Tips to get fussy pets to eat their food

Tips to get fussy cats and dogs to eat their new food;


Is your pet a nightmare when it comes to a new food? At the very least, you’re certainly not alone. So many of my clients have notoriously fussy pets – cats as well as dogs. And this can be especially difficult when it’s time for a diet shakeup.

As veterinarians, we will often encourage a change to your pet’s diet – either to upgrade to a more premium brand of nutrition or using a prescription diet as part of their medical treatment. Either way, it’s not easy and can be really stressful. Here are some of my tips to encourage your fussy pooch or puss to be accepting of their new eating arrangements. 

Did you know that whilst humans have 9,000 taste buds, dogs only have 1,700, and cats have only 450! Taste isn’t everything when it comes to fussy pets, so it’s time to think about other ways we can leverage their more powerful senses.

  • Texture

    This is especially true of cats. The texture of food has a lot to do with the way a pet can perceive a diet. Does this pet prefer kibble, canned food or meats? If canned food, do they prefer pate, casserole or loaf-style meals? Play into your pet’s natural preferences and try to select a variety of food that satisfies their textural preferences.


  • Smell

    So, we know your pets’ sense of taste isn’t great, but oh my – that sense of smell! It is out of this world. Whilst humans have a measly 5 million smell receptions, cats have a whopping 200 million and dogs are king with over 300 million! So how can we leverage your pet’s greatest sense?

    Choose foods that are more smelly, of course! Kibbles with a higher natural oils, like those high omega fatty acids or fish-based proteins, is an excellent choice. Consider mixing canned food and meats which can add a greater odour factor, especially if they are slightly warmed.
  • Gradual Introduction

    Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘creature of habit’? Well, aren’t we all? And our pets are no different. A sudden change in diet can be very startling, to say the least. To avoid a toddler tantrum at tea time, slowly introduce a new diet over the course of 7 days. Some pets which are exceptionally fussy may require a longer period to accept their new food – some patients’ up to a month!
  • Persistence

    Don’t give up! Changing a pet’s diet, particularly one that they’ve become accustomed to is a huge ask. It may sound boring but the old adage of persistence and patience holds true. 

These are just some of the ways you can encourage your fussy pet to accept a new diet. I hope you’ve found some of the information in this article helpful, it’s been a pleasure to share it with you. Stay safe, pet parents! 

Dr. Vicky Wade