Is Maltese a Picky Eater?

Is Maltese a Picky Eater?

There are few things more exciting to a pet lover than watching your pet grow as the owner-pet bond is forged strong, all the more when it is a cute Maltese.

However, adequate nutrition for your pet is a must-have for this to happen. Imagine the frustration of the owner when their super sweet Maltese would not eat. Perhaps you fit right into this picture?

Is your Maltese just being picky, or is something wrong? Well, Malteses can be quite picky about their favorite dishes. But most of the time, this behavior is connected to the prevalence of a psychological or health issue. 

Some of the things you may have noticed in your Maltese that could be pointers to him/her being a picky eater include:

  • Disinterest in food or mealtimes.
  • Nibbling at food.
  • Insistence on certain foods.
  • Eccentric eating habits. Your Maltese may develop habits that are highly unusual or even outrightly awkward. For example, he might only like to eat if he’s handfed or only while you’re with him. 

Something Wrong With the Meal?

Even a non-picky eater could have particular preferences, and this is okay. So before you label your Maltese a picky eater be sure to check the following about the food you’re serving him/her.

  • Taste and aroma: Food that is bitter, salty, sour or has a less than appealing scent may throw your Maltese off.
  • Texture: Stale crumbly food is often a turn-off, and it is not uncommon for Maltese to prefer canned wet food over dry kibble. However, the latter is a healthier option.
  • Temperature: Warm food is often preferred to chilled foods
  • After meal discomfort: Canines are also fully able to make the connection between ingesting a portion of food and feeling ill afterward. So, if a particular food is causing intestinal distress, it makes sense that your Maltese may refuse to eat it.
  • Meal size: Be sure you are not trying to feed your Maltese more than his daily rations should be.

There are subtle and not too subtle signs that indicate the presence of a feeding problem.

For example, if most normal Maltese foods arent good enough for him, or he consistently shows a craving for unhealthy treats and will not bulge until you offer them, then there is an issue. 

Other Reasons for Being Picky

It is even more concerning when your Maltese has not always been this picky. These are less sinister reasons why your Maltese may be shunning meals:

New environment

Your new Maltese puppy may be too scared or cautious in its new environment to gobble up just whatever is served, and hunger might be his only motivation.

In this case, you would need to find the patience to be gentle with him and show enough care and affection until he gets over this phase.

New food

New and different food can upset your Maltese’s stomach, or they may not want to eat it because they are unsure. Loose stools are a sign the food did not agree with your Maltese puppy’s body.

Mealtime variations

A strict feeding schedule might just eliminate most of the feeding problems a Maltese can have as Maltese dogs don’t take varying meal times very well.

In other words, if you intend to improve your Maltese’s approach to feeding and inspire him to eat more, it will significantly help your cause to establish a routine that can help him understand when it is mealtime. This way, your Maltese is most likely going to be close to his bowl around that time. 

A power trip

One way your pet can seek to exercise his dominance and enhance his pack status over you is to reject the food you offer him. When he does this, he’s playing a game of who’s boss, a game which requires you to be persistent and not cave in.

If you fall for the trap and change the food, he would have proved his point, and then he would be confident he has a higher pack status than you, and you may never see the end of that habit.

This type of behavior is common with pets whose owners have failed to establish a strict pack hierarchy. 

Too many treats

If your Maltese has become accustomed to taking in too many treats, that can be a problem. Your Maltese could start acting up and avoiding food, so you give it a treat instead. 


Your Maltese craves variety, just like you. If he has overeaten much of the same thing, it might be time to carefully switch to another flavor of kibble. Try adding some wet food to his diet or even making homemade dog food.

They have already eaten

You may not realize it, but maybe someone else has fed your Maltese. If your Maltese has already eaten, he is less likely to eat any food you put in front of him.

Recent vaccination or illness

A transient loss of appetite could be the result of a recent vaccination. Or it could be something more serious, and a visit to the vet’s office may be necessary if it is:

Dental disease: Your Maltese could be experiencing extreme discomfort due to a dental issue that may be the reason he is not enthusiastic about chewing. Some dental infections can be painful and require very urgent medical attention. You should have him checked as soon as you can afford to prevent the issue from degenerating. 

Gut trouble: Your dog may not have the guts to eat if its stomach is upset. It could be due to an offending snack or meal, trash, or food poisoning, or its bowel may be blocked. You may also notice other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Recent or current illness: If your Maltese falls ill or is currently sick, he may still be too weak to gobble up as much as they used to or might be having inappetence from the illness or medications it was given. Smaller and more frequent portions may be appropriate at this time, and a visit to the vet’s office could be of great help too.

Getting Your Maltese Excited About Mealtimes

With the many different reasons why your Maltese may seem picky, it could be challenging to identify and act on what could be wrong.

You may need to reach deep for the inner detective in you to solve this one, here are three easy steps to guide you: Look, Feel, Move.


Beginning with your surroundings, look around for any changes you might notice. Has your Maltese been to the trash and eaten something that could be upsetting its gut? Ask those around you if they have been feeding your dog too.

Also, watch for any changes in your Maltese’s behavior and ask your neighbors or others around if they have noticed it acting differently or in a strange way recently. You may discover the reason your Maltese has not been excited about mealtimes.

If looking does not provide all the answers you seek or throw up new questions, then it is imperative that you,


Sometimes you may just need to conduct a thorough physical examination of your Maltese personally.

  • Check his/her fur for parasites, wounds, or lesions that may suggest an underlying illness.
  • Check their teeth and entire oral cavity for any signs of dental disease.
  • Examine their bellies for tenderness or stiffness by feeling lightly over the belly surface and later more deeply for any signs of gut problems.


If you find anything worrying or you have gotten to the root cause of the problem, then you should schedule a visit to the vet’s office as soon as possible.

Tips for Helping a Picky Maltese

The following tips can help you to deal with a picky Maltese effectively:

  • Completely stop giving Maltese your food scraps. Allow him to become accustomed to eating his own food only.
  • Try to keep a strict feeding schedule.
  • Try to associate feeding and fun. For example, demanding that your dog performs a trick before eating makes mealtime more of a reward!
  • Put the food away if your Maltese chooses not to eat. Free feeding can encourage picky eaters while cutting the length of time his food is going to be available for will trick him into complying faster.
  • Try using a treat-dispensing toy. This type of toy function in two ways for dogs, first it stimulates their minds, and secondly, it keeps them fed.
  • Find healthy snacks to add to your Maltese’s meal. Foods like chopped carrots and peas are a great way to make a Maltese excited about eating without sacrificing their health.
  • Try to find an appropriate dog food brand and stick to it. The general idea here is to ensure you pick a food brand that has the right balance of quality ingredients and an appeal to your Maltese. This way, he’s going to be more enthused about mealtimes. 
  • Choose a premium-quality dog food. This is crucial for all dogs and you have to be sure that the food is high quality and delicious for them.

Are you discouraged about owning a Maltese? Well, you shouldn’t be. Nothing good comes without a price attached, and this is the gamble you have to take to own the incredible Maltese dog breed. 

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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