Dogs That Are Picky Eaters

by Naomi Millburn
    Get a handle on your doggie's dining snobbery.

    Get a handle on your doggie's dining snobbery.

    Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

    If your dog seems to turn her nose up at all her meals, put aside your frustration and try to pinpoint the underlying cause. A lot of factors can make a dog finicky about eating, from enjoying way too much delicious "people food" to various health conditions.

    One common cause behind a dog's picky eating habits is too much table food. If a dog has settled into a comfortable routine of enjoying table scraps -- whether steak or spaghetti -- she's probably going to develop a real taste for it. If a dog is used to eating "people food," it's no shocker that she's not going to be as interested in eating her nutritious, dry dog food. When a dog is essentially spoiled by food, her interest in things that aren't as "tasty" will certainly wane.
    Remember that human food also is made especially with human safety in mind. Never allow your dog even a bite of "people food" unless you're 100 percent certain of its canine safety.

    Before you make the assumption that your picky pet is just acting like a princess, rule out the possibility that a health condition may be contributing to her appetite woes. Maybe your poor doggie really isn't finicky, but simply has no appetite. A wide array of medical ailments are often associated with loss of appetite in canines, including urinary tract infection, bladder stones, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer and even dehydration. Schedule an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible to figure out what may be going on with your dog's full food bowl.

    If your dog has a clean bill of health, handling her picky eating may be entirely up to you. If you're having a hard time getting your doggie to open her mouth for kibble, consider at least temporarily switching her over to moistened canned food. When a dog is used to having her pick in what to eat, she may prefer the taste of wet food over dry, as it may be more similar to what she's enjoyed previously. As your dog gets more and more used to wet food, slowly and gradually mix in some dry food, increasing the amount every couple of days or so.
    If your dog is picky due to a 100 percent "people food" diet, you may want to apply the same method when you first switch her over to wet dog food, too. When it comes to making dietary change in canines, "slow and steady" is the goal. Aim for a full "switchover" process of approximately one week. Sudden and quick changes can be very distressing to canine digestion, too.

    In some cases, a dog may resort to "finicky eating" because she's actually holding out for something that tastes a lot better -- treats! If this is the case with your doggie, you may want to retrain her brain. Instead of only rewarding your pet for a job well done with a yummy chicken snack made for canines, consider opting for a nonfood "treat," such as an extended belly rub on the couch. Food is not your only option when it comes to establishing positive associations in dogs, so be creative.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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