Kids aren’t the only ones that can be picky eaters. Many pet owners know all too well that their furry friend can be just as much of a choosy chomper. Unfortunately, animals can’t communicate their needs quite like children, so you might be scratching your head to find a solution.
Luckily, this common issue has produced a wide range of helpful advice from other pet owners who’ve lived the struggle. Finding the perfect fit for your pet might take some trial and error, but the issue is almost always solvable. Here are five possible solutions for feeding your finicky furry friend.
1. Buy Fresh, High-Quality Food
The solution to your dilemma might be as simple as upgrading your pet’s plate. Purchasing nutritious and high-quality food is essential to your pet’s health. Unfortunately, cheaper food is often packed with preservatives and fillers that many animals have sensitivities to. These deficiencies can easily turn off your pet’s appetite and even upset their stomach.
Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to afford nutritious food for your pup. According to Nom Nom, quality is the most significant factor when selecting fresh dog food. You should read labels and steer clear of products that contain artificial preservatives. Byproducts are also tricky since it is difficult to know what part of an animal you’re actually feeding your dog. Researching ingredients and sticking with a brand you trust just might be the solution you’re after.
2. Mix it Up
Pets typically appreciate variety in their food the same way humans do. If you’ve noticed your pet becoming turned off by the same old dinner, consider mixing it up. Try giving wet food for one meal and dry food for the next. You might buy a variety pack of their favorite wet food brand so they can try out some different flavors.
You could also mix it up in the literal sense. For example, blend an old favorite if you’re trying to get your pet switched to a new food. This technique will help them slowly get used to the change in their diet. Adding a food topper to the meal is another method for making meals tastier. Sprinkle in some wet food or ground beef to enhance the flavor. Purchasing toys or bowls specifically designed to make your dog or cat work for their food could be another tactic.
3. Rule Out Underlying Conditions
An underlying medical condition could be the culprit in your pet’s picky tendencies, especially if this behavior is new. Visiting the vet’s office can provide answers and recommendations for jump-starting your furry friend’s appetite. Your vet will do an examination and possibly run some tests to get to the heart of the issue. Potential problems include dental diseases, infections, fevers, cancers, and intestinal parasites.
The underlying condition also might not be medical. Behavioral issues like anxiety and stress can significantly affect an animal’s appetite, just like it does for humans, according to PetMD. Your vet should also be able to give you some recommendations, whether it is medication or environmental changes. If stress is the culprit, your pet should return to normal a few days after putting proper modifications in place.
4. Check Your Environment
Pets can be super sensitive to their environments, which could impact their eating habits. There are better places to feed your pet than a chaotic kitchen, especially if they are anxious. Opt for a quieter space in the house, like a laundry room or bathroom. Loud noises, like thunderstorms and fireworks, could also throw your pet off. Anxiety vests, typically used on dogs, help ease worries and could make mealtime a little less stressful.
Distraction can be another issue if you care for multiple animals and live in a hectic household. If you suspect your pet doesn’t like eating around other animals, do feedings at different times or in separate spaces. You might also need to avoid eating times when energy levels are high. For example, kids in playtime mode could distract your pet, so try to do mealtime during more lowkey periods.
5. Regularly Exercise Your Pet
Exercising your pet is essential for their overall well-being, including maintaining a healthy appetite (source). If your pet doesn’t get much movement and isn’t eating enough, try taking a stroll around the neighborhood before meals. This type of regular exercise can work up a dog’s hunger level and help them associate mealtime as a post-walk occurrence.
When it comes to cats, ensure they are getting proper exercise as well. For indoor cats, this typically comes in the form of playtime. Providing your feline with plenty of toys can keep them entertained and on the move. Activities that activate their hunt-and-chase mode can particularly increase their hunger and energy levels.
Decoding Your Picky Eater
Caring for a fussy furry friend can feel frustrating and futile. You can’t communicate with them like you can with a picky person, which only adds to the struggle. It may take some process of elimination to get to the source of the issue. Try not to feel hopeless if the solution doesn’t present itself immediately.
Fortunately, you can usually solve the problem independently with no professional help. If not, enlisting the guidance of a professional will get your cat or dog the treatment plan they need. Patience with the process, your pet, and yourself is key to making mealtime a success.
Last Updated: June 20, 2023