Is it just your poodle, or are all poodles fussy eaters? It’s a good question, and this article has everything you need to know.
Compared to other breeds, poodles are considered fussy eaters. Fussiness is usually caused by low-quality food, too many treats, a lack of exercise, inconsistent feeding schedule, boredom, environmental changes, or health issues.
Dealing With a Fussy Poodle
I know just how frustrating it is dealing with a picky eater. I’ve had to deal with fussy eating pooches for many years, and along the way, I’ve learned the main causes, and the best solutions to overcome this problem.
The truth about fussy eating is that there’s always a reason behind it, and in most cases, it’s quite a simple one.
Once you know the cause (or at least have a rough idea) you can start implementing a few tips and tricks to help your poodle regain her appetite and continue eating without issues.
Although frustrating, try your best to be patient and allow your poodle to adjust to what you are trying.
7 Main Causes Behind Fussy Eating
In order to effectively resolve your poodle’s eating problem, it’s important to find out the cause. There can be a range of common reasons why your poodle might not be eating her meals. Check them out below.
- Low-quality food
- Too many treats
- Lack of exercise
- Inconsistent feeding schedule
- Changes in the environment
- Bored of the food
- Health issues
1. Low-Quality Food
Using high-quality dog food is something you’ve heard a million times, and there’s a reason for it, quality matters!
Once you start researching and using a range of dog foods you quickly realize that not all dog food is made equal. The quality you can find drastically varies from extremely poor all the way up to where it’s good enough for us to eat!
● So why does it matter? low-quality dog foods contain a range of cheap fillers and digestive irritants, as well as an unhealthy proportion of carbohydrates, all because that keeps the production costs low. Those nasty ingredients, chemicals, preservatives, fillers, and an excess of carbs, will cause digestion issues and won’t make your poodle feel very good.
Your poodle is smart, so it will only take one or two uncomfortable post-meal naps and she won’t go near the same food again.
Try opting for a dog food that’s higher in protein and fat compared to carbohydrates, this mimics what a dog’s diet would have been like in the wild and will digest far better.
It’s also important to stay away from common allergens. Most people are unaware that chicken is a common allergen, despite being in pretty much everything. You could try opting for a dog food that uses salmon, duck, or turkey as the protein source as these are not allergens.
Some of the dog food brands that currently use the best ingredients include Orijen, Taste of The Wild, Wellness, and Merricks.
2. Too Many Treats
Before the treat police get called, I will acknowledge just how great treats are. I use treats with my fluff balls all the time for training and, well, just because I love them. And I’m sure you are the same.
But It’s very easy to get carried away or just forget what we’ve given throughout the day. This creates a few big issues. Too many treats will be bad for your poodle in many ways and one of them will be a reduced appetite.
Treats, unfortunately, cannot substitute real mealtimes. Dog food is designed and formulated to ensure the basic (but important) macro and micronutrients are met. I’m talking about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other key components.
Limit the treats and her appetite may shoot back up to where it’s supposed to be.
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3. Lack of Exercise
Poodles require a moderate to a high level of exercise per day, which translates to around 60 minutes of running, chasing their ball, or agility training. Have a think about your current exercise routine; does your poodle get her 60 minutes of fast-paced activity in? If not, try adjusting that.
● How will exercise help? Exercise will utilize energy stores and will also keep the metabolism running healthily. These two factors contribute to a steady appetite leaving your poodle excited to eat every meal.
If you’re already giving your poodle a good hour of exercise per day then this likely isn’t the reason. Although exercise is important, it shouldn’t be overdone just for the purpose of increasing appetite.
4. Inconsistent Feeding Schedule
Sticking to an appropriate feeding schedule is crucial for your poodle to feel hungry and comfortable at the times you try feeding her.
● Your poodle will learn to be hungry at certain times of the day, so it’s important to set a schedule and then stick to it. When your household wakes up at 7 or 8am is when your poodle should have her breakfast. Then again at around 6pm for dinner time. If you try this once and it seems fine for her, then stick to this every day. She will become familiar, comfortable, and ready to eat at these hours.
Some people like to leave food down in the bowl all day for their dogs to “graze”. While this may be fine for small dogs, this isn’t ideal for medium-large dogs. Grazing encourages dogs to just eat a little bit here and there and it’s easy to lose track of whether or not they have actually eaten. Stick to daily feeding times.
5. Changes In The Environment
Any change that has occurred recently in your environment (outside and inside) of your home, will be picked up by your poodle.
This could be anything from a change of schedule, a new neighbor, maybe you have moved house, you’ve either lost or gained another person inside your home, or there could be building works making noise. Dog’s can be very sensitive and any external change like this could actually be quite unsettling.
My friend had a similar issue to this whereby a simple move of the food bowl to the other side of the room was enough to get her husky eating again.
It helps to remember that eating is a very primal action and it’s easy for dogs to feel vulnerable while gobbling down their food.
6. Bored of The Food
Simply becoming bored of the food could also lead your poodle to turn her nose up at it. We often find ourselves desperately trying to find a “legitimate” reason why our dogs aren’t eating their food. Sometimes, it’s just because they’re bored of it.
