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Picky eater....need advice


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We have our first BC and are absolutely loving the experience!! She is 7 months old. I have found her to be an extremely picky eater however. I would like to feed a high quality kibble as I travel quite a bit and she goes with me, so the raw diet would not be convenient then. I have tried Blue Buffalo (wouldn't eat this one at all),Spots Stew (also wouldn't touch it), Orijen and Holistic Select. The last two, she will eat the first bag, and somewhere during the second bag, she decides she just won't eat it anymore and stops eating. I feel bad and start the search for something she might like better. For one meal, I mix in canned food and for her other meal, I mix in plain yogurt. She prefers the yogurt, but because of the travelling, I insist on her having the canned food for one meal because I can travel with that. I leave her food out for 15-20 min. and if she doesn't eat it, take it up. We don't feed table food or too many treats. She gets plenty of excersice. She weighs 21 lbs. Am I just stressing too much? Is there a quality food that tastes better to them? When we visit friends or family who keep food out all the time, she scarfs their food like a starving beast, but when I ask what it is, it is always a grocery store brand that I would rather not feed. I would really appreciate some help!

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Well, if she scarfs the grocery store brand, maybe she's trying to tell you something (like she needs grains as part of her diet). Why not try a mid-range brand, something better than grocery store but maybe not at the top of the premium dog food heap and something that contains some grain (not necessarily corn, but rice or barley or similar)? Of course it's possible that she would turn her nose up at even the grocery store brands after a few weeks.

 

My picky eaters get one raw meal a day and one kibble meal. Usually if they won't eat one they will eat the other. The kibble I feed is Diamond Naturals. I tried a bunch of the more premium foods with Lark, but like your dog, she might eat it a few times and then would start turning up her nose, and after a while I just decided that I wasn't going to buy every super-premium food on the planet to try to find one she liked. Now she eats pretty regularly and is more inclined to refuse a raw meal that's not to her liking than a kibble meal.

 

She also started eating better with maturity (like by the time she turned 3).

 

It's also possible that your pup has an allergy to something in the food and although it starts out well, she starts feeling bad the longer she continues to eat it. That's a less likely scenario, but one you might want to consider down the road.

 

I have a friend whose dog couldn't tolerate premium foods--she constantly had soft stools or diarrhea (his nickname for her is "Squirt" if that tells you anything). When he switched her to a grocery store brand (Purina ONE) she stopped having issues. I wouldn't automatically go for the "lesser" brands, but if one of them works for your individual dog, then you gotta do what you gotta do....

 

J.

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I hate to say it, but it sounds like she has you pretty well trained. That sort of manipulative picky eating is extremely common in adolescent Border Collies. I had a dog that did the same thing when he was the same age. I had him checked by my vet to make sure he was healthy, then I stopped mixing in anything with his food and told him to eat it or lose it. After a week he caved in and started eating plain dry food, the same kind every single day. He never missed a meal after that.

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Ditto to what Julie and Liz said. I have had 2 dogs that *needed* carbs that were not in the high end foods. At first I supplemented with Oatmeal, they loved it and it helped, however, I am not cooking oatmeal daily......so, I found a good food, kibble, that works for all of them when raw is not an option. I switched to Native foods and so far so good. But, 2 days of not eating doesn't panic me either.

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FWIW, Spots Stew and Holistic Selects both contain a decent amount of grains(Blue Buffalo too unless you're using a grain free variety), so I'd lean toward the picky dog idea.

 

Many grocery store kibbles may taste better due to what is sprayed on them. I think it might be kinda like eating Oatmeal vs Frosted Flakes :lol:

 

But with an otherwise healthy dog, they eat what they get. I might switch once or twice to find something that they like better, but if they've been eating one just fine, then stick with it and wait them out - they'll eat when they're hungry!!

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Thanks so much for all your replies! I appreciate the feedback and will just wait her out. Since she is still in the puppyhood stage, she has been to the vet frequently for shots, spaying, etc. and we have discussed this. She assures me that Madison is healthy, nutrition-wise, as her coat is gleaming, her eyes are healthy and bright and she is gaining weight. Think I will stick with the Holistic Select, as that is what she was eating before this latest refusal to eat! Guess she'll get hungry sooner or later!

