Our resident animal expert Dr Enric Pallarols addresses some of your common concerns.
Q: How can you tell if your pet is a fussy eater or has more serious problems?
This is always a difficult question and we come across this concern quite often, especially with cats. Sometimes cats and dogs may decide to stop eating if they find the food a bit boring, but one of the main reasons is that they know that if they don’t eat, they will have some extra treats or even human food added to their pet food. My advice would be to avoid adding these in the first instance, because once we start it becomes very difficult to make them eat their own food (which, if it’s a good quality diet, should already contain all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they need for their correct development).
If your pet has always been eating well and suddenly starts eating less, it could signal that something is wrong. Check if they go to their bowl to smell the food but hesitate before eating it; or eat it more carefully and slower than before. Things like chewing only using one side of the mouth or spilling food on the floor may be a sign of dental disease. Other causes of eating less could be nausea or discomfort in the abdominal organs; also pain and high temperature can make them eat less. This could be caused by several diseases such as kidney disease, gastroenteritis, infections, and other serious illnesses. If you notice your pet eating less, take them to your vet for a thorough examination.
On the other hand, if your pet, suddenly starts eating more or seems hungrier, don’t take this lightly, as it could have an underlying cause. (In cats, it could be hyperthyroidism, which makes the cat hungrier but they’ll lose weight and may seem hyper or stressed. In dogs, hypothyroidism is more common, where the metabolism slows down. They may eat the same but will put on weight and be less energetic).
Start from the beginning with a good quality diet that covers all the nutritional requirements of our furry loved ones. You can always give some treats in moderation, especially for training reasons, and if you notice changes in their eating or drinking habits visit your vet.
Top tip: If your dog or cat eats very fast and then vomits, try a slow feeder bowl: they will spend more time eating and should stop vomiting.
Dr Enric Pallarols
is Branch Partner at Medivet in Twickenham