First of all, if your pet isn't eating like they should be you should talk with your veterinarian and rule out any health problems. Refusal to eat is a symptom of many illnesses. Sickness is one reason why a dog or cat might be picky over their food.
Also, many elderly pets may have a decreased appetite and tend to be more picky about what they eat. This doesn't necessarily mean they are "just old". They certainly could have underlying health problems that need attention.
Make sure to take care of your pet's teeth while they are young too, because poor dental health at an older age can cause oral pain. And who wants to eat when their mouth hurts?
Some pets are picky because they want to be. There may be no rhyme or reason to their methods. Regardless of the reason for your dog or cat being a picky eater, here are some helpful tips that could help entice them to eat.
Add something tasty to dry food.
If your pet normally eats a dry kibble food, but is refusing to eat it there are a couple of things you can try to coax them to eat their food. By adding something extra tasty to their regular meals, they might be more happy to eat.
- Broth - You can try adding a broth to your pet's regular dry kibble food. If you let the broth soak into the food for 5-10 minutes, it will become soft.
- Canned food - Add some canned food to your pet's regular dry food and mix it together. Most dogs and cats love eating canned food. If that doesn't work, you can always try feeding the canned food by itself.
- Cooked meats - Try adding some unseasoned cooked meats like chicken or beef to your pet's regular food. If your pet doesn't like their dry food, they may pick out the pieces of meat. But, you won't know if this will work until you try it.
Some might argue that this will spoil your pet and make them even pickier in the long run. Even so, if this is what works to get them to eat their food I believe it's probably worth it.
And if you're willing, there are also options in feeding your pet home cooked diets or raw diets. Just make sure you do your research before trying this.
Serve at a warmer temperature.
For many sick pets, cats especially, this technique seems to work fairly well. Obviously, you can't put dry food in the microwave and warm it up. You'll need to try warming up canned food or dry food that has been soaked in broth or water.
Don't overheat the food - it shouldn't take much longer than 10-30 seconds in a microwave. After you're done heating your pets food in a microwave, stir it up well and test the temperature of the food yourself. All you need to do is put your finger in the food to make sure it isn't too hot.
Change the way you serve and store your pet's food.
To battle pet obesity, it's usually recommended that your pet's food is picked up within a certain time if they don't eat it all. Keeping food out all of the time usually leads to weight gain. If you have a pet that likes to pick at their food and needs to eat more, try leaving their food out for longer periods of time.
Of course, you still need to think about how fresh their food is. Dry food left out that hasn't been eaten should be picked up and thrown away at the very least daily. Canned food should be thrown out after about 30 minutes to an hour maximum. No one wants to eat old yucky food.
Also, make sure you're storing your pet's food properly! If you are leaving the bag open and not sealing it up, it's not going to be as fresh. That could be part of the reason your pet doesn't want to eat it. For canned food, you should refrigerate any of the food that hasn't been served. Make sure you place a lid on the can. There are re-usable pet food lids that can be purchased for cheap.
You should also consider where you are feeding your pet. Maybe they want more privacy and don't want to eat in a high traffic area of your house. Try feeding them in a quiet room where they won't be disturbed.
Save money and win free pet food from pet blogs.
If you have a dog or cat that has no rhyme or reason to their pickiness, finding a food that they are willing to eat can be a challenge. You might find yourself spending a lot of money on new foods that Fluffy doesn't even like. To save money, try entering giveaways from pet blogs for free dog or cat food.
In most cases, giveaways at pet blogs are not gimmicks. Most pet bloggers host giveaways at their blogs because they want to do something nice for their readers. At least, that's why I like to do them anyways. If you've been skeptical about entering these in the past, don't be! I've entered many giveaways at pet blogs in the past and have won free pet products quite regularly.
Subscribe to your favorite pet blogs by email or follow them on social media so you can be alerted the next time they host a giveaway for pet food. Some may even post about coupons, deals, or free samples. It's a great way to save money.
Do you have a picky eater? Share your tips with us in the comments - they could help others going through a similar situation!