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Dog Won’t Eat

Picky Eater

Dear John,

My 5 year old husky won’t eat his regular kibble. We have tried 2 to 3 different kinds and he doesn’t eat those either.  He will eat some dog treats, but not all. Its breaking my heart. Yesterday he seemed so excited when I was opening a new brand. He put his nose in it, pushed it around, then sorta sighed and laid down. Any thoughts? I’m really worried about my baby.

Jennifer – Ohio

Dear Jennifer

I have worked with quite a few dogs that won’t eat for their owners. This isn’t the best venue for getting to the bottom of this sort of issue as some times it’s more of a dog owner problem than a dog problem.

I’ve never had these sort of issues by following the following 3 rules with a healthy dog and the assumption is that the dog is energetic and drinks water and in the case of growing dogs is gaining weight as is expected. If not – have blood work done, (check on thyroid especially), X-rays including dental X-ray for cracked teeth or dentition problems and stool sample checked for parasites.

  1. Food goes down give or take a 1/2 hour every day. Set phone/oven timer/microwave timer to 5 minutes and when the ding goes, so does the dinner by which I mean I take it up and put it away until the next scheduled meal. No second chances – ever – no matter what.
  2. Don’t coax the dog in any way. Just, “Here’s your dinner.” No emotion what so ever. Be the stereotypical cafeteria lunch lady.
  3. Until the dog has learned to eat its balanced meals no snacks, consumable chewies etc. in between meals and make sure no one is sneaking them to the dog.

Healthy dogs unused to this way of feeding have been known hold out until the 4th day. If the dog is healthy and drinking water, I have no problem with this. A lot of dog owners do. I’ve had 3 of my own that took 4 days. For the rest of their lives they ate when dinner was served.

In my opinion this is healthier for a dog as salivation is nature’s tooth brush and I think dogs that graze salivate less if at all and may be prone to more expensive dental issues later in life.

As this dog is an adult I’m going to suggest 2 meals a day. By the time 12 months of age is hit I start looking at whether the dog prefers 1 meal a day or if the 2 should be necessarily a 50/50 split. Some dogs prefer to eat a larger meal once a day and slightly smaller at the other end of the day. I also consider things like heat and activity levels when considering or worrying about how much my dog is consuming.

As far as what to feed. I’m less concerned with what the dog “likes” than I am with what is good for the dog. I “like” chocolate cake. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care whether my dog likes his or her food. I do, it’s just not priority one in situations like this. So pick a food that will provide your dog with the best bang your budget can accommodate and present it as above.


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