Super-skinny Brazilian models have food issues. So do the majority of children under the age of four. Then, there's your brother who hasn't tasted a carbohydrate since 2001. He definitely has issues. But what about Oscar, your new Dachshund? If he's like the rest of us, he probably has them too. He might be finicky. Or perhaps he's got the appetite of a lumberjack. Wherever the problems lie, take heart. We think you can get him to eat a nutritionally sound diet — without the aid of a high-priced doggie psychologist or canine chef. Here's how:
What He Needs
Before we tackle idiosyncrasies, let's step back and look at good dog nutrition.
All dogs need a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates like those found in high quality premium pet foods like Eukanuba. The ingredients these nutrients come from will show up in the list of ingredients as grain sorghum, beet pulp, fish oil and antioxidants, among others. Furthermore, the label will tell you how much protein and fat are actually in the bag.
Feed your dog according to his size, breed and stage of life. Consider that puppies require up to twice the energy of full-grown dogs, that overweight animals need smaller, less nutrient-dense meals and that teeny pooches like the Chihuahua require small kibble to accommodate their dainty mouths. Eukanuba offers a full spectrum of programs.
Fresh water should always be available. Scrub the bowl and refill it throughout the day. Even one wayward morsel can contaminate the beverage. (You wouldn't want drink out of a dirty glass, would you?)
Provide meals at about the same time each day. This helps create a routine for your pet and establishes a comfortable eating pattern.
Follow the portion guidelines on the back of the dog food package. Even if he seems hungry, overfeeding can lead to obesity.
Never give table scraps or human treats. Such foods can be dangerous for pets and lead to obesity.
Feeding the Finicky Eater
If your pet sniffs his bowl then rejects all but a few bites, analyze his behavior.Like kids, dogs will eat when they're hungry. A few things could be happening:
Is he being fed people food or extra dog treats that suppress his appetite? Even if you aren't the one giving handouts, your spouse, children or dogsitter may be. Have an honest conversation with them about the adverse impact this is having. After all your dog would eat candy bars all daylong if allowed — but that won't keep him healthy. Assure them that his dog food — while it might not look enticing to humans — gives him all the nutrition he needs.
Is he sick? Neither people nor canines eat if they're ill. Make note of whether or not your dog is voiding regularly and playing normally. Recording such information in a notebook could help you and your vet determine a pattern and thus lead to a diagnosis.
Are you overfeeding? He might be eating all he needs and leaving the rest alone.Check to make sure your portions are on target.
Does he dislike his dog food? We hate to say it, but cheaper brands may be made with lesser quality ingredients that might not suit his palate — or his body. He might not like the taste or, more than likely, he has difficulty digesting it. (For example,you might think a fast food burger is tasty — until you have to eat them every single day three times per day. Then, fresh vegetables and fruit start looking good.)In contrast, Eukanuba uses only high-quality ingredients — goodness he's bound to love.
Feeding the Big Appetite
We know Irish Wolfhounds who can pack it away — and miniature Schnauzers who can keep up with them. If your dog seems truly hungry — you'll know if he inhales his supper in five minutes flat then begs you for more — there could be a reason:
Is he getting the right kind of nutrition and thus feeling satiated? As we previously mentioned, many lesser-quality dog foods are less nutrient dense. It might be that he wants to eat the equivalent to one steak versus three bags of popcorn.
Are you feeding him enough? If you've recently taken up cross-country skiing and your dog joins you in the adventure, he's burning a whole lot more calories than he was in his life as a lap dog. Take a look at the feeding guidelines on the package or consult with your vet.
Is he receiving clean water? Like people, dogs often eat when they're actually thirsty. Make sure his bowl is clean and contains fresh water at all times. (Puddles don't count.)
Finding the Right Method of Feeding for Your Dog
Depending upon the size and personality of your animal, there are two ways to appropriate his meals — both have different benefits. You'll want to first consider his typical eating patterns — does he have self-control or is he likely to consume food simply because it is set before him?
Free-choice Feeding: Plunk down dry food and let him graze all day long.This allows him to eat more or less depending on the fluctuation of his appetite. When his morning walk is extended, he'll likely respond by eating more food; when he lies in front of the fireplace, he'll take in less. This is a great plan for the lackadaisical eater.
Timed Feeding: Provide rations on a twice-daily schedule, allowing him to eat for upwards of 20 minutes before removing his bowl. This establishes routine and perfectly proportions his calories. This means he'll bookend his day with nutrition rather than swallowing in all at once at 7 a.m. This option is terrific for large breeds, the obese and over eaters.
Switching Brands Without Hunger Strikes. If you've decided to switch brands or formulas within a specific brand, special care should be taken to avoid tummy discomfort. You'll want to gradually transition your pet taking these steps:
Over the course of three days, integrate the new food into the current type a little at a time until you've got 100 percent new in the bowl. If the dog won'teat it, don't worry. Animals can miss meals for a day or two without side effects.Eventually, he'll take to it. (Maybe he'll even unload those extra pounds while you're waiting for his appetite to "return.")
Show positive body language. Present his bowl with great flourish so he'll know the change is okay. Tell him the new recipe is a treat.
Don't give in to demands for the old food. Dogs will eat when hungry. (You may,however, have to eat your Snack wells in the spare bedroom without Fido watching to avoid feeling guilty.)
To ease the transition from wet to dry food, mix in a bit of warm water. You might even try microwaving it for a few seconds. (But be sure to discard the uneaten portion after 20 minutes, as it will go bad.)
Dogs have quirks, we know that. But don't let your Dalmatian turn into a pa.There is, after all, only one Paris Hilton.