What to do with a fussy eater

Q: Our dog doesn’t finish his food at his mealtimes, but then begs for more food later on. Is he just a fussy eater?

A: Having a dog who won’t finish his entire meal at feeding times can be frustrating, especially if you have tried various types of food. Presumably, you have taken your dog to the vet for a check-up, and they’ve confirmed that there is nothing wrong with his teeth or gums, and that he doesn’t have a medical condition.

Often, the cause of a dog’s finicky eating is that humans are feeding him table scraps or too many treats. Not only does this encourage the finicky behaviour, but it can also increase the risk of obesity. Your dog most probably avoids eating his food in the hopes of getting more exciting food than what’s in his bowl.

The best approach is to stop feeding your dog from the table and limit the number of treats he is given. Remember that dogs and cats have different nutritional needs than we do, so what we eat isn’t necessarily balanced or good for them. When your dog was younger, and you tried offering several different foods to determine which one he liked the most, you were encouraging him to hold out for something better. An effective way to correct this behaviour is to help your dog understand that no other options exist.

Put your dog’s food bowl out for 30 minutes. If he hasn’t eaten all his food in that time, take it away. Repeat this at the next mealtime. In a day or two, your dog may start checking around for extra treats. Maintain the strategy. DO NOT GIVE IN! Your dog isn’t starving – if he is hungry, he will eat, and you are making an investment in the future health of your pet.

Dr Letitia Swartz, veterinarian

Do you have a question about your pet but don’t know who to ask? Get the March 2023 copy of Animaltalk magazine, filled with a variety of questions and answers from our experts, from retailers, or order a digital or printed copy now from www.coolmags.co.za.

 

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