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Question for long-time raw feeders


juliepoudrier
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Y'all have read about Lark and her extreme pickiness here before. I tried her on raw as a pup but it lasted maybe three days before she started turning her nose up at everything, so I went back to kibble. I went through a lot of different brands to find something she'd eat consistently (Merrick, it turns out). Of course, consistently was still somewhat sporadic, especially when on the road to trials. A while ago (don't remember exactly, maybe a year) I decided to try her back on raw, since I really would like for her to eat consistently. There has been the occasion turned up nose at some things, but overall she was doing really well. Lately, though, I feel like we're going back through the same cycle we went through with kibble. I feel like for raw to work and cover her nutritional needs, she needs variety. But lately, she's becoming increasingly picky over her raw meals too. For example, store bought ground beef (ground chuck, usually) is no longer considered edible. Then chicken went off the list, most of the time (fortunately for me, I have other raw fed dogs who will eat the stuff Lark turns her nose up at, so at least it's not wasted when she decides something is inedible). (All this really makes you wonder what she's smelling on the meat that makes her think it can't be eaten.) Her list of edible foods is becoming increasingly smaller, though at seemingly random times she *will* eat previously rejected types of foods (e.g., chicken).

 

Right now, the only things she'll eat consistently are my home-grown lamb or mutton, venison taken in the wild by my housemate, and the occasional fish. She refuses eggs in any form, and many store bought meats. She will eat cottage cheese but not yogurt. Perhaps if I could find sources for naturally raised meats of other kinds or just grow it here, she would eat it, but as I am currently unemployed, I am somewhat limited financially, and although I have two freezers, there's still not a ton of open freezer space. She will beg for people food, so I'm wondering if maybe I should alternate the raw stuff she will eat with home-cooked meats to fill in the gaps.

 

She is a small dog, around 28-30 pounds, without an ounce of fat on her, so she can't afford to fast often. She turned 3 at the end of January and doesn't have any apparent health issues--full of energy, good coat, bright eyes, etc. I've also tried giving her vitamin supplements to cover what we might be missing, but she's also refusing those, unless I shove them down her throat.

 

Any thoughts?

 

J.

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Julie

I don't have answers but I will say I have a picky eater too. she will eat kibble but very strangly and not that much. She doesn't seem to like to get her face or paws yucky with meat. So I know you'll probably laugh at the time it takes but....

 

I've found that if I feed the other dogs before her, that helps. She doesn't like to hear other dogs crunching while she's thinking about eating. After I feed the other dogs (a few minutes, they eat normally) I will take her meat in my hand and hold it for her. It gets her started on eating. She'll work on the meat while I hold it for a few minutes then I can let go with it in her mouth and she'll keep picking at it. She might not choose to eat it all but I can then tell her to "finish her dinner" and she usually keeps eating it. If not then I have to hold it again.

This is one of my senior girls so I allow her the privillige of being picky. When I used to take her trialing I had to buy cheap crappy pouch food which had smelly gravy and add that to her kibble, find the quietest place and set with her while encouraging her to eat. I know, it's allot to go through with a dog to eat but it's what worked for us.

The biggest thing for her is being around the other dogs when she is trying to eat. It just makes her to nervous to eat. So we make do with what we have to.

 

Funny, Raven eats cottage cheese as a topper but hates yogurt. She does like mackeral or sardines as a topper but not her far. She will eat ground meat better but we still have to do the same routine. If I could get my own grinder I think I'd try grinding up the bones too, it's the bones she doesn't seem to like, but I do see her chew on one for recreation sometimes. I worry she doesn't get the calcium she needs. COuld you possibly cook the meat just a tad so it starts to smell more? Raven will also eat eggs if I cook them a bit first. I dont cook them through but just less runny than raw. Lord forbid I leave a shell in it or add some, that's not on her list of eating stuff. BTW her teeth are fine but dirtier than the rest of the dogs as she is not a chewer.

 

All I can say is I wish I was that picky, I'd be way less fluffy myself.

 

Right now she is having her kibble breakfast on the couch right next to DH and he is telling her to eat her breakfast the whole time. THe other dogs are long finsihed and out side.

