Sorry for the long history, but the situation is complicated; I’ll stick to info that seems essential to this mystery.
Our 15.5 year old lab/setter mix has been on a raw food diet for about the last 14 years, since being diagnosed with mild hip disp. For all these years, he has eaten his nightly dinner with joy, mostly frozen raw chicken on the bone, lots of leg quarters, drumsticks, backs. Breakfast has also always been an eagerly awaited treat, a mix of ground turkey, tuna, fish oil, eggs yokes, and ground veggies (brocc, carrots, and other) and apples w/out seeds. I’m probably forgetting something, but you get the idea.
His regular blood work has also delivered exemplary results from a doc sympathetic to but not knowledgeable about raw feeding.
As recently as this last summer we were needing to feed him a bit less to keep his weight down (approx. 60 lbs) because the warm weather really slows him down. He has always gotten two walks a day, totaling about 3-4 miles, off leash, though as he slowed down it was sometimes tough to get in 2 miles a day in 2 walks.
Then we tried some laser therapy on an arthritic wrist, which didn’t help, so we tried adding Tramadol to help w/ the arthritis. He has been getting daily Rimadyl, also, for probably the last year or more.
The Tramadol seemed to help, but he really hated the taste, and soon even hiding them in his morning breakfast wasn’t good enough, so we put them in fish oil capsules, until he detected the hated pills and stopped eating the fish oil caps that came with his breakfast.
Since the pills helped, we decided to hide the pills in very small Lean Treats, which did the trick, but soon after he started losing interest in breakfast and eventually his nightly chicken on the bone. He still ate, but seemed less enthused.
Now things get really complicated. To combat a growing problem with nightly incontinence, we started giving him testosterone shots. The results have been phenomenal. The shots not only got the incontinence under control, but they, along with cold weather, have him walking with great enthusiasm, speed, and vigor, so now we’re up to 4 or more miles a day between the two walks. Great news.
Except that even as he was getting much more exercise, his appetite has been greatly reduced. He still eats both breakfast and dinner as described above, but he will typically only eat a half portion, which has lead to significant weight loss.
When his ribs began to show we started trying different meats including beef and liver with some but not enough improvement. Finally, about a week ago, in desperation we did three things: 1) we started making silky balls for him as a supplement, and sure enough, he likes them; 2) we started adding canned dog food to his breakfast and 3) we started giving him some Iams dry dog food AFTER he ate as much of his chicken on the bone as he was willing to eat.
The latest is that he seems less and less interested in his raw food breakfast even when mixed with canned dog food, and while he can still be coaxed into downing a couple of raw drumsticks for dinner most (but not all) nights, he loves the silky balls and his kibble.
At this point I need another bag of dog food but I hate using the stuff and would rather see him back on a BARF diet, but if he won’t eat enough of it, well, he’s got to eat! At 15.5 years old, I’m tempted to say, okay, whatever you’ll eat, pal, that’s fine, but if anyone has experience with a situation like this I’d love to hear some suggestions.
In particular, I’d like to know a) are changes in taste common to older dogs, as they can be in people?,; b) does anybody recognize in the story above a causal explanation? (we have our own theories, but I’ll reserve them for now); c) does anybody have suggestions for how to get him back to enthusiastic BARFing?
Sorry, I don’t really have an answer for you. 🙁 I’m bumping this up so others will see it and hopefully answer it. I do want to say congrats on taking great care of your dog though!
He could have some arthritis in his jaw and eating bones could be a little tiring. Are his teeth and gums in good condition? No sores or broken teeth? I feed my old one mostly wet food and some ground raw.
Teeth and gums are great, though I plan to check this with the vet at upcoming visit to be sure it’s still true. Interesting idea about the jaw arthritis, but it doesn’t explain why he also rejects his morning meal which is mainly ground turkey, carrot, brocc. and apples…in other words, a soft mush.
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