Raising a dog sounds like a lot of fun, but it is far more challenging than you can imagine. You have to ensure that your canine stays healthy and happy over the years. Regular exercise keeps it active and prevents obesity. At the same time, periodic vet visits enable early detection and timely treatment of health issues. Grooming keeps the pet looking good and neat.
But diet is the most significant factor that dog owners need to prioritize. You have to ensure that your pet gets a balanced diet that fulfills its nutritional and growth needs down the line. Creating a perfect diet chart for the pet is only half the work done. You need to make sure it eats everything you put in its bowl. Feeding can get tricky if you have a picky eater. Here are some steps that can help you deal with a hard-to-feed dog.
Schedule a vet visit
A sudden change in the eating habits of your furry companion warrants a vet visit. A medical problem could be the reason for your pet rejecting its food. The common ones that make a dog picky eaters include dental disease, allergies, parasites, infections, gastrointestinal issues, and even arthritis. At times, the side effects of vaccinations may result in a loss of appetite. If these signs are accompanied by weight loss, you must see a vet sooner rather than later. The specialist can identify the underlying issue and treat it on time. When your dog stops eating or eats less than usual, do not wait for it to get sick. Schedule a vet visit at the earliest to get a solution.
Remove the bowl
The method sounds counterintuitive, but it actually works for the fussiest of eaters. Offer the meals as you normally do, and leave the room. Avoid interacting with the pet and ignore it completely. Remove the bowl if the dog does not eat the meal within half an hour. Skip the meal and offer only the next one. Your canine companion will probably relish the next meal because it is hungry and has no choice but to eat. Ensure that you do not give it the same food overnight or after a few hours because fresh always tastes better. Letting your pet go without food sounds painful, but this method can resolve the concern for good. Practice it a few times to convert a fussy canine into a disciplined pet.
Switch to tastier options
Like kids, dogs also like foods that taste good. It will prefer not to eat when you serve the same food day in and day out. Switching to a tastier option can get the canine’s feeding routine back to track. You can know about dog food brands at puplore.com to find an option that offers a perfect mix of taste and health. When you change the brand, try a different flavor so that the animal gets something different to try. For example, if you have been serving chicken flavor forever, switch to fish, beef, or venison instead. You can take a hit-and-trial approach to find a flavor that the pet likes, but do not switch too often. The idea may backfire, and your dog may get even fussier.
Feed the right quantity
You may not realize that overfeeding could be the reason for your pet losing its appetite. After all, you cannot expect the dog to rush to the food bowl if it is already full. Overfeeding is a bigger issue for small dogs because they need less food than you think. A cupful is often enough for the entire day because their tiny stomachs get full quickly. Follow the quantity that works for your pet, and stick with it. You can seek recommendations from the vet before increasing the portion size. Try reducing the portion size if you feel that your pet is becoming a picky eater. Consider extending the gaps between meal times so that you offer food only when the animal is hungry.
Make meals more exciting
At times, just making a little effort to make mealtimes more exciting can resolve the picky-eater concern. Buying a new set of bowls can help, just as it does for small children. You can try feeding it a different way, such as putting the food on the floor instead of using its bowls. It is a good idea to arrange an outdoor feast during the day. Rewarding it with a toy or treat after finishing the meal is another trick worth trying. Anything that makes the pet happy can ease the feeding sessions and ensure that it finishes up the meals.
Invest in more activity-time
Your dog may not feel hungry because it is not active enough. Like humans, dogs need to burn calories to feel ready for the next meal. Investing in more activity time can help picky eaters gain back on their appetite. Take it out for long walks and get it on the move after every meal. A short walk after a meal gets the metabolism going, and the animal will be hungry by the next feeding session. Encourage indoor activities if you cannot go out for long walks. You can leave the animal in the backyard or on the balcony so that it can work out on its own. Make the dog work for its food, and it will definitely finish off the bowl every time.
Picky eaters are challenging to handle because you feel worried about nutritional deficiencies. But remember that a healthy canine will never go hungry, so be patient and do not pressurize it to eat. Dogs may lose appetite due to anxiety or mood swings. Try to understand these behavioral issues and feed the pet with love. There are good chances it will listen and obey. If the problem seems more persistent, do not overlook it and take the pet for a check-up at the earliest. An underlying problem may lead to severe conditions, but timely resolution can save you and your pet from a great deal of trouble.