In many ways poodles are the perfect pet- they’re loyal, loving, and smart as can be!
However, a common problem reported by poodle owners is that their poodle is a fussy eater and will leave meals untouched…So are poodles fussy eaters?
Some poodles, like all dogs, can be fussy eaters. Poodles are thought to be less food orientated than other dog breeds. Poodles tend to only eat when they are hungry and are less motivated by food. However, most poodles still have healthy appetites and if hungry will eat enough food to keep them healthy and strong.
Why is my poodle so fussy?
Poodles, like other dogs, can be fussy eaters for many reasons.
One of the most common reasons why owners think their pet is being fussy when they are not is that their poodle is getting plenty of food- just not from their own bowl!
As I’m sure you know, those big puppy dog eyes can be hard to resist. A lot of poodles know all too well that it only takes a long look or whimper and their owner (or other household members) will feed them scraps off their own plate. A slice of chicken here, a chip or piece of bread there throughout the day can fill your poodle up, so when it comes to their own food they have no appetite.
While I’m sure your poodle is loving all the tasty human food, it may not be good for them. Humans tend to eat a diet much higher in grains and more processed food than is good for dogs, so filling your poodle up with human food may be stopping them from getting the right balance of nutrients they need. Excessive snacking can lead to your dog becoming malnourished or overweight.
On a similar thread, if whenever your dog doesn’t eat their meal you start giving them lots of tasty high-calorie treats, your dog will soon know that a sure-fire way of getting these tasty morsels is to wait. Poodles are very intelligent dogs, and if you’re not careful will have you wrapped around their little paw…
Another possible reason your poodle is avoiding their food may be because the food you are providing does not agree with them, they may be allergic or intolerant to one of the ingredients in the feed. You may have gone to great lengths to pick the perfect food for your poodle in terms of nutrition quality, but if your poodle knows it makes them feel bad they will avoid eating it.
Alternatively, if you have just switched your poodle’s food, it may be that they are not yet used to it and are struggling to adjust to the change.
Another reason your poodle appears not to be eating enough may actually be because you are giving your poodle too much food. Smaller dogs, such as the toy poodle, don’t actually need to eat large portions. If you are giving your poodle way more food than they can eat, they may not be being fussy at all- only full!
Like humans, a poodle’s appetite can reduce when they are stressed and anxious. If there has been a lot of change for your poodle, such as a house move, lots of new people or visitors or anything disruptive, it can make them go off their food temporarily.
If your poodle is maintaining a healthy weight and has plenty of energy for play and exercise, it may be that they are not fussy but just eating the right amount for them.
However, if your poodle suddenly goes off their food or their food intake dramatically decreases there may be another reason. Some of the most common reasons why your poodle may suddenly go off their food are illness, dental problems, being recently vaccinated, being anxious or scared, and a change of environment or feeding situation. If your dog refuses food for 24 hours or loses weight, you should take them to the vets!
How to stop my poodle from being a fussy eater…
There are hundreds of articles online about how to encourage your dog to eat more. However, from researching advice from vets and trying out a few of the tips on my own poodle, I have summarized the key advice below:
- Ask your household and any visitors to stop feeding your poodle food scraps and treats throughout the day. You should continue to use treats during training and as a reward for good behavior, but your poodle’s main source of food should be from their food bowl, not your plate. This may be tricky and your poodle probably won’t like it, but it will help with your poodle’s nutrition and stop annoying begging at the dinner table if you stick it out.
- If you are prone to “giving in” to your poodle and giving them alternatives to their main food if they don’t eat, stop it! Your poodle may have learned that waiting can mean tasty human food. If you want your poodle to learn that they need to eat their own food, you need to stop giving in to those puppy dog eyes all the time.
- Similarly, if you have a cat and other pets, be sure that your poodle is not sneaking their food. Dogs will often eat cat food, so if you suspect your poodle is poaching food that isn’t theirs, it may be best to move the cat’s food to somewhere high up.
- Once you are sure your poodle is not getting food elsewhere (from other people or pets), you should find out how much your poodle should be eating based on their size and weight. This is important because it may well be that you think your poodle is not eating enough, when in fact they are eating plenty based on their size and weight. Poodle’s come in a wide range of sizes, unlike other dog breeds- from the tiny teacup to the majestic standard-all these dogs need different amounts of food to keep fit and healthy.
- What each portion of food should depend on not only the size of your dog but also how much exercise they have done, how regularly they are fed, and if they have eaten many treats that day. Each different brand of dog food will come with guidelines on portion sizes based on your dog’s size so you should read these carefully before deciding roughly how much food your poodle should be eating.
- Some owners swear that sticking to a regular feeding schedule helps their poodle eat well, while others prefer to leave dry food out for their dog to pick out during the day- there is no evidence that one is better than the other so decide which one works best for your family and stick to it. Whatever you decide, your poodle should know when they will be able to eat.
- Do not hover over your poodle while they are eating as this can make them uncomfortable and nervous.
- If you are switching food, do this gradually, mixing a little of the new food in with what they currently eat and increasing this over time. This will help your poodle get used to the taste and texture of the new food.
Should I be worried if my poodle isn’t eating enough?
If you have done the above steps and your poodle is not eating enough or losing weight, you need to book your poodle to see their vet. This is especially important if you notice other signs that something could be wrong such as lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If your poodle has a sore moth from dental problems, this will also need to be looked at by a vet.
Poodles and other dogs can sometimes not eat for 24 hours and it will not have a long term negative effect on them. If your pet has not eaten in this time period you should consult your vet.