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Is your pet a picky eater?

By : Christine Attridge-Hardy

You feed your pet tasty and nutritious food, and yet your pet only sniffs or licks at it. It’s time for the next meal, but the previous meal still isn’t finished. Sounds like you may have a picky eater on your hands.

You may think your pet wants or needs variety

The truth is your pet will happily eat the same food every day its entire life, so it’s up to you to make sure you provide a satisfying meal. Your pet is a descendent from opportunistic hunters that were accustomed to eating what they could catch.

The cause of a dog’s finicky eating isn’t a result of its behavior. It’s usually the result of humans feeding table scraps or too many treats. Not only does this increase the risk of obesity, but it also can encourage finicky behavior. Your pet avoids eating in hope of getting more exciting food than what’s in the bowl. The best approach is to stop feeding your pet from the table and limit the number of treats. Remember that dogs and cats have different nutritional needs than we do, so what we eat isn’t necessarily balanced for them.

When your pet was younger, trying several different foods to determine the right fit, you may have encouraged your pet to hold out for something better. If you’re opening multiple cans of food and trying to coax your pet into eating something every meal, then your pet has you trained.

Effective ways to correct this behavior:

  • Set out your pet’s food for 30 minutes. If it isn’t eaten, take it away.
  • When it’s time for your pet’s next meal, set out the food again and take it away in 30 minutes, whether it is eaten or not.
  • In a day or two your pet may start checking around for extra treats. Maintain your strategy. Don’t give in! Your pet is not starving. When your pet is hungry, they will eat.

If changing your dog’s food formula, do it gradually:

  • Start by mixing new food with old food, gradually increasing the amount of new food as you reduce the amount of old food. This will be helpful in getting your pet accustomed to the new food and avoid a hunger strike.
  • If you are switching from wet to dry food, try mixing in a small amount of warm water with the dry food.
  • If your pet suddenly becomes picky with no previous signs of such behavior, a medical disorder could be the issue. Observe your pet for vomiting, diarrhea, lethargic or weight loss. Bring your pet to Clappison Animal Hospital if you believe a medical problem exists.
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