There are many common misconceptions in your pets' dietary needs. Many times owners feel if their dog does not eat every day, an alternative diet should be offered. This is wrong in most cases. Did you know that a normal adult dog may not need to eat every day? A normal dog should have a good appetite. However, if a dog does not eat immediately upon being offered food, this can be normal. An adult dog should eat when he/she is hungry due to metabolic needs, ideally one to two times daily. However, many dogs are taught by their owners to eat for the same stimuli that humans do; it is mealtime, we see or smell food, or another person is eating or for many other reasons. Additionally, many owners receive a joy or a good feeling by hand feeding their pet. We offer them alternatives. Eventually, the enticing smells overcome their good sense, and they overeat. They also learn that if they do not eat right away, they will be given alternatives. If the alternative is a balanced diet that does not upset their gastrointestinal tract, the only damage may be from gaining unneeded calories. However, this is unhealthy for your pet. We must weigh the good the owner receives from this activity; versus the divergence from what is best dietary wise for the pet and possibly a shorter life.
Most dog foods are balanced nutritionally for your dog based on recommendations by the National Research Councils studies. Consider also that many of today's premium' diets have so much nutrients in it that only a small amount is needed to fill caloric requirements. In fact, we are finding considerable number of pets that are suffering from these nutrient dense, fiber restricted diets. Many pets developfiber responsive' enteritis. They need more fiber! Your veterinarian will help you establish if your pet has a dietary need outside of the National Research Councils recommendations. Most manufacturers will recommend a daily intake much higher than what a typical household pet needs. So, although you can use the recommendations on the bag for amount to feed originally, you must monitor your pet's weight and body condition score and adjust appropriately.
If you feed anything that is not balanced, your dog's whole dietary balance is upset. The dog must then eat more to maintain his minimum need for all of his nutritional requirements. The extra calories your pooch must eat then is stored as fat. Obesity, gastroenteritis, metabolic disturbances and multiple problems can and do develop. These pets do not deal with stressful situations as well as a fit dog will. When disease does strike and special nutritional needs require strict diets, these owners and animals suffer much more than the fit dog and his owner.
It is very hard to make the change to quit playing the picky eater game. Did you know these owners and animals must endure 4-8 weeks of non-compromising strict diet until the pet will accept the new situation? THIS IS ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS AN OWNER MUST DO FOR HIS PET. But it is easier to do before the pet becomes diabetic, develops pancreatic insufficiency, or develops any number of other conditions common to picky eaters'.
If a seemingly normal animal does not eat the fresh balanced food offered to him/her for more than 48 hours, an owner should not offer an alternative but should contact the veterinarian for advice or for an examination.
Why are most picky eaters' fat? They are picky initially because they do not need the calories. Later, after learning that we will give them tasty alternatives, they purposely manipulate us to coming up with alternative foods. They are pretty smart about this!
We misinterpret the amount of food our pets need. Most of our pets are not Mighty Dogs'. They rarely jump over high fences, etc. as depicted in commercials. In fact, many are couch potatoes. Factor in that at about 1