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Tractor Supply has a new line of food that is decent called 4Health. It's like $25 for forty pounds which puts it in the Diamond Naturals range these days.

 

The nice thing though is the kcal per kilo is quite dense, good enough to feed my older LGD even without budget pain.

 

in other words the PRICE PER KCAL is one of the better values out there. This is something to examine carefully when all else is equal and you've found multiple diets that suit a dog with nutritional challenges.

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Sue Ailsby (Sue Eh) has a little write up on her website about teaching your dog to eat:

 

TEACHING YOUR DOG TO EATThere are many unpleasant consequences to having a "fussy" eater - you basically have no control over when the dog eats (I'm not hungry right now), what he eats (I don't like this!), how much he eats (three kernels was plenty, thanks), or when he ate last (an important question when you're prepping for emergency surgery). You have no control over how much he weighs - and HE is busy playing mind games with you over control of the food. We've done a lot of experimenting with changing a dog's performance and behaviour with how much and when we feed as well - for instance, dogs with a shy tendency, and dogs who tend to put too much pressure on themselves in competition are fed as close to ringtime as possible to change their body chemistry and calm them down. Dogs who tend to be a bit lethargic are fed three hours before ringtime to give them energy to perform. You can't do this with a "fussy" eater. Many people habitually starve their "fussy" eaters every show weekend, hoping they'll perform better because they're hungry. Try telling THAT to a football player! In order to perform, an athlete must be properly fed and properly rested - to achieve that, the dog must understand the rules of his universe. When he understands the rules, he can relax in a coherent universe. So here's the training "method" to teach your dog to eat "on cue":

 

Decide how much food the dog should be getting in a day (let's say one cup, as an example). Divide that amount into two meals. Develop a ritual - say "Are you hungry? Where's your dish? Where's the food? Alright! Get in the kennel (or on your mat, or whatever)!" Put down the half cup of food and COUNT TO FIVE.

 

If, as you get to five, the dog is eating, fine.

 

If, at any time after you've counted to five and the dog is eating, he turns away from the dish before he gets to the bottom and polishes the bowl, say NOTHING, pick up the dish, and put the food away.

 

If you get to five and the dog isn't eating, say NOTHING, pick up the dish, and put it away.

 

Give him nothing until his next scheduled meal, 12 hours later (for adult dogs).

If the dog either doesn't approach the dish, or turns away from the food before it's all gone, and you got to take the dish away, measure what's left. At the next scheduled meal, give him HALF WHAT HE ATE at the previous meal. If he ate 6 kernels of food and wandered off, he'll have 3 kernels of food in his dish at the next meal. If he eats two of those three kernels and wanders off, give him 1 kernel at the next meal.

 

When he eats ALL the food in his dish, polishes the bowl and wishes there was more, you can give him slightly more at his next scheduled meal (don't give him more at THIS meal), and more at the next one, etc, until he's back to getting - and eating - the appropriate amount of food.

 

If at any time he doesn't eat all the food you give him before turning away, take the dish away and give him half what he ate for his next meal.

 

Of course you CARE what he eats, and whether he's healthy or not, but it's very important that you don't take responsibility for whether he chooses to eat or not.

 

People who worry that the dog will starve to death don't get healthy dogs. They get dogs who hold out for days without eating, who "demand" to have their food changed every few days. Remember, you're NOT withholding food from the dog. You're offering him food twice a day. You're giving him the same window of opportunity you give him in any training situation. If the dog is healthy and just "fussy", all he has to do is choose to eat. HIS choice.

 

Sue Eh?

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Tractor Supply has a new line of food that is decent called 4Health. It's like $25 for forty pounds which puts it in the Diamond Naturals range these days.

 

The nice thing though is the kcal per kilo is quite dense, good enough to feed my older LGD even without budget pain.

