It is truly remarkable how many owners have dogs which are fussy. So much so that Veterinary Surgeon, John Burns has put together a handy guide on fussy eating in dogs.
Many owners seem determined to make their dogs eat come what may. The main reason why a dog refuses food is that IT IS NOT HUNGRY! However, the owner concludes that the dog no longer likes the food and decides to try something else (usually tastier) in order to get the dog to eat. The dog will eat this tastier food for a time until it tires of that. The owner will then seek out something else in order to stimulate the dog's jaded appetite. And so it continues. The owner does not seem to realise or care that the dog is simply not hungry. The best way to please a dog is to give the dog, not food, but time by providing the stimulation of play or by taking it for a walk. The Health Programme below offers advice on organising the feeding of the fussy dog.
Feed once daily, usually 5-7 pm. Offer less than the recommended amount for the dog's weight e.g. if the dog weighs 20 kg offer 5-6 ounces (125g - 150g) rather than 8 ounces (200g.). Any food not consumed within 10-15 minutes should be taken up and no more food offered until the same mealtime next day. At the next meal, offer slightly less than the amount eaten the day before. Experiment with quantities until you ensure that your dog is READY for its meal each day, consumes the whole amount and would even eat a little more if it were available. After the first few days, if you have to offer extras to encourage your dog to eat then your are probably overfeeding.
How can I be overfeeding? My dog only eats what he needs and leaves the rest.
If your dog regularly picks at his food and leaves food behind then this means that he is eating as much as he wants rather than as much as he needs. It is likely that he could manage with a little less each day, his health would improve and he would probably enjoy his food more if he was eating less.
Can I be overfeeding if my dog is not overweight?
Many dogs which are overfed do not put on weight but discharge the excess giving rise to the symptoms described in the Development of Disease Stage 1 in the Guide to Natural Health Care. This tends to be true especially for dogs which have lots of exercise. In general, it is the dogs which are not well exercised which become overweight.
Is it harmful to add other things to the dog food?
This depends on the individual dog and what you want to add. I do not recommend adding other pet food to the Burns but home-made food especially vegetables may be acceptable. If the dog has a health problem such as itchy skin it is best not to add anything to Burns without discussing this first with Burns Pet Nutrition
A prepared pet food cannot by its nature be tailored exactly to suit every circumstance and we sometimes even recommend adding other home-made foods depending on the individual's needs. I do not necessarily agree with the advice which other manufacturers give that adding to the diet will "upset the balance". But it is not advisable to add things regularly to the food in order to get the dog to eat more. Over a period of time this will result in the dog eating more than it would otherwise and could undo the benefit of the Burns food.