FAQs - Poor Feeders
you are not alone...
Below is a summary
of a SpeakEasy discussion that ran for two years. Obviously a topic that
affects lots of you! By poor feeders I'm referring to those dogs with
a poor appetite and who don't appear to eat as much as the recommended
quantities on the food packaging. Also refer to the section on feeding
greyhounds and lurchers.
My first dog, a 6
yr old lurcher bitch, was a poor feeder. Despite trying a wide variety
of food, human and dog, she would sometimes refuse to eat for up to 3
days. This caused me much distress. However during the time that we had
her (we lost her to an auto-immune problem after 2 years) she gradually
gained weight. On one of our trips to the vet, I was told "If food is
available she won't go hungry. She knows when she needs to eat, trust
her." Eventually I started to relax and do just that. Maybe she needed
to rest her digestive system occasionally.
Greyhounds and lurchers
seem to quite commonly be 'poor' feeders. It may take until the next meal
time to clear their bowl. Maybe they'll go up to three days without eating.
These behaviours don't seem to be uncommon. As long as your vet is happy
with the dog's weight, it's condition is otherwise good, and its not losing
weight, then you haven't really got a major problem.
Who says how much
your dog should eat? The recommended quantities given by dog food manufacturers
who want to sell the maximum quanity of dog food. The figures are based
on the average dog, who is probably more active that the average retired
greyhound or lurcher. Remember also that a dog's requirements will automatically
reduce as they become older. So your dog might not need as much as it
says on the packet.
If you are worried,
find out from the rescue centre/racing trainer what they ate previously.
They might also be able to tell you if the dog has never had a robust
appetite. You might be surprised, for instance that some kennelled dogs
are given Weetabix for breakfast, and some racing dogs are given a 'stew'
with lots of veggies. This might have shaped your dogs preferences. Also
be aware that dogs can have allergies to certain foods, such as dairy
products, wheat and red meat etc.
Firstly refer to the
foods listed on the Feeding FAQ,
if they don't work, the following were solutions used successfully on
the picky feeders owned by the SpeakEasy regulars:
- "Chappie tinned
food with mixer, it's good for their digestion and easily digestable."
- "...we discovered
the Nature Diet - it's a bit like a microwave ready meal for dogs. It's
all organic and he not only loves it but is healthier for it too! The
bigger pet superstores seem to sell it, or you can order direct by phone
on 01428 685050 It contains brown rice, carrots plus either fish, lamb,
tripe or carrots - it costs about 50p a packet. If you put it in the
microwave for 1 minute I challenge any dog to resist it.
- "fresh pasta and
minced lamb twice a day"
- "Freshly boiled
rice and defrosted raw tripe (from pet shop) usually works. However,
we notice that he prefers to pick at his food and althugh he may walk
away from his bowl at official meal times if we can keep our lurcher
away from his bowl he picks throughout the day until's he's eaten it
all. we wondered if this was how he was fed in kennels in retirement...
- fresh rice and
Adding something tasty
to your dog's meal may stimulate their interest. The following have all
been used with success:
- "add dry complete
cat food when she isn't peckish. You would need to be careful though
as I am told that cat food contains apetite stimulants which cause behavioural
problems with some dogs."
- Lots of mentions
of dogs enjoying vegetables, raw or cooked.
- "Dry dog food,
mixed with a bit of tinned food or gravy, any left over veggies and
GRATED CHEESE! Just mix a little of the cheese into the whole lot and
see how she'll love it!"
- "Pascoes complete
with very small amount of Butchers tinned dog food - tripe and something.
However she will only eat the pascoes warm."
- "Pascoes with gravy
on sometimes, and sometimes with those cheap Tesco's value sausages,
sometimes with carrots."
- "A spoonful or
two of yoghurt." (too much might cause intestinal hurry)
- "Wagg with frozen
chicken and 'Delicious', a special dog gravy made by Wagg, and once
a week they get frozen heart or liver instead of chicken, so they're
not hard done by."
- "Pascoes complete
mixed with: Tuna (cleans her bowl immediately); or left overs especially
gravy products (cleans her bowl eventually). "
- "... pilchards
and toast, but fresh white bread and butter is a near second. Fishy
dog breath is the price you have to pay for a happy lad though."
- "... tinned mackerel,
pilchards and any oily fish is really good for them. Mine has this at
least once a week, twice if I don't pinch the other half of the tin!!
'We' like them in the tomato sauce. That and cod liver oil daily makes
their coats gleam."
- " Try a complete
that comes in small pieces, that way you won't have to soak it so much
and she will be able to eat it easier than the larger pieces, my bitch
turned her nose up at adult complete food but I tried her with small
adult complete and she's fine with that."
- "They also like
Tuna fish and they love cheese. To make the food tasty a little gravy
works, other times milk."
One contributor suggested
the following strategy:
- Try to get as many
different high quality kibbles as you can so you can easily try different
them and find one that agree with your dog. The kind of little sample
bags would be great.
- At the same time,
try to find some healthy toppings that you can put with or on top of
his kibbles: like some raw meat, some cooked meat some table scraps
(but only if there aren't much salt or spice on them) some yoghurt or
some cottage cheese, some soup, some canned tuna or mackerel in oil,
These toppings don't need to be big (2 -3 table spoons e.g.), they just
need to be tasty and healthy.
- While you are trying
a new food, don't be anxious when feeding your dog. If he doesn't eat
his food properly, spare them and feed them again next meal or disgard
this meal but only feed him something different next meal so he doesn't
associate the change in his food with his picky behavior. Maybe you
can also try to tempt him to eat by hand feeding him a few tid bits
of the food he doesn't like. But don't do it on a regular basis or he
could wait for you to hand fed him.
by contributors to the SpeakEasy, and summarised by Jill