We “adopted” 2 full-size rough collies from a relative who could no longer keep them, several years ago. One is a vacuum when it comes to feeding time, the other, not so much! He was very underweight when we got them, mainly because they were fed together and the other one would eat everything if he got the chance. We have always monitored feeding time closely and not let “the vacuum” have a 2nd dishful, but have had a lot of trouble finding something that “picky eater” would actually eat consistently — and which didn’t cause icky, mucusy stools. We’ve tried adding cooked chicken, chicken broth, canned food, etc., to several types of dry food. Our current diet is Iams Healthy Naturals, with about 1/4 can of Tractor Supply’s 4-Health and a little Beneful mixed in. For the last couple of months “Picky Eater” has been very consistent with eating and pooping (which was also a real issue for quite some time, with both dogs — ages 4 and 6 — having accidents in the house when we were gone for more than a few hours), no accidents, no mucusy stools, and coats haven’t changed at all, as far as I can see. I know Beneful is a really low-end kibble, but am really wondering if I should just leave well enough alone or look for something different… it seems that any of the dry foods have reviews saying they make dogs sick, cause kidney and liver disease, problems with stooling, etc, etc. Should I just go by what seems to be working, or do I need to change? (just of note, I’m far from being a new dog owner, have had them forever but only recently discovered how different the various brands can be in terms of nutrition; former dogs have thrived on what I now recognize as less than optimal food, to say the least) Thanks for any comments, I’m sure I’m not the only one with this sort of dilemma.
IMO, all those foods are low end. Feed them separately, either in different rooms or in crates. Using a probiotic & digestive enzyme will help. You may need two different foods. For picky eaters, I usually say “tough love” but if he’s underweight, I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
Hopefully somebody else with better ideas will pop in.
I definitely think you should switch to higher-quality foods… for the picky eater especially – what little he will take down needs to be properly nutritious and high quality since he isn’t eating enough/well. I would transition slowly to minimize upset or selective eating of familiar kibbles and try fasting for a day with no treats or extras [I know it’s hard] before introducing small amounts of a new kibble. You can even try providing 2-4 different kibbles at a time – maybe something in the mix will appeal to your dog especially. You may want to look for a kibble that has a slightly higher fat content or salt as both of those are appealing and will encourage eating and may help get your picky eater to a better state of health. The different ingredients can help your dog adjust to new foods better and will only help/improve nutrient absorption and gut health provided there are no allergies/intolerances. Many local pet shops can provide free samples so you can try adding small amounts of new kibbles without spending much money. Adding some wet food or high quality meat toppers might also entice and encourage better eating habits. You may have to experiment, but tuna, salmon, plain cooked shredded meats, yogurt, canned pumpkin and other pantry items may help establish better habits and digestive health. Warmed peanut butter can also be drizzled over kibble instead of mixing and clumping it up in the bowl. Sometimes piles of food can be intimidating and food may need to be spread out more. Or your dog might not like her food bowl for some reason – try switching to a cereal bowl or a pie tie and see if that helps. Some dogs like to be sneaky eaters so hiding food in several places or the putting the dog bowl in unexpected places or outside might help. Feed your dogs separately [and maybe even at different times of the day], feed well [high quality kibbles and nutritious toppers/extras/treats] and congratulate, encourage and reward with enthusiastic praise every single time your picky eater takes a mouthful of food and actually swallows it.
You may also try making your own dog treats out of the above ingredients or buying canned food and instead of serving it at room temperature or warmed, try freezing it in ice cube trays giving those to your dog on a towel or an easily cleaned floor. Laying down a special mat or picking a quiet corner and acting like a mealtime is very special may also help her your picky dog more excited about dinner. Some dogs really like munching on frozen foods even when they won’t touch them at other temperatures.
When my picky eater isn’t eating I give her a little pepcid [we suspect semi-regular heartburn] and then act really excited about opening a can of high quality wet dog [or occasionally cat or puppy – vet’s recommendation for getting food in when nothing else works.] The smellier the better [canned green tripe works wonders but is best fed outside. I also had amazing luck with small cans of Weruva – it looks/smells like human-grade baby food and is expensive, but the quality is obvious and the food was eagerly consumed both wet and frozen].] I give her a little straight out of the can right off the spoon so she feels like it is human food and a nice treat and then drop some in a dish with kibble. I won’t mix it in anymore because too often she has shunned to food once she discovers the hidden kibbles and I don’t like throwing food out [the neighborhood cats have gotten very friendly since her leftovers get tossed on the pavement for them – I am sure it’s better than whatever they are fishing out of the trash, small birds, squirrels, etc]. But sometimes she will eat up the wet food in one section and then start eating mouthfuls of kibble afterward – progress!
When our girl is especially reticent about eating kibble we move her food into the room where we eat dinner and hang out in the evenings and sometimes have to pretend to eat kibble, hand feed her or toss pieces onto that evening’s dinner plate to get her to start eating. Once she realizes she is indeed hungry she usually goes back to her bowl and only needs encouragement to keep eating [Good girl! What a good dog you are for eating kibble! Good dogs eat their food!] every other bite. She still looks at us for encouragement while eating and I sometimes have to tap to bowl or shake it to remind her there is still food to be had.] I give her a half cup of food at a time and she never eats more than half at night and usually doesn’t empty her bowl entirely until the next afternoon. [She is slightly less than 15lbs and eats approx 300-400 calories a day in food and treats, as far as I can figure.]
I had never met a dog previously who didn’t like and look forward to dinner time, but our rescued Bichon needs to be coaxed and encouraged to eat almost every bite, every day.
Good luck, keep experimenting with higher-quality foods and ingredients and don’t give up!
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