As pets age, many become finicky eaters who can make meal time frustrating for pet parents. Pet owners often think that switching to senior pet food, adding wet food, broth, food toppers or sprays, or some other tactic will help their senior pet eat better. However, in some cases, the food is not the issue. Rather, it is the pet feeding dish that causes distress for many older pets.
Cats and dogs are domesticated wild animals whose survival depends on their awareness of their surroundings, especially when they are eating. A traditional feeding bowl obstructs an animal’s vision, and for cats can cause whisker stress especially if a pet’s whiskers, tags, or bowl height prevent them from putting their face in the bowl to eat.
Some senior pets simply prefer to eat off the ground, which is how all pets eat in the wild. A traditional bowl goes against their natural animal instinct and some pets, especially senior pets who may have a diminished appetite, simply refuse to eat. This can be especially distressful if you have an unwell senior pet who needs to eat at regular intervals.
Another common issue often seen with older, finicky pets is that they prefer to be hand fed, or they will only eat treats, but they refuse food from their bowl. This is often another indication that the pet prefers eating from the floor, and another perspective on why a flat plate may be a solution.
A flat feeding plate is the closest thing to a pet eating off the floor without having to resort to disgusting paper plates or even worse, eating off the dirty floor. A flat plate can also keep food in the dish, rather than dumping it all over the floor and making a mess everywhere.
A flat plate is closer to the ground, which for smaller dogs and cats, is a more natural feeding position. A flat plate is not obstructive so your pet can see what is around him while he eats, and pet tags won’t hit the rim of a flat plate when pets are eating. Many animals are alarmed and become afraid of their feeding bowl because of the noise their tag makes when it hits the rim of the bowl.
Another consideration when feeding senior pets is the material a feeding dish is made of. A BPA free plate won’t absorb bacteria the way other materials, like plastic and silicone can. Stainless steel dishes can be radioactive.
A good flat plate should be made of high quality materials and be dishwasher as well as microwave safe.
Should you have any questions about your finicky senior pet not eating at mealtime, it is important to consult your vet with any concerns you may have. If illness is not the issue, then switching to a flat plate might be the answer.
Below are two examples of dogs who would not eat before switching to a flat plate.
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Content provided in collaboration with the Elderly Pet Organization and The Pet Plate Complete Feeding System for Finicky Furry Friends.
We do not endorse or promote any products or companies. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your senior pet.