How can I encourage my fussy dog to eat?

Guy Blaskey 01 March 2017


Many customers talk to us about their dog being a fussy eater. It’s  particularly common in smaller breed dogs that spend more time on the sofa than in their own bed! We know it’s hard for dog owners to imagine eating the same meal everyday is any form of fun, but it is fundamental to your dog's health. Here are our tips for encouraging your fussy dog to eat a high quality food twice a day.

Dogs can eat the same dry food everyday

It is important to remember that your dog won’t get ‘bored’ of eating the same food at every meal. Keeping the food the same at every meal is key to keeping your dog’s digestive system healthy and working as it should. Most dog owners know that switching feeds should be done gradually to avoid digestive upset. If you are switching from wet to dry food, the same rule applies.

Choose a high quality nutritionally complete food

When dogs are fussy, some owners think their dog will ‘starve’ and change their food to home cooked or attempt to hand feed them. These options are time consuming and often lacks all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals your dog needs. Dogs will pick up on these learned behaviours and may refuse to eat their food in a hope that they will receive an tasty treat (which are often very calorific) and a fuss from you at every meal time.

Maximise your dog’s attention to his/her own food by choosing a nutritionally complete, high quality food. Watch out for foods that are packed with carbohydrates and look for food with a high percentage of protein as the #1 ingredient listed. To avoid problems associated with grain and digestive upset you could opt to switch to grain-free food such Pooch & Mutt’s 45% range, including Health & Digestion and Adult Complete Superfood.

Tip: To encourage your dog to eat their dry food, you can try soaking the food a little in warm water to increase the meaty smells and change the texture

Dogs love routine

Set two times a day to feed your dog and stick to them as much as possible (remember it is not advised to feed one hour before or after exercise) to implement a feeding routine. Eliminate all table scraps and make sure your whole house is on board! Sometimes, dogs feeding behaviours can be thrown off by the slightest change in their environment. Have you recently moved house? Did you invite over a new group of guests? All of these types of activities can affect your dog’s appetite.

If you still have trouble with food time even with an established routine, try changing their food bowl – some dogs will refuse to eat from stainless steel but will happily eat from a plastic one (as long as it is toxin free!)

Remember: Fresh water should be readily available at all times

Being a responsible dog owner

Part of being a responsible dog owner includes tracking your dog’s weight. Your Vet will monitor this with regular Body Condition Scoring, where they check the level of muscle and fat for your breed against an ‘ideal’. In addition to monitoring your dogs stools, you will have major indicators of your dog's current health.

As an owner, only you will know if your dog is a 'regular' fussy eater. If you are encountering any problems with feeding that are very out of the ordinary, you should contact your Veterinary professional.