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Discussion Starter #1
I know Poodles can be notoriously finicky with food but my 8 month old intact male Spoo has become so picky that he has suddenly turned his nose up to his homemade food, as well as turning his nose up to raw and I have not changed a thing in the recipe. I have no idea what to try to do...

-Some history: As a young puppy he was weaned off mother’s milk onto raw food with a pre&probiotic, and hemp oil added. I had him on that same diet for the first month I had him, and then I transitioned him to a holistic homemade food that we used for our previous dogs, but I have kept adding the pre&probiotics & hemp oil.

Help!!! He’s almost impossible to get to eat his food now, and I have even tried to re-introduce raw back in to his diet and he sometimes will eat some in a day (not much!) and then leave it. When he does eat, he eats minimally and not with any eagerness it seems. I’m almost totally convinced it is picky-ness and not a health issue because A) He will eat freeze dried chicken dog treats, he will eat raw tripe, he chewed a raw beef bone the other day happily, he will eat raw beef liver with NO problem!!!! B) He is playful, excited for walks and otherwise behaving normally....
I tried holding out one day and offering food, he turned away from it, and I limited cookies to minimal (2-5 all day) and then offered him food throughout the day, which he continued to turn away from... Even when I put the food down in the evening/night he only ate a couple mouthfuls and that’s it until the next day. He also isn’t totally crazy about eating just raw (lamb, beef, turkey), even though he was raised on it for months - I just feel this isn’t normal for a growing puppy..... I’m really starting to become worried and I have no idea if I should just be more relaxed about it and take the “he eats what he wants to when he wants to” approach or what - but I take notice of the minimal eating and feel really nervous....

-I’m feeling like now he’s too thin. This has been off and on going on for a month, but really prominently for the last 1.5 weeks - I can feel his hip bones poking up, and I can feel his ribs more than I feel I should be able to. I don’t know what to do - I don’t want to go to my vet for this because I don’t want my vet trying to guilt me into putting him on some kind of puppy vet kibble food - that goes against my holistic approach and what I believe in for dog nutrition.

*I understand everyone will have their opinions on kibble and dog food brands - but I am not willing to stray away from a holistic diet either made from a base mix (and you add the ingredients and bake or serve raw) or a raw diet. Kibble free household here.*

Help, advice and any guidance would be very appreciated..


 

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I home cook too, but these days I also buy commercial when needed. I have found Purina Pro Plan Sensitive is much better than chicken and rice for settling upset tums, and Tilly cat likes their renal diet, which means she is finally gaining weight.

You don't say whether he has diarrhoea or any other signs of upset. Any bile vomiting? With a young dog refusing to eat in this way my first suspicion would be discomfort from food intolerance or excess acid rather than pickiness, and as you say it is only his main meals that he is rejecting I would be looking at whatever it is you are mixing with the meat, as that seems to be the common factor. I would offer him just muscle meat with a small amount of bone and a very small bit of liver for a few days, and see if his appetite begins to recover.
 

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Many of my dogs (not poodles but large breeds) went through phases- around this age was a common time- where they were skipping meals and sometimes a whole day. I compare it to when toddlers often go through that phase of barely eating- it seems to happen right when their growth is slowing down. And then closer to a year they start putting on muscle mass and are eating eagerly again.
Have you tried tripe though? It's a balanced food, and a lot of dogs really go for it due to the smell. And what about smelts or other whole fish? You can start with the small sizes to introduce them.
 

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I'm in total agreement with fjm. Is your pup having different stool consistencies? Vomit? etc.

I love your approach to his diet, and I can really appreciate you sticking to it. I will have Norman on this diet eventually once it is just him in the house and easier to manage. It is very healthy for them!

As for as advice, I would say to take him to the vet to check out his weight and stomach,intestines. I know how guilt-tripping vets can be, but stick to your guns. Its your dog and you're clearly doing everything you can. Like fjm said, there could be something in the food making him feel apprehensive to eat it. Him taking a few bites and leaving it could mean its hurting his stomach or hes just not hungry! The meat or your mixers or hemp or something could be causing gas pain, stomach pains, or too hard of stools where it hurts to use bathroom. Granted, I do not think hemp will cause that, because I myself use to add this in Norman's food and have yet to get more after I ran out.
Maybe try some organic pumpkin to see if he's trying to pass anything? This is something that has been very helpful for Norman and I give him a spoon of it twice a week for a treat.

Not sure if this counts as holistic, but homemade chicken broth, frozen into a kong? Or dribbled on his food? This could potentially help him feel more excited for a new flavor? Also it can help sooth him stomach and give him back some nourishment. I think a frozen kong with chicken broth (if you use that stuff) can maybe give you an idea on if hes just picky or his stomach is hurting.

What kind of eating outline is he on? Are you doing mornings, afternoons, nights? Maybe you should change when hes offered food and for how long? Another approach is maybe keep the food out as long as you can until it could go bad. He could be a dog that wants a little food at a time throughout the day? He is a growing pup and should be eating plenty like you said. Norman is 8 months old as well and I have a forum on here saying how chicken broth with Norman's kibble and homemade food really helped him start eating more (even though you dont use kibble in his diet). Chicken Broth was our savior!!

