Do you have a 'fussy' puppy?

Do you have a fussy puppy? We are almost conditioned to expect all dogs and puppies to be very food focussed and relish every meal, but this isn’t always the case. It can be tempting to automatically attribute ‘fussiness’ to your puppy’s lack of interest in food, trying many different brands in order to entice them.

Believe it or not this is not uncommon, especially in young dogs, so should you be concerned and what can you do?  The first port of call should always be a visit to the vet to ensure there is no underlying health reason for your puppy’s depleted appetite. The vet can properly assess your puppy’s growth, health and advise you of their specific needs.

If there are no medical reasons for your puppy’s inappetence, here are some things to consider:

Has your puppy just joined the family?

If you’ve not had your puppy very long, he or she may still be getting used to the new environment and the routine may be rather different. Some pups just need a little more reassurance and will soon eat more enthusiastically once they have gained confidence.

Are you feeding little and often?
The stomach capacity of a puppy is tiny! If your pup is under 12 weeks of age and you’ve already dropped from 4 meals per day to 3, reverting back to 4 can sometimes help.
Is growth slowing down?

As puppies get older their growth rate slows down, and this means that their demand for those extra calories needed for healthy development starts to reduce. A natural decline in appetite often accompanies this. Sometimes a small reduction in food is the solution. This is why our feed guides show some reductions for the later age groups, and adult rations are lower too. A small breed puppy may be ready for adult portions as early as 6 months.

Calorie requirement
Don’t forget that additions to the main diet supply calories too. If your puppy has a good appetite for treats and extras, and the main diet hasn’t been reduced to accommodate them, it could be that your pup’s needs are being more than adequately met and he or she is just not that hungry at mealtimes as a result.
Behavioural and environmental influences

Some dogs naturally have lower appetites than others, and it’s important to remember that although you may be used to hungry dogs, not all dogs will have the same interest in food. There may also be outside influences causing a temporary interruption to your pet’s hunger such as teething pain, attention seeking behaviour or other distractions such as a bitch in heat arriving on the scene.

What to do if your puppy’s inappetence becomes a problem
If your puppy is struggling to take in the calories and nutrients required for steady, healthy growth and condition, there are several things you can do to tackle the problem.

1. Firstly, don’t be tempted to chop and change! Too much variety can make this problem worse by encouraging ‘fussiness’ and upsetting your puppy’s tummy. During early growth, the digestive system is at its most sensitive. It is important to choose a very highly digestible food that will ensure balanced intestinal flora, and a regular intestinal transit with nice firm stools. Changes to your pet’s diet should always happen gradually.  If you think you have a sensitive puppy, contact us for advice or try our sensitive puppy/junior.

Read our guide to safely changing pet food brands
About our sensitive puppy food

2. Never make an issue out of mealtimes. Put fresh food down for each meal and pretend to occupy yourself with something else in the vicinity. If the food is not eaten in your allotted time frame, then take up the dish calmly without showing you are disturbed. Dogs can quickly pick up on our own emotions and stressful mealtimes are not usually happy mealtimes.

See our advice for owners of anxious dogs

3. Including complete wet foods like our Partners range (which is safe to feed to puppies as a topper in conjunction with one of our dry growth diets) can be particularly beneficial for the more discerning dog as they have a stronger aroma. Contact us for advice on how to incorporate this into your puppy’s diet.

About our Partners wet foods

4. Try soaking dry food by pouring hot water onto the kibble. This will melt some of the high-quality fats, which then give off an enticing aroma (allow to cool before feeding!) Exceptionally inappetent dogs may be enticed by a little of our Tasty Paste squeezed on top of the meal. A small quantity can also be dissolved in hot water to make a delicious broth to cover the kibble.

Information about soaking dry food
About our Tasty Pastes

5. Weight your puppy regularly and weigh out your puppy’s food allowance too. Guessing on both counts can mean you may be offering a little more than needed. Every recipe in the Arden Grange growth range has been specially formulated to meet the increased nutritional demands of the developing dog and recommended feeding amounts calculated accordingly. If your puppy simply cannot consume the recommended amount and you are concerned about their growth or condition, we have more energy dense recipes in our range such as our Weaning Puppy or Prestige, providing slightly more calories and high-quality fats than our standard diets in a smaller feed volume. Speak to your vet or contact us for a nutrition consultation and feeding plan to help you safely provide extra nutrition to your puppy.
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Excerpts from fact sheet ‘Inappetence in dogs’ and ‘Puppy Nutrition’ by Ness Bird - Nutrition Adviser and RVN CertCFVHNut ©