Tempting pets to eat

dog-eating-cat-foodThroughout your pet’s life, their diets will change depending on their age or health status. Any change to your pet’s food can be stressful for both you and your pet so we have prepared these handy tips to help your pet to accept the new diet and ensure the transition is as stress free as possible.

With any diet change, we would recommend slowly moving over onto the new food over a 1-2 week period. This reduces the risks of an upset tummy and your pet rejecting the new food.

The key is, if possible, change them onto a preferred food type for example if they usually eat dry kibble then change onto other dry food.

Start by introducing a small amount of the new food in with their existing meal. This can be a handful of dry or small amount of wet food.

Then over time very slowly increase the amount of new food added and reduce the old diet.

The temptation when they do not eat the new food initially is to offer them something else like human foods. This is where they quickly learn to refuse the food offered as something better will follow.

It is important all family and friends are also aware they are on specific diet. Often diets are for health reasons such as renal insufficiency and extra treats can put extra strain on the kidneys. This doesn’t mean they can’t have treats, you can take a handful of their daily allowance of kibble and put it in a handy treat tub to use for training. 

Tempting dogs to eat

  • Sometimes, rolling a few dry biscuits along the floor to them encourages them to chase them and eat them.
  • Small frequent meals prevents food being wasted.
  • Make sure all feeding bowls are clean and free of detergent residue.
  • Try offering them meals in a quiet area away from distractions. Some dogs prefer to eat with company so moving location to the front room or kitchen during family meal times may help.
  • You can always try added water to dry kibble to soften the biscuits and make it easier to eat.
  • Some pets dislike eating on the floor and are happier eating on a high surface. This can sometimes be the case for elderly patients with joint problems, simply raising the bowl so they do not have to crouch or bend can ease discomfort at meal times.

Tempting cats to eat

cat-eating
  • Naturally, cats would eat small regular meals 8-10 times a day in the wild. This means cats are happiest with food down for them to graze throughout the day or, if it’s, possible offered small regular meals. This also prevents food wastage.
  • You can always try adding some extra feeding stations around the house, with separate water areas. Make sure these feeding stations are away from litter trays.
  • Increasing hunt-like play like chasing string or lazer pens helps increase stimulation and appetite.
  • You could try making sure wet foods are offered warmed to room temperature.
  • Make sure all feeding bowls are clean and free of detergent residue.
  • You can always try added water to dry kibble to soften the biscuits and make it easier to eat.
  • Some pets dislike eating on the floor and are happier eating on a high surface. This can sometimes be the case for elderly patients with joint problems, simply raising the bowl on a step or block allowing them to eat standing ensures they do not have to crouch or bend can ease discomfort at meal times.
  • Try offering them meals in a quiet area away from distractions cats are very sensitive to stress and too much activity or noise can distract them.
  • Sometimes they are just not hungry! If they go outside neighbours often feed them so it is worth informing the neighbours that they are on a special diet.
  • Alternatively, they could be hunting and filling themselves up on pray sources.

Tempting rabbits to eat

rabbit-eating
  • Try offering them meals in a quiet area away from distractions
  • Make sure they have plenty of places to hide, being pray animals they will not eat if stressed
  • Cut food items up small so it is easy to eat
  • Try softer food like cucumber, these are also high in water content
  • You can always try added water to dry kibble to soften the biscuits and make it easier to eat
  • Offering herbs to your rabbits sometimes tempts them to eat as they are strong smelling
  • If they still do not it we would advise syringe feeding them a critical care diet

If you would like more advice on getting pets to eat, please contact the clinic on mail@vet4life.co.uk or shepperton@vet4life.co.uk.

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Sarah Holliday

Head Vet Nurse at Vet4life - Teddington
Sarah has 7 years’ experience in nursing in a variety of environments. She has certificates in feline and canine behaviour and is currently studying for a certificate in nursing exotic animals.

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