I switch between 3 recipes every weekend for the dog's homemade food for the week. This keeps it interesting for the dogs and fun for me to make. Possibly start switching up the ingredients, add new things to the bottom of the bowl for him to work for??

All in all, you said you think he's becoming too skinny and feeling his hip bones, which I think would further a need to see the vet. I am sure its nothing serious and maybe just him going through a weird phase, but I think it is worth checking out!! Let us know what you decide!! Sorry you're going through this. Lots of hugs from us!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I home cook too, but these days I also buy commercial when needed. I have found Purina Pro Plan Sensitive is much better than chicken and rice for settling upset tums, and Tilly cat likes their renal diet, which means she is finally gaining weight.

You don't say whether he has diarrhoea or any other signs of upset. Any bile vomiting? With a young dog refusing to eat in this way my first suspicion would be discomfort from food intolerance or excess acid rather than pickiness, and as you say it is only his main meals that he is rejecting I would be looking at whatever it is you are mixing with the meat, as that seems to be the common factor. I would offer him just muscle meat with a small amount of bone and a very small bit of liver for a few days, and see if his appetite begins to recover.


Sorry I forgot to mention his other symptoms or lack of - he is pooping normally, and about 2-3 times a day with no problem. He is not vomiting at all either..... I will offer his food and then let him smell it repeatedly to get his saliva going.....
The interesting thing is He seems to be more interested in eating his meals if I open his mouth (he opens willingly), and pop a small amount of the homemade or raw food into his mouth, then the next bite he will take from my hand willingly and we continue like that and I finish his feeding by hand feeding him. It’s almost like that opening his mouth and putting food into it sparks his instinct to eat - this just seems like odd behaviour to me..


 

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Sorry I forgot to mention his other symptoms or lack of - he is pooping normally, and about 2-3 times a day with no problem. He is not vomiting at all either..... I will offer his food and then let him smell it repeatedly to get his saliva going.....
The interesting thing is He seems to be more interested in eating his meals if I open his mouth (he opens willingly), and pop a small amount of the homemade or raw food into his mouth, then the next bite he will take from my hand willingly and we continue like that and I finish his feeding by hand feeding him. It’s almost like that opening his mouth and putting food into it sparks his instinct to eat - this just seems like odd behaviour to me..


Yes that is normal for dogs. They have an automatic response to eat what's in their mouth even if their brain thinks otherwise. I also think that it's normal for teenagers to go off food. My 7 month old mini sometimes turns his nose up to food. You may be encouraging the behavior by giving him so much attention when he does this. I would try ignoring it and just sticking the food in the fridge if he doesn't eat after 15 minutes. Don't offer food until next meal time. Then, offer only 1/2 what he normally gets. If he turns his nose up, same thing. Don't make a big deal of it. Dogs have weird psychology about food. Just this morning Misha licked his food a few times then said he didn't want it. I ignored him and he ate it after 5-10 minutes. But sometimes he won't and that's fine. Vet told me only really worry once they haven't eaten for around 5 days. Misha's fed raw as well.

Also if he's eating tripe, that is a very balanced and easy to digest protein. Not good to only feed it long term of course, but if he'll eat it when he refuses other things it's an option. I give some tripe every day.
 

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Our six month old spoo is free fed Pro Plan Puppy. He eats very little at a time, but by the end of the day he's managed to down an enormous amount of food plus a steady stream of training treats. He's still pretty boney, but his weight is increasing steadily and his vet says he's fine.

I hand feed elderly dogs in their last months, but a puppy won't starve himself over food selection. Dogs like variety too — I'm visiting my parents and the puppy wants to eat my parents' dog's senior food — and I use that to perk up the appetites of elderly dogs.
 

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I posted here a month or so ago about my very picky, unhungry 10 month old teenage puppy. I eventually took her to the vet and weighed her and she had lost 4 lbs! My suggestion would be definitely check and see what his weight is, and monitor it.

For us, I think it was a "big changes" or stress based lack o f interest. I restimulated her appetite with feeding kefir and eggs with her kibble. She has gone back to eating normally and is back to a healthy weight now, but I definitely monitor it.
 

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I think Raindrops has a good point! Sometimes meal time can turn into an event. I spoke to a client once who had a 9 month Boxer, they described a whole routine they had to do to get the dog to eat, including shaking the bag, banging the bowl, etc, and it was getting longer- they had started hand feeding as well. My first thought was "Wow this dog is back-chaining!" 😆
But their reactions to the initial, normal, occasional skipped meal were inspiring their very clever dog to ever greater heights.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes that is normal for dogs. They have an automatic response to eat what's in their mouth even if their brain thinks otherwise. I also think that it's normal for teenagers to go off food. My 7 month old mini sometimes turns his nose up to food. You may be encouraging the behavior by giving him so much attention when he does this. I would try ignoring it and just sticking the food in the fridge if he doesn't eat after 15 minutes. Don't offer food until next meal time. Then, offer only 1/2 what he normally gets. If he turns his nose up, same thing. Don't make a big deal of it. Dogs have weird psychology about food. Just this morning Misha licked his food a few times then said he didn't want it. I ignored him and he ate it after 5-10 minutes. But sometimes he won't and that's fine. Vet told me only really worry once they haven't eaten for around 5 days. Misha's fed raw as well.