 

in other words the PRICE PER KCAL is one of the better values out there. This is something to examine carefully when all else is equal and you've found multiple diets that suit a dog with nutritional challenges.

 

I think the 4Health is essentially the same food as Diamond Naturals. 4Health is made by Diamond and the ingredient list on at least a couple of the varieties is almost (if not) identical.

 

FWIW, Around here 4health runs the same price as Diamond Naturals, but the bags weigh 35# instead of 40#

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I always give my dogs and advise my clients to give their pets 5 to 10 minutes. Some dogs get nervous with an owner looming over their food dish and need a few minutes of quiet time before they eat.

 

Some of the advice in that link sounds a little funny to me. A picky eater that only consumes half their food one day might need to eat twice that the next day if they are very active. If your dog is always leaving food behind or gaining weight you need to cut back, but I don't understand the drastic cut to half their original portion.

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Liz,

Perhaps it's to make/keep them hungry?

 

I actually don't sit around fiddling with my dogs' food either--if everyone else is finished, all bowls get picked up. Can't say that doing so has changed the pickiness of the picky eaters either though. They just go hungry on the days they refuse to eat.... Then again, they don't usually refuse all food for days on end, though sometimes when I travel to trials that does happen (no eating while on the road).

 

J.

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The make them hungry logic makes sense to a point, but so many pet owners struggle with the concept of healthy weight that I would worry about a very skinny adolescent dog losing too much weigh this way. Many adolescent BCs are "calorie eaters." They only consume what they need on that particular day. Some days that is very little food, but other days it could be twice or more what they normally eat.

 

I try to feed a little extra to anyone that wants it for a few days before hitting the road. Many of my dogs will eat less than usual when we travel, so I want to build up their fat/glycogen stores before we leave. Generally though, if the trip is longer than 2 nights, they settle into the routine and start eating normally again.

 

I just can't wait to get this move done with so that the dogs and I can settle back into a routine. Right now we are both off our usual eating and exercise schedules. :(

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Completely off topic, but what does she mean by competition? I can't imagine feeding a dog right before a strenuous activity, unless competition means the show ring. Do you know, Rushdoggie?

 

J.

 

I think she means obedience, although she may do conformation too, I don't really remember. I came across it when using her training levels on her website (which are pretty good, imo) and referred a friend to it once she was certain that her dog was healthy and just being overly picky, then the person's other dogs would be interested and she would guard her bowl, etc. So, she tried it and it worked; in 3 days her dog ate what she was given.

 

The make them hungry logic makes sense to a point, but so many pet owners struggle with the concept of healthy weight that I would worry about a very skinny adolescent dog losing too much weigh this way. Many adolescent BCs are "calorie eaters." They only consume what they need on that particular day. Some days that is very little food, but other days it could be twice or more what they normally eat.

 

 

I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a pet owner whose dog was too skinny! :D

 

My dogs have been "calorie eaters" too, but thats not the same as a "picky eater" I don't think. This protocol assumes that the reason your dog isn't eating is he is simply being choosy about when and where its offerred, not that there is something wrong.

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I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a pet owner whose dog was too skinny! :D

 

I have. I see this when my client's dog is an adolescent going through a picky stage. Most are a normal weight, some are indeed fat despite their owners insisting that they NEVER eat, but some are on the low end of ideal because of the combination of being a calorie eater and a growth spurt. I don't want to see the ones that are borderline thin become too skinny.

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I needed a few things from the local pet store today and in making chit-chat with the teller, was handed a free sample of Bil-Jack puppy food. I looked at their web site when I got home and from what I could tell, in my limited knowledge, their food is neither all good, nor all bad. Madison did seem to like it (for today!) Any opinions on this one??

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Bess gets silly once in a while about not eating... but it isn't a daily or consistant thing. I found, that if I put a few kibbles of another kind of dog food or few of the cats kibbles on the top of her usual food... she eats them. Was at a business fair/fun kid day type thing and the co-op from that small town carries Taste of the Wild in at least 2 different formulas, High Prairie and one with fish? I think... I picked up a couple free samples, had another friend pick up a couple for me and have been putting a few kibbles on just for the fun of it every other night or so... she usually eats Canidae but thinks the cats Felidae is supurrb...LOL so now and then I sprinkle a few of those kibbles on top of hers to eat too.

