Bichon Frise Parents: How to Deal with a Picky Eater


Bichon Frise Parents_ How to Deal with a Picky Eater

Introduction

Some eating habits can be tied to your dog’s genetics with some breeds known to have heartier appetites, but much of it is due to the environment. When you feed your Bichon Frise, how long does it take to finish? The answer to that question is usually a good indicator of whether they are being a picky eater.

Dogs that do not empty their food bowls within a certain amount of time, usually about 20 minutes, are more likely to be considered picky eaters. Pets that refuse to eat their own dog food but are perfectly happy to accept human table scraps may also fall into that category of “picky eater”. Of course, one must be sure there is no underlying medical condition causing this erratic appetite.

A veterinarian should always be contacted if there is an appetite change that lasts longer than 24 hours.

Picky Eaters

How Genetics Impact Appetite

Breeds like Bichon Frise are notorious for having ravenous appetites, while others like sighthounds are lean by nature. Sighthounds eat, but due to their fast metabolisms, they gain little to no weight.

How Environment Impacts Appetite

Though feeding your Bichon Frise may sound straightforward, how and when you give your dog food can affect how much they eat. To avoid picky eating behavior, creating a consistent feeding routine is recommended:

  • Set and stick to a mealtime schedule to the degree possible.
  • Leave food out for no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If your dog does not eat anything, take the bowls away.
  • Do not give your pet any more food or treats until their next scheduled feeding time.

Leaving food out long term encourages bad eating habits and is unsanitary. Stress, absent pet owners, and social and emotional upheaval to a pet’s daily routine could also explain why your dog is not eating.

How Diet Impacts Appetite

If the pet food you are feeding your Bichon Frise is complete and balanced, your pet has a healthy weight, and the stool looks normal, then your dog likely does not have any problems with the food you’re serving. Some pets, on the other hand, may have dietary sensitivities or food allergies, which could explain their appetite.

Any sudden changes to your dog’s feeding could cause problems like gastroenteritis (diarrhea with or without vomiting). To avoid this any change to your Bichon Frise diet should be done gradually, transitioning between the former type of food to the new type over the course of 4 to5 days rather than immediately or “cold turkey” to prevent gastroenteritis that could lead to your Bichon Frise change in appetite.

If there is any concern with your pet’s appetite, always discuss what steps to take with your veterinarian before making any changes.

When “Picky Eating” Could be a Signal of an Underlying Health Problem

You should consult your Vet if your Bichon Frise experiences a significant appetite change that lasts longer than 12 to 24 hours and does not return to normal. There are some exceptions to this guideline. Families with puppies or dogs that meet the following criteria should contact their dog’s vet right away, without waiting for 12 to 24 hours to pass, for advice:

  • Young puppies (less than six months of age)
  • Experiencing a change of appetite accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Bichon Frise with a diabetes diagnosis
  • Bichon Frise (especially senior) that seem to want to eat but do not, or will only eat soft food

In these cases, any missed meal or decrease in appetite should be an alert to the owner to notify a veterinarian as soon as possible for advice.

How to Feed a Picky Bichon Frise Eater

Remove Your Dog’s Meal until Tomorrow

It starts by offering your dog food for dinner as you normally would. During this time, leave the room and do not interact with your pup. If your dog follows you, ignore him. If your dog has not eaten his meal within the 15 minutes, take his food away. Now you are going to wait until the next morning. It’s time to offer your dog his meal as breakfast.

Make sure it’s a fresh meal – don’t offer kibble that was left sitting out overnight. If your dog once again has not eaten his meal within 15 minutes, take it away. Once dinner time rolls around, your dog will have gone a whole day without eating. By this time, your dog will be getting quite hungry and realize that he isn’t getting anything else.

Your dog will be left with one choice: To eat his food! This method works because no healthy dog will starve itself. Your pup will gladly eat a meal that he does not enjoy if there is no alternative – it beats a grumbling tummy! Oh, and don’t worry about your dog going hungry. Generally, most dogs can go a few days without eating.

Swap Over to a Tastier Food

The solution to getting your picky dog to eat could be as simple as swapping over to a new food. Unfortunately, your dog can’t talk. Just bark. By refusing to eat his food, your dog could be trying to tell you that he doesn’t like the taste. When making the switch, try to avoid similar flavors.

For example, swapping from Purina One Chicken & Rice to Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice probably won’t make your dog eat his meal – these two dry dog foods taste very similar. Instead, you should test a completely different flavor. Let’s say that your dog is turning his nose up at a chicken flavor. You could try fish, beef, or venison instead. Interestingly, quite a few picky dog owners reported success when switching over to fish-based dog food.

