Every once in a while, I noticed my Shiba Inu, Faith, wouldn’t touch her food for a meal or two every couple of days and was naturally worried as a first-time pet owner. Thankfully after a bit of research and a few days of implementation, I was able to get her to curve her budding picky eating habits, here is what I learned.
Due to their stubborn nature, it is common for Shiba Inus to develop picky eating habits. There are several potential causes of picky eating and each one requires its own specific solution. Most owners make the situation worse by drastically changing their pet’s diet or feeding schedule.
Every pet and situation is different and unique, the cause of my pet’s picky eating habits may not be the same as what is causing yours. If you would like to better understand what may be causing your specific Shiba Inu’s new eating habit, continue reading!
How To Tell If Your Dog Really Is A Picky Eater
If your pet leaves kibble in their bowl every once in a while it isn’t the end of the world, they could just be full. On the other hand, if it’s become a regular thing or even a daily habit, then there is cause for concern. The big thing we want to know is why they are leaving food behind or ignoring it outright.
You should not rush to the store and pick up something new for your Shiba to try or even start adding extra things to their regular meals, which may actually exaggerate the issue at hand. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself a few simple questions:
- How often does my pet leave food in their bowl?
- Have I changed my dog’s food recently?
- Have I been adding anything extra to my Shiba’s meals lately?
- Has my pet eaten a lot of treats recently?
- Have I been feeding my dog a lot of table scraps recently?
- Did they play or exercise today?
- Has my pup been in a good mood lately?
- Is my Shiba acting differently lately?
The goal here is to narrow down the possible cause of your dog’s mealtime woes.
Leaving some food in their bowl or a lack of interest in eating could be as simple as they haven’t built up an appetite. A recent training session or table scraps for a snack may lead to them feeling full, and not being interested in eating. A poor mood or change in how they normally act may mean they aren’t feeling well. We will go over these in more detail.
Common Causes Of A Picky Eating Shiba Inu
The goal here is to narrow down the possible cause of your dog’s mealtime woes. Yes, they may just be full if you fed them a handful of treats or table scraps recently, or maybe they haven’t gone on a walk or played very much today and may not have built up much of an appetite.
If you are in the process of transitioning them over to a different type or brand of food, they may not be a fan of the new stuff. It could be the taste, or it may not agree with them. If you notice your pet is slow, sluggish, or excessively itching and scratching after eating some of their new food you should stop the transition and contact your vet.
You should immediately stop any food mixing or transitions if you notice your dog vomiting after mealtime, this may be a sign of a potential food allergy or medical issue. Contact your vet and schedule an appointment.
Another possibility is mealtime add-ons. If you are adding extra things to your pet’s meals, they may be waiting to see what else you are willing to offer them. This can quickly develop into a bad habit if you are constantly adding new things to their meal to just try and get them to eat anything, you are actually training them to wait and see what goodie is next.
How Treats Can Affect A Dog’s Diet
There are three possible pitfalls with treats, those being timing, quantity, and consistency. Let me explain.
This is the smallest and easiest of the 3 issues but still has the potential to seed bad habits. Training your Shiba Inu is crucial to having both a happy and healthy pup but also a strong positive bond with them.
A training session or two before mealtime is common and perfectly okay, but if you notice them leaving a bit of food behind try pushing these training sessions further before or after their designated mealtime.
This is a straightforward problem to notice and solve. Giving your Shiba a couple of treats, or table scraps if you are careful with what you give them, is completely okay as a snack or reward. You will run into a problem if your dog is filling up on them instead of their regular meal.
Too many treats will result in your Shiba Inu having a poor diet and could lead to poor oral hygiene. Thankfully this has an easy fix, keep note of how many snacks you give your pup. Make sure they are eating the majority of their meal, preferably all of it.
This is easily the biggest issue, consistently giving your dog treats or snacks throughout the day leads to both a poor diet and also trains your Shiba Inu that they don’t have to eat their meal when you will give them something far better in a little bit.
You end up training your dog to expect little rewards throughout the day, whether they deserve it or not, which can lead to them acting out or throwing a tantrum if you don’t continue what you are doing.
How To Remedy Different Picky Eating Habits
If you are currently, or thinking about, adding toppings to a Shiba Inu’s meal in the hopes of getting them to eat, Don’t. Instead, remove anything extra you have added to their meal and leave it there for 15 – 20 minutes.
Either they eat it or they don’t, missing a meal is perfectly okay. After some time their instincts will kick in and they will eat what you give them.
