Are Poodles Fussy Eaters? [5 Fixes]
If you’ve ever owned a fussy-eating Poodle, you’ll know how hard it is constantly swap out their food to try and keep them interested in their meals. And there is not much more frustrating than listening to their stomach grumble as they refuse yet another dinner.
Picky eaters tend to be particular from an early age but older dogs can develop it as they get older and food becomes less interesting.
If there’s a sudden behavior change and your dog is usually not overly fussy with their food then it may be a medical issue so a veterinary trip would be worthwhile before trying any of these hints and tips to encourage your poodle to eat again.
Are Poodles more prone to being fussy eaters?
Being able to predict if your new Poodle puppy is going to be a fussy eater is almost impossible. Some breeds seem to be more inclined to be fussy eaters, particularly smaller breeds of dogs.
There isn’t any concrete evidence to show why smaller dogs tend to be fussy eaters but they have much smaller stomachs than larger dogs so are likely to get full faster. Most pet dogs get their meals throughout the day but also a few treats here and there.
Many smaller dogs will be satisfied enough with the treats they get throughout the day so they’ll be more willing to hold out and not eat their meals in hopes that something better comes along.
Toy Poodles tend to be more likely to be fussy with their food.
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The larger size Pooles, less so but compared to dogs like Labradors, they are more likely to snuff their food at meal time. Dogs who are not driven by food can be fussy eaters and many Poodles will be motivated by different things that aren’t necessarily food rewards.
If you use toys, verbal or physical rewards, or anything else to reward your Poodle while doing training because they don’t work as hard for treats, then your Poodle is more likely to be a fussy eater.
How to know if your dog is getting enough food?
If your Poodle skips the odd meal, it’s not always an immediate concern as long as they eat most of their meals and get enough calories.
If you’re concerned about your dog not eating more long-term then the best way to make sure they’re still getting enough nutrients is by looking at their body condition. Poodles are quite lean dogs, they have deep chests that should tuck up into quite a narrow waist.
If there’s no waist then they’re probably a little overweight and a few skipped meals won’t hurt, they might even be too full if they’re refusing meals. Underweight dogs will have fewer fat stores and the healthy shape they’re supposed to have will be exaggerated and more pronounced.
You can find useful guides online to show how to body score your dog and establish if they’re at their ideal weight or not. There are some minor differences depending on the breed of your dog but they’re useful as a general guide.
How to prevent your dog from snacking between mealtimes
Preventing your dog from snacking in between meal times is easy in theory. We deliver them their food and their extra treats so it should just mean fewer or even no treats depending on how strict you need to be. The biggest challenge when trying to limit your dog’s extra calories is usually other people.
Family and friends coming over might be quick to share their own food with them so communication is important to make them aware that you’re trying to limit your dog’s extra treats to get them to eat at meal times.
There’s also always the chance of bumping into a fellow dog owner at the dog park who likes to bribe friendship out of everyone else’s dog with treats – you need to have a keen eye for these sneaky ones.
If your dog is also the kind of dog to treat their walks as a time to rummage in hedges and along the sidewalk for discarded food, you may need to implement some training. A cue to leave an item or get their attention for some eye contact while you pass tasty morsels can be a game-changer.
Some dogs are so good at finding extra food on walks that owners resort to muzzle training them just to stop them.
Usually, this is more for dogs who will eat toxic food items that can harm them than for those who just enjoy a between-meal snack though.
Preference testing your Poodle
If your Poodle is turning their nose up at mealtime, you can do what is called preference testing. It’s exactly what it sounds like and is just the process of figuring out what kinds of food your dog does and doesn’t like.
There is a whole range of different proteins available and if your dog doesn’t seem tempted by beef or chicken, you can always get a bit more exotic with venison or wild boar. There’s such a range of different meats to try.
Some dog food brands even produce vegan dog food now although it’s not likely to tempt a picky eater but is always an option to try if you’re struggling to find a source of protein they enjoy.
Preference testing involves laying out several different types of food in a room and seeing which order your dog either eats or investigates them. If you’re preference testing for meals it’s important to try complete diets but you can mix it up with the texture and consistency. Some dogs may prefer the crunch of kibble whereas others may like wet food in gravy.
If your dog is a fussy eater, freshly prepared home-cooked meals might tempt them or a raw diet with fresh veggies. It’s all about giving them options and figuring out the texture, smell, and taste that lures them in the most.
Ways to encourage your dog to eat at mealtimes
If your dog doesn’t seem hungry or interested in their meals when it’s time to feed, there are options you can try. Beyond testing what sort of foods they prefer and trying to incorporate them into their diet, sometimes it can be even easier to get them eating.
If your dog is a grazer and picks little mouthfuls throughout the day, there is a chance that the food is becoming stale and less appealing as the day goes by.
To avoid constantly having to throw out stale food, you can instead try offering their meals for a shorter period. If they get a fifteen to twenty-minute window to eat before the food bowl is removed, it can teach them to eat as part of a routine as opposed to as and when they like.
If you feed your fussy Poodle puppy kibble, a great trick to making it instantly more appealing is adding some warm water to it to make it more soup-like.
The warm water not only heats the meal for them but the steam that rises causes it to smell more enticing to them. Some dogs appreciate a mix of wet and dry food while others may just turn their nose up at kibble altogether.
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You can also purchase meal toppers to make it more flavor-rich for them or simply put a very small amount of something high value on top of their food like cheese or chicken. If you’re adding to their dish you just have to be careful that they don’t only eat the high-value addition and it doesn’t throw off their balanced diet.
Make mealtimes more enriching
If you’ve figured out what your Poodle likes to eat and they still pass on a meal from time to time, you can make their mealtimes more interactive and entertaining. Poodles are intelligent dogs, they enjoy using their brains so working for their food can be rewarding in itself, rewarding enough to coax them into actually eating it.
Food enrichment comes in different difficulties. Poodles can usually conquer the more difficult end of the spectrum while other breeds may find kibble rolled into a towel plenty challenging.
The internet is full of fun games you can put their meals into like Kongs or activities where they have to turn or remove pieces to access their kibble. If you don’t have anything on hand, even throwing their food across your lawn can turn it into a fun game of hunting for every last bit.
Some dogs prefer human interaction so you could always put one of their meals aside if it’s something you can hand feed them and do some training with them. Their meal can be split into treat sizes as rewards to practice their tricks.
While Poodles aren’t notorious for being the fussiest eaters, they can become uninterested in food if the taste of it alone isn’t rewarding enough. Every dog is an individual and we are researching more and more into the similarities between dogs of similar breeds.
Most of a dog’s traits are not necessarily linked to their breed but their genetics. If their mother was a fussy eater it’s likely your pup might become a finicky eater. So, rather than being particular about food because they’re a Poodle, it’s more likely to be because other adults in their lineage were.
Even if you do find yourself with a fussy eater there are still lots of ways to encourage them into having more regular mealtimes.