They noted that the stinky fish flavors such as salmon, tuna, or whitehead were much more likely to be gobbled up than traditional flavors such as beef or chicken. Got a sensitive nose? These dry foods have a noticeably fishy smell. You may need to hold your breath as you scoop out your dog’s meal. But it’s worth it’ll be worth it when you see your picky dog eat his food! Just don’t swap out your dog’s meal too often. Constantly changing foods can have an unintended consequence: It can make your dog even more likely to refuse his food.

How to Feed Your Picky Dog

Make the Transition Slowly

Have you swapped over to a new brand of dog food? Dogs often don’t react positively to a change in their routine. When presented with a new type of food, many dogs will refuse to eat it. 

If you are transitioning your dog to a new food, it’s best to do it slowly. Fortunately, if done right, switching to a new food is a simple process. All you need is your dog’s current food, and the new food wants your dog to eat. Now, what you are going to do is combine the two foods. Over ten days, your goal is to decrease the amount of old food and increase the amount of new food.

  • Days 1 – 3 – 75% current food. 25% New food
  • Days 4 – 6 – 50% current food. 50% New food
  • Days 7 – 9 – 25% current food. 75% New food
  • Day 10 – 100% New food

It may be slow, but your dog will be more likely to eat his new food if you follow this process. Now, you may be unable to obtain your dog’s previous food to mix in with his new food.

Mix in a Food Topper

A meal topper refers to any product that you add to your dog’s meal to improve its flavor. Thinking of it as a seasoning for dog food. Many owners claim that using a topper is the only way their picky pup will eat dry dog food. Alternatively, you can experiment with mixing other foods through your dog’s meal…

A small amount of wet dog food, boiled vegetables, or ground beef can all entice a picky eater to finish his meal. Salmon oil is another tasty meal topper that contains Omega 3, which provides many health benefits.

The key to successfully using a meal topper is to stir it through your dog’s food so that it coats every piece of kibble. This way, your picky dog will not pick out the meal topper and leave the rest of his food behind.

Exercise your Bichon Frise

It’s no secret that exercising is a great way to build up an appetite. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving by the time I complete my morning jog. But what may surprise you is that you can use exercise to get a picky dog to eat his food. You see, exercise makes dogs hungry.

And as you might have guessed, a hungry dog isn’t a picky dog. One of the easiest ways to exercise your dog is to go for a nice long walk – Walking is good for you too! If you already walk your dog, try upping the distance. Picky dog owners we spoke to saw the most success when they walked their pooch for 45 minutes or longer before dinner. Don’t have time for a walk? There are other ways you can exercise your dog.

  • Test your strength with a tug of war with a tug toy
  • A long game of fetch with a dog tennis ball
  • Toss a plush dog toy around indoors when the weather is bad.

Whichever way you exercise your dog, the focus is on tiring him out. After your dog has burned off his excess energy, it’s time to refuel. And because his meal is the only thing on offer, he will be more likely to eat it. For the best results, don’t offer your dog his food immediately after exercising. Give him at least 15 minutes for his stomach to settle.

Throw it on the Floor

You can take advantage of his playful nature to get him to eat his food. Sit by your puppy and sprinkle dried dog food on the ground, a little at a time. As your puppy eats a piece, add another one further away.

Because your playful pup thinks this is a game, he will be more likely to take to his food. It may take quite a few sessions, but once he has a taste for his food, you can transition to a bowl. This method can be a little messy, so it is best to do it outside. If you want to feed inside, grab a good broom, and sweep up after mealtime is over, there is nothing worse than feeling pieces of kibble crunch underfoot.

Make Sure You are Feeding the Right Amount

This one might seem a little obvious, but you would be amazed at just how many owners overfeed their dogs. Overfeeding is a problem if you have a small pup like Bichon Frise These tiny dogs need much less food than you think. The smallest sizes might only need half a cup of kibble across a whole day.

As you can imagine, these tiny stomachs get full quickly. When your belly is full to bursting, the last thing you want is more food, right? Well, your dog feels the same. And if you present him with more food, your dog isn’t going to eat it. While you may think your dog is picky, your dog may need more time to digest his last meal. Speak to your vet about the amount of food your dog needs. If you are overfeeding, cut back – it could cure your dog’s picky eating.

Bichon Frise Resource Links

Bichon Frise Club of AmericaUnited StatesLink
Bichon Frise AKCUnited StatesLink
Bichon Frise United Kennel ClubUKLink
Resources for Bichon Frise Owners and Breeders

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