Dear Daisy Dog
Our 2-year-old Maltese is on a food strike. We changed his feeding location and bowl, but he still eats very little. Is something wrong, or is he yanking our chain?
As a picky eater, I love the extra attention I get when I refuse to eat. But before you decide your Maltese is like me, rule out physical reasons for his behavior, including these:
- Has the food gone bad? If the behavior began with a new bag of food, or even near the end of a large bag, the fats may be rancid, even though you are unable to smell them. When in doubt, try a new bag of food.
- Does his mouth hurt, or does eating trigger nausea? Ask his veterinarian to rule out medical problems.
- Has he been neutered yet? An unsterilized dog can be distracted by the scent of a neighbor’s female in heat.
- If he’s not underweight, he may be self-regulating. Once we dogs finish growing, we don’t need as many calories as we did when we were pups, so we cut back.
If you and your veterinarian rule out physical causes, your Maltese is undoubtedly yanking your chain.
Most picky eaters have food available at all times. To encourage your dog to eat, limit his access. Offer food two to four times daily, and pick up uneaten food in 15 minutes.
To improve appetite, exercise your dog. Train him in obedience or agility, or teach him tricks, rewarding him with food when he does well.
Add his regular food to a toy designed to dispense kibble during play. Cut down on treats.
If your dog still holds out, as I do, add to his food a bit of cheese, scrambled egg or cottage cheese, or try a different high quality dog food.