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Tips for feeding fussy dogs

One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘what can I do to make my fussy dog eat?’

In an attempt to get their dogs to eat, owners would end up trying a new food each week, hand feeding their dogs or feeding unhealthy food so that they have peace of mind that their dog has eaten something.

Why have dogs become fussy?

By nature, dogs are opportunistic hunters. This means they will eat what food becomes available when the opportunity presents itself. Dogs are therefore not born to be fussy, it’s something that often occurs when owners accidentally reinforce the fussiness.

Dogs are very quick to learn that if they refuse to eat the ‘low value’ food (which is usually a dog food) then it is usually very quickly replaced by something ‘high value’ such as chicken or another type of dog food. If these ‘high value’ foods are then refused, the dog will quickly learn that something even ‘higher value’ will be offered. These ‘higher value’ foods could include pouring gravy or sprinkling cheese on the food. A dog will usually wait to eat until these ‘higher value’ foods are offered.

This is usually why a dog will begin eating a new dog food that it is ‘higher value’ than the last food only to ‘go off’ it a week later. They usually are expecting another type of food to be presented.

Sometimes we also have the tendency to over feed our dogs when they are just not hungry.

It is a good idea to have your dog checked at a vet to ensure there a no underlying medical conditions causing a loss of appetite or an inability to eat. Once this is ruled out, try these steps to help address this issue.

Tips

  • Put down your dog’s food in a quiet area for around 20 minutes. If the food is not consumed within that time frame remove the food and wait until the next meal to feed again.
  • Try feeding smaller, more frequent meals. These frequent meals will give your dog plenty of time to consume the food in the given time frame, whilst also ensuring your dog won’t go hungry.
  • Withhold all ‘high value’ foods until they are regularly eating their main diet.
  • Increase your dog’s daily exercise. (Be careful of over exercising puppies) The more physical exercise your dog is getting the hungrier they will be.
  • Try feeding a diet high in meat. Dogs are more likely to accept foods with a higher meat content than a food that is full of fillers. Akela contains 80% meat and zero fillers.
  • Dogs have a great sense of smell so something with a strong odour can usually work up an appetite. Fish is usually a good option for fussy dogs. Akela Fish Feast contains 80% fish.
  • Choose the type of food carefully to begin with. Having to change their food if it is not suitable may cause the fussiness to reappear. Select a natural dog food which has meat as its first ingredient.  
  • Check the feeding guidelines on the food and take the time to measure it each day. This will help to ensure you are not over feeding your dog. These are a guideline only and you should make sure you base it on the amount of food your dog will need for that day depending on the amount of activity they will be doing. All meats have different nutritional values so if you are feeding different proteins with each meal, bear in mind that you may need to alter the amount you are feeding.

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