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I used to feed Bil-Jac ages ago and the dogs did well on it (it's got beet pulp, but I think it also contains corn?). Anyway, now it seems that it is priced right up there with the premium foods but without the ingredient list to match. If it were priced lower, I would still consider using it sometimes.

 

J.

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My first Border Collie was a picky eater all his life, he just did not seem to care if he ate or not... Both these comments describe my dogs Liz, current and passed.

 

I hate to say it, but it sounds like she has you pretty well trained. That sort of manipulative picky eating is extremely common in adolescent Border Collies. I had a dog that did the same thing when he was the same age. I had him checked by my vet to make sure he was healthy, then I stopped mixing in anything with his food and told him to eat it or lose it. After a week he caved in and started eating plain dry food, the same kind every single day. He never missed a meal after that.

 

Now with my young almost 2 year old we have been going through a similar thing, and he is on the wrong side of thin and when we try picking up his bowl he does not seem to care. So although I have been tempted to try this and do occasionally I just can not bring myself to go all out.

So we are on light bribes small amounts of finely diced meatball / hotdog sprinkled through the meal and if he does not finish within 20 minutes or so ( both my dogs are slow eaters) I pick the bowl up

 

Many adolescent BCs are "calorie eaters." They only consume what they need on that particular day. Some days that is very little food, but other days it could be twice or more what they normally eat.

I had never heard of this Liz so thanks for pointing it out.

 

Has one ever ran into a preferred eating time, Rievaulx the youngster would prefer to eat breakfast late morning, discovered due to my whacky schedule. I would feed him at breakfast and forget out about the bowl and at 11.00 he would finnish the whole bowl with no bribes. But he can not eat on this schedule all the time.

Bandit used to prefer to eat at 2.00 am he would leave his dinner and I would here him eating in the middle of the night. Luckily for him and his companion's waist line she was very polite and did not eat his food.

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I have. I see this when my client's dog is an adolescent going through a picky stage. Most are a normal weight, some are indeed fat despite their owners insisting that they NEVER eat, but some are on the low end of ideal because of the combination of being a calorie eater and a growth spurt. I don't want to see the ones that are borderline thin become too skinny.

 

I have, too. Shoshone doesn't do well on a meat-only diet, and she had to get down to 32 lbs for me to understand that.

 

I don't care for the outlined protocol, either. There are just too many variables for the dogs I've had. How hard is it to leave the food down for 10-15 minutes and then take it up? Why all the fussing with half rations, then half again, etc?

 

Ruth

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I used to love Bil Jac because contrary to popular belief, some hard keeping dogs do wonderfully on corn. It was so simple. Chicken, chicken parts, ground up whole corn, prebiotic (beet pulp i thintk), chicken fat, preservatives, and micronutrient premix. Food in, almost nothing out.

 

But they fiddled with Yhe formula and now it's got other gains and other stuff in it, making it not even a very good premium food, but with the same superpremium price.

 

Checked my 4Health bag again. Weird. It's made by a local mill, and it's 39 pounds. Active formula. The kcals are better than puppy, but less protein, higher fat, and more fiber, which I liked. Plus less expensive than puppy. :)

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My Klee Kai is a "picky" eater -- Although by "picky" I mean more that he picks at his food all day long and isn't much for eating it all in one sitting.

 

I really worried about him as a puppy. He was very thin, but it's pretty common for Klee Kai puppies to look like a rack of bones because they almost all eat this way. I found it was easiest to just leave his food out 24/7 and let him eat when he was hungry. For some reason I never had to worry about Luke touching Kaiser's food. He just didn't.

