Help! My pet refuses to eat

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Your dog or cat approaches its feeding dish, sniffs and walks away with disdain. Your pet likes a particular pet food one day and refuses to eat it the next.

You give in and change your pet’s diet which may reinforce your pet’s finicky ways. A strategy for winning the battle of mealtime wills combines a proper feeding program and strict monitoring of your pet’s feeding habits.

If you have a problem eater, use the following checklist to help you determine why your pet is refusing to eat or experiencing digestive upsets.

Do you change pet foods frequently?

If you answered yes, chances are you have identified the problem. Frequent diet changes can create a finicky eater. The pet becomes a “holdout” to see what will be offered next. When you find a nutritious diet your pet enjoys eating, stay with it.

Do you believe that pets, like people need variety in their diet?

If you answered yes, keep in mind that a pet demands as much variety as it has come to expect. Constant diet changes, as well as feeding food from the table, can create a finicky eater. Variety in the diet of humans is important to ensure the consumption of nutritionally balanced meals. Dogs and cats can get the proper balance of all the nutrients they need when they are fed a high quality nutritionally complete and balanced dog or cat food appropriate for their life style.

Are you aware of any indulgent family member who quietly slips the pet treats and food from the table?

If you answered no or better check it out, take a second look at your family members. A sensible feeding program can be undone by one family member who pampers a pet by feeding goodies and food from the table when no one is looking.

Do you make a diet change abruptly?

If you answered yes, be aware that sudden diet changes can be the cause of digestive upsets. If it is necessary to change a pet’s diet, it should be done gradually over a seven to 10 day period. Add a small amount of the new diet to the food currently being fed. Each day increase the amount of the new diet while decreasing the amount of the current food.

Does your dog seem eager to eat and then either eats reluctantly or refuses to eat for a few days?

If you answered yes, your dog’s refusal to eat can be its own attempt to control calorie intake. Dogs love to please people. When a dog learns that eating pleases its owner, it soon eats to please.

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