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Fussy Eating in Dogs

advice on feeding your fussy dogs

Fussy Adult Dogs

It’s truly remarkable how many pet owners have dogs that are fussy.  So much so that our founder and Veterinary Surgeon John Burns put together a handy guide (below) for fussy eating in dogs to help with this common problem. John Burns says:

Many pet parents seem determined to make their dogs eat come what may. The main reason why a dog refuses food is she isn’t hungry!  However pet parents often concludes their dog no longer likes the food and decides to try something else (usually tastier) to get her dog to eat.  The dog will eat the tastier food until she tires of that. The pet parent then seeks out something else in order to stimulate the dog’s jaded appetite. And so it continues.


The owner does not seem to realise that the dog is simply not hungry. The best way to please a dog is to give the dog, not food, but time. By providing stimulation of play or by taking her for a walk.

The fussy eater

  • Feed once daily usually between 5 and 7pm.
  • Offer less than the recommended amount for the dog’s weight, e.g. if the dog weighs 20kg offer 5-6 ounces (125-150g) rather than 8 ounces (200g).
  • Any food not consumed within 10-15 minutes should be taken up and no more food offered until the same mealtime the next day.  At the next meal offer slightly less than the amount eaten the day before.
  • Experiment with quantities until you ensure that your dog is READY for its meal each day, consumes the whole amount and would even eat a little more if it were available. After the first few days if you have to offer extras to encourage your dog to eat then you are probably overfeeding.

Some common questions answered

How can I be overfeeding, my dog only eats what she needs and leaves the rest?

If your dog regularly picks at his food and leaves food behind then this means that she is eating as much as she wants rather than as much as she needs. It is likely that she could manage with a little less each day – she would probably enjoy her food more than if she were eating less.

Can I be overfeeding my dog if she is not overweight?

In general it is the dogs that are not well-exercised that become overweight. Many overfed dogs don’t put on weight but discharge the excess giving rise to the symptoms described in the Development of Disease stage 1 in our Guide to Natural Health Care (downloadable below). This tends to be especially true for dogs getting a lot of exercise.

Is it harmful to add other things to the dog’s food?

This depends on the individual dog and what you want to add.  I do not recommend adding other pet food to the Burns pet food but homemade food especially vegetables may be acceptable. If the dog has a health problem such as itchy skin it is best not to add anything to Burns without discussing this first with our team of nutritionists.

A prepared pet food cannot by its nature be tailored exactly to suit every circumstance and we sometimes even recommend adding other homemade foods depending on the dog’s individual needs.  We do not necessarily agree with the advice other manufacturers give that adding to the diet will ‘upset the balance’.  But it isn’t advisable to add things regularly to the food in order to get the dog to eat more.  Over a period of time this would result in your dog eating more than it would otherwise and could undo the benefit of the Burns food.

Speak to a Pet Nutritionist

Get in touch with the Burns Health and Nutrition Team for individually tailored advice on the right food type and amounts for your dog. At Burns we work to address pet health conditions brought about by unhealthy lifestyle and especially diet. Drawing on the link between health and nutrition, we developed dry pet food that offers the same benefits for your favourite furry friend as simple homecooked food.

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