I’ve been encountering a lot of picky eaters lately and often get questioned, “What is the next step when my pet will no longer eat their food? When should I switch the food? When should I use toppers? Am I giving too many options?” Of course, every pet has their own tastes, preferences, and levels of stubbornness when it comes to food, but here are some of the tips I’ve accumulated throughout my years as a consultant.
Like us, our pets can get tired of eating the same thing day in and day out. Often they start to be less excited during mealtime. They’ll leave food in their bowls where once they emptied it with gusto. They may even outright refuse to eat and opt for the ever-stressful “battle of wills,” where it becomes a contest on who will give in first. Will they get hungry enough to eat, or will I end up sharing my dinner with them?
Toppers are a great first step when it comes to testing the waters. Some pets have sensitive tummies or need to be on a special diet, so adding a few flavor boosts like freeze-dried toppers, warm bone broth, fresh fruits and veggies, or even some raw fermented goats milk can be just enough to create a new smell, flavor, or texture without compromising their main meal.
If, after introducing a topper a few times, they still aren’t interested, THAT’S when it’s a good time to start looking into other food options. This is an easy task for pets with iron stomachs and no sensitivities; try a different protein or flavor, a different brand, and a different texture. Many foods offer free samples that allow you to try several options without committing.
For our pets with sensitivities, the task of switching can be a bit more stressful. Slow introductions are a must; stick to proteins they’re used to. For example, if they’ve always had chicken, stick to chicken for now and only give a small amount of the new food at a time. The goal is to find something new and enticing without shocking their system.
Is my pet in danger?
While there are many schools of thought on intermittent fasting, several studies, including one from The Dog Aging Project, studying over 10,000 dogs since 2019, have shown positive benefits to it, as long as your pet is healthy and hydrated. So as long as illness is not the reason for a picky eater, letting them go a day without eating will not necessarily harm them.
How can I prevent my pet from going on strike? Switch up the proteins every now and then. Try feeding them with enrichment toys like Kongs, puzzle bowls, or Snuffle Mats, and remember to offer some variety in the form of healthy toppers. Toppers not only help prevent picky eating, but add extra nutrition as well.