Why is my pet a picky eater?
Is your dog constantly turning up her nose at the food bowl and your cat being a finicky feline at mealtimes? First, sudden changes in eating habits could be a sign of an underlying health issue so we always recommend checking in with your vet, especially if their picky eating started recently. If your furry friend has been picky about their diet for as long as you can remember then pickiness may be a personality trait of theirs.
If your pet has recently gone through a stressful situation like losing a companion (another dog, cat or person), separation anxiety, change in their routine, or harassing behavior from another pet, then their picky eating could be caused by anxiety or depression. Just like us, our dogs and cats can express emotions through changes in eating habits. Making sure that your picky eater feels safe and comfortable during mealtimes can help them calm down and encourage them to eat again.
If there is no medical or psychological reason, your pet’s picky eating behavior may be a sign of food boredom. In all these cases, a homemade, fresh pet food diet can be a solution to the problem as well a chance for you to promote healthy eating in your pet.
Picky pets with sensitive tummies
Sometimes picky eating is accompanied by a sensitive stomach, which may be an early sign of an adverse food reaction or food allergy.
Food allergies can cause discomfort in your pet for hours after eating. It can lead to digestive problems such as itchy skin, gas, vomiting, diarrhea and hesitant eating. Just like you wouldn't repeatedly eat the food that causes you allergies, your picky pet may be avoiding food that causes them pain. If you suspect a food allergy your vet may ask you to do an allergy test and follow a hypoallergenic diet.
The only way to diagnose your pet with a food allergy is to go through a food trial with the supervision of your vet to identify the responsible ingredients. Most vets consider home‐made diets the first choice when doing a food elimination trial. This is partly because of the issue of mislabeling in pet food.
For pets with sensitive stomachs, a homemade diet can provide a soothing and healthy diet, provided it's balanced and vet-approved.
Tasty dog food for picky eaters
If your dog is a picky eater you can try fresh homemade dog food as full meals, meal mixers or dry food toppers to stimulate their palate and encourage them to eat again. Again, we recommend checking in with your vet first if they have a medical issue. There are several ways in which Kafka’s DIY homemade dog food recipes were created with picky dogs in mind:
- Naturally great taste (made with slow simmered bone broth)
- Balanced, vet-reviewed recipes
- Fresh ingredients to enhance taste
- Substitution to introduce novelty (swap out certain ingredients for ones that your dog prefers. for example sweet potatoes with brown rice)
- Food puzzle friendly. Sometimes you pal just needs a boredom buster. Kafka’s fresh food can be put into a Kong and frozen or added to slow feeders.
- Versatile ways to feed
- Full Meal
- Meal mixer
Homemade dog food toppers especially seem to work well for picky dogs that won’t eat their dry kibble. The ritual of home cooking food for your pet and feeding your dog healthy meals shows her love and care. Rather than table scraps, you can now offer her a well-balanced nutritious meal. If done right, our pets appreciate the great-tasting food that we can make for them in our own kitchen.
Homemade cat food for picky cats
Is your fluffball refusing her food and displaying finicky feline behaviour?
If you have ruled out medical causes, one reason for this behavior could be boredom from being inside all day. Indoor housing is linked to health issues like obesity, and can cause problem behaviors. Creating a stimulating environment can offset some of these effects.
One way to provide a stimulating environment for your cat is to put fresh, healthy food in a slow feeder or puzzle. This takes advantage of a cat's natural instinct to work for their food. Feeding your cat balanced meals and a healthy, limited ingredient diet will keep them healthy regardless of their eating style. The following are ways that Kafka’s fresh cat food and DIY recipes were designed with picky cats in mind:
- High protein, grain-free recipes for your obligate carnivore to be satisfied and satiated without gaining excess weight
- Balanced levels of taurine and essential vitamins/minerals
- Tasty! Made with slow-simmered bone broth for extra deliciousness
- Versatile feeding: Feed as a full meal for maximum fresh-food benefits, or as a topper/mixer for a nutritious & tasty boost
We at Kafka’s do not recommend leaving food in a cat’s bowl all day, or free-feeding. Many studies show that free feeding is not optimal for healthy cats and can cause weight gain. Instead, we recommend set mealtimes, and only feeding the amount your pet needs for maintenance or weight loss as needed. You can calculate exactly how much cat food your pet needs by using our online calorie calculator for cats.
“My dog won't eat her food, but she'll beg for ours. Why?”
We've heard this from pet parents many times. To us, the reason is obvious: your pet prefers your tasty, human-quality meals to her processed kibble. We would feel the same!
By cooking nutritious, balanced recipes you have multiple ways to keep your fussy eater satisfied and happy. We've made it easy to cook and feed fresh, tasty meals and homemade pet food. Get started now on your own fresh journey to see how many calories you pet needs daily, your flavor options, and different ways to feed.
Olivry T, Mueller RS. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (5): discrepancies between ingredients and labeling in commercial pet foods. BMC Vet Res. 2018 Jan 22;14(1):24.