Finicky Maltese Won’t Eat Dog Food!

My dog is 14 month old Maltese and is a sweetheart. My one problem is that he won’t eat his dog food. We started giving him human food, that’s it. My husband and I have had days where we don’t feed him any human food and he’s gone without eating for two days….is it terrible that he doesn’t eat his own food? I’ve read stories where people just feed their dogs regular food and they’re fine. He seems good…good bowels, goes out twice a day, etc etc…

Rochelle, Henderson, NV

Dear Rochelle,

This is a common problem and one that is not easy to break.  Your little sweetheart   has trained you well and it may be difficult to break this behavior.

There are two ways to approach this problem.

The first way is to admit defeat and feed your baby people food the rest of his life.  This is something that can be done but it requires a commitment on your part to prepare him a nutritionally complete and balanced diet.  He is relying on you to provide for him and his instincts aren’t going to help.   Most homemade diets are not nutritionally balanced and can lead to long term health problems later in life.  Just think about how badly many people eat and they live relatively healthy lives (at least it appears that way).

Dogs can suffer serious nutritional deficiencies if they don’t receive a proper diet.  There are foods that you should stay away from such as onions, garlic, pork (ham, sausage, pork, bacon, etc), chocolate, diet products made for diabetics.  Also, with such a small dog, it is easy to over feed him and if you aren’t aware of this, he could become obese as well.  To have a recipe formulated specifically for your dog, check out balanceit.com.  This will give you the comfort of having a properly formulated diet based on nutrition, not hype.

The other way to approach this is with tough love.  This involves weaning him back onto dog food.  There are many dogs that are finicky about their food and it is because they have been spoiled with people food.  People food isn’t always bad.  What is healthy for people is often healthy for dogs but their nutritional needs are different.  Small dogs only require a small amount of food and it is sad how many “finicky” dogs are obese because the owners feel like they need to eat more.  When we are done with our Thanksgiving dinner, we can always make room for a little dessert, if its tasty enough.   Most dogs will always eat more if something tastes good enough.

To wean him back onto dog food, I would buy a variety of canned and dry foods.  Some of the newer foods are made with ingredients that are very close to what we would eat, but in a balanced formula.  You can mix the people food you are feeding with the dog food and gradually reduce the amount of people food that is fed.

Offer the food for 15-20 minutes and whatever goes uneaten, it should be discarded. Repeat this 2-3 times daily and eventually he will start to eat some of the dog food.

Dogs can be very stubborn and know how to train their owners quite well.  I hope you get your baby back on track!

Dr. Chris
Your Dog’s Favorite Veterinarian

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