What to Do About a Picky Eater Puppy

by Perfect Puppy Care on April 20, 2012

picky eater

Occasionally, puppies will become quite selective about what they want to eat, and they’ll literally turn up their noses at anything that doesn’t appeal to their sensibilities. If your beloved canine pal is a picky eater, the most probable cause for this frustrating behaviour is that your young dog has been exposed to tasty “people food” that is loaded with flavorful (but unhealthy) spices, sugars and oils. After this sort of rich and delicious “taste explosion”, a puppy may find his or her bowl of kibble a little uninspiring.

In a nutshell, the most common reason why puppies may balk when it comes to eating their daily allotment of puppy chow is because they’ve been “spoiled” with “people food” treats. Prevention is the key to avoiding this tiresome situation. By making sure that your puppy doesn’t have access to human food, you’ll ensure that he or she is willing to consume what you choose to dole out. Aside from the obvious benefits of creating an organized meal plan that prohibits the development of a “picky eater puppy”, there are other important advantages to keeping Fido away from people food.

The truth is that some “people food” is really very hard on your pet’s digestive system. In fact, giving your pet rich meats prepared with oils or a lot of other common ingredients may lead to some serious stomach upsets. In particular, raw meat is known to trigger a host of canine illnesses, including salmonella, which is a very serious form of food poisoning. To avoid bad bacteria that may trigger illness (and even death, in rare cases), most veterinarians are in favor of a diet of puppy kibble, augmented with an occasional dog treat. Dog treats should be formulated especially for puppies, and they should be produced by trusted pet food manufacturers.

If you’ve already given Fido a taste of the “forbidden fruit”, this “prevention” method won’t work too well. Therefore, we also need to look at some sensible options that will help you to deal with a finicky, yet totally adorable, little puppy.

Rule Out Underlying Illnesses – Sudden changes in a puppy’s appetite are worrisome, and they may indicate an underlying illness that requires treatment. If you haven’t been feeding Fido puppy food and he’s still “off his grub”, it’s time to plan a visit to the veterinarian. Signs of illness (aside from loss of appetite) include lethargy, a dull coat, excessive sleeping, moaning, or gastrointestinal distress. Young dogs will typically be voracious eaters, so it’s important to consider illness as the root cause of changes in appetite.

Only a licensed, experienced vet will be able to diagnose your puppy properly. If you suspect that your pup is sick, you should move quickly to seek out appropriate medical care. Waiting too long to take your loyal canine buddy to the vet may be a bad decision, as dehydration, food poisoning, or disease may continue to worsen. Prompt treatment is the best way to get your young dog back to normal.

Avoid Over-feeding – Too much food, administered too often, may deter your puppy from eating. While the vast majority of puppies will eat and eat (all day long, if they’re allowed to!), some may feel overstuffed with kibble, dog treats, and other common canine dietary choices. Be sure that you’re feeding your puppy according to his or her current weight. Puppy chow product bags should include detailed charts that are designed to help pet owners to portion correctly. Usually, a puppy will need two to three bowls of food each day.

If you’re feeding your dog according to the instructions, and your pup is still refusing to eat, consider switching brands. There are plenty of great puppy chows out there, so trying a new one may be a good idea. However, some young dogs don’t respond well to changes in their die, so take care to choose a healthy substitute that will be gentle to your puppy’s developing digestive system. If changes in portions or puppy food brands don’t do the trick, a trip to the vet is in order.

Spay or Neuter your Puppy – Some puppy owners discover that spaying or neutering their young dogs is a good way to inspire healthier appetites. Many puppies seem hungrier after these operations. Certain behaviours and emotions are altered due to spaying and neutering, and these feelings and actions sometimes interfere with proper eating habits. Your puppy may be more focused on his or her food after being spayed or neutered.

As you can see, there are various reasons why a young dog may become a “picky puppy eater”. When you follow the tips and advice outlined here, you’ll have an excellent chance of restoring your beloved pet’s appetite and ensuring that he or she grows up to be a healthy, strong and happy adult dog.

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