Author Topic: Max won't eat!  (Read 912 times)

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Offline Moonsong

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Max won't eat!
« on: February 28, 2017, 08:36:51 PM »
When I first switched Max to free feeding, he would eat the entire portion right away and then would happily wait until the next meal. Then, the last few days he started not finishing his portions. I thought that maybe he was only now seeing if he can come back to it later if he doesn't eat it all, but tonight he wouldn't touch his dinner at all! I normally just sprinkle some cheese on his kibble to make it special, so that he won't mind being on a schedule while the other two are free-fed, but since he wouldn't eat it I thought that maybe he was getting sick of the cheese (he ate that type of kibble before just fine). So I took it away and replaced it with a bowl of regular, untouched kibble. He still refused it. So then I tried floating it because he loves to snorkle for kibble, but he still wouldn't touch it. My boyfriend suggested that maybe he was a bit thrown off because normally he only snorkels for a few pieces of kibble at a time, rather than a whole bowl full, so I tried just soaking a few pieces and he still wouldn't eat it.

Finally, we decided to see if maybe he was really testing the boundaries of grazing (seeing if it will be available later). I was freaking out and panicking at this point, and my boyfriend suggested that maybe we should take the food away entirely until we've finished eating dinner, and then offer it to him and see if he'll eat it then. He did not.

We tried giving him some human food - peanut butter. This he happily lapped up. I put a small piece of kibble in the peanut butter and he happily lapped it up. I put a large piece in and he still lapped it up. So I decided to try mixing peanut butter all in his kibble. One small panic attack later because of the sensory overload issue from the feeling of mixing the peanut butter with the kibble, I gave that to him. At first, it seemed like he was eating, but then I realized he was just licking the peanut butter off of the edges of the bowl and never touched the kibble. A couple of times he picked up a piece, but he always spat them out.

Completely freaking out at this point, I just desperately wanted him to eat, so I gave him some human food (cheerios). At first, he ate the entire handful, so I thought that maybe for tonight I could give him cheerios and tomorrow see if he would eat. But when I gave him another handful he just sniffed at them and turned away.


I don't know what to do at this point! I'm really worried and freaking out. I am more than willing to take him to the vet, but I thought that I would see first if there might be another solution that's more obvious that I'm not seeing right now because I'm in panic mode. If it helps, he's seemed to be really, really itchy lately. I wanted to take him to the vet, but my mom said to give him a bath and a haircut first (she believes that dogs will oftentimes scratch because their mats itch). I couldn't do it today but was planning on doing it soon. But now, I'm wondering if the heavy itching and the refusal to eat might be related?



Okay, now he's eating a few Cheerios again. Maybe he has an upset tummy and only wants to eat a very little bit at a time? I don't know. I just wish that I could help him!
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Offline Ariel

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 09:18:41 PM »
Chances are if you are trying to adjust him from free feeding to scheduled feedings and he's not acting ill, he's just protesting. Offer the bowl of food at scheduled meal times. Leave it down for 15 minutes. No coaxing, no hand feeding, no adding anything to make the food more enticing than normal. He'll eat when he gets hungry enough. You're setting the stage for a dog who refuses to eat dog food because he knows if he refuses he'll freak you out and you'll feed him people food and whatever else he wants. Don't praise him for eating either once he does decide to break his hunger fast. Eating is a normal thing, and if you make it unusual in some way you risk creating unnecessary stress or habits around feeding time. Bowl down, if he doesn't eat in 15 minutes, bowl back up. He'll catch on quickly.
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Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2017, 09:44:50 PM »
I second Ariel. Just offer, and if he refuses he's likely being a brat about portions. Give him some time and then take it back up if it's not been touched.

I would avoid making a big deal out of it. If he's refusing to eat for a day or more you can break out the peanut butter and special treats, but skipping a meal is normal. Sometimes Az skips a meal because he just doesn't feel like eating.

