If your pup has been turning up their nose at dinner time, you're certainly not alone! Millions of fur-parents have to deal with picky eating habits in their dogs - but never fear. So if your dog won't touch their kibble any more, take note and start making mealtime fun again!
Which Type of Picky Dog Do You Have?
There are a few categories of dogs that are snubbing their kibble and refusing to eat their dog food.
- Finicky or Picky Dogs - most of the dogs in this category are the dogs that have gotten spoiled by eating people food too much. And they’ve learned that if they hold out just a little bit longer, they might get something better. Maybe a little wet food added or maybe even some delicious leftovers from the table. This is a battle of the wills. And you will need to figure out a way to win this battle for your dog’s health and longevity.
- Senior Dogs – as dogs get older, their tastes can change, and they start to eat less than they used to. They may need more flavor or scent to become excited about food, since their senses may not be as strong as they once were. They may need their food softened if they start to have dental issues that make them not want to chew up the hard kibble. Sometimes dogs will eat treats less often due to less appetite, or not even eat treats at all if they are too hard.
- Dogs on a special or prescription diet – dogs with health conditions may be prescribed a special food by the veterinarian. Whether the special diet is to help with weight loss or due to other health conditions, it is important that they eat the food as prescribed. These types of foods can be even less appetizing to the dog than regular kibble.
- Dogs on medicine – When the veterinarian prescribes medicine for our dog, we often must put the medicine in their food, but our dogs are pretty keen to notice anything added to the food, whether crushed up or tucked in the middle of other foods or pill pockets. While they may eat the food, they leave the medicine behind, and then you are back to getting creative to make sure all the food is eaten so that you know the medicine was eaten too.
We know how much you adore your pooch, and it can be quite the challenge when they're the pickiest eaters. Isn't it amazing the lengths we go to make sure our furry friends are well-fed and healthy? Cooking up eggs and chicken, mixing in wet food with kibble, or adding some delish broth – we've all been there, haven't we? And for dogs with special dietary needs, the difference in taste and smell between their meal and ours must seem more like the Grand Canyon!
So what makes dogs so choosy about their meals?
There are many reasons a dog might become picky with their food. Here are a few causes that can help you resolve the problem:
- Health condition. If you dog suddenly stops eating, consult with your veterinarian, as there could be an underying cause.
- Food boredom. If we had to eat the same meal every day for months and years, we'd get bored of our food as well. So this definitely can happen for dogs.
- Age. Senior dogs tend to become more picky or selective of the foods they eat.
- Getting fed from somewhere else. Is your dog gaining access to other food sources, such as cat food, neighbor's house, etc.
- Special diet/prescription foods. Many specialty foods can both taste and smell unappetizing to dogs.
But why would a dog not eat? Surely, they are hungry, right?
Dogs are hard wired to seek out food constantly. In the wild, they don’t have the luxury of waiting around until they are hungry to find something to eat.
Dogs haven’t changed much since they’ve become domesticated, and they still always have their nose sniffing around for food pretty much all day long. For dogs, scent (or sense of smell) and taste are almost identical. They have around 220 million olfactory receptors located in the nasal cavity, compared to about 5 million in a human. Dogs also have a second olfactory chamber, called Jacobson’s organ that allows your dog to smell and taste at the same time. So, it makes sense that scent is hugely important to dogs - equally as important as flavor.
So, given their instinctual need to constantly hunt for food combined with a superhuman sense of smell, dogs have an uncanny ability to know when food is near. So, given this natural predisposition to “wolf down” anything in their sight, why won’t they just eat that high dollar kibble you spent your hard-earned money on?
The number one reason a healthy dog won’t eat kibble
The number one reason a healthy dog won’t eat kibble is … feeding your dog people food. Despite having never tasted dog kibble, we all know that people food tastes way better than any kibble. And your dog knows it based on their sense of smell. Cue the begging. Remember, a dog’s sense of smell drives much of their entire being.
Combine this with the fact that most people food that dogs beg for is unhealthy for them. We know they “shouldn’t” have people food, but we can’t resist that cute face and we break down and feed it to them anyway. As a result, it is estimated that about 39% of dogs are overweight. That translates to about 29 million overweight or obese dogs in the US. Being overweight can lead to many health conditions including diabetes and Cushing’s disease. Both diseases are very difficult and expensive to treat. Better to avoid the issue if you can by not feeding from the table, or the couch, or wherever they beg.
Okay, this all makes perfect sense - we must feed our dogs kibble, which contains the right mix of nutrients for their body. The problem here is that kibble is the same day after day and they get bored or just want to hold out for something better, like people food. Imagine if you had to eat the same thing every meal, even if it was your favorite. It wouldn’t take long before that food became your LEAST favorite. And you can’t change up the kibble every meal because that can upset their stomach.
What you can do to get your dog eating his kibble and not people food:
- Add broth or warm water to the food to soften it and add flavor. However, broths can have a lot of sodium that is unhealthy for dogs. Water doesn’t help at all with the flavor or scent.
- Mix it with wet food. This method is more expensive than just feeding kibble and you must keep the leftover dog food cans in your fridge if you don’t use it all. Canned food has a strong odor and not everyone can handle the scent.
- Add a dog food topper to the food. Dog food seasoning can be sprinkled on the food. And some varieties of dog food seasoning can be made into a gravy. The flavors often mimic the foods that dogs beg for, such as meats and cheeses. And more importantly they don’t contain all the added sugars, fat and calories found in people food.
What to look for in a dog food seasoning, or dog food flavor topper:
- Ability to feed the same food (not having to change foods) while improving scent and taste
- Appeal to both senses – sense of smell and sense of taste to ensure excitement
- Low calories sugar and fat
- Healthy functional ingredients that improve digestive health
- High Quality ingredients (Human Grade, Organic or All Natural)
- Made in USA
One example of a dog food seasoning is called Doggondiments™ . The name Doggondiments™ is based on combining the words Dog + Condiments. Doggondiments™ dog food flavor enhancer is based on the flavors – and more importantly the scents – of people food to add variety to dog kibble. While you feed the same kibble each day, simply add Doggondiments™ to the food by sprinkling it on top, or by mixing a few teaspoons with ½ cup warm water to make a gravy. This recipe can be adjusted to taste or thickness of the gravy desired or the size of the dog.
Here's a video of a carrot "before/after" using a flavor topper:
According to customer reviews of Doggondiments™, users have reported that their picky dogs are suddenly devouring the entire bowl of kibble in one sitting. Many dog owners use Doggondiments™ to improve the flavor of their dog’s special diet or hide the flavors of medicine. Other users have reported that their dogs bowel habits improved due to the prebiotics included in the formula.
There are seven flavors which include New York Style Pizza, Mom’s Sunday Roast Beef, Southern Fried Chicken, Vanilla Swirl Ice Cream, Peanut Buddy (Peanut Butter), Drive Thru Fries and Bacon & Egg Breakfast. Doggondiments™ Value Packs offer about 30% savings and include Meat Lovers (Roast Beef + Fried Chicken), Home Cooking Classics (Roast Beef + Fried Chicken + Bacon & Egg Breakfast) and Flavor Festival 6 pack.
Doggondiments™ formulas are made in the USA and produced in a manufacturing facility that also makes human spices and seasonings.
Feeding issues and having a picky, finicky or fussy dog can be challenging. However, you can win the daily dinner battle by no longer feeding people food while improving the flavors of their regular kibble using a dog food flavor seasoning. Your dog will thank you!