Are you worried that your puppy is a picky eater? It’s normal to be concerned if you don’t feel your pet is eating well. It makes sense, too, since finishing a meal is so important to good health. But how can you tell what is normal and what isn’t?
Defining the “picky” eater
The simplest and most widely accepted definition of a picky dog is one that won’t eat all of its food at least once a day. If your puppy is simply leaving a little food behind at each meal, try cutting back the amount you give him. However, if he is leaving entire meals—or much of his meal—untouched or unfinished at least once every day, speak to your veterinarian. There may be an underlying health issue involved, and you’ll want to rule that out before treating the problem as merely behavioral.
So, is picky eating a problem? It depends. If your puppy has always been finicky, this may be normal for him. As long as he is developing properly and gaining weight, you may not need to do anything. But, if a normally ravenous eater suddenly loses his appetite, it could mean something is wrong.
What to do with a persnickety pup…
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to encourage your puppy to develop good mealtime habits. Try these simple tips:
- Don’t give him table scraps—this can curb a puppy’s normally healthy appetite, and if he starts ignoring his bowl often, he may be pining for people food
- Don’t hand out treats like candy—too many treats can spoil his appetite and have him hoping for a diet of mostly treats
- Stick to a feeding schedule—feed your puppy 2-3 times daily at regular times or as recommended by your veterinarian
- Reconsider the type or brand of dog food you are feeding him—if he simply doesn’t seem to like his food, try a super premium brand with more fresh chicken or meat as the first ingredient.
Puppies can get really keyed up exercising and running about as fervently as they do. Sometimes they just need a little time to settle down before they are ready to eat. There are also certain situations—such as moving to a new home—that can make a dog turn his nose up at food for a bit. But, once the dust settles, things usually return to normal. So don’t sweat it unless the situation becomes prolonged or progresses. Just enjoy all those wonderful moments a new puppy brings to each day.