What we do for these dogs....

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Julie,

 

Have you tried just lightly searing whatever she turns her nose up at (I mean like no longer than 30 seconds)? The aroma and texture of the food might be more appealing to her, enough so that she might be more willing to eat it. I only thought of this because it's how Tucker needed to be started with raw and since you say she begs for people food it might be a good alternate so she gets the benefit of still being fed raw meat. You may only need to do this when she hits one of her picky phases.

 

Just a thought :rolleyes:

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Kristen,

If she were an oldster I'd consider hand feeding, but I really don't have the time to coddle her and coax her to eat. Sometimes she'll wait till everyone else is finished before eating her food, but if it's something she likes, she'll eat it right away and then wander amongst the other dogs with an expression that says "Why are they still eating, and I'm not?" If it's something she really doesn't want, she'll lie there next to it and not let any other dog near, but when everyone else has finished their meal and gone outside, she'll walk away from it if she doesn't want it.

 

Danielle,

I can try to searing. I just don't really want Lark to make me work this hard to get her to eat. Sometimes I feel like just throwing my hands up in the air and telling her "Go ahead, starve!"

 

J.

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Sometimes I feel like just throwing my hands up in the air and telling her "Go ahead, starve!"

 

Maybe that's what it will finally take... It would just depend on who will hold out the longest :rolleyes:

 

I'm about to try this with Tucker. Rabbit is pretty easy for me to get through the co-op, but Tucker refuses to touch it. I'm to the point, like you, that I don't want to have to pull out two different bags for the boys (everything is packaged together). Tucker might just not get dinner until he decides rabbit isn't all that terrible...

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Could it be hormonally related? Riddle was always pretty much off her food 2 months after her cycle--when she would have pups had she been bred. Since her first litter, she'll eat anything, anytime. Or seasonal/climate related? Tikkle now seems to be turning up her nose at her lamb ribs--a staple around here, and one of her favorites. I'm thinking it may be the hotter weather, as she's perfectly happy with her chicken.

 

A

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Julie I have a male dog that is not and never has been an eater. When he was on kibble there were times he would go 2 days without eating. Unless it was people food. Like your dog he was healthy, had lots of energy and a nice coat. Now that he is on raw it's the same thing.

 

We have the 15 minute rule..you get 15 minutes to eat after which it's picked up and saved for the next meal. Some days he will wait to I'm picking it up and decide he's going to eat.

 

Does it help? Some. He's just not a good eater, a healthy dog won't starve they will eat when they get hungry. It just boils down to how much us humans want to jump through hoops to get them to eat.

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(ETA: This reply was to Danielle's post)

Well, the thing is that when she turns her nose up at the raw food in front of her, she goes trolling for whatever she can find in the bowls of the kibble-fed dogs. It's clear she's actually hungry; she just isn't hungry enough to eat the "inedible" meat I've put in front of her, but I guarantee you if someone left some kibble behind, she'd eat that. Strange little dog....

 

J.

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Sorry, I was working on my post and several other things at the same time and so missed a couple subsequent posts.

 

Anna,

It could be estrus cycle related, except that if I pick up the chicken like I did today and give her some lamb instead, she'll eat the lamb right up. So it's not that she won't eat *anything* but rather that she doesn't want specific things. Like I said in the previous post, if she turns her nose up at what I give her, she'll go act real interested in what the kibble-fed dogs were eating. I take that to mean she actually *is* hungry but for some reason doesn't want the particular item I've put in front of her. They have such sensitive noses, I often wonder if there's something about the store-bought chicken that just doesn't smell right to her....

 

RoseAmy,

Often I do just take it up and try again (with something else, since I know from experience once she's rejected something she's not going to eat it come hell or high water) at the next feeding. Sometimes if I let a piggy dog like Pip or Phoebe hang out in the kitchen, she'll eat, but you can tell she's not happy about it and is just doing so because she doesn't want the other dog to have it. But more often than not she'll just guard it from the others but refuse to eat it herself.

 

I guess I'll just keep jumping through hoops to the extent I'm willing to do so. I'm tempted to put her back on kibble for one meal a day just so she's getting some sort of balanced nutrition. At least until she decides that all kibble is poison (again). :rolleyes:

 

J.