 

When I brought Secret home it was another story. Try keeping an active, starving puppy out of a food dish. So I decided that once and for all, Kaiser was going to learn to eat on a schedule. I followed a protocol similar to the one mentioned in this post. After several days he finally started to eat part of his evening meal, but he was not getting nearly enough calories. After two weeks he had lost just over two pounds -- which is a LOT for a 17 lb dog who is "sport fit"!! He was frighteningly thin.

 

I gave up. It took me two days to teach Secret not to touch his food dish. He's back to having free access 24/7. He gets his measured amount each day (1/2 cup in the a.m. and then again in the p.m.) and if he eats it, he eats it. Often times he'll eat only half of it one day, but then make up for it and eat everything the next day.

 

Oddly, he's a pretty good eater when we travel to trials. And inexplicably, he's been eating really well the last couple of weeks since he got neutered. I won't be surprised if he goes back to his old ways, though.

 

FWIW, I rotate food with each bag -- Not because my dogs are picky or fussy, but because I think nutritional variety is good for them. I rotate amongst Natural Balance LID, Wellness Core, TOTW and most recently I added Blue Wilderness to our rotation. The dogs seem to really like it (by dogs, I guess I mean Kaiser, because the other two vacuum up anything you put in front of them).

 

Instead of doctoring up your dog's dish with canned food and other toppers, you could try just putting some warm water over it -- Often times this is enough to entice some of the fussier eaters because it enhances the smell & flavor of the food. I completely soak Luke & Secret's meals -- just to try to get them to slow down a bit. :D

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My Klee Kai is a "picky" eater -- Although by "picky" I mean more that he picks at his food all day long and isn't much for eating it all in one sitting.

 

I really worried about him as a puppy. He was very thin, but it's pretty common for Klee Kai puppies to look like a rack of bones because they almost all eat this way. I found it was easiest to just leave his food out 24/7 and let him eat when he was hungry. For some reason I never had to worry about Luke touching Kaiser's food. He just didn't.

 

When I brought Secret home it was another story. Try keeping an active, starving puppy out of a food dish. So I decided that once and for all, Kaiser was going to learn to eat on a schedule. I followed a protocol similar to the one mentioned in this post. After several days he finally started to eat part of his evening meal, but he was not getting nearly enough calories. After two weeks he had lost just over two pounds -- which is a LOT for a 17 lb dog who is "sport fit"!! He was frighteningly thin.

 

I gave up. It took me two days to teach Secret not to touch his food dish. He's back to having free access 24/7. He gets his measured amount each day (1/2 cup in the a.m. and then again in the p.m.) and if he eats it, he eats it. Often times he'll eat only half of it one day, but then make up for it and eat everything the next day.

 

Oddly, he's a pretty good eater when we travel to trials. And inexplicably, he's been eating really well the last couple of weeks since he got neutered. I won't be surprised if he goes back to his old ways, though.

 

FWIW, I rotate food with each bag -- Not because my dogs are picky or fussy, but because I think nutritional variety is good for them. I rotate amongst Natural Balance LID, Wellness Core, TOTW and most recently I added Blue Wilderness to our rotation. The dogs seem to really like it (by dogs, I guess I mean Kaiser, because the other two vacuum up anything you put in front of them).

 

Instead of doctoring up your dog's dish with canned food and other toppers, you could try just putting some warm water over it -- Often times this is enough to entice some of the fussier eaters because it enhances the smell & flavor of the food. I completely soak Luke & Secret's meals -- just to try to get them to slow down a bit. :D

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I really appreciate everybody's input! I have tried the warm water with every dog food I have tried except the Bil-Jac, which she is still eating happily on day two. Dry! No additions! No digestive upset from not doing a gradual change either, since she had decided she just wasn't going to eat the other any more. I still don't like the ingredients nearly as well as the more premium brands and am going to try giving her the Bil-Jac for one meal and yogurt covered Holistic Select for the other, but if that doesn't work, I guess she will eat Bil-Jac. For today, she seems to really like it....weird looking stuff...looks like something you would feed a rabbit! Anyway, thanks so much for all your help!! I look forward to many years of being a proud BC owner!!

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