Having a finicky fur child is a reality for many pet parents. Cats are known to be more particular about what they eat than dogs, but it can be stressful day in and day out when a dog or cat refuses to eat.  While you obviously want them to be getting the proper nutrition, at the end of the day, you can’t force them to eat. Here are some tips for helping your picky eater eat! 

1.Stop free choice feeding. Meals should be served at about the same time every day.  And after 30 minutes, take away what isn’t eaten. This helps them know when to expect food and ensures that your pet will be hungry.

2.Switch it up.  Your pet may just be bored with the same food, so try a different type or flavor. If you are feeding dry food, try adding a bit of canned.  Or try feeding freeze dried or frozen raw food or a gently cooked formula.  Commercially prepared raw food is easy to use – just take out a frozen patty or nuggets, thaw, and put them in the bowl!  This is often a game changer as raw food brings more meat and flavor that pets usually go crazy for!  It’s a good idea to transition slowly to a new food so you don’t risk digestive upset. 

3.Top it. If you’re not ready to completely change your dog or cat’s diet, try topping what you’re feeding with a meal topper, some sprinkled freeze-dried raw, canned tripe, bone broth or raw goat’s milk.  

4.Exercise before meals. Try a game of fetch or a brisk walk with your dog, or some laser interaction with your cat.  

5. A new feeding bowl.  A different style bowl or an elevated bowl can impact eating for some dogs. Cats don’t like narrow or deep bowls and plastic bowls can give off smells that cause them to turn up their nose.   Use stainless steel or glass bowls and make sure to thoroughly clean them using unscented cleaner.   Sometimes, it can help to put their feeding bowl in a different location. 

6.Eliminate treats. Too many treats or feeding from the table can cause a lack of hunger or excitement for mealtime. Reduce or completely cut out treats to see if this can help solve the problem.

Be sure to rule out a medical reason for your dog or cat’s lack of appetite, especially if it has come on suddenly.  Are they truly being picky, or is there an underlying cause?  With a bit of trial and error, most owners are able to find a solution to their pet’s picky behavior, although it may require some patience and perseverance.