Slim dogs typically live longer than heavy dogs, so don’t freak out just because your dog barely eats. Take her to the veterinarian, though, to rule out any medical reasons. Once the vet rules out any health conditions, relax. You can encourage your picky eater in certain ways.
About Picky Eaters
Some breeds are pickier eaters than others. The Maltese and the Yorkie are typically fussy eaters, for example. As long as your dog maintains a healthy weight, is energetic and alert and has a shiny coat, you have nothing to worry about. But if your dog is suddenly losing weight and has a dull coat, something could be wrong. If the pickiness is something new, take your dog to the vet.
Create a Need
Wait to offer food until your dog becomes hungry. As long as she’s not a puppy or a dog with diabetes or another condition that requires her to eat regular meals, have your picky eater skip a meal or two. Pour her food into her bowl on the counter where she can smell it but not get to it. If she’s hungry, she’ll probably be interested. Other ways to pique her interest include heating the food or stirring some hot water into dry food. Pick up the bowl, make eye contact with your dog, and tell her to sit. Make her wait a little bit in sit position. Your dog might view the food as a reward for sitting and waiting. Put the bowl down. She might eat. If not, wait about 15 minutes, and if she hasn’t eaten by then, put the food away, and try again at the next mealtime.
It’s possible that your dog doesn’t like the food you provide. Offer nutritious food with high-quality ingredients such as lamb, beef or chicken. This is especially important for picky dogs because dogs typically need to eat less high-quality food than poor-quality food that has grains, meat by-products and corn as main ingredients. Avoid switching foods too often. This can lead to even more finicky behavior because your dog might be waiting to see what comes next. Dogs are no dummies. They might hold out if they think they’ll get something better. Stick with a food for several weeks before switching.
Watch the Treats
Don’t feed your dog treats throughout the day if she’s not eating at mealtime. She might prefer the treats and lose interest in her nutritious dinner. The same goes for feeding her table scraps. If you stop giving the extra goodies, your dog is likely to regain interest in her food. Once you’ve established a regular feeding pattern with your dog, offer an occasional treat if you like, but make sure it isn’t interfering with her meals. In addition, offer meals at the same time each day. Dogs eat better when they follow a routine.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.