It’s no secret all Shiba Inu love food. However, not all have big appetites. If you find yourself with a dog who only sniffs, licks, and knocks over its bowl, you have a picky eater on hand.
And for fur parents who have choosy dogs, mealtime can be difficult. It is also a struggle for the dog, so it is crucial to find a solution as soon as possible. Worst-case scenario, picky eating is a sign of a health issue, so it is important to narrow down the reasons why your dog is a picky eater and what you can do about it.
Causes of picky eating. Is it normal?
According to Dr. Mason Romero, DVM, it is rare for a pet to refuse to eat. So when your Shiba is suddenly aversive to its mealtime, it’s time to crack up why.
A lot of factors lead to a lack of appetite and can be a sign of a serious health issue.
These are the possible medical concerns that lead to your Shiba Inu being a picky eater:
- Kidney issues
- Liver issues
- Pyometra (infection in a female dog’s reproductive tract)
- Dental complications
- Gastrointestinal disorders
There are also health conditions that guise as pickiness even if your dog wants to eat.
Food intolerances can lead to discomfort after eating and result in digestive problems like gas, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your dog might hesitate to eat if it is suffering from these issues.
Another common reason for picky eating is an oral injury. If you notice your dog has been very picky with food, one of the first steps you can do is to check their mouth, tongue, and gums. If these areas look sensitive and tender, you can rule that as the reason for their lack of appetite.
Oral injury or diseases are the causes of poor dental hygiene or if your Shiba has been playing with sharp objects.
If your dog’s pickiness with food has worsened, immediately consult your veterinarian.
Environment and Stress
Like humans, stress and the environment can greatly affect your Shiba Inu’s normal behavior, including eating patterns.
These could be changes in your home, circumstances that cause your dog anxiety, or even intimidation from other pets.
The best thing you can do is ensure your dog feels safe and comfortable while they are trying to eat.
How to determine the cause?
To determine what causes the change in appetite, make sure to know if the picky eating is a sudden change or is a consistent habit.
If your Shiba has always been a picky eater but is overall healthy, then pickiness is just a trait, just like humans’ food preferences.
However, if their pickiness is sudden, you need to monitor them as this might be a medical issue, especially if it is accompanied by lethargy. If your Shiba’s appetite does not return within 48 hours, immediately contact your veterinarian.
What to look out for if your dog is a picky eater?
Just because your Shiba’s pickiness is not caused by a health problem doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.
Picky eating can lead to serious complications like malnutrition, gastrointestinal upset, and weight loss.
How to feed a picky eater?
Eating less can lead to health complications, and if the problem is not a medical issue but rather your Shiba Inu just not feeling the food, then you need to put a break on this.
Here are a few tips you can do to rid of picky eating.
Remove your dog’s meal
A mean technique, but fur parents swear by it.
First, offer dinner as you normally would and leave the room. If your dog refuses to eat and follows you, ignore him. If the food is not eaten within 15-30 minutes, take it away and wait until the following day before offering a fresh meal.
If he still refuses to eat it within 15 minutes, take it away. By dinner, your dog hasn’t eaten anything for one day and will realize he is hungry. He will be left with nothing but to eat the food you will offer him.
No healthy dog will starve himself, and don’t worry! This is not a dangerous technique as, generally, most dogs can go a few days without eating.
Change to tastier meals
One of the first steps you can do when your Shiba Inu has been really picky is to change to a new food. He refuses to eat because he doesn’t like the taste, so avoid switching to similar flavors as his previous meals.
If his old food is chicken and he’s starting to hate it, change to fish or beef instead.
Also, the switch doesn’t mean taking the more expensive path. Cheap doesn’t mean tasteless, and there are cheaper brands out there that offer more delicious food, so you can give them a try.
If you change your dog’s food, remember to do it gradually. Dogs typically don’t like a change in their routine, which also applies to food. So start really small and slow before completely switching to the new food.
Lots of exercise
Exercising is a great way to increase your dog’s appetite. This is because after intense activities, your dog will feel hungry. So if you find him getting choosy over food, go for a long walk before meals.
If long walkies are not possible, you can also do other activities to tire your dog, like tug of war and fetch.
This pent-up energy will burn off, and your Shiba will need refueling. It will take on whatever meal you offer.
Don’t immediately offer food after exercising, and give it 15 minutes for your dog’s stomach to settle.