Tips to Get Your Dog to Eat Prescription Dog Food

Prescription dog foods can be a powerful tool in managing chronic diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, skin issues, and urinary stones. These specialized diets are formulated to combat specific illnesses and can significantly contribute to your dog’s overall health. However, one common challenge pet owners face is convincing their dogs to eat these prescription foods. In this article, we will explore some tips to help you overcome this obstacle and ensure that your furry friend receives the necessary nutrition.

Switch Brands

If your dog is not fond of the prescription dog food recommended by your veterinarian, don’t lose hope. Nowadays, there are several manufacturers that offer acceptable prescription formulas, and many of them even provide a money-back guarantee. If your veterinarian carries only one brand and your dog shows no interest, consider returning the food and requesting a prescription for another brand.

Additionally, online retailers often offer a wider variety of prescription foods compared to local veterinary clinics. If, for instance, your diabetic dog needs to manage weight loss, there might be multiple prescription formulas that suit their needs. Remember, even if two prescription diets have the same flavor, one formulation may be more appealing to your dog than the other.

Try Canned Food

Although we are accustomed to choosing kibble for our dogs, canned food is often more palatable for picky eaters. The stronger odor and meatier flavor of canned food can entice dogs to eat more eagerly. Many prescription canned foods come in multiple textures, such as smooth pate and chunkier stew with bits of meat and vegetables in gravy. Some dogs may greatly prefer one texture over the other.

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Wet foods are particularly beneficial for dogs with kidney disease, urinary issues, or a tendency to become constipated on dry food. However, it’s important to note that canned food is less calorie-dense due to its increased water content. If you have a large dog with high-calorie needs, you can mix canned and dry prescription food to provide both palatability and calories.

Explore Different Flavors

Prescription diets often offer multiple flavor options like chicken or lamb. If your dog shows resistance to one flavor, don’t hesitate to try another. You may be surprised to find that a slight difference in taste between the dry and wet versions of the same flavor can make all the difference. If your dog needs canned food but refuses to eat it, consider adding water to soften the kibble and make it more appealing.

Add Water and Warm It Up

Enhancing the natural aroma of the food can tempt your dog to eat. Try adding some water to moisten and soak the kibbles, preferably hot or warm water to intensify the scent. Microwaving the moistened food for a few seconds can further enhance the aroma. The same goes for canned food – it can be warmed up in the microwave or mixed with extra water to increase its scent. Always make sure to test the temperature to avoid serving food that is too hot for your dog’s delicate tongue.

Make Mealtimes Fun

Incorporating playtime or training time into mealtime can make your dog more enthusiastic about eating. Dogs love to work with their owners, and associating mealtime with an activity can increase the value of the food. Start by asking your dog to perform an easy trick or command before offering a single kibble as a reward. Gradually increase the amount of food offered as your dog becomes more interested and engaged. For canned food, you can offer small portions on a spoon as a reward.

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Puzzle toys are another excellent option to make mealtimes more exciting. Dogs often enjoy the challenge of extracting food from interactive toys, which adds an element of fun to their dining experience. Pour kibble into a rolling ball or stuff a hollow toy with canned food to stimulate your dog’s interest and engage their natural instincts.

Don’t Give Up

If your dog remains uninterested in prescription dog food despite your best efforts, consult with your veterinarian. They may be able to help you formulate a home-cooked diet tailored to your dog’s specific needs. Alternatively, they can recommend a veterinary nutritionist who specializes in designing custom diets for pets. In some cases, your veterinarian may also prescribe appetite stimulants to jump-start your dog’s recovery.

Remember, ensuring proper nutrition is crucial for managing your dog’s chronic illness. By following these tips and being patient, you can help your furry friend embrace their prescription diet and lead a healthier life.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s DogWatch newsletter, published by Belvoir Media Group.

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