A lot of pet parents have faced the challenge of getting a picky dog or cat to eat generic food. It would be so much simpler if our pets didn’t mind eating the same thing day in and day out, but we don’t do that as humans so why should they? Read on for tips on getting your picky eater to finish their food!
Consult Your Veterinarian
Whether your pet has been a life-long picky eater or suddenly developed this habit overnight, getting them to eat can feel like an insurmountable task. Before doing anything, it’s always best to consult with your vet to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical issue that’s causing your furry friend to avoid eating.
Some of the most common medical conditions that lead to lack of appetite include:
- Swallowing a non-food object
- Dental disease
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Arthritis or spine issues
- Certain vaccination side effects.
Something to note is that a healthy dog will not starve themselves regardless of how picky they may be. If your dog is suddenly losing weight, it could point to a serious medical issue that needs addressing. Check with your vet before trying any of the following.
Switch to a New Food
If your pet isn’t eating the food you have, try switching to a new type of food. Your pet could simply not like the taste of the food you’re trying to give them, and unfortunately our pets can’t communicate their needs to us! Try to avoid switching to something with a similar flavor. For instance, if your pooch is refusing to eat a chicken and rice blend, consider swapping it for a beef, venison, or even salmon flavored food instead.
For cat owners, there is an abundance of different of foods to choose from. You can try different flavors, degrees of wetness, textures, and temperatures until you find one your cat enjoys.
It’s important to be aware that abruptly transitioning to a new food can cause digestive upset. Some ways to make the transition easier include:
- Mixing current food with new food
- Add a probiotic or organic plain yogurt
- Add Bison Tripe treats or seasonings to aid in digestion (Momentum Carnivore Nutrition has a great option!)
- Add pumpkin to their diet to help add fiber and avoid loose stools
Put Away Their Food
If they are still refusing to eat after switching to a different type of food, you can try strict meal times without snacks in between. Similarly to how some parents “train” their human children, you can provide food for your pet for a certain amount of time and take it away if left uneaten. Try not to provide them with any snacks or treats until the next meal time, when you will give them a fresh bowl of food. Leave it out for the same amount of time as the night before and see if they choose to eat.
If not, they’ll have to wait until the next meal time, and by then they’re likely to be pretty hungry. This teaches them that there is no other option and if they are hungry, they will have to eat what is being offered. As mentioned, your pet will not choose to starve, so even if it isn’t their preferred meal they are likely going to eat it!
Exercise Your Pet
Exercising burns calories in the body and the easiest way to replenish those calories is to eat! An easy way to exercise your pet and stimulate their mind (double the benefits!) is to take them for a nice long walk before meal time. If walking isn’t your favorite activity, or you just do not have the time, you can play a ferocious game of tug-of-war or a long game of fetch to tire out your pooch.
Be cautious of offering food immediately after exercise. It is best to wait 20 to 30 minutes after exercising to feed your pet because it gives their stomach time to settle from all of the excitement. Feeding your pet too soon after exercise may cause bloat. For dogs who are prone to bloating, avoid intense activity for 30 minutes before and after eating.
What?! You heard it right, throw the food on the floor! Some dogs get bored with their meals and, just like humans, like some variety. By throwing your dog’s food on the floor, it acts as a game and makes meal time more fun. Think of it as a scavenger hunt that allows them to use their brain to sniff and find their food!
This can get a little messy, so try doing this in a wide-open space in your home or even outside. Keep a broom and/or vacuum handy to clean up the mess!
Other ways to get creative include
- Playing games with the food
- Hiding little pieces of food throughout your house
- Providing toys that hold food (and require some work from your pet to get it out!)
- Puzzle toys that make feeding time fun
Seasonings and Meal Toppers
As humans, we add seasonings to our foods to make them more flavorful and to accentuate the natural flavors of things (think salt and pepper). There are ways to add flavor and real protein to your pet’s meal-time to encourage them to happily finish their meal.
One way to entice your furry friend to eat is by simply adding seasonings as you would to any meal of your own! Momentum Carnivore Nutrition also has a great selection of unique seasonings, including Beef Kidney, Turkey Gizzard, Bison Tripe, Pork Heart, and more! All seasonings are in an easy-to-use form, so all you need to do is open the bag and scoop a spoonful or so onto your pet’s food. Adding our freeze-dried, single ingredient, real meat seasonings to your pet’s food is guaranteed to have them licking the bowl clean and begging for more.
If you are looking for more than just a bit of seasoning, meal toppers are products that you can add to your dog or cat’s meals to improve the flavor and add more excitement. For some owners of picky pets, meal toppers are the only way their pet will eat dry food. Momentum Carnivore Nutrition makes a wide variety of meal bars that can be crumbled to add a little kick to any meal. Choose from options of Beef, Chicken, and Turkey and watch your pet drool!
There are a variety of ways to encourage picky eaters to abandon their habitual pickiness. From making it a game to adding scrumptious meal toppers, there is a method for every furry friend. Try out some of the options listed above and see what works best!