I work with a lot of different animals in my pet sitting business and I own a lot of animals. An issue that often arises with older or sickly pets is the need to ensure proper nutrition when their systems are at their weakest. When I am working with a pet and he turns his nose up at the dinner he normally consumes in the bat of an eye, I might be a little concerned. Is he just testing me? Is he sick? Is he not interested in eating? Is there some other explanation for this change of heart? It is important to look at a lot of variables. If my dog or cat were to turn away perfectly good food, my thought would be ” Okay, fine. You can go hungry” Could be I got that from my mother, it was her classic response when one of us kids said we wouldn’t eat dinner!! I typically don’t worry if my pet misses one meal, but if the refusal goes on to the next feeding time I might want to try some new tactics. Especially if he is sick. Here are some of my thoughts.
As your pet ages, his sense of smell can diminish. If your pet has an upper respiratory infection or is prone to allergies, his nose becomes blocked. These two factors effect his sense of smell. Believe it or not, we all taste our food with our sense of smell as well as our taste buds. If the nose isn’t working properly, food doesn’t taste as good. You may need to enhance the taste of the food in some other way in order to get your pet to eat. Some pet foods have a stronger aroma due to a higher ratio of protein in that particular brand. A simple change here could be the answer. If your pet regularly consumes canned food that is at room temperature or kept in the fridge, simply warming it up could be the answer. Of course, you would want to test the temperature before feeding. You have to admit, it really pumps up the aroma. There are even special toppings you can put on your pet food that are similar to putting gravy on mashed potatoes. In fact it is called Vita Gravy. No surprise there. You put the gravy on top of his kibble and “presto” it’s haute cuisine! There are several varieties of the gravy available. There is one that helps to condition the coat and another that benefits the bones and joints. You would be supplementing their diet as well as ensuring they are getting a good meal.
There are other ways to tempt your dog to dive into his kibble. I had a client that was older and he had simply gone off his kibble. I became concerned when he refused his next meal. I checked the pantry and found some beef broth. I added that to his kibble and he gobbled it up. You could also use vegetable or chicken broth, but be careful to watch the sodium levels. Another trick that is also helpful for your pup is to add some garlic to his food bowl. You can use powdered or fresh chopped. They love the flavor and it has the added benefit of repelling fleas when the aroma exits the dog through his skin. We love double-duty products.
If you have a finicky feline that usually is quite happy with his kibble, you might try adding wet food to his diet. If he is already on wet food, then try the warming up technique. Another strategy I use is to sprinkle catnip on top of the wet food. While we all know cats love to roll around in catnip, not everyone is aware of the fact that it is a digestive aid. It will draw your cat to his bowl and there he will enjoy the added flavor.
I hope you have found these suggestions to be helpful. Feel free to drop me a note if you have a concern about your pet that I could research for you.