When Your Dog Won't Eat,
Help for Finicky Dogs
Is Your Dog Fussy About Food?
Some dogs don't care what you feed them. They will scarf it down before you can finish the word D-I-N-N-E-R. Husky Kyra is like that. She was a trained sled dog before I got her. Sled dogs are taught to eat the minute food is put in front of them. If I ever need to get her attention I just have to have a kibble in my hand and I'm an instant goddess.
On the other hand, there are those finicky eaters. Sometimes they are finicky because of a lack of competition. Often, when your dog is the only pet, they really isn't any incentive to eat right away. Even the cat can be enough competition to make your dog want to eat up.
Of course competition can create scuffles, and scuffles surrounding the topic of food can create all sorts of problems for your peaceful pet-filled household.
What do you do for the lone dog that just will not eat?
First of all, make sure it is not a medical problem.
When a dog refuses to eat, it can be the first sign of illness. Food, is of course, one of the main ingredients of life. The other being water. If your dog is refusing to eat make sure they can eat. I remember one case while working as a veterinary technician, we found a small bone lodged across the back of the upper palate. From the way it smelled, it had been there for awhile. The owner said her dog was eating, but had cut back drastically. This problem would have never been discovered if the dog had not come into the vet. It most likely would not have worked itself out on its own either.
If you know your dog is just finicky here are some feeding tips you can try:
1. Feed At The same Time Every Day If your dog does not eat the food in 15 minutes pick it up and put it away. Do this a total of 2 times during a 24 hour period. Do not leave the food out because your dog will learn they can get food whenever they want.
2. Try Adding a Half a cup of Warm Water Let the water/food mixture sit for 5 minutes, and then offer it the same way as in tip #1.
3. An Adult Dog Can Go Without For a total of 3 days, as long as they are still drinking water. This is actually harder on us humans to watch, than it is on the dogs. Sometimes a dog knows his system better than we do, and will refuse food. This applies strictly to healthy adult dogs. Those with chronic disease such as diabetes, and puppies less than 3 months need to get to the vet. They should be eating regardless of how picky they are.
4. Feed In A Quiet Area Really shy dogs, those that have just come from a shelter, or those that are new to your family need a safe place to eat. A safe place is quiet, private (like a kennel or a porch), and free from distractions such as humans traipsing through to check on them. These dogs are not comfortable in their environment yet and need to feel safe. Of course, offer them food for 15 minutes, and, if they don't eat, put it away until the next day.
5. Try a Few Different Varieties Some dogs just do not like certain varieties of food. Try to get some samples from your pet store and see what they like. Do not try the pet food gravy or homemade sauces. Save these tricks for when your dog is really sick and you need something super enticing. If you start with these now, you will not have anything to offer if they really do become sick.
If you are really worried, go to the vet for peace of mind. In our world of complex diseases we cannot diagnose our dogs just by looking at them. We can take care of them emotionally this way, but not physically.
About The Author Kirsten Frisch is a dog trainer specializing in the husky personality. She has over 8 years experience working with sled dogs in Alaska. You can find out more about Kirsten and her training methods at www.alaskan-husky-behavior.com
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