The Dog Mom’s Guide To Handling Picky Eaters

Some dogs (cough, cough Paris) eat everything...all day...everyday. You put it down, they gobble it up. End of story. And theeen there are the Picky Pollys.

You know the ones. They sniff around the dinner bowl. Stare at it for a while. And just when you think they’re starting to nibble, they do the unthinkable. Spit the food back out and walk away. Really?! THIS bowl of highly nutritious and dare I say rather expensive food isn’t good enough for you? But the leaves in the back yard are irresistible? Pardon me while I roll my eyes, Your Royal Highness.


Dylan, however, can be a very Picky Polly.  When he gets into a mood it’s a problem.  Chicken? No. Beef? No. Fish? No. Shall I warm it up for you? No. Treatos? No...Homemade chicken and rice, maybe? (Gaaaah!)

So this is my newest frustration but for some dog moms this is life. Your pooch knows what he likes and what he likes is NOT in that dog bowl. It’s easy to be at a lose in this situation. So what’s a dog mom to do?

Well first off, a healthy dog will not starve himself. Even if your picky pooch doesn’t like what you’re serving, sooner or later hunger will win out.

Also, remember many dogs don’t need to eat as often as we humans do.  Three meals a day may be a bit much for most. The vast majority of owners feed their dogs once or twice a day. And in either scenario their pup tummies are plenty full.

Toy breeds tend to eat twice a day because their little bellies cannot handle as much food in one sitting. So they need to break it up.

It’s good to know that as long as they have plenty of water, a healthy dog can go a day or two without eating no problem.  Now that does not meant you shouldn’t feed yourself dog every day. You absolutely should. But it does mean that homie’s little food strike over there may not be as serious as you think.

That said, you know your dog best. If you are concerned or notice other changes such as lethargy, irregular potty habits, changes in behavior or a total disinterest in toys, walkies and etc., it’s definitely time for a trip to the vet. Better safe than sorry.

So withstanding medical issues which need to be addressed by your vet, what should you do with finicky eaters?

When it comes to picky eaters a dog mom has to set the rules.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake

Are you feeding your dog treats throughout the day? It could be that they are filling up on the goodies throughout the day and then skipping dinner. Just like kids who want to eat cupcakes all day and then skip their healthy dinner, your pup could be holding out for the treatos.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Try adding different flavors and textures to tour pup’s bowl. Perhaps food toppers or adding in some crunchy bits to softer food to mix it up a bit. They even make dog food seasoning that you can sprinkle on top to enhance the flavor.

Warm It Up Sis

As dogs age their sense of smell can weaken a little bit. So try popping their dinner in the microwave for a few seconds to unlock its yummy aroma.

Help your picky eater work up an appetite.

Walk It Out 

Think about it. Are you super hungry on days when you don’t get off the couch? But aren’t you ravenous after a good workout? Same goes for your pup. So make sure they get a good amount of exercise during the day so they can work up an appetite.

Dinner Is Served

Set meal times and stick to them. Put the food down at the appropriate time and walk away. Don’t hover. Don’t coax. Don’t hand feed. Offer and then go into another room. Give your dog 15-30 minutes to start eating in peace. But after time is up, take the food up and don’t offer them anything else.

Then come back later in the day and repeat but with a fresh bowl of food. Especially with wet dog food. It’s important not to re-offer wet dog food as it can spoil quickly in the open air. This can result in some wasted food. But wasted food is better than upset tummies.

Repeating this method helps to train your dog to understand, “Listen buddy. This is the menu. So eat up.”

Trying these tactics has definitely helped me with Dylan’s discerning palette.  But I have to admit, I’ve also relented a bit and incorporate food toppers into my dogs’ meals.

Looking for more information on which food toppers I use?  Check out my blog post Ciao Chow: Spice Up Your Dog’s Mealtime With Maxbone.