Helen Brandis wrote in to ask a question about her dog, Jasper's diet: "my dog is bored of his dinner, what should I do?". Read on as we answer this question and provide a few suggestions to fix this problem and make your dog's dinner interesting again!
Question: My dog is bored of his dinner, what should I do?
Helen Brandis: "My 11-year-old Cavalier appears to have become heartily sick of his dinner of (human grade) meat, including lamb, chicken, or beef, together with a holistic kibble, to which I add a spoonful of the Wellbeing mix. Any suggestions?"
Answer: Drop the kibble, double-check quantities, and add some variety into the mix.
Thanks for an excellent question Helen, and I understand it is so disappointing when we go to a lot of trouble to make good food and our little charges go – ‘ho-hum’.
The first thing I would suggest is to drop the kibble. I know holistic is better but it is never better than your real food. You see no matter how expensive it is still highly processed.
And truly I don’t think they like it as much as your food.
With Wellbeing Essentials added to real food you have the necessary balance of calcium, and the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from wholefoods that they need or may be missing.
Is your dog getting too much to eat?
Age means fewer calories and at 11 Jasper is getting on, unfortunately, so the first things to check is if he is getting too much to eat.
Dogs frequently become ‘fussy’ when they are in fact full as googs.
Contrary to some opinion you might find on the internet, they need good quality protein at this age, not less protein. The idea of less protein comes from commercial pet food because the protein in dried food can be very hard on the kidneys and older dogs fed a lifetime of dry kibble often have kidney problems.
Also, kibble is calorie-dense, so dogs get full on a small amount and this also can lead to being overweight.
Another sign that they are getting too much food is eating the good bits and leaving the vegetables. You don’t say that this happens with Jasper, but I know it happens with my two. And if the vegetables aren’t cooked enough, they get left too.
Is your dog getting enough variety in their food?
Variety is the spice of life and just like humans, dogs crave variety in their food. This can be with ingredients, tastes, textures, styles, etc.
The way I manage this is to effectively feed them the same food I am eating myself as I have variety.
I work with the idea that they are like little kids, so I make a simpler version for them, being mindful of things to avoid and keeping it simple is the essence of it.
For instance, if I am having chicken stir fry with noodles, I am already getting this for myself, so they will have the same ingredients, with the vegetables more finely chopped, and more cooked, and of course no chilli and onion! It rarely takes me more than a few minutes extra.
Often when we batch cook (ie make up a few days or a week at a time) for them, we make the same things every time, and that does get boring (for us too!).
Making an extension on what you eat is the easiest way, takes a few minutes more, and ensures they get variety. (unless you have the same meal every day!)
And now some tips for a dog that is a ‘fussy eater’:
- Add yummy bits, like liver treats, parmesan cheese sprinkle, a little bit of butter, bacon bits (tiny amount makes a difference),
- Alternate with wet casserole type food and not wet (like a stir fry) for change
- Roast vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, parsnip to get sweet and delicious.
- Try noodles instead of rice, risoni instead of pasta, quinoa, millet, mashed potato, etc.
- Serving different proteins is also important as each has different amino acids, so beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy. Adding liver, like chicken livers to the dish makes it very compelling and good for them too.
- Try to have some variety too in how it is prepared, like mince versus rare beef, (a poodle favourite), meatballs instead of just mince. Sardines or Salmon.
- Bringing the meal to room temperature if it has been in the fridge enhances the aroma, and teases the taste buds. Just pop it in the microwave for 30secs (and make sure there are no hotspots!)
Hope this helps to give you some ideas for how to manage Jasper going off his food. And if he continues or starts to lose weight, always check with your veterinarian for any problems. It can be something as simple as their teeth need cleaning (as it hurts to eat).