How To Feed a Puppy - How To Choose the Best Puppy Food
How to Get Your Dog to Eat the Dog Food It Does Not Like
It's hard to know what to do if your dog is a picky eater, especially when it comes to dry dog food versus wet dog food. There are some dogs that absolutely refuse to eat their dog food, especially dry kibble. This can be dangerous since dog foods are formulated to meet all of a dog’s nutritional needs while a human diet will not meet these needs. By being choosy and refusing to eat, a dog could end up nutritionally deficient and develop serious health problems in his bones, joints, and teeth.
Making Your Dog's Food Appealing
Try integrating dry kibble into wet food.Dogs will sometimes fight you on eating their dry food, the kibble. To your dog to eat his dry food, mix some wet food with the desired dry food. That way, your dog will still get the taste of wet dog food while also consuming the dry dog food at the same time. However, make sure you completely mix the wet and dry food or else the dog will only consume the wet food, leaving the dry food in its bowl. Each week, feed your dog less and less wet food until you are completely feeding him dry dog food. Your dog should get used to this and will soon be eating the dry dog food without any complaint.
Make sure the dog food is meat-based.Odor, taste, temperature or texture can all be manipulated to tempt your reluctant dog to eat. Dogs prefer the taste and odor of meat over grains. Check the ingredient labels on the dog food brand you've been feeding your dog. If meat (not meat by-product) is not the first ingredient listed, try another brand.
- In addition, keep away from dog foods that list corn as one of main ingredients. A diet with corn listed as a main ingredient is less suited to a canine digestion than a meat-rich diet. It is a sign of cost-cutting by the manufacturer as corn is often used a cheap bulking agent.
Warm the food.Warming dog food will intensifies its smell and will hopefully entice your dog to eat the food. This works best with canned food. If you are trying to feed dry food, add some warm water to the food to soften it.
Make some additions.Add a small amount of meat broth (which can be warmed first) or a tablespoon of pureed banana or pumpkin to the food. You can also add cottage cheese or a bit of cooked egg. These are all foods that dogs typically enjoy and their addition to the dog food may incentivize your dog to eat it.
- None of these additions should be more than 10% of the total daily food allowance.
Limit treats.In fact, try to discontinue treats altogether and only feed your dog twice a day until he is regularly eating dog food. After your dog has successfully become a normal eater, do not use human food as a treat—only dog treats or dog foods.
- If you are trying to work out if the dog is ill and this is reason he's not eating, then try him with a favorite food. If he wolfs it down then he's being picky, but if he doesn't eat even that then he may be ill and should see a vet.
- Avoid chopping and changing foods as this gives the dog the message that if he doesn't eat he gets offered an alternative.
- If you try three brands and both wet and dry food, it may be time to talk to your vet.
Mix old food with new food.If you suspect that the problem is that you've been trying out a new brand and your dog doesn't seem to be taking to it, try mixing the old and new food together first. Start out by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the old and, over the course of one to two weeks, gradually increase the ratio of the new food and decrease the ratio of the old food until your dog is only consuming the new food.
Make mealtimes more fun.To help encourage your pet to eat, consider making feeding times more fun and exciting for him. For example, try playing with a dog toy that dispenses food. Alternately, make food the reward for when your dog does a trick, such as shaking a paw or rolling over. If done repeatedly, your dog may come to associate that food he previously did not like as a reward and be more inclined to eat it.
Exercise your dog before feeding time.Try taking your dog for a walk before giving him his food or playing fetch with him for a while in your backyard. As he burns energy and calories and hopefully builds up an appetite through this exercise, your dog might be more willing to eat when his food is put in front of him.
Change up the feeding routine.Make some adjustments to mealtimes to see if any of these make your dog more willing to eat his food:
- If you usually feed him alongside your other pets, try feeding him alone. Put his dish in another, separate room. Try the opposite if you tend to feed him alone.
- Use a different food dish for his food.
- Place the food dish in a different location in the room or at a different height.
- Put some of the food beside his dish as well as in it.
Don't give in.If your dog is healthy otherwise, don’t stress right away if he refuses to eat for several days. Some dogs can be quite stubborn when being forced to eat a dog food diet. While it is not desirable that your dog starves himself, he will not come to any harm if he doesn't eat for a couple of days, though he might lose a little weight. Indeed, dogs that starve themselves for weeks to months do not come to harm, although they will obviously become very thin. After a week or so, you then may want to consult your vet for other strategies.
- Leave the food out for 15 minutes in the room and leave the room yourself so the dog has no audience to play to. If he doesn't eat it within that time-frame, take it away. Throw uneaten food away, as wet food tends to dry out once it's been opened and so will lose it's appeal. Your dog will eventually choose dog food over no food. You just have to wait him out.
- It is only by resisting the urge to switch foods and give your dog what he wants when he doesn't eat that he will learn that you mean business.
Get assistance.In a few cases, you may decide to cook a home-made special diet for your dog. This can make a perfectly acceptable diet for your dog, provided you work closely with a pet nutritionist to formulate a well-balanced diet.
- There are some veterinarians who have training in pet diet formulations. Otherwise, veterinary colleges generally have a nutritionist on staff or can direct you to reliable online resources to help you come up with an acceptable diet which is affordable for you and palatable to your dog.
Understanding Picky Eaters
Realize that your dog may be a picky eater by choice.Picky eaters by choice know there is something better out there than dog food, especially dry food, and will hold out for that better alternative, whether that means wet dog food or pieces of bacon from their owner's plate.
