Food for thought for fussy dogs

Fussy dog guide

Whilst many dogs delight at the sight of their next Lyka meal, some can be downright fussy with food – this can be incredibly frustrating for pupper parents, and you may worry that your fussy dog isn’t getting the nutrition they need, but here’s our guide to fussy dogs.

You aren’t alone in your worry for your dog, and there are many reasons why your dog is a picky eater. Anxiety is a common reason for reduced appetite and fussy eating, but it may also be a sign of an underlying health condition or behaviour. Identifying the cause and making some changes to your pupper’s diet and feeding environment can make all the difference.

Feeling anxious

Anxiety is a common cause of fussy eating patterns. If your pup is anxious, there will be some common triggers. These include separation anxiety, abandonment and trauma issues, quite often associated with rescue pups and fear of sudden loud noises.

Trust is key, as dogs need to be able to relax and drop their guard to feel comfortable when eating, and they must feel safe in their environment before they will pop their head into their bowl. Trust is key for your pupper to be relaxed at mealtime.

Feeding time and environment

Feeding your dog in a busy household during peak times can be distracting for puppers. Changing their feeding routine so that they’re chowing down when things are quieter can help your pupper to feel more comfortable when eating.

Our good friend Ian, over at the Bondi Behaviourist, gave some insight on why puppers might not be interested in feeding during the busiest periods in a household:

“People use food as almost a distraction for them to be able to go and do things, so the food going down on the floor becomes a precursor for us to be active and busy, so the pup may then avoid the food” – Ian, the Bondi Behaviourist

If your pupper senses you are getting ready to leave for work, they may become preoccupied with this and less interested in their food. Ian, from Bondi Behaviourist says, “this is because food goes down the value ladder, as your pupper may view being with you as more pressing” – put simply, they may be experiencing FOMO!

This can also happen if your pupper has developed a habit of only eating from their owner’s hand, including treats. They learn to associate eating with the trust and comfort of having their pack leader close by.

Eek, are you making your pupper’s fussiness worse?

Although it’s tempting to do everything for our puppers, it’s important to consider that you may be playing into your dog’s fussiness. Common mistakes people make include:

Too many treats during the day may mean that your pupper isn’t hungry when it comes to mealtimes. A good rule of thumb is to only feed ~5% of your pupper’s daily food intake as treats, so make sure you aren’t overfeeding!

Lack of exercise is another culprit. If your pupper is missing out on regular exercise, they may not be expending enough calories to give their metabolism the kickstart it needs. Like humans, they will not crave food like they would after a day of heavy exercise. Setting up a regular walking schedule or playtime around the house can increase appetite.

Transference anxiety is also an interesting cause of fussy eating. When a human believes that a pup ‘just won’t like it’, in most cases they prove us right. Dogs are very intuitive and will sense our negative sentiments and match our energy. Studies show that puppers can read a human’s facial expressions and even mirror their owner’s stress in scenarios, so remember to relax and stay positive.

Could it be your dog?

Even though we do our best to make our puppers as happy and healthy as possible, there can be un-seen physical issues that are causing your pupper to be fussier than what you’ve experienced previously!

Cravings for salt, sugar and starch could be a cause. This is more common for dogs eating kibble and commercial diets. More processed diets are packed full of sodium and carbohydrates, and over time, puppers can become reliant on this. A high kibble diet can also affect their body’s ability to regulate hunger hormones and digestion.

Low-grade inflammation is another common cause of fussiness. High carbohydrate, kibble diets can perpetuate this inflammation. It is important that your pupper is given foods that are easy to digest. A diet that is healthy and nutritious can help to reduce inflammation. There is a known link between poor gut microbiome and fussy eating in children. More research into dogs needs to be done to fully understand if there is a similar link.

Unknown intolerances can lead to a negative association with certain foods. If your pup feels sick every time they eat a certain food, they’re more likely to avoid it.

Sensory overload can sometimes occur if your pupper has previously been used to a limited diet and makes the switch over to Lyka. With over 15 ingredients, Lyka’s fresh, lightly cooked recipes may take some time for your pupper to adjust to, especially if they have developed a fixed food preference. Studies also prove that there are links between liked foods and their food wants due to sensory-specific satiety.

B12 levels can also influence your pup’s appetite. B12 is crucial for a healthy nervous and digestive system. A lack of this vitamin may cause rapid weight loss and lack of appetite. An imbalance in the microbiome can also impact your pupper’s ability to absorb Vitamin B12. If your pupper is prone to IBD or other gastrointestinal problems, this deficiency can be an issue. Always speak to your vet before assuming to ensure there are no other medical reasons for your pup’s fussy eating.

Lyka: Complete, balanced, and extra yummy for fussy dogs

Made with human-grade whole food ingredients, each of our six signature recipes are bursting with delicious and nutrients ingredients to get tongues and tails wagging! With the help of our in-house vet, Dr. Matthew Muir, and a team of Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionists, our meals have been carefully designed for optimal taste and nutrition. Our specialist Customer Care team are here to guide you every step of the way when it comes to fussy puppers. Are you ready to kick start your pupper’s fresh food journey?