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Julie, I don't have anything to add, other than saying that's exactly what I have to go through with Ouzo. I tried raw with him, and either he loves it but then he's pooping liquid after the second day of the same menu, or he decides meat looks very good, but leaves it out on the balcony until it gets flies or dirt on it.

 

And same as Lark, once he refuses something raw, there's no point taking it and reoffering it to him - he just won't eat it again.

 

With kibble, if I feed him right when he's hungry - I have to ask him and read his body language ( :rolleyes: ) - he'll eat it. If I don't offer it at the right time, chances are it's going to lay there until I throw it two days later. Adding toppings on "old" kibble will just be another thing to throw in the garbage.

 

I am bad, but I don't always wash his bowl after every meal - but lately I noticed that if he refuses one meal, and I throw it out and wash the bowl, chances are he will eat new kibble out of a clean bowl. For now.

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How long has Lark gone without eating? I went there with Raven, I lasted 2 full days. She sleeps right next to my side of the bed and I could hear her tummy growling all night. She won.

 

I always tell people worried about there dogs not wanting to eat that they won't starve themselves to death (if it's not medical). Guess no one told Raven.

 

Anna

I notice Dew eats way less after coming out of a heat. For quite some time. She is an easier keeper normally so it's not a bad thing for her.

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I'm surprised that Lark weighs that much. When I saw her I would have said 20 lbs at best. Something about her tells me that she'll outlast any owner about eating when she wants too. Seen a few Border Collies like that before, some toys, and some of the big sighthounds. They just don't have a normal appetite. In Borzoi they have more that reasonable suspecion it's genetic, but not how it's passed on.

 

Have you ever tried any kind of seasoning on the food? Italian seasoning (oregano, garlic, parsley) is an appetite stimulant. Mixed with a little warm water and poored over food she might be more likely to eat. Her choices of meat do seem smell oriented, not much you can do about that, but when she just won't eat what you offer the seasoning might help. Searing is also an option if you have the time. Pouring some table scraps she likes in too.

 

Treating her like Pavlov's dog might do help too. Feed her at precise times so you train her to have an appetite at that time of day.

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Julie - After what we experienced with Bute (who, other than being thin, very picky, eating everything but what he should eat, and having occasional diarrhea, was a glossy, energetic picture of health), you might consider some basic bloodwork and maybe a fasting "digestive" work-up.

 

Bute's basic bloodwork showed that his liver and kidney values were not what they should be, along with a couple of other indicators. His fasting bloodwork showed that he had a Vitamin B12 malabsorption problem, that can lead to several other issues.

 

I don't mean to be an alarmist, but we are a bit sensitive about dogs with picky or odd eating habits right now. Very best wishes! I love the Larky!

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I am not a long time raw feeder, but it sounds like Lark and Poke may have similar eating habits. Poke will not eat if he doesn't like the food. I have tried the "you'll eventually eat and won't starve," but he wins every time. I have yet to find a kibble that he will eat a healthy quantity of. He is so bad that I have an "eat," command to make him eat something. (Thank goodness he lives to please, but he looks at you like you are torturing him.) He, like Lark, is always game for people food. I sear all of his meat, and he will eat it. I try and sear it all on one day and freeze it for the rest of the week. I also heat up his dinner every night to get the aromas flowing. Before you try searing, you may just want to try popping her bowl in the microwave to get it smell a little stronger.

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FWIW, Pearl, was very much like Lark. Eating was torture. Long story short, she eventually developed epilepsy, put her on phenobarb and she now has a great appetite. She is actually happier on the phenobarb (or appears so) than before. Life is much easier and I now have to watch how much she eats since she's getting chubby.

 

Pearl also appears much less anxious and panicky on the phenobarb and we speculate that the anti-anxiety properties actually help her beyond the seizure issues.

 

Not at all sure how any of this relates but it's another data point.

 

Kathy/Iowa

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Before you try searing, you may just want to try popping her bowl in the microwave to get it smell a little stronger.

