Picky eaters are made, not born.
People are omnivores. It is said that Cajuns, the Acadian people of southwest Louisiana, will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.
It’s no surprise that I have half Cajun blood myself, because I will eat almost anything.
Most people would not even think of eating the same thing for supper that they had for lunch.
Dogs and cats, on the other hand, do not require that sort of variety. For us to put such human characteristics on our pets is called anthropomorphism.
We have an excellent example right in our own home. Our cat, Martha, has been eating the same food for four years, ever since she had a medical problem that caused her to need a special diet. She gets out of our bed as much as an hour before her automatic feeder begins dispensing, and waits for “the click”, at which time she does a frenzied little circle-dance before starting to dine. She repeats the routine at suppertime.
Martha ate her previous diet for eight years and was just as enthusiastic about every meal then, too.
When your pet has a significant change in his appetite it is almost always a function of illness. If your pet goes more than 24 hours without eating and if that is unusual for him your first action should be to phone your pet’s doctor, not change his food.
That said, some pets eat only once every 36-48 hours and if that is normal for him, don’t worry. Begin to worry if he goes beyond 72 hours.
In the wild, animals often eat only once every few days. Some domesticated dogs (and rarely cats) will revert to a similar pattern.
The other thing you should not do if your pet doesn’t eat is garnish his food. Gravy, meat and other people food are the very things that make picky eaters.Further, such additions have the same effect as taking something away from the diet: they cause the diet to be imbalanced.There is nothing wrong with adding warm water to dry dog food. Even mixing a top quality canned food with top quality dry food is OK. Your pet’s food should always be the highest quality you can afford.
Pets are like people in some ways. Give a child a bowl of spinach and a bowl of candy and he will choose the candy every time. Give a pet a T-bone and a bowl of dry dog food and he will choose the T-bone every time. In neither example is the choice what is actually healthy for him.
Pets must eat meals. Put the food down for 15 minutes at the same time every morning for fifteen minutes, then take it up, whether he has eaten all of it or nothing. Repeat the practice at the same time every afternoon.
Routine, routine, routine is what makes healthy eaters.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.