I've been doing research on parenting techniques, and one of the things I've read is Satter's method of dealing with picky eaters. You make the food, you offer the food, and from there on it's their responsibility. You do not make separate meals, and you do not beg for "one more bite". If they eat they eat and if they don't they can excuse themselves from the table and take care of their plate. It's apparently especially effective with toddlers. Dinner can be a huge power struggle and toddlers love finding out where they hold all the power, I.E in toileting, eating and sleeping. But if you act like you don't care the power trip loses it's appeal.

Same thing goes with my dogs. I make the food, they can eat it if they want or they can leave it. I don't care unless they're losing weight or not taking in enough calories. In children that's where you start making dense snacks and making milkshakes, and in dogs that's where you take them to the vet. A dog won't starve himself for a power trip like a toddler will.  :wink:

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Offline Moonsong

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2017, 09:50:13 PM »
Okay, I'll wait another day or so. It had just worried me so much because he hadn't done this yet; we've been going about a week now with scheduled feeding and this is the first problem. Maybe it's just belated brattiness.

Thanks for the advice, guys! I'll stop making his food special and will set a timer for 15 minutes for mealtimes from now on.
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Offline Azariah

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2017, 09:55:23 PM »
The biggest thing I worry about when dogs don't eat is that they have an obstruction. If max had this I don't think he'd be eating anything. I know it is okay for them to skip a meal as I've  done it on purpose for dog shows (my other 2 dogs had excita poop and could poop a lot before a show so I limited intake). Honestly if it were my dog and I'd watch to see if they were acting healthy in other ways and just set food down/pick it up and go on with my day. No human food, minimal dog treats and only for training reasons, etc... If a couple of days passes with no intake might be worth a trip to the vet. Make sure he is drinking.

(I say this with no vet expertise at all and just what I would do if it were my dog).
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Offline Moonsong

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2017, 11:28:36 PM »
Azariah, thanks! And don't worry; I don't take the suggestions of people on the internet as anything close to veterinary advice. I only use it as a second opinion of other dog owners to help weigh in to my own decision.

He is acting healthy other than the scratching (which may be because he is starting to develop mats since I have fallen in his grooming a bit because of how stressful and rigorous this school term as been) and the choosing not to eat. Also, this is the first time that he has refused to eat entirely; the last few meals he just wouldn't finish (though this morning he left about half of his breakfast). Plus, he was eating peanut butter and Cheerios just fine. Now that they pointed it out, I feel like the 'testing of boundaries' is very possible. If the morning after tomorrow he still won't eat any kibble, I will take him to the vet, no ifs ands or buts.
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Offline Candy3

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2017, 08:12:31 AM »
I had this issue with my 9 to 10-month-old puppy. I tried all those tricks to try to get him to eat, too. But, what finally worked for him was changing his dog food and dividing his food into three meals a day. Why three? I read that smaller dogs often need smaller feedings, more often. It works for him. It may not be as convenient for PA, but I think that the 1-2x a day feeding schedule was created more for our convenience rather than the dog's specific needs. Also, the feeding instructions on the dog food packages are a general guideline, and some dogs don't need as much or need more to fulfill their needs.

As far as changing his dog food, I originally fed him Organix Puppy. After months of enjoying it, he gradually became more and more reluctant to eat it. So, I tried other dog foods in the same line, but with the same negative results. However, I did catch him trying to eat the Merrick cat food a few times (and subsequently getting sick from it). So, I bought the dog version of that cat food. He only ate about half of it. So, that's when I started dividing it into three meals. Now he readily eats all his food and poops three times a day.  Again, not so convenient for PA, but it works for us.



