Some pet parents like to brag about how well their pets can eat. Others have pets who are picky from the get-go. But many pet parents experience a change in their pet’s eating habits.
What was once a puppy that would eat virtually anything you put in front of him suddenly shows marked disinterest in their food. Sometimes they won’t eat all day, except for one specific type of food that they’ve decided to take an interest in.
It’s understandable to see pet parents stressed out about their furry friend’s eating habits. The change might be gradual or sudden, but either way, this change of behavior could indicate that your pet won’t be eating as much as it previously did. And any pet parent wants to see their beloved pet eating well and staying healthy.
So why do pets become fussy eaters?
- You’ve been feeding your pet table scraps
Of course, any pet parent understands how difficult it is to say no sometimes when they keep getting stared at by big hopeful brown eyes from under the table, hoping for a bite of whatever the human happens to be eating at the time.
But feeding pets table scraps too often is one of the chief roots of fussy eating. Now that your pet knows that they can have food from the table that humans also eat, they don’t want to eat their kibble or canned food anymore. Limiting table scraps and eating away from your pets can help curb the habit.
- They think it’ll get them more attention
Some dogs feel that you’re more likely to shower them with attention because they won’t eat. You’re fussing over them, checking on them, and giving them more time.
It’s time to get your pet some more quality time. Maybe you haven’t been playing with them as often, or they’re feeling a little lonelier. Give them at least an hour a day of fun and play, especially if you have a particularly energetic breed of dog. If you show them that you’re there for them and give them plenty of attention outside of food time, they’re less likely to pull this trick.
- They might be intolerant to something they’ve eaten
Some experts do agree that it could be an underlying medical condition that you don’t know about. Sometimes, pets will stop eating if they start to experience gastrointestinal issues from the food they’d eaten previously. Have you changed their food recently? Did they eat something unusual? They might have been passing more gas than usual, have begun vomiting, or experienced diarrhea. These symptoms are also consistent with food allergies.
If you’re in New Zealand, you may want to switch their food back to one they were eating with no issues previously and see if their behavior normalizes. If you’re concerned that your pet is experiencing a reaction to their food, try feeding them specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food. However, if your dog continues to experience distress, it’s time to take your pet for a visit to the vet and see what’s happening.
- Too much snacking in between meals
Dog snacks and treats are fun goodies to give your pets, especially as a motivator during training. And dogs really love them for their new flavors and textures. But dogs could lose their appetite with too much snacking.
Dog treats are not as nutritious as your dogs’ correct food, and they’re not as correctly balanced. And if your dog keeps eating snacks in between their daily meals, they’ll be too full or bloated to want to eat their proper meal as well. Remember to limit snacking with your dogs, so they eat during their proper mealtimes.
- It may be anxiety or, in the worst cases, trauma
This reason is more relevant to pet parents who have adopted their dogs. Some dogs become picky eaters because they have anxiety from previous negative experiences with food or certain types of food.
Some pets may have been in abusive situations before they were adopted, and remember those situations when they see certain foods. Others may have anxiety—if they were previously in a home with too many other dogs and forced to fight every time they tried to get their next meal, they might be too afraid to come near and eat because they don’t think they’re supposed to.
In cases like these, pet owners have to be patient with their new furry friends. Give your new adopted pet some space and time to grow accustomed to how things are done in your home and that it’s safe to eat the meals being given to them. You can give them different foods to show them that it’s okay and that they are in a better home now where they can eat contentedly.
There are many reasons that pets could grow to become fussy eaters. Whatever the case, as a pet parent, be patient and be observant with the fluffy member of your family. Give them time to adjust, show them you care, and make sure they’re not uncomfortable in any way. As long as your pet gets the daily caloric intake and nutrients that they need, they’ll be just fine.