Why some dogs leave their food



Dogs love trying our food! There’s no doubt that human food is designed to be tasty, delicious and easily eaten but that doesn’t make those titbits healthy (or always safe) for our dogs to eat. With research and preparation, it is possible to make a healthy homemade diet from human food (and a few supplements as well!) but studies suggest that most homemade diets are not balanced or healthy, so feeding a complete diet designed for dogs is the simplest way to ensure your dog is getting all the nutrients he or she needs in a healthy balance.

Dogs have fewer taste receptors than humans whilst we have around 9000 receptors, dogs only have 1700, they still taste sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savoury taste) in a more limited way, but they also have a fifth set of receptors for water as well, which we humans lack. So, most are less critical of their food and more appreciative of its regular appearance (whose dog hasn’t done a little dance of happiness at mealtimes!)

Going off their food can be a warning sign that your dog is not well, thyroid issues, stomach ulcers or stomach upsets can all lead to food refusal, so check with your vet if this is a sudden change or there are other symptoms concerning you. But, there are some less worrying reasons dogs leave their food, learnt behaviour is a common one, where our dogs have learnt to leave food to get attention, or a better option offered to them. Other causes can be seasons, where the change in hormones affects appetite and teething in pups where the discomfort in their mouths makes eating harder for a time. 

Finally, some dogs are just a bit fussy! For these dogs, finding the right type of food is important, for some smaller amounts of a higher energy food with increased nutrients can work better. Restrict treats and extras so they build up a good appetite for their meals and de-pressurise mealtimes, keeping it a quiet, relaxed environment.

Once the reason is established it becomes clearer whether a change in diet is needed or not. If it is, then it can be a good time to review your dog’s dietary needs, looking at age, activity, digestion, skin & coat and energy levels for example to find the right food for them. Taking 5-7 days to change from their old to new diet is a great way to see how the new food is suiting without causing a digestive upset. At Gilbertson & Page we often use the same high-quality ingredients across our ranges so it will be easier to transition, but a gradual changeover also safely introduces the new nutrient levels and flavours.

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