Feeding picky eaters: what to do when your dog won’t eat

Judge rules against prescription dog food companies

Rewards 12.5 Million judgement

I love to eat and so does my family! We are always planning our next meal and enjoy the experience of trying new foods and new restaurants. Food is a very important part of our lives.

I raised my children to be adventurous when it comes to new foods. They could not say they didn’t like something until they tried it. If whatever I made for dinner was not their favorite, there was no other option. We all ate the same meal. I was the adult and the boss! My kids were never picky eaters because I wouldn’t allow it. They never had a healthy meal replaced by a not so healthy one. This approach has allowed them to grow into adults that are willing to be open to new experiences.

Dogs are very much like children. Yes, I know that some people don’t enjoy food the way I do and that some dogs eat to live while others live to eat! Our female Goldendoodle has never met a food she didn’t like! Mealtime is her favorite part of the day.

Some dogs, like some children, are not food focused. There are dogs that are just not driven by food. But that does not mean that they get to choose what they eat. Children would rather eat pizza, candies and other junk foods but as a parent, your job is to be the leader. Dogs are the same. They can get hooked on kibble, the junk food of the pet industry. The pet food industry spends a lot of time and money to encourage dogs to eat foods that are completely unnatural. Ever wonder what the greasy texture is on the outside of pet food? It is grease from the rendering plants used to trick dogs into eating.  That is why you are encouraged to wash your hands after handling kibble. 

Children and dogs need firm boundaries and guidance. They are not capable of making good food choices. Dogs feel safer when they know what the rules are. 

If you have a ‘picky eater’, it may be because A, they are not food driven or B, they have your well trained!

What to do if you have a fussy eater.

  • avoid kibble and other addictive foods and treats
  • never free feed kibble 
  • have a regular routine for meals and make sure the spot is identified as their own eating place
  • the location of mealtime should be quiet, without distractions
  • do not feed your dog from the table when you are eating
  • limit the number of treats given during the day
  • do not overfeed

Getting into a routine with your dog’s mealtime is so important. If you put down his dinner and he walks away, just leave it down for about 15 minutes. Then, take it up. Give him food again after about 8 hours. Don’t worry, your dog will not starve! I know it is a hard thing to do, but when hungry, dogs will eat. It is not unusual for them to go a day or so without food.  Try to get into the routine of feeding twice a day, taking up the bowl when it is not eaten and trying again later. Be patient and don’t panic!

If you find your picky dog was eating a certain food fairly well and then turns up her nose, again, don’t react by trying something else right away. You are encouraging her to be picky. Dogs are very smart. They know that a new option will be provided. 

Picky eaters are often the result of your dog training you. I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of routine around mealtime and understanding the value of healthy, whole foods.

A sudden loss of appetite is a totally different situation.

  • Make sure there is no underlying medical problem 
  • Your dog may be anxious – is there a change in routine, are there houseguests or other change in family situation
  • Check her gums to make sure there are no dental issues causing a sore mouth

I certainly understand how stressful it can be to have a dog that is not a hearty eater. I hear it all the time from new clients. One of the ways we express our love is by providing a healthy diet and watching your dog enjoy herself. 

Remember, be strong, be patient and understand that you are a loving pack leader!

With gratitude,

Dr. Janice Elenbaas


The use of Presciption dog food is one of my pet peeves and shows that the
phrase “Marketing over Mother Nature’ holds true.
If you are a dog owner, you may have heard about the class action suit
against prescription dog foods. Hills, Science Diet, Royal Canin and Purina
are some of the brands that are accused of misleading consumers and
veterinarians about the benefits and ingredients of their products. The
lawsuit claims that:

  • these companies charge premium prices for prescription dog foods that are not significantly different from regular dog foods. In fact, they are made in the same facilities, using the same suppliers as low-quality grocery store brands like Alpo and Beneful.
  • they do not have any scientific evidence to support their claims of treating or preventing various health conditions in dogs. They are not made in facilities that follow traditional drug manufacturing protocols.
  • that these companies have violated consumer protection laws and engaged in false advertising.

The class action suit was filed in 2019 by a group of dog owners who purchased prescription dog foods from these brands for their pets. They are seeking refunds, damages and an injunction to stop the companies from selling prescription dog foods without proper authorization and
. The suit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Prescription dog foods are supposed to be specially formulated to address specific health issues in dogs, such as kidney disease, diabetes, allergies, obesity and more. However, according to the lawsuit, these products are not
regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other agency,
 and they do not require a prescription from a veterinarian to be sold.

The lawsuit claims that these companies have exploited this loophole to market their products as prescription dog foods, even though they are not approved or tested by any authority.

This suit also accuses these companies of using low-quality ingredients and fillers in their prescription dog foods, such as corn, wheat, soy, by-products and artificial colors and flavors. These ingredients may not only be ineffective for treating or preventing health conditions in dogs, but they may also cause adverse reactions and allergies in some dogs. The lawsuit cites several examples of dogs that suffered from health problems after
consuming prescription dog foods from these brands, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, skin infections, kidney failure and death.

The lawsuit seeks to hold these companies accountable for their deceptive and unlawful practices, and to provide compensation and relief to the dog owners who have been harmed by them. It also aims to protect the public interest and the welfare of dogs by ensuring that prescription dog foods are properly regulated and labeled, and that consumers and veterinarians are informed about their benefits and risks.

Please be aware that the FDA does not review or verify the health claims on any veterinary diet.

Take a close look at the ingredient list and ask your vet for evidence that the foods in the prescription diet are any better than most regular diets. Also please keep in mind that while your vet has the best intentions, they get little or no nutrition training and often what little training they do get comes from the very companies that are named in these lawsuits. 

Ultra processed foods made with poor quality ingredients are not what your dog needs if they are suffering from an illness. Give your dog a fighting chance with fresh, quality foods for a long and healthy life. 

This lawsuit was settled in July of 2021. Hills Pet Food paid $12.5 million to participants.

Is it any wonder that here at Lucky Dog Cuisine we believe wholeheartedly “Fresh is Better”
The food we send your dog is the exact same food we feed our own beloved pack. 


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