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New puppy is a picky eater...

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New puppy is a picky eater...
  •  I just recently adopted a black Labrador mix from a shelter this past Friday.  He's all of 5 pounds at 7.5 weeks old. 

    Over the weekend he started vomiting, having diarrhea and stopped eating anything, but would still drink water.  He had roundworms in his stool.  He's since been put on Flagyl, Albon, and a powder dewormer (which I haven't started yet).  He ate at the vet's office on Tuesday, and then was nauseous throughout the rest of the night.  I didn't start feeding him again until Wednesday morning, and had to feed him by hand.   I also fed him again Wednesday night, but he ate barely anything.

    For my first feeding on Wednesday I started with the Recovery wet food that the vet gave me (which he also ate there), and he ate a little bit of that.  He also ate some of the dry Purina food that I fed by hand.  The second feed he ate a bit of the dry Purina food.

    Sometimes I put food out and he'll sniff it and walk away from it, even though I know he's hungry.  He'll hang around me while I'm eating, and he also goes crazy for treats.  

    Should I try a different brand of food?  Should I still use wet food, or just stick with dry food?   He is eating something, so I'm wondering if I should just wait it out until his bowels normalize a bit more.

    This is my first time raising a puppy, so thank you for being patient with my questions.  



  • The very first thing I would do is call the vet and discuss this with him, because it seems  this could be more of a medical issue, than a picky eater issue. Make sure you talk through the options, and possibly do more tests. If your vet determines, this is just a matter of your dog being a picky eater, there are several things you can try...

    You could try using different toppings to his dry food. Yoghurt is a good one, egg works well. Some use beef stock. Or you could get a fish oil supplement and pour his daily dosis over his food.

    The other thing that I have found helps is NOT to free feed. I would just put down the bowl for a while and then pick up whatever he doesnt eat. This creates more of an anticipation for the dog. Kinda just playing with his mind, you know Wink

    If you have other dogs, feeding them in proximity may help. I used to have the crates of both my dogs next to each other. Then feed them in their crates, but in a way that the food bowls are right next to each other. That helped a lot.

    I hope some of these suggestions help. I'm sure others might have more ideas as well. Smile

  • janetmichel3009
    The very first thing I would do is call the vet and discuss this with him, because it seems  this could be more of a medical issue, than a picky eater issue


    I agree. 

  • Put the food down, walk away.  If it's still there in 15 minutes (and the dog doesn't have his nose in it) take it away.  With no snacks between meals, I'd expect a healthy dog to be eating normally within a few days - no  healthy dog will starve himself.  BUT - with his recent upset tummy and vet visits, it doesn't sound like he IS a "healthy dog" at the moment....  Definitely talk more with the vet about this; sounds like it could be more medical than behavioural?

    Once you've ruled out the medical issue, stick with a brand, providing it suits the dog.  I'm not really into adding lots of different yummy toppings or switching brands if the dog doesn't "like" the food.  I do add stuff like table scraps, or yoghurt, or egg (raw or lighhtly scrambled/poached) but not at every mealtime, and not because "they won't eat it unless I add XYZ".  Most of the time, that will only teach them that if they turn their nose up at what you offer, you will come up with something better, until you are handfeeding salmon and liver on a silver spoon.... 

    All that said, sometimes animals can be very sensitive to what will "suit" them and what won't.... so sometimes we see "pickiness", whereas, for the dog, it isn't "I don't like the taste of that", as much as "This will make me feel bad."  If he was JUST turning his nose up at the same food he was on at the time he got poorly, I would say that might be why he doesn't want it now, and it might be worth switching brand and flavour, even if only temporarily, to see if that does the trick.  If you switch back and he has another tummy episode or refuses to eat, you'll know that particular food is a no-no.... keep an eye on the ingredients lists, just in case it turns out he IS sensitive to a particular ingredient or type of food.

    Speaking of which.... what is he on at the moment?

  • First, yes, a call to the vet at least.

    Second, cut out the treats. They are filling and not very nutritious especially for a puppy that size.

    Pick a good brand of food, like Innova, California Natura, PetGuard (my fav), etc. Feed 3-4 times a day at this age. Leave the bowl down 15 mins at a time and then pick it up for later.  You can do dry, canned or mixture of both. 

    Good luck with your new pup!

  • I agree with everyone's statement as far as him having little appetite from illness. If after he recovers and he's still finicky (which I doubt), you can try Orijen 6 Fresh Fish. For a dry kibble, it actually smells like fish jerky and palatable. It's very expensive but I've never put a price on quality and nutrition.

     If I didn't feed fresh RMB's, I'll definitely feed Orijen. If you're on a budget, go for Blue Buffalo at Petsmart or Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul if you can find it. IMHO, I recommend raw, particularly for a puppy because it encourages steady bone growth. Kibble's nutritional content sounds as it would over-accelerate bone growth which is bad for any breed but especially breeds over 40lbs. which is likely in your puppy's case. Best of luck!

  • Definately talk to the vet, and I do feel that this is more illness related than pickiness.

    It may be at the shelter they were softening his food with a bit of warm water.  Yes, 3-4 small meals a day is ideal at this age, and why on earth is the darned shelter letting pups go so young??  GRRRRRR!!!

    Purina isn't the best food. Mostly grains.  A number of good ones have already been mentioned.  My fav is Blue Buffalo, large breed puppy.  A teaspoon or so of a GOOD quality canned mixed in with his food is a nice idea. 