- The type of picky eater is usually created by owners that spoil the dog with tasty table tidbits or reward the dog's picky eating by hand-feeding or offering an even more tasty alternative. These dogs are typically smaller breed dogs who have been pampered with human food by their owners. Their weight is may remain within normal weight range for their size or they may become obese due to overindulgence in delicacies and high-fat foods.
Consider whether a medical reason might be at work.This would be a dog that was previously eating dog food without a problem who now suddenly nibbles at the food or leaves it in its dish. You may notice your dog losing weight or exhibiting signs of illness, such as lethargy or slowness.
- If your previously normal eater doesn't return to his normal eating pattern within two days, bring this issue to your vet's attention as it could be related to a more serious underlying medical condition. Dental disease, gastrointestinal upset, tumors, or liver, kidney, and heart disease are all medical conditions which may cause a formerly good eater to become a picky eater.
Understand the impact of picky eating.Your dog will eventually become nutritionally deficient if he is not eating a well-balanced diet. Dog food is formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of dogs. They are not humans and thus cannot thrive on a human diet. Dogs have different requirements than humans for fat, protein, minerals and vitamins. Here are some of the potential implications of a poor diet:
- Poor teeth: The dog's teeth will suffer, especially small breed dogs, if he doesn't eat properly. Dry dog food (kibble) helps to “grind” off some of the plaque that eventually collects on the teeth. In addition, a nutritionally imbalanced diet will eventually make the dog deficient in minerals like calcium which helps build strong teeth and bones.
- Obesity: Generally, picky eaters will only eat the tastiest human foods which typically contain a lot of fat. Fat is what gives the most flavor to food. Too much fat in the diet equals an expanding waistline, even in dogs. At present, obesity is the biggest nutritional problem facing our pet dogs.
- Future health concerns and lower quality of life: Many of the common illnesses facing aging dogs are treated with special foods which help prolong life and increase quality of life. Unfortunately, some of these foods aren’t as flavorful as regular dog food and may be rejected by a picky eater. Failure to eat these foods could limit the treatments available for aging illnesses and hasten a dog's physical decline.
QuestionWhat can I feed my dog instead of dog food?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerDogs can eat a wide variety of human foods, but the trick is to make sure the diet is balanced in the long term. Many owners feed a deficient diet without realizing it, which can be bad for their pet in the long term. To feed a properly healthy well-balanced doggy diet, speak with a veterinary nutritionist who can create a bespoke menu for your dog.Thanks!
QuestionHow long can a dog go without food or water?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerA dog can go without food for around three weeks, although this isn't recommended and they will get very thin. However, water is essential. A dog's cells depend on water and their body is around 70% water. A dog will become extremely sick with as few as 2 or 3 days without water.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I train my dog to eat dog food?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerAdd a small amount of dog food to their regular meal. If the dog picks out the dog food, fine, but then there's nothing else until the next meal. No snacks or treats! Then repeat the same regimen. As the dog becomes less selective about what they eat, gradually increase the amount of dog food and cut back on the other food. For some dogs, this takes weeks.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can you feed your dog when you run out of dog food?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerIn the short term, feed boiled pasta, boiled potato, or boiled rice and a protein such as fish, meat, egg, or cottage cheese. If you're feeling creative, add in a bit of steamed vegetable. This will tide a dog over but isn't balanced in the long term.Thanks!
QuestionMy shih tzu will only eat chicken or bacon and treats. I have tried many dog foods, dry and wet, mixed with broth or milk, and he still won't eat.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut a medium-sized hunk of chicken in a bowl of water, cover it with a paper towel, and microwave it for about five minutes. When it's cool enough that you can pick up the bowl, cut up the chicken and mix it into your dog's food, pour in some of the "broth," and mix everything together well.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog only eats the food I eat, but when I give him dog food, he rarely eats it. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should start getting him used to dog food. Here's a method: Mix in some people food with his dog food and as you go on, keep making the people food amount smaller until it's only dog food, or barely any people food and mostly dog food.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog only eats cheese and cookies. What do I do?Top AnswererLeave the dog food out for 30 minutes. Show him the bowl, and if he does not eat any, or if he eats some but doesn't finish the bowl, put it away. Do the this every morning and evening. If he refuses to eat with this method within 2-3 days, leave the food on the floor so he has the option of eating it. Refuse to give him treats until he eats at least 1/3 of it. When he does, reward him with praise and occasionally a treat.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog Lucy doesn't like the small dog food; she likes big dog food instead. Is it okay for her to eat big dog food?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, if she is able to chew it and eat it, let her have it, assuming she doesn't have a health problem that the vet said to have a special diet for.Thanks!
QuestionWill milk hurt my dog?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, milk is not good for its stomach. Only give it a little at a time if you must.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog is not eating. I gave him a bowl of Cerelac. He just smells it and goes away. He drinks water a little bit, so give me a solution to feed my dog properly or he will suffer.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHe is probably teething which means either one of the teeth in his mouth are breaking off, and you need to take him to the vet to get the tooth removed.Thanks!
Can we rely on feeding amounts recommended on dog food packaging? Should we scale the amount to their former weight of younger, more active years?
- Most of the time, a dog's picky eating is due to being fed too many table scraps by human or getting too many treats. Your dog avoids eating his own usual food because he knows there's something tastier out there. In other words, avoid this problem entirely by limiting treats and by stopping giving your dog human food.
- Make any food changes gradually. A sudden switch may upset your dog's stomach, causing vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- If your dog was previously a good eater and suddenly becomes picky, contact your veterinarian if this continues for more than two days.
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