I have a 7 year old Dobe mix. I never noticed till my neighbor mentioned it, but she's getting awfully skinny looking. You can see her hip bones and her ribs. She's always been a picky eater since I brought her home at 4 yrs old and I've tried switching foods numerous times. My biggest "mistake" I suppose was feeding her raw, which she loved. I had A LOT of free cuts of beef my sister-in-law gave me from her families cattle farm. After the beef ran out, I've been trying to get her back into eating kibble. Usually I end up having to doctor her food up to get her the least bit interested and even then she tries to pick out the good stuff. She's gone on many two-three day "hunger strikes" when I've tried to cut out the extras (wet food and occasionally a can of tuna), before deciding to eat her kibble. However, she'll only eat the food a few more times before resuming her strikes. When I switch foods, she seems only interested in it for a few days before she turns her nose up to it and we repeat the process. I've never had a dog this picky with food out of the ten pups I've had the privilege of sharing my life with. Should I just give up trying to get her back on dry kibble? Any ideas? I feel like I'm at my wits end with her.
Well, the advocates of "raw" will tell you that the dog is trying to tell you that she needs to be fed appropriately ("raw") but I don't feed raw for a variety of reasons some of which are financial and some of which are time based.
So my take on this is that the dog came to you are 4 already having trained someone in her past to cater to her preferences.
At seven, I'd modify what I usually do with my own dogs who are generally raised with me making the decisions on what they eat and how much and except for a six or 8 month period when male puppies hit adolescence none of mine are picky eaters.
So the modification would be to pick a good kibble and stick with it. I would then start looking for bargains on chicken hindquarter which can often be found as low as 69 cents a pound in 10 pound frozen packs. Sometimes I can find ground beef (20% fat or more) and ground turkey being sold as manager specials at $1.00 a pound. The hindquarters can be cooked in a crock pot or pressure cooker literally until the bones turn to mush and then ground and add back the broth they were cooked in. I usually do this in four or five pound batches and package it into 1 pound containers (old cottage cheese or yogurt containers) and freeze all but one. I add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the chicken goop to the kibble--add warm water and mix well. Anything she doesn't eat in 10 minutes would go back into the refrigerator and get added to the next meal. I do that for dinners. Breakfast my dogs all love both cottage cheese or yogurt--and they get a big spoonful of one or the other on their kibble--if she's not a fan of either--use another couple of spoons of the meat mixture.
If I've found a good buy on any sort of ground meat I simmer that in a small amount of water a pound at a time (I refreeze anything that I'm not cooking immediately) and break it up as it's cooking into small pieces and treat it like the chicken mixture--adding it to the food and mixing it well.
I feed twice a day and if I'm trying to put weight on a dog I might carry kibble around with me and give that as a treat occasionally. Some dogs will get pretty excited about kibble handed out a piece at a time.
I would not try to put the weight that she needs back on quickly--I know some dogs who aren't very good eaters seem to get put off by large bowls of food. Start with only the amount of kibble you think she might it quickly in one sitting even if it's only a cup and raise the amount slowly as she eats better.
I WOULD NOT try to stop adding things to the kibble for a poor eater at her age but would try to modify her eating habits. And I'd make it impossible for her to pick out the additives by making sure they are in small pieces and well mixed.
I'd also make sure there isn't anything else going wrong with her--a trip to the vet and a complete senior blood panel, if you haven't already done this would be a very good idea.
Good luck--you really can teach an old dogs new tricks when it comes to eating habits.
PS Mackeral is usually less expensive than tuna and is a better choice for a dog (more fat)--I occasionally feed a can of mackeral--about 1/3 of a can per meal--it's another thing my dogs all love.