Why Is My Puppy A Picky Eater?

I’ve talked many times about how difficult it can be to find a food your puppy likes. I know I use the child analogy a lot, but, like children, puppies can sometimes be a real pain regarding their food.

Depending on their breed, age, and other factors, some puppies will eat whatever food you put in front of them. Indeed, a hungry puppy will eat just about anything palatable.

Some puppies, like some children, just don’t seem to like many different kinds of food. Finding a treat to help during training can be problematic, and getting them to finish the food in their bowl is even worse.

As a new puppy parent, one of your most important tasks is determining what foods your puppy likes and doesn’t like. For some, that could be as simple as choosing one of the many puppy chows on the market, but for others, it might mean purchasing several different kinds during trial and error.

The other day, this subject was on my mind as I discussed puppy food with one of my readers. They were having trouble finding food their puppy liked and growing increasingly frustrated. Their question to me was one I hear from time to time, why is my puppy a picky eater?

One reason many new pet parents believe their puppy is a picky eater isn’t the puppy’s fault, but there’s instead. It’s because they feed too many table scraps to their puppy, and their pup turns its nose up, so to speak, at its regular kibble.

Several other reasons your puppy might be picky with their food, including that they just don’t care much about food but want your attention and praise instead.

Some puppies will shy away from a certain food if it brings up bad memories, such as an upset stomach, vomiting, or other traumatic time. 

Some puppies need their own space, out of the way and out of sight, to feel comfortable eating. If they don’t get it, they might not eat, and you might mistake that for them being picky.

Lastly, some puppies like to stick to a schedule when it comes to eating. For those, feeding them at the same time every day, and leaving their food out for the same amount of time, might be the solution.

Now that you know some reasons why your puppy is a picky eater, you might have more questions about this interesting and important subject. For example, what to do if your puppy is a picky eater, and will a picky puppy starve?

I have the answer to those questions and several more below. Read on if you’re having problems with your puppy because they’re picky and want to discover some of the best solutions.

What To Do if your Puppy is a Picky Eater?

You can use several methods to help your picky puppy eat their food. Some work better than others, but if you have a picky eater for a pup, it’s worth trying all of them until you find one that works.

Take Away Your Pup’s Food 

Taking away your puppy’s food might seem cruel at first, but once it works, you won’t have to do it again. Feed your puppy at the usual time of day and give them 15 minutes to eat their food. If they don’t, take it away and don’t give them anything else until the next morning.

The next morning, give them fresh kibble and another 15 minutes to eat it. If they don’t, take it away again until the evening. Repeat this process until your puppy gets hungry enough that they eat everything.

In a short time, your pup will understand that they aren’t getting anything else and will realize the food in front of their nose is the only food that’s coming.

Change Your Pup’s Food 

Sometimes the easiest way to cure a picky puppy is to change its food. They might genuinely dislike the food you’re feeding them and, after a switch, eat everything.

If you use this method, be sure to use a different flavor than your puppy is used to getting. If you go from one chicken kibble to another, and your puppy doesn’t like chicken, they probably still won’t eat it.

Put Something on Top of Your Puppy’s Food

Adding a flavoring of some sort to your puppy’s food can often make the difference between being picky and eating everything in their bowl.

These so-called “meal toppers” can be anything from simple warm water to a small amount of wet dog food, salmon oil, or some bone broth. When you use a meal topper, remember to mix it into your puppy’s food thoroughly.

Play Games with Your Pup’s Food 

Playing games with your pup’s food might seem silly, but it does work. Rather than putting your puppy’s food in a bowl, sprinkle a little on the floor and make a game of eating it. You can throw a few pieces of their kibble or just one and, as soon as they eat it, another and then another and so forth.

Will a Picky Puppy Starve?

As I mentioned earlier in today’s blog, a hungry puppy will eat just about anything palatable. That’s good news because it means even the pickiest puppy won’t starve to death, not even close. 

One of the only reasons your puppy would ever starve to death from not eating is if they have some underlying health condition causing the problem. If you think this might be true, a trip to your veterinarian is recommended.

Can Puppies Be Fussy Eaters?

It’s very rare to find a puppy that is a fussy eater. The thing is, a puppy’s body is growing incredibly fast. It won’t stop until your pup reaches adulthood; until then, they will need as much protein, carbohydrates, fat, and vitamins as possible.

Puppies typically run around all day long playing, jumping, wrestling, chewing, etc. While doing all this stuff, they are using up tons of energy and need to replace it. 

The only way to do that is to eat the food you give them, which most puppies normally gobble up in no time flat. Occasionally you will find a puppy that’s genuinely picky about its food, but it’s rather unusual.

Will my Puppy Eventually Eat his Food?

I mentioned above some methods you can use to get your puppy to eat their kibble. One of them was to wait them out as, eventually, they will choose to eat whatever food you give them rather than eating nothing.

While it might seem a bit cruel, most puppies are smart enough to quickly learn that the food you give them is the only food they will get. Of course, you must diligently give them their kibble and only their kibble. 

If you give your pup all sorts of snacks, treats, and table scraps, it will be much more difficult to get them to eat the plain old kibble you serve in their bowl.

What Dog Breeds are Picky Eaters?

While it’s unusual for a puppy to be a picky eater, some dog breeds are pickier about their food than others as adults. If you wish to avoid that challenge, don’t adopt the 10 breeds below because all of them are known to be fussy foodies.

  1. Greyhound
  2. Dachshund
  3. Pekingese
  4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  5. Poodle
  6. Boston Terrier
  7. Pug
  8. Greyhound
  9. West Highland White Terrier
  10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

Final Thoughts

“Why is my puppy a picky eater?” is a question I only hear occasionally because most puppies aren’t that picky about their food. If yours is, there could be several things going on.

For example, you might be giving your puppy too many treats or table scraps. If they’ve had a problem with some type of food because it made them sick, your puppy might avoid eating it in the future.

Some puppies need to have their own space when they eat and, if they don’t, won’t eat as well as they should. Lastly, a puppy suffering from a health problem or condition might eat less than usual.

I hope today’s blog answered all of your questions about why your puppy is a picky eater. Please see my other puppy blogs if you have more or want to learn more about being a price-winning puppy parent.