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Q&A: Feeding a fussy Labrador

Expert advice from Baileys’ canine nutritionist on feeding a dog that is fussy about its food

Q: I own a Labrador/Collie cross that is fabulous in ever way. However, unlike the stereotypical Labrador, he is a fussy eater and tends to pick at his food, frequently leaving it and only eating up if we add our food such as meat, potato or gravy.

We have offered all sorts of tinned meats and mixes, some days he’ll eat more than others, but not very readily.

He is a very active dog and I worry about him loosing weight, he is generally healthy in every other way but only just holding sufficient body weight. Have you any suggestions to get him to eat?

Liz Bulbrook replies: Some fussy dogs are very clever and can teach you to give them your leftovers or titbits and treats by refusing to eat. Others are just too active or too timid to be interested in eating until they are really hungry.

To satisfy your dog’s requirements for nutrients, especially sufficient energy to maintain body condition, consider offering a premium dry food such as the kibbled diets like Eukanuba, Pedigree, Purina etc. These products contain premium, palatable anddigestible ingredients, with the kibble size generally developed to be a size that appeals to the dog in terms of texture (crunchiness and mouth feel).

A ration formulated for working/active dogs should be higher in fat and protein, meaningthat this higher calorie content would be good as your dog does not have to eat a lot to gain the nutritional benefit.

You may want to consider some of the muesli mixes such as Baileys Working Dog Mix. Although not quite as concentrated as the dry kibbled diets, these mixes combine extruded chicken and rice nuggets with cereals and crunchy biscuits to offer variety, yet in a nutritionally balanced form. The mixes are coated in poultry fat, which aids palatability.

Feed twice a day so that you can leave small meals that do not over face the dog, and remove any uneaten food after 30-60 minutes. Avoid the temptation to give any tit-bits or treats and then offer the evening meal in the same way. Repeat this for a least a week and you should find that hunger gets the better of your dog and that he soon realizes you are not going to give in.

If he is timid, then ensure that his food is left in a quiet place away from perhaps the hustle and bustle of the family sothat he knows it is his space and try not to disturb him when he is eating.

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