We are often used to seeing dogs steal food from counter tops and drool in anticipation for their meals, so it comes natural to remain quite baffled when dogs turn up their noses at their food bowls. What gives? When it comes to finicky dogs, they seem to fit into two whole different categories: dogs who make being finicky a way of life and dogs who become finicky only in certain circumstances. Evaluating possible causes for finicky behavior can be helpful in determining what strategies can be employed to get the dog to eat more.
Something Wrong in the Health Department?
If your dog was always hungry, and now, out of the blue he is refusing food, a health check-up is in order. Your dog may have a dental problem which makes eating painful or he may be suffering from fever, pain or some stomach problem that is causing nausea and loss of appetite. Seeing your vet will help you determine if there is some underlying issue that needs addressed. Generally, a vet should be consulted when a dog isn’t eating for more than 24 hours.
When dogs are stressed, their appetite decreases. Recent changes in the dog’s life such as a new move, being boarded at a kennel or being with a new pet sitter, may cause temporary loss of appetite. Placing the food bowl in a place where too much is going on in the name of distractions may also be a culprit for reduced appetite. Dogs need peace and tranquility in order to feel safe to eat.
Are You Spoiling Your Dog?
At times, some dogs get good at manipulating their owners at meal time. It goes something like this: the dog refuses food and the owner starts feeding table scraps just to prevent the dog from starving itself. Then next time at meal time, the dog refuses food again in hopes of getting tastier table scraps. Soon a vicious cycle establishes and the owner is left with a finicky dog that refuses dog food and only wants to eat table scraps.
Some dogs get simply tired of eating the same food all the time. Some dog owners have success by rotating different foods at one time or another. Pet Md lists several benefits in rotating dog foods. Sometimes, just sticking to the same food brand but switching flavors is enough to get the dog interested in eating dog food again. Some owners find it difficult to rotate food if their dogs require specific diet. Some people have found that their dogs enjoy it when something tasty is added to their food bowls. Carrots, string beans, plain canned pumpkin or broccoli are some healthy additions.
There are times of the year when dogs may lose a bit of interest in their food. Summer is notorious for decreasing appetite due to the intense heat. This occurs because mammals become less active and need less energy when temperature rises, explains Dr. Ken Tudor. Food consumption instead increases during the colder months as animals consume more energy to keep themselves warm.
Is There Love in the Air?
If you own an intact male or an intact female, there are chances love is in the air and your dog refuses food because he or she has better things to think about. Female dogs in heat may want to go outside to repeatedly mark in the yard to signal their availability. Male dogs can smell the urine of a female in heat several feet away, and once detected, they may temporarily lose interest in food.
Tips for Increasing Appetite
- Always have a vet visit done before assuming your dog is just being finicky.
- Exercise your dog daily to increase appetite. The fresh air and exercise often does the trick, especially when you are dealing with stress.
- Instead of free-feeding, schedule twice-a-day meal times.
- If your dog refuses to eat when you put the food bowl down, give him about 30 minutes and then lift the bowl and feed it again for the next meal. Repeat without giving in. According to Hills Pet, your dog should start eating again when he’s hungry.
- Add some water or broth to the food if your dog isn’t eating due to dental problems.
- Last but not least, give your dog the benefit of doubt; check the food bag. At times, there’s something wrong with the food. The food may be rancid because it’s expired or it could be it has been recently recalled.