Be aware Shiba Inus are very opinionated, and they will definitely let you know they aren’t happy with what you are doing. Your job in this situation is to stand your ground and not give in to their temper tantrum. If they know they can bully you for food, they may start bullying you for other things.
Snacks & Treats
Be mindful of how many, how often, and how close you are giving your dog treats to mealtime. These are the simplest mistakes to make and the easiest ones to fix. Also, be mindful of the kinds of snacks and treats you are giving your pet. Some fruits and vegetables are harmful to Shiba Inus to eat.
Cut back on how many treats you are giving them near mealtime, so they still have an appetite. If you find yourself training your Shiba Inu around mealtime and they aren’t very hungry afterward, then adjust your guy’s training session to earlier or sometime after.
Lack Of Appetite
A lack of appetite or general disinterest in eating can be caused by a number of things.
If they haven’t been active today, change that. Go on a walk with them or play for 30 minutes to help them build an appetite. If they have been slow, sluggish, or just not their normal selves lately they may feel a bit under the weather. Give your vet a call and make sure they are healthy and taken care of.
Dogs tend to have sensitive stomachs when it comes to sudden diet changes. Always slowly mix in your pet’s new kibble, or meal, with their current one and slowly increase the amount over time. If they show less interest in mealtime while transitioning them to new food stop and take note of how they are acting.
If they are slow, lethargic, constantly itching and scratching, or vomiting they may be having an allergic reaction to the new food. Immediately stop all food transitioning and contact your vet. First, check and make sure your Shiba Inu is healthy, then talk to your vet and see what food or diet they recommend for your unique pet.
It’s best to find a brand and diet that works best for your pet, but you want to make sure you aren’t skipping out on quality. Poor-quality food causes more problems than the few dollars you save are worth. You can learn more about picking the right food for your Shiba Inu here.
What Can I Feed My Picky Shiba?
If you are willing to add toppings to your Shiba’s meals then blueberries, carrots, and broccoli are excellent. If you don’t want to regularly add extras, then you should look into setting up meal rotations. Where you cycle between 2~3 different flavors of kibble, switching between bags at the end of every week.
Summary: How To Remedy Your Shibas Picky Eating Habits
There are three main ways you can resolve a Shiba’s picky eating habits:
1) You can give in and regularly add toppings to your Shiba’s meals.
In my opinion, it’s best to avoid adding toppings to your Shiba Inu’s meals regularly without a good reason. Shiba’s are smart and will quickly learn how to get you to add more and more goodies to their meals. As for the best times to add toppings, that would be during special occasions or when they’re sick. A few pieces of raw fruit and veggies on their birthday, or supplements when they’re sick, are excellent examples.
2) You can offer your Shiba Inu their regular meal, with zero extras, and take it away after a set time.
I myself regularly fall back on this option when Faith, my Shiba, is being picky. I give her 10 minutes then put her food away, even if that means she skips a meal or two here and there. While this may sound cruel on paper I’ve run this by my vet and it’s perfectly acceptable, as long as your Shiba isn’t skipping multiple days in a row.
We’ve had zero downsides with this approach, besides the minor sass she gives me at times. She’s completely healthy, is routinely at a healthy weight, has endless energy, rarely if ever gets sick, and still loves to play and go on long walks.
3) Get 2-3 different flavors of kibble and rotate through each bag weekly.
Nobody likes eating the same exact thing every day for months and years on end, and your Shiba Inu is no exception. From what I’ve gathered talking to different vets and dog allergy testing companies, this seems like the best long-term solution for your Shiba.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My Shiba Not Eating?
If your Shiba Inu has skipped a meal but isn’t showing signs of being sick, there’s little to worry about. Just like people, there will be times your dog isn’t as hungry as they usually are, especially if they aren’t regularly playing or exercising properly.
Is It Safe To Let Your Picky Shiba Skip A Meal Or Two?
It’s perfectly safe for them to miss a meal here and there, but routinely skipping meals is a cause for concern you should bring up with your vet. There will be times your Shiba isn’t as hungry as they usually are, especially if they got less exercise that day.
What Are The Best Meal Toppings For Shiba Inu?
If you don’t mind adding toppings to your Shiba’s meals, especially on their birthday, then the best toppings you can give them are a spoon full of, pure canned pumpkin, natural organic Yogurt (the less sugar the better), blueberries, and raw carrots or broccoli.