|‘My dog eats only if I feed him with my hand, otherwise he just refuses to touch food’, says a dog owner. Not one but at least five owners ring me every month with the same problem. Now imagine a scene in nature. In the wild or a stray dog on the street cannot afford to be finicky or choosey like the ones I described. Survival of the fittest is one of the harsh laws of the nature, which makes dogs which live on the street scavenge for food and eat whatever comes their way. On the contrary, dogs in homes can afford to refuse the food offered and eat whatever they like.
Why do some pooches become finicky while the others seem to relish their food? There are two reasons for this problem. The first is health and the other is the pampering owner. In case your dog is eating normally and suddenly goes off food and or eats unwillingly or eats in installments, he certainly needs to be examined by a Vet. Such a dog may be having a worm infestation, stressed liver or any other gastro-intestinal problem.
On the other hand, often the owners pamper their pooches more than their kids. In the process they start feeding him with hands and much before they realize, dog picks up the cue. He won’t eat unless you fed with hands. One of my acquaintance, an avid dog lover but blissfully ignorant about these thumb rules, always fed her dogs with he hands. Once in an emergency she had to leave the dog with a relative. And lo, the dog refused to eat. The caretaker of the dog was scared of feeding the dog with fingers. Finally, dog had to be fed intravenously.
At times you bring home salami or hamburger and the pup gets the smell of it. He begins to salivate and out of sheer pity you start sharing it with the pup. There start your problems. In future the dog may go off food unless he is given salami, ham or something of his choice.
Yet another common mistake by the owners is to feed their dog soft food. No animal really wants to chew. For that matter even we feel happy with ice-creams and pastries. Am sure if taken on a regular basis our teeth would start falling like dead leaves in no time! For that matter all canines including dogs have sharp, pointed teeth meant for tearing through the hard and harsh skin of herbivores. Despite having experienced frequent punctures of our skin by the sharp teeth of the puppy we feel that like children, soft puddings will be good for a four month old pup. It is wrong and often leads to the adult dog refusing to eat hard and crunchy food. Although usually dogs prefer hard and crunchy food, as it is their normal diet. But once they inculcate the habit of soft food offered by the master, they start avoiding crunchy food. Such dogs suffer from dental caries, gingivitis, bad breath etc. Often they lose their teeth by the age of seven or eight. Yet the owners blame that ‘my dog is finicky’.
In the matter of food some dogs are like children. They relish something and suddenly refuse to look at it the next day. Or at times like kids, they too get ‘bored’ with the same menu every day. I found a change of menu does help. As a thumb rule I advise the dog owners not to repeat the same food for more than two days at a stretch. For an adult dog one could think of offering meat for two days, then an organ for two days and vegetarian food for two days with meat soup to make the dog eat. Personally if you ask me fasting once a week is excellent for dog. However, if you feel that keeping the dog hungry for a day is too much, you may feed him a mixture of vegetables and meat/boneless chicken/fish.
I have suggested meat as a staple diet-it can be replaced with branded dog food. Dogs need more protein than us, their digestive system is not programmed to digest and assimilate vegetables. Therefore, if you feed your dog vegetables, it is your choice, but then do not crib that your dog is finicky. Many people complain that their dog vomits if he takes vomit. That is again a wrong notion. A dog can vomit after eating anything, because his system may be in the need of a correction (treatment) at that time!
Apart from food there are other ways of correcting a finicky dog. For example, crushing a tablet of yeast over his food makes a dog eat fast. The smell of yeast works like an appetizer for them. I have tried starving a dog for a day and then serve him what is good for him, of course with yeast sprinkled over. That makes most of the dogs eat fast. Milk is not digested by dogs after the age of eight weeks. Yet many owners continue to feed milk as a major diet. Such dogs again refuse the hard and crunchy food much required for their system. The best way to cure them is to add a dash of milk in their diet and go on reducing the milk, till he begins to relish food topped with only a few drops of milk.
A dog is not born finicky eater. He is either made finicky by the ignorant owner or circumstances make him finicky. Here I will narrate a personal experience. A few years ago after my evening walk, I came across a friend near my home. We stood on the side walk and began to gossip. Suddenly I felt a tug on my trouser behind my knee. I thought there must be some child beggar. A thought of sermonizing the parents instantly flashed my mind. To my horror it was not a child, instead there was a bitch. Her full udders told me that she has recently delivered a liter. She again tugged at my trouser and looked across the road towards a bakery shop. Her eyes and famished condition told me that she desperately needed some food. As I walked across she followed with me like a tamed dog. I asked the shopkeeper for a Bun. He said ‘Sir you will have to buy some butter too, as she eats only a bun with lavish layer of butter. I tried to feed per a plain bun and she really turned away in disgust and again begged me. This time I put applied butter too and she gulped it and begged for more. Afterwards she ran towards a hedge on the road side where her three days old puppies were waiting to be fed.
This confirmed my belief that not only the owner but circumstances also make a dog finicky.
Image (c) Gettyimages.com