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When Your Dog Is a Picky Eater

How to get your canine to love dog food.
(continued)

When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem? continued...

“What concerns me most is change,” Murray says.

Many illnesses could be why your dog refuses to eat. Even problems associated with old age, such as joint pain while walking to and from the bowl, could be the cause.

The only way to get to the root of the problem is to visit the vet.

“If your dog has always been a voracious eater, and is becoming more selective, go to the vet after about 48 hours,” Murray says.

For puppies, who have less reserves, don’t wait more than 24 hours.

Tips for Encouraging Your Picky Eater Dog to Develop Healthier Eating Habits

Tip 1: Start early. Before you bring a dog home, come up with a feeding plan. “You and your family need to sit down and decide what the rules will be,” Murray says. “And you must all be on the same page. If mom gives food off the plate, but dad plays by the rules, it won’t work.” If one family member is adamant about people food, then agree to mix in some healthy options, such as low-fat vegetables, with the kibble.

Tip 2: Don’t feed from the table. Doling out table scraps will cause your dog to eschew dry or canned food and hold out for more salivating options. It can also cause health problems, such as pancreatitis. In addition, variety or changes to the diet may cause diarrhea, as well as reinforce the inappropriate behavior of begging.

Tip 3: Keep dog food and people food separate. “Never let a dog associate your food with their food,” Hoppe says. “You have to keep it very separate. Otherwise they’ll start to think they can eat their food and their owner’s, too.” Your dog should only eat food out of his bowl, and should never see food as coming from your plate or from something you’re preparing for yourself.

Tip 4: Stick to a schedule. Feed your puppy two to three times each day, as recommended by your vet. Gradually increase the volume of food as you decrease the frequency of feedings as your  puppy matures. Your adult dog should be fed once or twice daily without leaving the food out more than a short period of time. To ensure equal portions for each serving, use a measuring cup. If you do choose to incorporate healthy people food, mix it into the kibble. Variety may be the spice of life for humans, but consistency is key for your canine.

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