Caitlin UltimoNutrition / Pet Diet Tips

How to Entice Your Dog at Mealtime

Learn How to Entice Your Dog to Eat

If you have a picky pup, nothing is more important than getting him to eat—and to eat healthy—at mealtime. When your dog doesn’t want to eat, it is up to you to ensure that he’s receiving the nutrients and vitamins he needs to stay strong, healthy and happy.

Find out the reasons why your dog refuses to eat and use these tips to help bring back his appetite:

Why does my dog refuse to eat?

In order to combat the problem, you must first understand the root of why it’s happening. As it turns out, there could be a number of reasons why your dog doesn’t want to eat their dog food. For example, “If your dog is often exposed to eating table scraps, they may start to hold out on their dog food and think, “If I wait, I can get something better,” says Dr. Sandra Lyn, Senior Product Development Scientist and behaviorist at Purina. Not feeding your dog table scraps can be difficult, but sticking with healthy dog food options—like Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula dry food or Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Shredded Blend Lamb & Rice Formula dry food—might help get your pooch back on track. Remember, “Dogs are really good at looking at us with sad eyes, which makes it easy to give in,” says Dr. Lyn. “This task requires discipline on the part of the owner.”

If you’ve recently changed your dog’s food, that could be a reason for the pickiness as well. If you do change your dog’s food, make sure to do it gradually. One reasons for this is that “the food can be too new for the dog, and they may be afraid to try it,” Dr. Lyn notes.

A behavior Dr. Lyn calls “seasonal impact on food consumption” could also be to blame for a dog that refuses to eat. “During the warmer months, dogs tend to drink a lot more water, which means there’s less gut space, especially for smaller dogs,” she explains. “Wait a few minutes before feeding if you notice your dog drinking a lot of water, and if not, try a wet food for hydration in case your dog is not drinking enough.” Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Classic Beef & Rice Entrée is a good canned food option for beef lovers, since it packs plenty of protein-rich beef and energy-driving rice into each bite.

Keep in mind that if your dog is sick, you’ll notice a refusal of almost all foods, cautions Dr. Lynn. If you believe this is the case, be sure to talk to your vet.

How can I get my dog to eat?

If you’ve discovered that your dog doesn’t want to eat because of some of the reasons mentioned above, perhaps the answer is as simple as avoiding table scraps, switching to wet food or gradually changing your pup’s diet. If that doesn’t work though, there are more methods to try.

One interesting way to entice your dog at mealtime comes from a concept that Dr. Lyn calls “the social facilitation of eating.” “If there are no other dogs in the household, we have family members,” says Dr. Lyn. “Some dogs may prefer to eat when their families are around. If you recognize this, try scheduling your dog’s meal while you are around doing something else.”

Remember that mealtime should also be fun for both the dog and the owner, says Dr. Lyn. “Talk to your dog while preparing food, and try warming it up very slightly in the microwave, because some dogs will prefer food that is warmer,” she says. “Dogs respond to our voice, and talking with enthusiasm as well as the sound of microwaving builds anticipation and excitement for the meal.”

Consider how you manage your dog food as well, because that’s important, says Dr. Lyn. “If freshness is compromised, it might mean that your dog will hold out because the texture of food changes if opened to air and is not fresh.”

With a little patience you’ll likely be able to find a way to get a dog that refuses to eat to actually enjoy his meal. Just be sure to talk to your vet to find our how much you should be feeding your dog as well, reminds Dr. Lyn. If your dog is overweight, your vet might recommend switching to a diet food, like Purina Pro Plan’s Savor Adult Shredded Blend Weight Management Formula.

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