UPDATE - Since so many UK dogs are fussy we've just added our vet designed FUSSY DOG MEAL PLAN that works by using science to craft a meal to encourage dogs to eat. If you are at the end of your tether we'd strongly suggest trying this. You can find it here now.
If you serve up a tasty nutrient packed meal and your dog just pushes it around the bowl then you might have a fussy dog. Not all dogs have the same appetite but if you truly struggle to get your dog to eat then you’ll know exactly how stressful it can be.
Why are dogs fussy?
If your dog is habitually refusing food you’ll want to get to the bottom of it.
Think about it for a second. Dogs descend from scavengers that didn’t have regular meals. Their great great great grand doggy had to take every opportunity to eat. Fussy didn’t exist because they weren’t presented with a choice to pick and choose between foods. So they could happily eat an array of foods that they’d find whilst scavenging, and some of it probably didn’t taste too good. So dogs don’t naturally have a discerning palate.
If your own dog shows signs of fussy eating habits then the cause is often closer to home in most circumstances. It is frequently the result of feeding too many table scraps or treats. Not only does this have a detrimental impact on their health (diabetes, obesity, inflammation, allergies), but also helps to reinforce their pickiness.
In scenarios like these, dogs stop happily tucking in to their nutritious meal in hope that something more exciting is provided instead. Just like humans, dogs are genetically programmed to want to eat high energy, high fat content foods to store the energy for when mealtimes are irregular. But as a loving dog owner that provides regular meals you’ll want to help circumvent their natural tendencies. Foods like these might taste good, but they won’t provide the nutrients your dog needs to live a long healthy and happy life.
There is a compromise. Feed a complete balanced dog food that provides all the micronutrients and macronutrients they need, but is still super tasty! Have a look at our own fussy dog foods.
But what’s the best food for a fussy dog?
Not all dog foods are equal when it comes to taste appeal. We regularly encounter owners trying to find food that will stop their fussy dog from refusing to eat. Many of them make the same mistake and pick a food that isn’t the most palatable food for the job. Don't fall into this trap yourself. Instead choose a dog food that stands the greatest chance of helping solve your dog’s fussiness.
Some ingredients are better than others, and as a rule of thumb we would suggest trying a food that contains some of the things below.
Not only does duck naturally appeal to almost every dog because of it’s healthy fat content, it is also extremely healthy. It is high in Potassium and that plays an important role in maintaining the fluid balance in the body as well as having a vital role in the normal functioning of nerves and muscles while it’s phosphorus content is essential for strong bones and teeth. It also works incredibly well with dogs that have food intolerances. We have two duck dog food recipes that prove extremely popular amongst owners of fussy dogs.
Fish like Salmon & Trout really appeal to fussy dogs through both taste and smell. Their natural omega oils work well with even the fussiest dogs we have encountered. Oily fish like these also help improve skin & coat condition.
Pork is another healthy protein that appeals to dogs. Think of it as like being the bacon sandwich of the dog world. They find it difficult to refuse.
Still struggling? Time to get serious….
The best way to get a fussy dog to eat
As already mentioned, we would always suggest feeding a tried and tested food that been designed with fussy dogs in mind. They contain ingredients that are known to be the most palatable to dogs, and have been designed in a way to help eliminate fussiness. We have a dedicated section on our website that lists all our best foods for fussy dogs.
After making sure you have the right dog food, you have to help your dog understand that no other food option exists. We regularly hear from vets and nutritionists that dogs require routine, and the best way to get your dog to eat is to follow a few simple steps:
- put out your dog's food at meal time and leave it for 30 minutes. If it hasn’t been eaten within 30 minutes then take it away.
- at their next scheduled meal time, put their food out and take it way again after 30 minutes if it still isn’t eaten.
- maintain this strategy until your dog decides to eat. Don’t give in!
As a loving dog owner you might think that this sounds harsh, but you have to remember that your dog isn’t starving. They’ll definitely eat if they are hungry. This is basically a battle of wills, and if you maintain this strategy you’ll have cracked the fussy dog enigma code and be able to move forwards with a renewed dog eating pattern.
We have heard from countless owners who have used the above method to convert their fussy dogs into healthy food loving pets, so it really does work!
Other smart tricks to encourage fussy dogs to eat
There are a few other things you can try to help reassure yourself that you’ve done everything in your power to make their dog food super tasty for them. You can add a little warm water to their dinner, or put it in the microwave for 15 seconds. This helps release the natural aromas and flavours in the food and that can help make the food more palatable for them.
Macronutrients matter too.
We outlined above that dogs love fat content just like humans do. So whatever you do make sure that you aren’t trying to get your fussy dog to eat dog food that is low in fat or designed for weight control. These don’t have the same ability to appeal to fussy dogs because of their lower palatability. Instead try a food with a moderate to high fat content, and good protein to carbohydrate ratio.
Don’t fret, low fat foods for fussy dogs exist
If your dog happens to require weight loss, or suffers from Pancreatitis then you won't have a choice about feeding them a dog food that is low in fat. Most people in this predicament seriously struggle, but we have a dog food that isn’t just lower in fat but is still palatable too. In our opinion Gourmet Salmon & Trout Light is the best low fat food to encourage a fussy dog to eat.
With a little effort, and some smart guidance it is possible to help your fussy dog change their unhealthy eating patterns. Firstly, make sure to pick a dog food that is better designed to appeal to fussier dogs. This is often enough to notice some renewed dinnertime vigour, but if not there are a few steps you can go to encourage your dog to eat. These steps are outlined above and can be used with great success.
Consult our clinically proven fussy dog foods here if you are struggling to find a food for your dog. They score incredibly high in independent palatability tests and can help convert your dog in to a healthy eater!