Sunday, April 3, 2011

Feeding the Dog

It's been quite a food odyssey with Argos since we got him a little over a year ago.  He has a very sensitive stomach...  AND he's picky about what he eats, which makes it twice as difficult to find a food that works for him.

So first off, I'll make my disclaimers.  I do not cook his meals for him, nor do I do the raw diet.  I know that several people who sometimes read my blog do - and I really admire your dedication and effort.  I...  would probably implode if I added one more chore to my "to-do" list these days.   I don't even cook for myself or my husband many days.  I do my best for Argos, and get him nutritionally balanced kibble, without corn or wheat or any of that annoying filler stuff.

When Argos doesn't want to eat something..he just doesn't.  I know that the common wisdom is to not give them anything else, ever, until they eat what is given to them.  I started out intending to do this...  but I kid you not, he will skip meal after meal after meal.  He is a very stubborn dog.  I know that this must have worked at least once -  he was starting to get finicky last May, right before we left town last May for a long weekend at my parents' and left him at a pet resort.  I worried about him that entire weekend, but when we got him back, his food issues were gone.  He practically inhaled his food through the nose every meal for about a month after returning to us.

But going back in time a bit, his first month with us, he had diarrhea.  We were told to expect this for a week or so, but I started to get worried about him after it kept up for longer than that.  I frantically called the person who counseled us through the adoption, who soothed my fears.  She told us that the kibble that we were feeding him, Eukanuba, might not be agreeing with him.  And told me to boil beef and rice for his meals for a little while until his diarrhea went away.  And to slowly start introducing a mild kibble into the meat/rice mixture.

And that is what we did.  A month of boiling ground beef and rice.  I found the time, spurred on by his anxious brown eyes staring me down, but it wasn't easy.   And we started mixing in Iams Lamb and Rice, for sensitive stomachs.  He liked it, a lot.  And enthusiastically ate it every day for the next three months.  And then one day, decided that he didn't like it.

When he stopped eating, it terrified me.  I was convinced that he had a twisted gut, or was somehow sick.  Except that I noticed every time I gave him a "treat" to see if he would eat something, anything, he gobbled it right up and came looking for more.  I talked with a friend at work, who also has greyhounds, who laughed and told me that he was having a little joke on me, and that hers sometimes did that to her as well.  He was just testing me, and going through a time when all he wanted to eat was cookies.  I stuck to my guns, but he never completely went for the Iams again.  He would reluctantly eat enough to prevent himself from starving, but no more.

Enter Nutro.  I know that Nutro isn't as popular amongst dog owners as it once was, but it never gave us anything to complain about.  They had a Venison and Brown Rice formula that was limited ingredient, and good for sensitive stomachs.  And he LOVED it.  His coat got shinier and softer, and it was clear that he was doing well on it.  Problem solved.  At least for the next 8 months.

Last month, he decided that he didn't want to eat this kibble any more.  Since he was still willing to eat his treats, I figured it was the same thing as last time.  We got a small bag of Blue Buffalo to mix in with the Nutro, to see if that would make him eat.  He really likes the Blue Buffalo, and would eat around the Nutro.  We tried a different FLAVOR of Nutro, Herring. Nope.  He doesn't like fish, apparently.  Nor does he like venison any longer.

So now we have a big bag of Blue Buffalo Lamb and Rice, which he seems to like.  I also have cans of their canned food product, Blue's Stew, which he LOVES.  If he's a little reluctant to eat, all I have to do is mix about half of a can in with his kibble.

His dietary habits drive me completely insane.  There are several people who probably think I should have waited him out and forced him to eat the stuff that he didn't want...  and part of me agrees with them, because he's clearly imposing his will on me here.  But the other part of me kind of feels bad for him.  It would be BORING to eat the same things every day.  So I think we're going to try to shake it up a little bit.  I think we're going to stick with the Blue Buffalo brand for awhile, but maybe switch flavors on him after every bag.

Do any of you have trouble getting your dog to eat?  I just can't wrap my head around it.  My childhood dogs (a Pekingese and a Basset mix) never EVER turned down kibble, and we weren't exactly feeding them high quality stuff.  It probably never occurred to us to change the flavor on them back then...  it just wasn't the way things were done.  So nothing prepared me for a finicky dog.

Divas come in all shapes and sizes.

14 comments:

  1. My Tibby has been a 'selective' eater from the first day I brought her home. I guess it is a Tibetan Terrier trait, but it doesn't make it any easier to live with!
    I feed all her meals from my hand. Our agility instructor suggested I do this to help develop a closer relationship.
    She has to 'work' for her kibble by doing tricks or recall activities.
    However, if she doesn't feel like it she will just walk away after one bite of kibble. Even though I know she hasn't eaten all day!
    When I fed out of a bowl she would also walk away from her food after a few bites and take all day to eat a tiny mouthful. Then other days she would wolf down 2 servings in a few mins.
    I think dogs try to drive us crazy!

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  2. Dogs are just like people,, they come in different colors and sizes and idiosyncrasies!!! I am with you on the not giving in to your dog. I couldn't not feed my dog!!! I would have to do what you are doing. You could change dog foods every 3 months. Keeping it interesting!!
    xx, Bambi & Fern

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  3. If any of my dogs refuse their food it is in the morning. Brut and Blaze are notorious for it. But I never have a problem with their evening meal. If I do then they probably have an upset stomach and are fine the next day.