  • I decided to wait it out for a day, and sure enough, he's eating his dry food now with gusto. Thanks everyone for your advice. If he loses his appetite again, I'll definitely phone the vet. Now I just need to work on getting him to stop biting my hands.
  • First, you need to decide where your "line" is.... is it when he bites TOO HARD, or when his teeth touch your skin?  The instant he crosses that line, remove any and all attention. 

    Meantime, set him up for success by overloading your house with GOOD things to chew on, and make sure you have one on you at all times, to distract his teeth.  Any time you are going to interact, offer a chewie, and if he bites it, hold on to it and gently encourage him.  (It might also go some way to prevent any anxiety or guarding around chews and similar things, because it's NORMAL for you to be close by, even holding the other end, while he chews away.) 

    This is REALLY important, because if you don't give him an outlet for chewing and biting, he'll carry on chewing teh "wrong" things ANYWAY, despite any and all efforts to stop him.  Pups have just GOT to bite SOMETHING.  Especially labs!  They are notorious for it, so be patient Smile

    Make sure you praise him up and down for chewing the RIGHT things.  And remember that when he is teething, chilled toys and chews will feel really nice to his gums, and likely preferable to him than your hands (or trainers, or sofa, or table legs, or mobile phone....).

  • Theatredork
    I decided to wait it out for a day, and sure enough, he's eating his dry food now with gusto. Thanks everyone for your advice. If he loses his appetite again, I'll definitely phone the vet. Now I just need to work on getting him to stop biting my hands.

    You might PM or look for posts by the_gopher - her Ari was a mouther :)

  •  our new pup, Tori, is mouth (she's a golden mix and around the same age as yours) she's real bitey as well. i have two small kids so i cant allow her to do this and think its ok. one reason why people have such hissy fits about giving away pups this young is because the more time they spend with their litter the better they learn bite inhibition. when the pup bites its sister the sister squeals, and that tells the biter they have gone too far. or if they bite the mother she reprimands in the doggy fashion - same results. 

    Its now up to you to be both. and yes draw the line. Tori's line is the moment teeth touch skin(because i have kids and her teeth are SHARP!) she also likes to hide and pounce and hang by the cuff of your jeans... it was cute for a little while because she's like a little pit bull.... but again.... i have kids. and guests dont much like it, and when she gets to be forty pounds NO ONE is going to like dragging her around by their britches!

    at first she was also a picky eater too. i was worried about that but noticed she would rather have MY food than her own. cant much blame her..... 

  • I've been consistent with saying "No!" in a firm voice when he starts biting, but oftentimes I end up having to push him away because he doesn't let up. It's slightly aggressive, but it's not fully biting, it's mostly just nipping. I notice he does this more when he's hungry. He also likes to pounce attack my pant cuffs and hang on. Like the above poster said, it's cute at first mainly because he's only 5 pounds. A friend suggested using lemon juice, and another suggested getting some rawhide chew bones/skins. I think I'll be venturing to the pet store again this weekend. Oh, and to update on the feeding issues, he's eating his dry food. I haven't mixed in any wet food for the last couple of days. I've been given him about a half cup, and he'll eat almost everything in the dish.
  • Theatredork
    I've been consistent with saying "No!" in a firm voice when he starts biting, but oftentimes I end up having to push him away because he doesn't let up.

    If saying "no" is not working, stop doing it. 

    Whatever you do, don't progress to pushing him away - it's most likely to be interpreted as you joining in! 

    This is play behaviour and he is doing it to engage you, get your attention... Saying "no" and pushing him away is actually giving him precisely what he wants.  Any attention is good attention, when you are a puppy.  He needs to be booked into a good puppy class as well as being socialised with adult dogs who have good social skills... Other pups and stable, adult dogs will go a LONG way to teaching him bite inhibition.  He's likely to be behind on that because he was taken from his dam and littermates so young.

  • I was poked to come in here and check out this thread Wink Check out your PMs. I sent you my story of the infamous Ari and her biting issues.

  • The word NO in and of itself imparts no direction.  In other words, it doesn't tell the pup what you WANT him to do.  When I have litters (my own years past, and the occassional foster litter now) I ALWAYS have pockets stuffed with chew things, and usually a fanny pack as well. 

    Pushing isn't a good option because the pup just things you are playing so he'll play back.  This is one of the problems with pups going to new homes at such a young age....those weeks with their litter mates are critical to good manners and mouthing.  With their littermates, they get told in no uncertain terms when the nipping is too much.  The offender will be completely ignored as well.

    When a pup decides that I look like a chew toy, they get a gentle "eh, eh, no bite", then are immediately given something other than me to chew on with "THIS is what you can bite" and then praise for chewing it and not me.  If this doesn't work, without a word, without a look, I get up and walk away and stay away for about a minute or so.  I've been known to walk across a room with 7 or 8 pups attached to my pant legs to make my escape!

    At this age, pups are often still teething, and they also explore the world with their mouths.  LOTS of appropriate chew things are helpful, as are things like old athletic socks with knots tied in them, or an old wash cloth, dampened, knotted and then frozen....the cold helps soothe the gums.  Note that I mentioned knots.....those differentiate between MY socks and socks that are ok to chew on, or my wash cloth and one that you can "steal".  (YOU being the former pup, now full sized!)