“Oh, my dog is such a fussy eater!” I have heard this said by so many dog owners, so let us look at the problem and ask ourselves these two questions:
1) Why does there seem to be an increase in fussy dogs when the choice and variety of dog food available on the market today seems bigger than ever?
2) With so many dog owners reporting that their dog is a fussy eater why is canine obesity still a major problem? Vets estimate that half of the UK dog population is overweight, and I must admit that the majority of the “fussy eaters” I have met usually fall into this category!
The truth is fussy eating is often a learnt canine behaviour. It usually starts when a dog refuses food. There can be many reasons for this including, feeling unwell, nauseous, anxious, feeling full, over faced, tired, etc, etc.
As human beings we are hard wired to care and nurture and our instinct when our canine companion does not want to eat, is to worry! (Ok if you own a Labrador who has refused food you are allowed to worry!!) Yes, we panic and worry and fret and fuss, we start thinking that there’s something wrong with the food, we buy a new brand of dog food, add something more tasty, we hand feed, we leave the food down all the time, we offer them human food..…..and before too long you have a dog that has learnt that if he refuses food, he will be offered something else, …..or he can just pick at it later if he feels like it…..or he may even become anxious around food, and with good reason, because you are!
So, what about the human psychology around all this? I do not claim to be a psychologist, but I am human and own dogs! Our dogs love us unconditionally, they are devoted to us, and we love to spoil them to show them how much they mean to us. Giving food is a physical representation of this, and maybe to some owners offering dry kibble in a bowl twice a day just does not feel enough. I would go as far as suggesting that some owners enjoy having a fussy eater! It’s an excuse to over-indulge and spoil their canine companion, and in my opinion used far too often as a badge of honour – feeding your dog nutritionally unbalanced food does not make you a good owner!
Does any of this sound familiar? Ok, so what can we do about it?
Here’s some ideas to get you back on track and make sure your dog is receiving the right nutrition to stay fit and healthy:
- Firstly, if you are worried that your dog is unwell, you must seek advice from your veterinary surgeon.
- If your dog appears otherwise well, do not worry about missing a meal, your dog will not become malnourished or starve itself to death!
- gwenschoice2.co.uk to see our full range.
- t eaten and do not offer anything else.
- If your dog does not finish all his food, consider feeding a little less at the next meal.
- Do not overfeed, over facing your dog with too much food will negatively impact appetite. It is better to start off feeding a small amount and increase meal size as appetite improves.
- Check the feeding guide and feed the amount you should be feeding for your dog’s ideal weight. If this seems too much, do not be afraid to feed less! There are many more serious health problems associated with an overweight dog than a dog that is slightly underweight!
- Do not give any treats or chews in between meals, especially in the beginning when you are trying to get into a regular feeding regime.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, there is nothing that stimulates the appetite better than exercise and fresh air, as it does with us.
- Rest is important too, a dog that does not get enough rest due to being constantly stimulated and cannot switch off might have a reduced appetite also.
- Always make sure your dog has access to water.
- Plan a feeding regime and stick to it! Every time you give up, it will be even harder next time.
- Do not make a fuss around mealtimes, dogs pick up on our stress so try to stay as calm and as matter of fact as possible to reduce anxiety around food and mealtimes. Some dogs like company to eat whilst others prefer a bit of privacy.
- If you want to add variety to your dog’s food bowl, consider soaking kibble in a little warm water, using a meat topper such as the wet trays found in the Gwen’s Choice range or adding a little veg, egg, meat etc but make sure this isn’t more than around 10% of the total meal or your dog might only pick out the best bits!
- Only when your dog is eating regular meals introduce treats and chews but be careful not to give to many extras.
- It may suit your dog to throw away the food bowl! Some dogs respond well to being fed from puzzle feeders or chew toys or even given a few kibbles at a time throughout the day, maybe as a reward for different behaviours and activities.
If you need any further information about Gwen’s Choice dog food or want to get in touch with us visit gwenschoice2.co.uk