 

Carrie, I'm sure Julie knows this, but it's not a good idea to put raw meals in the microwave if they have any bones in them (for obvious reasons--the bones will cook and be susceptible to splintering).

 

Julie, when my guys turn their noses up at something (fortunately, it's a rare occurrence around here), one of my little tricks is to pour over the meal the blood/juice from the bottoms of the tupperware containers holding the meat I store in the fridge for the week. (Hope that sentence made sense.) Green tripe juice is always a favorite, as is lamb liver juice. :rolleyes:

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I have been feeding raw for just over seven years now. All of my dogs (over 6 mths old) get fed once a day, between 10pm and 12am (right before bed), and are fed six days a week. They get their food for 3-5 minutes, if they leave/refuse their food, it is fed to another dog or put away for tomorrow. My dogs are fasted one day a week, normally on Fridays.

During the time I have been feeding raw we have had 50+ dogs, including fosters and personal dogs. All of them have been fed raw, and none of them were picky after the first week or so at our house. The worst was Gidget, my Min Pin, that went 8 days without food before she finally caved.

I try to feed a large assortment of proteins, depending on what is available. If my dogs refuse their food, they will not be offered anything else, and they will be given the same thing they refused today for tomorrow's feeding.

Pickiness is either physical or behavioral. If the dog is healthy, then it is a training issue. IMHO

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(ETA: This reply was to Danielle's post)

Well, the thing is that when she turns her nose up at the raw food in front of her, she goes trolling for whatever she can find in the bowls of the kibble-fed dogs. It's clear she's actually hungry; she just isn't hungry enough to eat the "inedible" meat I've put in front of her, but I guarantee you if someone left some kibble behind, she'd eat that. Strange little dog....

 

J.

 

Aww that's a bummer! I hope you can figure out what works with miss Lark :rolleyes:

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I am bad, but I don't always wash his bowl after every meal - but lately I noticed that if he refuses one meal, and I throw it out and wash the bowl, chances are he will eat new kibble out of a clean bowl. For now.

Anda,

I don't think you're in the minority--many folks are astounded that I wash my dogs' food bowls after every meal.

 

How long has Lark gone without eating? I went there with Raven, I lasted 2 full days. She sleeps right next to my side of the bed and I could hear her tummy growling all night. She won.

Generally maybe two days--usually when we were on the road at trials. Personally I have no desire to let her go hungry for any length of time, especially if she clearly *is* hungry.

 

I'm surprised that Lark weighs that much. When I saw her I would have said 20 lbs at best.

She managed to fill out about the time she turned 3, though she's still pretty tiny.

 

Have you ever tried any kind of seasoning on the food? Italian seasoning (oregano, garlic, parsley) is an appetite stimulant. Mixed with a little warm water and poored over food she might be more likely to eat. Her choices of meat do seem smell oriented, not much you can do about that, but when she just won't eat what you offer the seasoning might help. Searing is also an option if you have the time. Pouring some table scraps she likes in too.

I can certainly try that in the future. I actually seared some chicken this morning and she ate it, but she has a way of fooling me into thinking we've gotten over one hump before erecting some other roadblock.

 

Treating her like Pavlov's dog might do help too. Feed her at precise times so you train her to have an appetite at that time of day.

I'm such a creature of routine that they do already eat at the same time every day. On mornings when I have to get up extra early for something, she does sometimes seem not to be hungry, but in general we do stick to the routine.

 

Sue,

I probably will get some baseline bloodwork done at some point. She doesn't eat other things, nor does she ever have any GI upset or any indication that she's got a physical problem. I really think it's an issue of smell. In fact, since it seems to be store-bought stuff that may have been frozen before so there may be a freezer burned smell effect or perhaps the chemical preservatives, etc. The stuff she likes is the stuff that is much fresher that we've butchered here or at the local Halal butcher--no preservatives, etc.

 

Sweet Ceana,

I fed Pip and Phoebe raw ground chuck this morning and saved a little out for Lark (she has been refusing the ground chuck for weeks). I browned it and then took the chicken thigh she refused yesterday and seared it and she ate both. So maybe a combination of cooking or searing is the key.

