Like humans, dogs can also display different eating habits. Some naturally like scheduled feedings, while others prefer to have their meals differently. Typically, things feel easy when your dog eats its food per the schedule. A healthy diet includes two or three meals daily, depending on the canine’s age. If he is a good eater, he will wait for his meal and eat it when it is served. You can do your work without worrying about him. However, any dog that avoids meals or overeats may bother pet parents. You will worry about your furry friend’s weight if he gobbles up everything quickly and overeats. Conversely, picky dogs don’t care about food, even if you keep a bowl full. Many different categories of dog eating habits are available, such as sensitive, defensive, excited, etc.

If you’re a pet owner with a dog that is fussy with their meals, it’s crucial to understand their eating habits. This knowledge will empower you to ensure they get proper nutrition. So, is your dog a picky eater? Let’s get down to the problem for appropriate solutions.

As a pet parent, your dog’s health is a top priority. It’s natural to feel concerned when your dog doesn’t eat properly. The good news is that picky eating behavior can be managed with patience and multiple attempts. The first step is understanding why your dog behaves a certain way about its food. While the line between selective and picky eating is thin, it’s essential to recognize all the traits to address the underlying issue. For instance, some dogs may be fussy about their food, which is fine if they eat healthy items. However, signs of boredom, such as irregular eating patterns or refusal of their favorite food for a week, could indicate a problem.

Growing pups generally avoid some food due to evolved tastes. An experienced pet owner will vouch for this. Regarding picky eaters, their bowls will always remain full from one meal to another. It can make you wonder how to convince them to eat or feed them properly. Remember, sudden appetite loss or the development of fussiness about food can be prompted by medical conditions. In that case, meeting a vet can be the best step.

  • Pickiness: An acquired trait

There must be clarity that dogs are characterized by their opportunistic hunting traits, which make them search for food. Many wild dogs became domestic pets for easy access to food and became friendly with humans. The scavenging attribute still strongly exists in them. Hence, they are not naturally fussy. However, human influence may sometimes make them behave differently from their original nature. For example, a pet dog does not need to worry about food supply. If they skip a meal, they will receive a better one in the next turn. You must have noticed this often when your canine friend suddenly ate away the high-value egg and chicken meal after refusing the usual low-value option. So, dogs are more intelligent that way. They will get what they desire and not starve. Then, why do they become picky?

  • Reasons for pet dogs becoming picky about their food

Anything can contribute to this fussy side of his behavior. However, some factors can be more relevant than others. Here’s a quick look into them.

1. Medical conditions

Not eating food can be linked with anorexia. Whether your dog doesn’t eat or takes a minuscule quantity and has started looking starved, you can suspect a medical reason behind this. Dogs can show such signs when they suffer from mouth or stomach ulcers. Or, it can be the blocked digestive tract, making them avoid food. Sometimes, even liver and kidney problems interfere with their food intake. Only a proper medical examination can reveal the exact issue. However, you don’t have to bother if they temporarily indulge in such eating behavior. Going to a vet can still be a good decision because inflammation or infections can be responsible for it.

Senior dogs can struggle to eat anything hard to chew or swallow. Their oral health can also affect their eating, such as loose or broken teeth, gum disease, and oral tumors.

2. Behavioral catalysts

Suppose your dog wants to eat a few items more than others or likes to be hand-fed. These indicate behavioral challenges and not medical ones. These dogs will have chicken, eggs, and other favorite foods and discard rice, veggies, and other options that they don’t like. Some canines even stop eating regular high-value food after getting to eat something of a higher value. Due to this, many pet parents keep plenty of different brands of dog foods in their kitchen because they refuse to have them every three to four weeks. Then, some furry friends like to be chased long before finishing their meal or wait for someone to make them eat with their hands. Otherwise, they will not eat.

A few pet parents can feel proud that their dog is pampered. But correct parenting is most important. When you are not around, they will starve. What will happen if you are away for a long time? Of course, you feed them in their early years, as the bowl can distract them. So, you have to get your dog’s attention to the taste. Afterward, the pet should eat on his own.

3. Physiological effects

Sometimes, a small appetite makes dogs eat less or rarely. A dog’s calorie intake can vary based on size, activity, exercise, etc. Less active dogs feel less hungry due to their lower metabolism. Some parents offer treats to motivate them and maintain their calorie levels. For these reasons, many small dogs display more fussy behavior with foods than their bigger counterparts. They need fewer calories to sustain their energy and stubbornness.

  • Myths around dogs’ picky eating

Because you are concerned about your dog’s well-being, you can easily accept any logic that others offer. Please be careful about what you believe or deny. A common belief is that dogs like variety, and the same food can be bland for them to eat. In truth, dogs are creatures of consistent behavior. A constant mixture of nutrition is necessary for their health. Plus, most prefer to have their food on a fixed time. However, they can be inclined to have a specific item more than others. Think of fish, for instance. If they like it, dogs will eat fish day in and day out. Variety is not so much of a thing for them.

Some will tell you that picky eaters cannot be conditioned. But that’s not the truth. Even the ones with behavioral challenges can be normalized with patience and persistent efforts. Then, you may also hear theories that frequently changing their diet can help them avoid being fussy. Again, this needs careful consideration. Frequent meal changes can affect their health. Plus, such practices attract them to higher-value food. Hence, it’s crucial to be cautious when approaching your dog’s diet and food habits.

  • Things to avoid to fix picky eating habit

Avoid the puppy-eye trap, which works on most pet parents every time. It can be challenging not to pay heed to those dismayed eyes evoking a sense of guilt and sadness in you for keeping your dear furry friend away from his favorite food. It’s just a tactic. They will snub the food, look at you with teary eyes, and wait for the trick to work. Some dog lovers spoil their buddies with treats, so they eat their food. But these intelligent creatures will polish off all the treats and not touch the food. Experts say your dog treats can seem like a reward to them for not consuming food. That means you will invite another unwanted challenge upon yourself. Plus, some treats use synthetic flavors, which can harm your dog’s health when given in quantity.

Please drop the idea immediately if you think hand-feeding would be safer. It will only make your pet more dependent on you. Helping dogs find their daily nutrition hassle-free is good. However, over-pampering will make both of your journeys more complicated.

  • Things to do to fix picky eating habit

It begins with commitment. Please don’t give in, no matter how many times you fail in your attempt. Your dog may not eat one day or a maximum of two days. If you become weak, you will make this entire exercise more complicated for yourself. The dog will not starve. It will eat whatever he finds eventually. Dogs can do well without food for a few days, especially the smaller and lazier ones. It can be challenging to take this step, but you must convince your family. Of course, one must ensure that such stubborn food behavior is not the consequence of any underlying medical condition. A vet should be involved in ruling out any such possibility before assuming your dog’s food habit is an outcome of some behavioral or physiological conditions.

Once you determine the cause, you can walk the demanding path. Divide your doggy’s diet into 4 to 5 smaller portions to feed it after 3 to 4 hours. Serve them warm food for their metabolism’s sake. Leave the dog alone with the bowl for twenty minutes. Remove the bowl after the time has passed, regardless of whether or not your pet ate anything. The next round should happen only at the decided time without any change. Avoid treats, fruits, and other items. Stick to dog food! When he finishes his meals, praise him.

When you condition your dog’s food behavior, ensure he gets all the essential nutrients. It can be a sign of trust when your furry friend consumes its food fuss-free.

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