It can be difficult to determine why exactly your dog won't touch his food, especially since he's unable to communicate what's wrong. It can be due to something minor, like your dog is simply a fussy eater, or something more serious, like a food allergy. According to veterinarian Dr. Babette Gladstein, food allergies are one of the usual reasons why a pet refuses to eat.
However, there can be other reasons why your pet has suddenly turned into a picky eater. Consider these four factors before you take your pet to the vet.
You might not realize it, but if you're overfeeding your pets, they might seem like they're being picky when they're just too full. Check with a vet to determine the proper amount of food for your pet's breed and size. (Related: Puppy love: Keep your dog happy and healthy with these 5 easy tips.)
Avoid feeding dogs table scraps. This won't help if they're picky eaters.
If you let your pets snack whenever they want, they won't be hungry enough to eat during their proper mealtimes.
Stick to a regular feeding schedule. For dogs over 12 months old, they should be fed twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening.
Letting pets snack any time of the day can cause weight gain and it will make them picky when it's time for dinner. If they walk away from their bowl, take away their food. Limit the time that your pets are allowed to eat their food so they get used to eating during proper mealtimes.
Sometimes, dogs just want to have company while they're eating. Set an "official" family dinnertime to help your pets get used to eating their food at the same time every day.
Alternatively, you can try adding healthy snacks to their food, like chopped carrots or a handful of peas to give them a boost in nutrition.
Like humans, dogs need enough exercise and relaxation to stay healthy. Aside from feeding your pets twice a day, you should play with them and take them for walks daily.
Keep things exciting for your pets by exploring a new route when you're out for a walk, or take them to a dog park so they can meet and play with other furry friends. If you have a high-energy dog or if your pet is getting a little chubby, sign him up for recreational agility classes.
After a long walk or hike, stretch with your dog or give him a gentle massage. This doesn't just help your pet cool down after exercising, it also strengthens your bond.
Another option is to teach your pets a new trick, like turning around on their hind legs before you give them treats. Give your pets little treats so they don't ruin their appetite before a meal.
And like in humans, oral hygiene is also essential to your pet's overall well-being. Brushing your dog's teeth regularly prevents oral disease.
If you have a new puppy or if a dog with a voracious appetite is suddenly ignoring his kibble, check if you're facing one of the four common issues detailed above. Consult a vet immediately if your pet is showing symptoms of sickness, pain, or discomfort.