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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-02-2012, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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Picky Eater Blues

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.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-02-2012, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Meeks View Post
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.

Last edited by dobebug; 06-02-2012 at 10:47 AM.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-02-2012, 10:44 AM
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I would take her to the vet for a checkup and bloodwork, especially if the weight loss has been sudden. If everything is okay, you will just have to teach her that she needs to eat what she's given, when she's given it. You put the food down, and if she doesn't eat in about 15 to 20 minutes, it comes up, and she doesn't get anything until the next mealtime. Don't hover over her, trying to get her to eat. Just put it down, and walk away.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-02-2012, 07:36 PM
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My soon to be 2 yr old Dobe has been a picky eater since he was a puppy. Whenever I catered to his wishes, it made things worst. Eventually, I broke him of his finickiness by doing the following:

- Eliminate treats, his kibble is used as his treat
- Give him a diet of nothing but kibble, even if it means a three day hunger strike
- Pick up the bowl of food after 15 minutes

Now he enthusiastically eats his kibble. I add nothing to it. If he turns his nose up at it I follow the 3 rules above and then he starts eating his kibble again. The key is that dogs will not starve themselves to death.

Good luck.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-02-2012, 11:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosemary View Post
I would take her to the vet for a checkup and bloodwork, especially if the weight loss has been sudden. If everything is okay, you will just have to teach her that she needs to eat what she's given, when she's given it. You put the food down, and if she doesn't eat in about 15 to 20 minutes, it comes up, and she doesn't get anything until the next mealtime. Don't hover over her, trying to get her to eat. Just put it down, and walk away.
Ditto this. Make sure a blood panel is done. I thought M was a picky eater and she ended up having CAH. Ulcerated stomach was not letting her eat. Early detection is allowing vet to manage her disease. She has not been "off" feed since we found out, has put back the weight she had lost (10lbs) and so far, is feeling good. And as of last month, blood workups are normal. She is due for another this week.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-03-2012, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by sandy2233 View Post
Ditto this. Make sure a blood panel is done. I thought M was a picky eater and she ended up having CAH. Ulcerated stomach was not letting her eat. Early detection is allowing vet to manage her disease. She has not been "off" feed since we found out, has put back the weight she had lost (10lbs) and so far, is feeling good. And as of last month, blood workups are normal. She is due for another this week.
Do you know what caused the condition? Thanks.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-23-2012, 11:14 AM
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Hey just for a thought...Maybe if you're going to feed kibble, ask a couple of local butchers/grocery stores if they would donate scraps. You'd be amazed the kind of soft spots people have for dogs, and many have scraps they can't sell due to size/shape but the meat quality itself is fine.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-23-2012, 11:26 AM
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Sage; CAH can be caused by several things (basically anything that causes liver damage). There is a form of it that is strongly suspected of being genetic and the search is on right now to find the marker for it. The age of onset is currently the only hints at a genetic form...which seems to be around the age of 4-5yrs, and through biopsy identifying the copper storage form which is also strongly suspected of being genetic.

However as drugs and toxins can also cause liver damage....there's no definative test yet to work out cause. It requires a lot of detective work and circumstantial evidence.

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