As a dog owner, it can be a little scary when your furry friend starts turning up his nose at dog food he normally wolfs down. Many pet owners worry that their dog will starve themselves after a few missed meals. Thus they begin to compensate with tempting treats and table scraps as an offering to get their picky dog to eat.

As rewarding as it may be for you to know that your dog won’t starve, it isn’t the best approach for dealing with a picky dog. Read on for five tips to get your picky dog to eat food.

Rule Out Medical Issues

If your dog abruptly loses his appetite for more than a couple days, call your vet and schedule an exam.

While a temporary loss of appetite is usually nothing to worry about, it’s a good idea to rule out underlying medical issues.

  • Illness
  • Upset stomach
  • Dental problems (cracked teeth, abyss, rotting teeth)

All of this can lead to your dog losing his appetite. They also are issues that need to be resolved promptly with the help of your vet.

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Temporarily Eliminate Treats and Table Scraps

Have you been spoiling your pup with lots of tasty treats and table scraps? While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, overdoing it can cause a lack of appetite.

For one thing, your dog may be getting a large percentage of their caloric needs met through treats and people food. This will leaving them too full to enjoy their kibble.

Another potential issue is that your dog may learn to love treats and people food so much that they refuse their less exciting kibble in hopes that you will feed them treats instead.

It’s important not to cave and reward their behavior with treats and people food while they’re ignoring their dog food.

Make Sure Your Dog Has Enough Exercise

If a dog doesn’t get daily exercise, they don’t have the opportunity to work up much of an appetite.

Taking them on a long, brisk walk or hike each day, throwing the ball in the backyard, or making visits to your favorite dog park are all great ways to reinvigorate your dog’s appetite.

Create a Meal Routine

If your dog’s food is left out at all times, it becomes less enticing because there is no sense of urgency or novelty.

A better approach is to divide your dog’s food intake for the day into 2-3 set meals. If your pup doesn’t eat their food after 30 minutes, pick it up and set it aside for their next scheduled meal.

If you already follow scheduled meal times and a consistent routine, you may want to try adjusting the feeding times or portions.

It may also be due to feeding your dog at times too close together, or you are feeding them more than the recommended amount for their size, they may simply be too full to eat. Making small adjustments in this way can sometimes make a big difference.

Make Their Kibble More Enticing

If you’ve tried all of these tips and your dog is still not interested in their food. Your pup could be simply grown bored with their dry kibble. Here are a few ideas for mixing things up to regain your picky dog’s interest:

  • Switch to a new food, especially if you can go up in quality to a food with less fillers and better flavor. Just be sure to make the change gradually. By initially mixing the old food with a bit of the new food, you can avoid an upset tummy.
  • Bring out the aroma of your dog’s kibble by microwaving it until just warm. You can also try adding a bit of warm water.
  • Add a bit of dog-safe people food to their kibble, focusing on foods that are nutritious for dogs. Good options include sardines, an egg, or plain Greek yogurt. Pay attention to the calories though, and if necessary, reduce their kibble a bit to make up for the extra food.

In most cases, temporary picky eating from your dog doesn’t end up being a major issue. Dogs will never voluntarily starve themselves, and as long as their owners are patient and avoid giving in with treats. They will more than likely soon regain their appetite.

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