Just like people, dogs often acquire bad eating habits. While many of them are behavioral in nature, some of them can be indicative of an underlying pet health condition. Listed below are some of the most common bad eating habits associated with dogs and food and what you can do to change them:
Eating Habits of Dogs
- Dog Inhales Food or Eating too Fast If it seems as if your dog inhales food, it could be a sign of various medical problems. As such, the first thing you will want to do if your dog inhales his food is to have your pet checked by a veterinarian. If you get a clean bill of health, you should ask yourself, is he competing for food? If he is not competing for food, try feeding your dog several small meals per day rather than one large one or turn the bowl upside down to increase the amount of effort necessary to consume the food.
- Overeating Again, since overeating can indicate such issues as worms or pregnancy, you will want to have your veterinarian give your pet a thorough checkup. If your vet says that your dog is perfectly healthy, encourage exercise and start slowly cutting down on the amount of food you feed your pet at each meal to prevent obesity. In order to break this bad eating habit, you can also try to put a metal food dish upside down to increase the amount of time necessary for eating. This will help to slow the dog’s eating and understand he is full faster.
- Picky Eating Has your dog always been a picky eater? If not, you should have the dog examined by a veterinarian to ensure there are no medical problems. In most cases, picky eaters simply have a preference for one brand or type of food over any other. Unfortunately, the trick to solving this problem is trial and error. Try various foods and consistencies until you find one your pet likes.
- Not Eating Anything When dogs will not eat anything at all, they most likely have a serious health condition. Some of the most common problems that can cause your pet to refuse food include gastrointestinal issues, dental problems, worms and allergies. In any case, it is essential for you to take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
- Burying or Hoarding Food This is a common behavior in canines, known as caching, and is a bad eating habit that can easily be broken by taking your pet’s food and dish away after a set amount of time. Eventually, your dog will learn to eat its food within a certain time frame without hoarding it. This is often not due to any type of medical problem but rather instinct to bury food to consume later.
- Using Food as Toys Using food as toys is a bad eating habit which is often a sign of boredom and can be corrected by offering your dog some toys to play with instead. If the behavior continues, take the food away and offer it later. After some time, your dog will learn not to play with its food. A Kong toy will often assist with this behavior. You can stuff food in the center which is fun and challenging for the dog and keeps their mind away from playing with their dog food.
- Only Eating in Your Presence If your dog likes to eat near you, the easiest solution is to feed your pet near the dining room table at the same time that you eat. Another solution is to move your pet’s food bowl into the living room. This could be due to separation anxiety problems, discomfort with the environment or your dog may simply be used to eating with his or her pet parent close-by.
- Begging for Food The solution to this bad eating habit is simple. The best way to solve dog begging is to prevent it in the first place. Do not offer food to your dog every time you eat. Additionally, do not give your pet a treat unless it has performed a trick or did something to please you. If your pet is begging, firmly say no and take it to a separate room while you eat to prevent your dog’s eating habit.
- Eating All Day (Grazing) Grazing is another bad eating habit which can be broken via prevention. Do not leave food out for your dog all day. Feed your dog two times a day at the same time each day.
Bad eating habits in dogs are quite common; however, they can easily be solved by following the useful advice described above. Since some of these habits may be caused by or can result in medical problems, you may need to take your dog to a veterinarian as well. Is your dog vomiting? Learn more about vomiting in dogs.
Amber Johnson, Animal Behaviorist
Miss Amber Johnson has many years of experience with pets and is a licensed pet nutrition and behavior specialist. She currently collaborates with PetPremium where she counsels clients in pet behavior and nutrition. The statements made in this article are the personal opinions of Miss Amber Johnson and based on independent experiences and could be different from the opinions of PetPremium Pet health Insurance or any other pet health insurance provider.