Do you have a persnickety pooch, finicky feline, or hard-to-please bird, rabbit, or exotic pet at mealtimes? It can be unsettling and even annoying when your beloved pet won’t eat their food. Jennifer Fanders, DVM, and co-owner of Edinburg Animal Hospital of West Windsor, New Jersey, offers tips on how to handle your pet’s exacting eating habits.
What tends to make a pet a picky eater?
Often, when a dog is a “picky” eater, what they really are is not hungry. In my opinion, dogs are rarely picky eaters. Cats are a completely different story and tend to be picky about their food. Also, if there isn’t a medical reason behind your dog or cat’s refusal to eat their kibble or wet food, they may have trained you to give them table food or treats. But if they aren’t eating and are losing weight and have symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, they could be ill or have a food sensitivity, and you should take them to your veterinarian. Rabbits are never picky, so if they don’t eat for eight to twelve hours, call your vet immediately. It’s also a good idea to consult your vet if your bird or exotic pet isn’t eating.
How can dog and cat owners make their pets eat their regular food if they are being unnecessarily fussy?
Regularly fill their bowl, set it out for twenty or thirty minutes, and then take it away. They will learn to eat their kibble or wet food when it’s available. You can also try putting their food or treats in fun puzzle toys, such as KONG toys and snuffle mats for dogs and mice-shaped toys for cats.