My dog is selective with food

By Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM | October 8th, 2019

“My dog – Chase - is a male Lhasa Apso that has refused to eat his own food. He ate canned puppy food as a puppy until one day he stopped and started following me about each time I am eating. At first I would give him from my own food and he will gladly eat still waiting patiently until he is sure my food is finished then he would go to his own food to eat. He ate canned food voraciously until when he was about 7 months of age then he became selective.”

The above is a testament of a client who is worried about his dog’s behavior. I remembered that my own dog – Peach – a pug, would eat anything but very reluctant to eat dry food. I was very happy she ate everything I would eat but I was worried that I didn’t cook all the time. I couldn’t afford the canned food like before so I resorted to dried dog food. She completely ignored it as if it was nothing to taste. I tried to bring food home because from the nature of my job I come home very late and I always ate in any nearby restaurant.

I started to buy canned food to mix with the dried food which she eat but practically isolating the dried food from the mixture and refused to eat them. I felt the dried food was not her type and got another brand and the same thing repeated itself. I just continues mixing them hoping she would one day eat everything but she kept doing that stuff. One day I mixed the canned food with the dried food but before I could serve her I got a call that lasted like 30 minutes. By the time I went back to the food the dried food got soaked. I decided to stir it again to mix well so that she might not notice the difference. And she ate everything.

One day, I was rushing out for work and had no time to mix the food. I just dished the dried food like that hoping that she would eat it in case I didn’t come back on time and by the time I came back she had eaten every bit of it. I was so happy thinking she has finally accepted the food but I later discovered that she only ate it because she had no other choice. I served the dry food every morning before going off to work and by the time I get back she would have eaten it. She was still very interested in my own food and I give her whenever I have the opportunity.

From my experience with these dogs I was able to come to the conclusion that these dogs behave the way they do because they have choice. I boarded one dog in our facility once and the owner told me that the dog eats nothing but chicken. I thought I could replicate my discovery but lo and behold this dog ate nothing but chicken, cooked and well spiced. I became a chef for that dog until she went home from our boarding facility.

Dogs have a way of making us to give them what they want. We often think they are just animals and would reject anything that is not good for them but rather they are programming you to give them what they want. Just like when you cage a puppy and he cries loudly until you release him. Releasing him is what he is aiming for. They do it over and over again and we succumb. The same thing plays out with accepting food.

The best advice to anyone to avoid going through such a challenge is to give your dog variety of food as a puppy so that he can adapt to any kind of food. I strongly prefer dried dog food because they can stay up to two days in the plate without going bad but canned foods will become inedible in 5-6 hours after serving. If your dog is already behaving like that then it might be wise to mix his food with his favorite food and gradually withdraw his favorite food.

Even if you can afford to give the dog all he wants, it will be dangerous to continue like that because you might have a need to keep him with someone else who will not understand the dog no matter how you explain. I wish you good luck.


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    Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM

    Founder of Fairvet Animal Clinic Ltd since 2011, studied at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He is well experienced in small animal, large animal & poultry medicine, and also skilled at zoo medicine. He loves animals and builds both professional and personal relationship with pet owners in order to sustain a good interaction with pet and animal owners, coupled with His great skills in programming; he brought about which he personally built from scratch.

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