NEW YORK — Seven in 10 parents say their pooch is just as much of a picky eater — if not pickier — than their child. A recent survey of 2,000 dog owners found that half of respondents “always” or “often” struggle to get their dog to eat their meals (49%), with a similar percentage admitting they often have to add things to their dog’s food to get them to eat it (48%).
More than half of dog owners consider their pups to be picky eaters (54%) because they only like particular foods (46%), they’re not interested in their food (44%), or they dislike certain ingredients (44%).
The survey, run by OnePoll and commissioned by premium dog food brand Jinx, reports that more than a quarter of dog owners have at least 10 bags of unused dog food lying around their house. Why? They say it’s from trying (and failing) to find an option that works well for their pets (28%). On average, they’ve cycled through eight types of flavors or brands of food to get there.
Dog food again?
Most dog owners say their furry friends often tire of eating the same foods over and over (59%). Finding a new option isn’t easy though — with respondents agreeing it’s harder to add variety to their dog’s diet than their own (71% vs. 62%). Three in five pet parents have a hard time keeping up with their dog’s dietary needs and food preferences between everything else going on during the day (62%). Something most respondents can agree on is that quality ingredients make dogs more excited to eat (63%).
Yet, two-thirds falsely believe that every ingredient in their dog’s food contributes to nutrition or taste, without acknowledging that many contain fillers.
“What goes into your dog’s food directly impacts taste appeal,” says Terri Rockovich, co-founder and CEO of Jinx, in a statement. “Look for an option that pairs high-quality lean proteins with real fruits and vegetables, that is free from fillers like corn, wheat and soy, as well as artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Nutrition-packed, real food inherently tastes better, which means all dogs, even the pickiest ones, are more likely to get excited to finish their bowls.”
Do tastes change with age?
When it comes to why their furry friends might suddenly not like their food anymore, half of respondents didn’t know or weren’t sure that dogs lose their sense of taste as they get older. A similar percentage didn’t know the same is true for their smell (51%). One in six parents of older dogs also weren’t aware their dog’s age may contribute to their pickiness with eating.
Parents of picky pets gave some tips on how they get their dogs to eat their food, like reducing the amount of human food they give them (33%), adding toppers (33%), or slowly transitioning to a new food by mixing it with the old one (32%).
“Toppers are an incredible way to add variety into a dog’s diet at mealtime, without having to constantly transition to a completely new food, which can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system,” says Rockovich. “They give an added boost of protein and nutrients to a meal, enhancing smell and taste appeal for picky pups, even for older dogs that may have diminished senses.”