IS YOUR PET A PICKY EATER? HERE ARE OUR TIPS!
Most pets scarf down anything placed in front of them, so you may be wondering: Why does my pet sniff their food and walk away?
Most pets scarf down anything placed in front pf them, so you may be wondering: Why does my pet sniff their food and walk away?
There is no such thing as an inherently picky eater. Let’s break down what could be affecting your pet’s will to eat and what you can do to help them eat again.
Is picky eating a sign of a serious issue?
Our first order of business with a picky eater is to make sure that they aren’t ill and truly hungry.
Before anything else, it’s important to rule out any potential medical conditions that may be causing your pet to be disinterested in their food. If your pet is sick, they may not feel like eating. So, if your pet has recently shown signs of illness, like fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhea, we recommend reaching out to your vet to treat the root problem.
Another culprit could be a recent change in medication. Certain medications and antibiotics can cause nausea or stomach aches. Speak with your vet about any recent changes to your dog’s medical treatment to see if those changes could be affecting their willing to eat.
Any significant changes in your pet’s weight should also be brought up to your vet right away.
Allergies & Sensitivities
Allergies and upset stomachs can cause your pet to refuse food. They can cause discomfort for hours after eating, and may lead to hesitant eating or digestive problems, such as gas, vomiting, diarrhea.
Most commercial pet foods – such as kibble or canned foods – aren’t transparent when it comes to their ingredients, so opt for fresh, human-grade food; it’s healthier, tastier, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Body/Oral Injury or Disease
Another reason your pet may be displaying signs of picky eating is the presence of any injury or disease. Look for any signs of discomfort when you’re feeling your pet’s body and anything unusual about their mouth, such as bleeding or swelling. If their tongue, teeth and gums look sensitive, tender or painful, it could be causing your pet’s lack of enthusiasm for food. Poor dental hygiene over time, or playing with something like a stick or a toy with sharp edges, can often be the culprit. If so, a trip to the vet is in order.
Stress & Anxiety
Much like us, anxiety can cause our pets to have upset stomachs, and they may avoid food as a result.
Consider any recent changes in your pet’s environment. Have you moved recently? Have you been spending a lot more time at home or been out of the house more recently? Is your pet being bullied by another?
Keep in mind that pets are will pick up on your stress. If you’ve been feeling stressed out, your pet may be feeling more anxious too, especially if you’re a dog owner. Take a moment to assess any recent changes in your pet’s life and see if they line up with a recent change in their eating habits. Try to make them feel less anxious about the change by reducing your own stress, getting them back into a normal routine, or spending more quality time with them. They’ll likely return back to their normal eating habits once they’re sure everything is okay!
Now for the actual picky eaters
Your pet has no serious medical issues, so it’s safe to declare them a picky eater!
Smell and taste are key factors in the enjoyment of eating. Our freshly-cooked meals are perfect for pets with sensitive stomachs as well as picky eaters; we pay attention to flavor and texture, making our meals both appealing and easy on the stomach. Many pets dislike dry, hard kibble, which oftentimes lacks moisture, flavor, and nutrition.
Schedule & Timing
Take a look at when you feed your pet.
If you’ve just finished taking your dog for a hike or playing a lot with them, they may not want to eat until they’ve cooled down and their stomach settles. Also, keep in mind that dogs are highly social, pack animals. If you’ve been away from them all day, they won’t eat; they will when you’re home as they’re waiting for their “pack” to return.
Cats, on the other hand, enjoy chasing a toy and pouncing on it as it mimics what they would do with a would-be meal in the wild. Try playing with your cat before mealtime to stimulate their appetite.
How to get a picky pet to eat
Let’s take a look at what you can do right now to assess what may be causing your pet’s picky eating habits
Regulate Their Eating Schedule
Having a regular, consistent eating schedule will train your pet to eat at certain times of the day. Make sure you give your pet up to 30 minutes to eat before removing their food. Pets with constant access to their food will tend to be pickier. If they refuse to eat for 24 hours, try switching to fresh food – or switch back to their old food and make sure you re-transition to fresh food properly.
An abrupt switch without time to get used to the new food can make a hungry pet walk away. Some pets don’t like new things or changes in the environment (especially picky kitties!). When you transition to fresh food, start with a small spoonful.
Observe Their Behavior
Dogs and cats are very smart animals. If they notice that you’ve been feeding them table scraps or topping their kibble with indulgent human foods, they may purposefully hold off on eating to see what you’ll do to encourage them to eat. If this is the case, it’s crucial that you don’t give in! Try giving your pet those 30 minutes to eat, then take away whatever they don’t eat. According to the American Kennel Club, taking away your dog’s uneaten food is very effective at counteracting fussy eating habits.
Cats, on the other hand, are the pickiest!
Fresh food is worth the little extra work of transition. Not only will it fulfill your pet’s needs, but it’s delicious and they will gobble it up!
Cats, for example, are obligate carnivores. They need a rich diet rich diet that strengthens their bodies. Our PawPots meals are made with real chicken and fish – just what your cat would eat in the wild – with important nutrients and a few healthy veggies! Fresh food has the ideal water content as well, so it’ll support your cat’s digestive system.
Our meals are also great for dogs! Not only do they improve their health for the long-run, but it’s great for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies. Most dogs find softer, wetter food more palatable. It’s also a great option for dogs with dental issues, which is why many senior dogs and puppies with soft teeth benefit from PawPots!
Stop Over-Feeding & Over-Treating
Just like humans, our pets can get bored with the same food overtime. Try introducing new proteins in the same food format from time to time. It’s also possible that your pet’s favorite food has undergone a formula change recently. PawPots offers a variety of protein to switch from without negatively impacting your pet’s diet!
It makes sense that if your pet is snacking too much between meals, they’re not going to be as hungry at mealtime. But you may also be overfeeding your pet! Cats, for example, need small, frequent, portion-controlled meals each day, and they need to interact with their “prey”. A diet of real food without can lead to a balanced weight.
Warm Food & New Locations
Warming your pet’s food can entice them to eat. This can also soften the food, making it easier to eat. Changing where you feed your pet also plays an important role.
For your cat, don’t feed them alongside other cats or dogs. You may unintentionally be depriving your cat of being their true self, since eating is a vulnerable time. Keep in mind that cats are solitary hunters and predators, not pack members like dogs. They want to hunt and eat alone.
Once you’ve eliminated health-related issues, it’s more than worth it get your pet excited about food. If your pet’s still not satisfied, you can always try switching to a fresher, more nutrient-dense meal that they will definitely enjoy.
Even the pickiest of pets enjoy the benefits of fresh diets. Our meals provide the proper nutrient balance. You might be amazed at how introducing fresh ingredients can change the picky-eating game!