    Blaze is my picky eater, but only after her heat. Since I know that's what it is I don't fret too much, but I keep a close eye on her stool. She eats enough to get by. Then she comes out of it after about 2 months. She can also be very picky about treat of any kind. Everything from little goodies, to milk bones, to raw hides.

    I haven't ever had picky eaters before, but Huskies are known for it. I can't imagine any dogs I've had before turning down food!

    Wish I had some better suggestions to help you with. Is it common for greyhounds to be so finicky?? Just curious.

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  4. I tried preparing raw food for the kitties and it was so much work!! I couldn't keep it up.

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  5. We've had a food saga as well. Skye has food allergies, Parker is picky, and both get tummy trouble. It was only recently that I found a solution: we're sticking with our dry Taste of the Wild, but I add a spoonful of Wellness 98% beef wet food and warm water. It makes a gravy that isn't too rich, so their belly's are happy.

    It's the first time dog food has made them excited, and I'm planning to switch between the beef and lamb wet food so there is some variety. It's all grain free for Skye, and the wet food is essentially all meat, no filler. Best of luck figuring it out- it's worth it!

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  6. I could write a novel about our picky eaters! You're definitely not alone. I don't know if you're familiar with what they eat at the track, but after that stuff, even though I find it repulsive, I can see where they'd turn their noses up at a lot of kibble. Lilac has been our pickiest eater, bar none! Oh, mercy, the battles we've had. One thing that I have found helps us a lot is a bottle of "shaky cheese" aka Parmesan cheese. Sprinkling a little of that on top of our dogs' food often makes them thing that they're getting something special and will get them eating. I think because it has a strong smell, it appeals to them. I read last year somewhere that it might be a good idea to switch their kibble every three months, but I can't recall where I read that.

    We recently tried a brand called By Nature for a review and if I could find that in a store here near us, I'd switch to that. Our girls all LOVED it and just inhaled it out of the bowl! Good luck with your picky eater! It's not easy!

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  7. Leroy is the only one in my gang who seems to be picky...all he will eat is a fish based food.
    Sherman will eat anything!

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  8. One of my dogs used to be a reluctant eater when she was younger. Adding water into her food and letting it soak in a bit helped her. Warm water makes the food give off more of an aroma, and I think she also liked the texture change it brought on. And, if you mix warm or hot water with a tiny bit of canned food to make a nice, warm gravy, it can help "flavor up" a whole lot of kibble.

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  9. Some greyhounds are indeed picky eaters - as Houndstooth pointed out, they don't get kibble on the track - so they didn't spend their puppyhoods getting used to it.

    Thanks for all of the suggestions and support - I had no idea that it was such a common problem! A few things:

    Parmesan cheese used to work - until he decided that he was tired of that too. *shakes head* Now he insists on shredded cheddar, LOL.

    I will probably try the By Nature as our next kind of kibble.

    A couple of you suggested making a gravy of sorts out of the canned food - I will try that this week. I do give him canned food, but without mixing it with water, he just "cherry picks" it out. I like this idea, and I think it might trick him into actually eating.

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  10. I can't see that it's fair to feed the dog the same old plain kibble day after day after day until the sack is gone and then buy another exactly the same, and to be perfectly honest, no matter how 'balanced' the kibble I don't believe it's good for them to have such a limited diet, either.

    We have always fed a little of this, a little of that. Providing you don't allow yourself to become his slave, I think it's fine. Mine gets a little of some kind of wet food in with his kibble every day, with tough, fibrous chewy treats for his teeth and he does fine, and his poop is fine and so we are all fine with it. LOL!

    Greyhounds seem to just be like this. Some people think they're dumb but they are clearly not. And they don't like the same food every day - here in England, they aren't even used to it at the trainer's kennels. Sid's trainer has a huge pressure type cooker and she cooks for her dogs every day, mixing the goop of fresh liver, tripe, chicken or beef (plus veggies) into the standard racing dog kibble.

    Who am I to change the habits of a lifetime? ;)

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  11. Both Beryl and Frankie are a bit on the picky side and I used to make a gravy of marmite and hot water and put some of that on their other food. It worked for a while:) Recently I've been making a chicken stock from chicken frames which I can get cheap sometimes at the supermarket. I've got a big stock pot and just let them simmer for ages. That's been working for a few months. This weekend I bought some beef dog bones and made a stock out of them and Beryl is actually inhaling her food with that on it, yay!

    Good luck with Argos. They can make us worry, can't they!

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  12. Hi- This is my first reading of your blog and it is as if I have found the soul mate of my picky eater, Boo. My chihuahua has food allergies and will scarf up anything Boo leaves behind- that means he is also on a limited diet. I have found that he LOVES Blue but will tire of it after one bag, so I buy it every other time. Nadine stays on Solid Gold the whole time.

    Like you, I feel overwhelmed with my daily chores (full time employee, full time 40 year old student, full time laundry sorter...) and can't add cooking for the dogs into the mix. I love them dearly but when my husband and I are having spagetti-os and wine for supper cooking for the dogs is not going to happen.

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  13. Sorry for posting on an old post, but I have some imput to share. :-)

    We used to have the pickiest eaters on God's green earth! The problem wasn't with the food really, they simply didn't want to eat. A simple soultion that works (90% percent of the time). Some days they still don't eat, btu this is much less frequent. Anyway, before each meal we require the dogs to do something. For instance, sit or down and they must stay in place until they are released to eat.

    We also vary adding something every few meals. If we eat scrambled eggs or grilled chicken (non seasoned) or peas and carrots the pups get some too. I guess it just keeps thing interesting.

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