Offline Arrowcom

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2017, 10:48:20 AM »
All these guys have words of wisdom. When I first got my poodle in class, she refused to eat for three days. Yep, three whole days of starving herself! It drove me crazy, but my trainers reassured me that this was normal for the breed. And, as they did say, Cindi did eventually eat! Don't freak out about it, the more you freak out about it, the more that Max will pick up on your tension around mealtimes and that is just going to make him not want to eat even more. Like everyone says, just put the food down, don't mess with it, and relax. He'll eat when he's ready! Cindi still at times skips meals. It's just kind of a normal part of our daily routine at this point.
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Offline OlgatheGSD

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2017, 11:16:17 AM »
Olga does the same thing. For her, it's boredom. She hates eating the same kibble every day. I tried leaving it out for 24 hours, it went untouched. So I started adding stuff to it, like peas, carrots, dog safe leftover food, yogurt. She ate all of that perfectly fine! But it was becoming annoying so I ditched the human food one morning and started doing drills while her food was in her bowl. If she wasn't interested, more drills. Eventually, she realised she wanted to eat instead of doing drills and inhaled her food. Now she requires I at least make her sit, wait about 2 minutes, do a shake, down, sit, release, then she will eat. Anything less and she walks off and leaves her food there. She really is a masochist.

Perhaps you could try something to make the food more tempting without changing the food at all. Do something that burns calories like a jog if you're able, then make him wait at his bowl for food. If he looks interested, do a couple sit/downs and then let him try to eat. If he just wants to walk away, he gets it back at the next scheduled feeding.

Dogs protest food a lot. At the vet clinic we had dogs board for up to 2 weeks and they refused to eat their food the entire time. I never really worried since some dogs just preferred their owners feeding them or wanted to be home. Either way, it was all a protest. Comments from the doggie parents after they picked up their dogs were always "he ate so well last night!". We didn't tell them unless it was a longer stay that their dog didn't eat. Or their dog was REALLY fat. At that point I considered it a diet.

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Offline Kirsten

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2017, 12:18:48 PM »
The problem OP spoke of was happening in February.  It is now September.
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Offline Candy3

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2017, 12:45:24 PM »
Kirsten, I dug the post back up, because I recently had the same problem and considered whether my experience might be also be helpful to others.

Offline OlgatheGSD

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2017, 01:20:05 PM »
Oh. I'm using mobile so I didn't think to check.
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Offline Arrowcom

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2017, 04:00:57 PM »
Oh. I'm using mobile so I didn't think to check.

Ha! Me too! Sorry Moon.
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Offline Moonsong

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2017, 08:40:08 PM »
It's actually kind of ironic because I'm concerned about him again. I'm worried now that he's too skinny, yet he regularly refuses breakfast and only eats dinner (meaning that he's only getting ~1/2 a cup of food a day instead of the 1 cup that I offer him). I'm worried that he's skinny because I can feel his spine, though nothing is visible. Then, on top of that, the other night he refused dinner and hadn't had breakfast that morning and his stomach was rumbling like CRAZY. So we've been watching him and he ate breakfast and dinner yesterday; I think he ate breakfast today, so we'll see if he eats dinner. Still - I am concerned about his weight.
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Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: Max won't eat!
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2017, 09:25:48 PM »
What kind of food is he on? I had trouble getting our foster puppy Nora to eat diamond naturals and used Purina One mixed in to tempt her.

Some dogs get bored of foods. We rotate pretty frequently and change both brands and protein sources. 

I've found picky dogs accept high protein foods more readily. Purina One with shreds has been a huge hit with all my dogs because the sheds are exclusively dehydrated chicken and they're incredibly high value.

Some dogs also have different ways of carrying weight. Nora is a healthy weight and yet her hips are visible because she's a houndy dog. Rayner is at a very good weight with a lot of muscle and a little fat and his spine is visible in a specific place most of the time. Az is at the thinnest I can get him without feeding him every other day and nothing is visible on him, and you have to prod a little to feel ribs and spine. Chewy is our only dog with a normal body structure.

Body condition scales are good for judging emaciation and obesity but not so great at grading the in between or perfect for individual dogs. Your vet is the best way to determine if your dog needs to gain or lose a few pounds.
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