[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Providing food to our dogs is our absolute as an owner. Not only do we know they need food to survive, but the act of actually handing it to them and them enjoyably lapping up our offerings, is rewarding for even the least likely of dog lovers.
Treats are called treats because they are treat for the dog to eat, and also a treat for us to interact and provide them!
It is only natural that should our dogs not want the food we provide we begin to worry. Logically about their health, but also emotionally, as we feel less connection to them in our hearts when that happens.
But, it need not always be this way.
Help is at hand for those whose dogs are either fussy or not currently appearing to not be interested in any type of food provided.
(**I have included many possible reasons your dog is not eating, if you would like any more assistance after reading the article I am happy to skype chat with you a find a food/diet that works for your dog as an individual. )
Fussy Dog considerations:
A medical reason:
Often the easiest to look for as your vet can help you out. Consider tooth looseness, gum pain, digestive issues, perhaps they have swallowed something largely un-digestible, such as a shoelace or part of their tennis ball, and this is causing an obstruction in their gut system.
Have this checked out.
They feel Nausea:
Your dog may well feel nausea without actually vomiting. This may be hard to tell without the display of obvious symptoms like vomiting but could be the case.
If you dog has developed allergies or even an intolerance to certain food types it would be understandable that they may not want to eat a bowl of the very food that made them feel nauseous last time they ate it. Dogs do after all learn by association.
A process of elimination would be the most useful in this case to determine what it could be your dog is not keen on or could be making him feel nausea.
They have a Sensitive Stomach:
A description that many dog owners can relate to. Your dog, usually kibble fed, only has to look at the piece of left-over last nights kebab some helpful person has dropped on the street, and he is ill. Your dog, fairly regularly, gets a loose stool if he has something he is ‘not used to’. Or perhaps they once got loose stools from eating something they found somewhere, or you gave them, and so you won’t take the risk again.
To ensure the Canid doesn’t get ill from scavenging, which is a truly natural canine activity, nature made sure it’s stomach was acidic enough to cope with the bacteria that may be collected whilst doing so. Your dog’s stomach is designed to move in and out in a kind of stretching back and forth fashion when food reaches it. This releases more and more gastrin, managing its acidity levels as it does so. Unfortunately dry dog food swells in the stomach and so doesn’t allow for that action to occur as much as a diet of real meat (minimally cooked or raw) does. Raw bones even more so. Thus the theory goes that the kibble fed dogs stomach certainly isn’t as able to deal with the bacteria levels that it, by nature, should be able to cope with.
In my experience switching to a diet of real food, real meat, preferably raw – but it helps even if cooked meat is fed, improves the situation tenfold, usually completely alleviating such as thing as the Sensitive Stomach.
Allowing you much more scope to solve apparent fussiness.
Instinct is taking over:
This is when your dog simply knows he is a carnivorous creature, and would like some meat.
When asked what the dog will eat, or what is the ‘go to’ food if the dog is not eating, the answer to me, nine times out of ten is Meat, cooked chicken or ham for instance. (the other 1 is usually cheese)
If I had a pound for every time a described ‘fussy dog’ relishes Real Meat!
Many owners find that after trying almost every dry dog food on the market, that their dog will eat meat. Real meat. Cooked or raw (that’s not the issue in this paragraph). In this case the dog has often by then been labelled as silly or fussy.
Well, Very Intelligent dog I’d say – he knows he is a carnivore and is listening to his body’s instinctive needs. Now how often do we do that when reaching for yet another chocolate?
The solution; feed the dog a natural diet of real meat, preferably raw. Either a balanced home-made version or one of the ready–made complete and balanced real meat or raw meat foods now available.
Many dogs will initially only eat cooked real meats, this is fine if so. Transition them onto a real meat diet of lightly oven-cooked pet minces (humans one do not provide the same nutrition as they have no bone content) then transition them onto the raw meat meals afterwards. Quality pet minces have minced down bone carcass, not chunks of bone, making them safe to feed lightly oven cooked.
They are having an ‘off day’:
There is speculation as to wild dogs having what has become known as a ‘fast day’, whereby they don’t eat every day but give themselves a day off at some point during the week. Whilst this is unlikely to be planned for, this could very well happen naturally if they hadn’t reached prey, for most dogs having a day or even 2 without food is not a huge issue. So unless your dog has diabetes, or other blood sugar difficulties don’t panic if your dog doesn’t eat every single day. They will be ok!