Admittedly, if this is the case, it’s hard to know. If it is boredom that’s causing your poodle to leave her food, it’s more likely this will happen gradually instead of happening one day to the next.
There’s a very simple way you can reduce boredom which I will explain below.
7. Health Issues
In worse cases, your poodle may have an underlying health issue you aren’t aware of. If she has refused her food for the last 24 hours then it’s best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
● If your poodle refuses to eat for 24 hours or longer, call your veterinarian for further help.
● If your poodle refuses to drink fluids for 12-24 hours, call your veterinarian asap for further help.
Not eating is one thing, but not intaking fluids is even more serious and will require attention far quicker than eating. The moment you notice your poodle has eating issues, you must monitor her fluid intake too.
And remember, there’s no wrong moment to visit your veterinarian other than too late. If you are unsure, call them right away.
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5 Ways To Help a Fussy Poodle
Most of the sections above provide their own self-explanatory resolution, depending on the problem. But there are some other ways I think are worth mentioning more specifically. Let’s run through them.
Again, ruling out health conditions with your veterinarian is always the best first step to take.
1. The Rotation Diet
While it’s important to be consistent once you find a brand that works well, it does help to occasionally switch brands. This is called the rotation diet. The whole purpose of the rotation diet is to keep your poodle interested in what she’s eating and provide variance in her nutrition.
How to do it? Find two dog food brands that you know you’re poodle gets on well with and rotate them every 3-4 months. This is enough to keep the flavors and textures exciting but it’s not too frequent that it will cause stomach upsets.
This is particularly helpful for two reasons, it fights boredom and you will slowly get an idea of what foods your poodle likes the most.
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2. Using Wet Dog Food With Dry Kibble
If you’re not doing this already, you might want to try it!
I myself used to feed my lab only dry kibble, for years! But I no longer do it like that. Vets often recommend feeding a ratio of 80% dry kibble to 20% wet dog food.
Let me explain why. Not only do veterinarians fully support and recommend doing this, it just makes sense. Wet food is by far more nutritious than dry kibble and it’s EXTREMELY tasty. It keeps the kibble interesting and nutritionally varied. Find me a dog that doesn’t love meaty gravy and I’ll change this tip!
The benefits of adding wet food to dry kibble are explained here. This was taken from My Happy Husky.
How topping off kibble with a small amount of wet food helps:
● It makes food significantly more appealing and tasty
● It adds a boost of protein
● Creates a more varied source of nutrition
● Reduces overall carbohydrate intake
● Reduces overall chemical intake
● Increases water intake
● Keeps your dog happy and excited to eat his meals!
3. Try Time-Restricted Eating
This is a technique that works well, and fortunately, you should only need to do it once or twice.
As the name implies, it involves limiting the time your poodle has to start eating her dinner. As you can imagine there becomes a tough game of will and emotions when trying this for the first time, but it’s very effective. (this is designed for dogs who don’t even start eating)
When you put the food bowl down, does your poodle just look blankly back up at you and then not eat it? If this is the case it’s worth trying the 5-minute rule. Leave the bowl down for about 5 minutes, then before picking it up, countdown out loud from 10 seconds, and then remove the bowl. The original 5 minutes gives your pooch enough time to at least start eating, and the countdown is a verbal cue for her to learn.
Do this once or twice and your poodle will quickly learn to eat her meals when you put the bowl down. It can be tough, and you’ll start feeling guilty the moment you do it, but stick with it. The next time you put her food down, she’ll be keen to start eating it.
Another post about this.
4. Eliminate Common Allergens From Your Poodle’s Diet
Your poodle may not agree with an ingredient in the dog food. Chicken, despite being so widely consumed, is actually an allergen, and so too is pork, beef, and lamb.
Some dogs that are sensitive to these allergens get on much better with dog food that focuses on using Salmon, Duck, Turkey, or other fish in general for the protein. With that being said even fish options will still likely contain “chicken-meal” but it will at least be in lower quantities.
5. Change The Location of The Food Bowl
Your poodle may be spooked by the position of her food bowl, even if she’s been eating in that place for years. A new change outside or in your home could be making her less comfortable eating in that spot.
You could try moving the bowl to the other side of the room, or to a different room. Consider outside noise and distractions when choosing a new location.
Your poodle will likely react to the initial change and she may be hesitant, but give it a try and it may just be what needed to happen.
This has worked for many people I know!
When To See a Veterinarian
If your poodle has refused her food for 24 hours or more then I strongly suggest visiting your veterinarian. It’s critical that your poodle receives some nutrients and your veterinarian will be able to help her the quickest.
Refusing her food is one thing, but refusing to drink is something even more serious. If refusing food is coupled with refusing to drink, you shouldn’t wait more than a day before contacting your veterinarian. Water intake is far more critical than food intake.
So there you have it! You have 7 typical reasons why your poodle might be refusing her food, and you have many ways you can try to encourage her to eat. If you’ve had experience with this or are currently dealing with it, please comment below!
Did this answer your question sufficiently? I hope this article has answered your original question! If you were expecting to see additional information, please let me know what that was. I love hearing feedback and adjusting my content where possible.