One of the most common questions we get here at COAST+RANGE is what do do about picky eaters.
Many theories abound about what causes dogs to be (or become) picky eaters. According to the American Kennel Club, dogs have far fewer taste buds than humans (1,700 vs. 9,000). As a result, they rely more heavily upon their sense of sight and smell than humans do at mealtime. One theory about picky eaters is the unsavory smell of most commercial dog food (okay, we said it, doesn't commercial dog food smell terrible?) may be to blame. Others believe that the carbohydrate-laden diets of most commercial dog foods are less appealing to dogs or perhaps they grow tired of eating the same food day after day.
Regardless of the reason, here are four tips compiled by our nutrition team on how to make mealtime more enjoyable for your picky eater.
TIP#1 - Get the juices flowing
It may seem obvious, but pouring a small amount of warm (filtered) water or low sodium chicken broth over the food can make it more appealing. A dog's mouth doesn't work the same way as ours (they lack our salivary amylase) and, generally speaking, they don't get enough water, so this tip will get their juices flowing and may help them get more excited about mealtime.
TIP#2 - Add a topper
Eggs are an awesome source of nutrients like choline and selenium. We like to add a freshly scrambled egg to our dog's food from time to time. The aroma of the eggs will help get your dog in the mood for mealtime while delivering an added nutritional boost. Other toppers like shredded carrots or chicken can do the trick as well.
TIP#3 - Add some texture
We were really surprised to learn that texture plays a major role in the palatability of dog food (something we've taken advantage of in our gently-baked foods launching later this year). Unfortunately, most commercial dry dog food is uniform in shape, so you can help your picky eater by crumbling up of the food to increase the amount of texture in their bowl.
TIP#4 - Check their teeth
Sometimes picky eating is a sign of a more serious problem with your dog's oral health. If you suddenly find yourself with a picky eater, it may be time to check to see if your dog has inflamed gums or even a broken tooth. If they are a chewer (sticks, bones, etc.) check to make sure there's no debris stuck between their teeth. If you DO find a problem, contact your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.