 

Kathy,

The funny thing is that one of my other raw-fed dogs has seizures, though they're intermittent enough that she's not yet being treated. But she eats raw like a horse! Last night I swear she downed her chicken thigh in fewer than 15 seconds. Holy doG, if/when she does go on meds, I can't imagine what sort of appetite she might have. :rolleyes:

 

Laura,

I've tried the blood/juices trick too. Often she will slurp up the liquid and leave the "inedible" meat behind.

 

UltimateK9,

The disconnect there is that everyone always goes on about how dogs love, love, love raw and meal times are the happiest times ever, so why would you have to in effect force a dog to eat raw? I suspect she doesn't like the smell of the meat and I suspect it's related to the way it's processed. Maybe she's smarter than the rest of them, since she does seem to prefer the more natural (less processed) meats. At any rate, perhaps it is a training issue, but that's not a fight I plan to fight. I absolutely will not let her go a week or more without food--my choice. I've had plenty of dogs here, both kibble- and raw-fed and this is the *first* dog I've ever had who didn't eat like a Hoover vacuum. So I don't think I have a major management problem when it comes to my dogs' eating habits.

 

================================

In case any of you haven't read through all my replies, I fed her browned ground chuck (the same stuff she won't eat raw) this morning and she ate it right up. I also seared the chicken thigh she refused yesterday, and she ate that. I did leave off the fish oil and vit E, so there's another variable, but for now if she refuses something, I'm going to try searing it and offering it again.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

 

J.

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Hi, Julie. I'm still thinking for an intact female, hormones. I said yesterday that Tikkle had turned her nose up at lamb the night before, but ate chicken necks readily. Now last night she turned her nose up at chicken backs. She did, however, eat some ground chicken. We'll see what tonight brings. But, I looked at the calendar, and sure enough! Just about 60 days since her cycle. When Riddle was younger and basically wouldn't eat during her entire cycle, chicken meat (a whole chicken done in the crock pot) with juice was the only thing she would eat. I would mix it in with kibble, about half and half, and she'd eat that just fine.

A

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Is it common for dogs that have been switched over from kibble to raw to have decreased requirements for water? The multiple water bowls that I have previously needed to fill nearly daily have scarcely been depleted, comparatively speaking.

 

Absolutely! It is like you eating something dry (bread or pretzels) or you eating fruit. Kibble is max of 10% moisture, which requires the dog to drink lots of water. Most raw diets are around 70% moisture and significantly lowers the dog's daily water intake.

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UltimateK9,

The disconnect there is that everyone always goes on about how dogs love, love, love raw and meal times are the happiest times ever, so why would you have to in effect force a dog to eat raw? I suspect she doesn't like the smell of the meat and I suspect it's related to the way it's processed. Maybe she's smarter than the rest of them, since she does seem to prefer the more natural (less processed) meats. At any rate, perhaps it is a training issue, but that's not a fight I plan to fight. I absolutely will not let her go a week or more without food--my choice. I've had plenty of dogs here, both kibble- and raw-fed and this is the *first* dog I've ever had who didn't eat like a Hoover vacuum. So I don't think I have a major management problem when it comes to my dogs' eating habits.

 

I have had plenty of dogs that initially refused a raw diet. Kibble fed dogs are used to smelly food that is sprayed with fats and oils, to entice them to eat. A raw diet is bland compared to kibble. So many dogs are not so thrilled in the beginning.

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When I switched my old man to raw I had to tear the meat up for him until he got the idea. But most of mine who are currently on raw just switched right over, no problem, maybe because they were used to getting raw meaty bones and raw scraps, etc., anyway. Lark is different in that she's been on a raw diet for a good amount of time now and is becoming more picky about what she eats rather than less picky. In fact, I started her out on kibble in the morning and raw at night and eventually transitioned over to completely raw. So it's not a situation of trying to switch her to something new but rather to keep her from deciding she no longer wants to eat it....

 

Like I said, I am going to try the searing and Wendy's suggestion of herbs/spices and see how that goes.

 

And the more I think about it, since this has been an issue from puppyhood, the more I think I probably should get some baseline bloodwork done just to make sure there isn't some physiological reason for her pickiness.

 

J.

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