term ‘fussy’ is a little misleading. When a dog refuses their meal, it isn’t often because they are being pernickety. It is more likely to be a case of not being especially hungry at the time the food is offered. Certainly, they may be happy to chow down on some chicken or a treat, but I liken this to a toddler eating a slice of chocolate cake even though they claim to be ‘too full’ for their plate full of spaghetti and meatballs!

We are more likely to encounter this in those dogs with lower calorie requirements such as adult toy breeds. Chihuahuas, Maltese dogs, Poodles and Shih Tzus all fall into this category. These dogs can happily skip a meal without feeling hungry because they don’t need very much food to keep them fuelled.

Other breeds of dog are very food-driven and have high calorie requirements; the Labrador and Beagle come to mind. We are much less likely to ever class these guys as ‘fussy’.

Dogs may refuse meals if we are offering treats, chews or dental sticks between feeding times. Rather than trying to fill them up with an alternative, let them wait until their next meal when they will be hungry.

Try not to fall into the trap of offering a second option if your dog refuses their meal. This creates a cycle whereby dogs won’t eat their dog food in the hope they will get something ‘tastier’ (and less healthy!).



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