Especially if you are feeding a raw diet, as the amount of nutrition in it is so good they may very well be more in sync with their bodies needs and know they don’t need anything that day.
A real meat diet is more satisfying to a dog than a processed diet, and balances the blood sugar levels better by not causing the persistent release of insulin a processed diet would do.
They don’t feel safe enough to eat:
Some dogs feel a level of anxiety if they have to stop and be still to eat, instinctively feeling that being so still makes them vulnerable in some way.
Many of these types of dogs will eat if you stand nearby, tending to prefer their owners nearby to feel safer, often noticed in other situations too.
Other dogs may need the opposite and will feel safer if left alone with no other dogs or people around them while they eat.
It is advisable not to make ‘too big a deal’ of the bowl of food, many dogs will pick up on your anxiety over them not eating, or your feeling of frustration and rejection, and will be even more worried about going near their food bowl.
These more behavioural responses can be tricky to understand, a process of elimination may be needed to determine which applies to your dog.
The curve ball of course is that our dogs are living creatures and the feelings they are having in relation to these choices of behaviour could be different each day! The best thing is to stay as calm as possible as often as possible, and give them space to start with, moving closer if you then feel they need you nearby to feel safe to eat. This is where learning to connect with how your dog feels rather than what he/she thinks is a real help. Check out my Canine Flow training techniques for help with that.
Their environment, or owner, has changed:
It is common for dogs recently left in kennels, or with pet sitters, not to eat initially. Sometimes other aspects of the dogs environment may have altered that influence the dogs feeling of safety or vulnerability.
If you think this applies it is worth reading the above paragraph on ‘ feeling safe to eat’. Dogs are often far more in tune with their digestive systems and will recognise that stress or anxiety inhibits digestive function. They thus won’t be so keen to eat as a result of these instinctive feelings. The worst thing to do in these cases can be to force them to eat. Calming them and practicing body tension releasing techniques will assist them far more.
Tension in their jaw, mouth, neck (sometimes referred to as tension is his temple mandible joint TMJ) is putting them off eating.
On many occasions I have found by lightly yet purposefully massaging a dogs ear, neck and jaw area can improve their appetite. This is most commonly useful for dogs (or cats actually) that have come round from an anaesthetic and need to be encouraged to eat again. It can also really help if your dog is fussy, bringing awareness to their mouth and eating area, calming them and releasing any tension that may be putting them off eating.
If you try it, approach your hands from the back, underneath of your dog’s head, not many dogs will appreciate hands heading towards their eyes and face purposefully, no matter how good intentioned you are.
I have known people to gently massage a dog’s gums too, with wet hands/fingers so as not to dry the mouth.
( you can learn more about working with your dogs body to release tension patterns on my courses)
Is Fussiness Breed Specific?
Yorkies are one breed I do get asked a lot about in terms of fussiness. This could be as they are small, and multiple food types can be regularly purchased at a faster rate than for a bigger dog. I suspect also that, as many of our smaller breeds were up until very recently kept for their useful ability to catch rats and other rodents. These breeds are true real meat eaters. Thus the instincts kick in sooner. Some breeds such as French Bulldogs, who very commonly have digestive issues if not being fed real, unprocessed food may have breed traits for some of the other choices mentioned in this article.
The little things:
These little things may seem obvious, but are often the solution!
*Your dog may prefer their real meat at room temperature.
*Your dog may only like certain types of real meat, or flavour of processed food. Dogs have their taste preferences just as we do.
*The supplier may have changed their ingredients. Processed food manufacturers do not have the change the ingredient listings on their packaging when they initially do this.
*Your real meat brand may have changed their supplier. Real meat is a variable thing, you may simply need to change your brand.
*The meat may be off and you can’t smell it but the dog can! Check your fridges temperatures and where you are sourcing your real meat from. Defra registered quality suppliers are preferable.
Try not to change your dogs diet totally because they don’t like one type of meat or brands meats.
*Don’t Panic if your dog doesn’t eat for 1 or 2 days.
*Be careful not to make a dog eat if they feel anxious or poorly, they may know instinctively it isn’t good for them to do so.
*Don’t immediately change the type of diet fed, especially if you have already got the on real meat, without first addressing the other issues listed above.
You are always welcome to come along to one of my workshops on Canine Nutrition to learn loads more![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_wp_posts number=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row]