Also if he's eating tripe, that is a very balanced and easy to digest protein. Not good to only feed it long term of course, but if he'll eat it when he refuses other things it's an option. I give some tripe every day.


Thanks, this is great advice and info... I’m going to try what you’ve suggested. I really have been trying to not give him too much attention I just have in recent days resorted to hand feeding
I guess I just feel his body and think oh wow I can feel his hip bones and his ribs a bit too much. He’s a tall boy, 8 months and weighs 50 lbs.


 

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Discussion Starter #12
I posted here a month or so ago about my very picky, unhungry 10 month old teenage puppy. I eventually took her to the vet and weighed her and she had lost 4 lbs! My suggestion would be definitely check and see what his weight is, and monitor it.

For us, I think it was a "big changes" or stress based lack o f interest. I restimulated her appetite with feeding kefir and eggs with her kibble. She has gone back to eating normally and is back to a healthy weight now, but I definitely monitor it.


He’s a tall and long boy, 8 months old and weighs in at 50 lbs. He has a naturally very laid back temperament, and really has become super finicky over the last month. It’s really perplexing because I just wonder how with his activity level, he can only eat minimal amounts


 

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I think Raindrops has a good point! Sometimes meal time can turn into an event. I spoke to a client once who had a 9 month Boxer, they described a whole routine they had to do to get the dog to eat, including shaking the bag, banging the bowl, etc, and it was getting longer- they had started hand feeding as well. My first thought was "Wow this dog is back-chaining!" 😆
But their reactions to the initial, normal, occasional skipped meal were inspiring their very clever dog to ever greater heights.


It’s definitely a good point you both have. I try to not even include him in the preparation process. I prepare his food, add his supplements and when I place it down is when I call him and show him his food.. I typically leave it out for a while then put it away, then reintroduce, then put it away etc. I seem to resort to hand feeding in the evening when I take stock of how much he has or hasn’t eaten and my human dog momma side starts to worry about him not getting enough nutrition day-to-day... Some days when I totally have remained uninvolved and have left him totally alone he eats only a couple bites and that’s it and may do that for a couple days


 

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Discussion Starter #14
Our six month old spoo is free fed Pro Plan Puppy. He eats very little at a time, but by the end of the day he's managed to down an enormous amount of food plus a steady stream of training treats. He's still pretty boney, but his weight is increasing steadily and his vet says he's fine.



I hand feed elderly dogs in their last months, but a puppy won't starve himself over food selection. Dogs like variety too — I'm visiting my parents and the puppy wants to eat my parents' dog's senior food — and I use that to perk up the appetites of elderly dogs.


Do you have a male or female? Would you consider overall structure of your pup to be tall and long or more on the small side? How much does yours weigh?
Mine is tall and long with quite large front paws and people can barely believe he’s a puppy (that’s been going on since he was 6 months old) he’s 8 months old and 50 lbs..
What you said about puppies won’t starve themselves over food selection, in your personal opinion do you think that if I left the food out his usual times and just paid no attention - is that the way you’d handle my situation? (Asking because you’ve got a bony one too)


 

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To all who replied.... Another thing I forgot to mention is that he burps a fair bit and tummy gargles like he’s hungry, but even then he doesn’t go for food.


 

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I don’t have a spoo, but what I thought was a picky eater. He tummy also will gurgle and he’ll burp. My vet told me it was probably the stomach acid, which will make them not want to eat. Talk to your vet before doing this or to make sure it’s a good try for your dog, but when miner skips a meal, I give him famotodine (Pepcid AC), and he normally will eat his next meal. I also give him a few tidbits between the two meals so he can see that maybe his tummy won’t react.

Also, I agree when you put down the meal, if he doesn’t eat within 15 minutes, to take it back up. I would not offer it to him until the next regular meal time. You can still give him a few treats throughout the day. If he’ll still eat tripe, offer just a very small amount, like a bite, about 30 minutes before meal time. I’ve seen how that can make a dog hungry for more.

And I also agree a dog will not starve himself, even if they don’t like the food. They will eat enough to survive and keep going.

But please take him to the vet. Let him/her know up front. The dietary plan and restrictions so they can offer options you can use instead of
Kibble.
 

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scrambled eggs are my favourite appetite enhancer. Have you tried giving him a tiny amount of food, maybe only a table spoonful, and then teaching him to finish it you can then feed a bit more, only what he will finish next time.? My girl still does better and eats more with 4 small meals a day rather than 2 larger ones. I have also started rewarding finishing her bowl. Finish bowl of dog food = get good stuff put in it, not "wait until good stuff appears and improves boring food".

For really tough cases, I have been known to smear food on a dogs nose. Licking the food off (even our very ill dog was compelled to do this) seems to stimulate appetite.

Hope you find something that works, a dog not eating is very stressful!
 

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To all who replied.... Another thing I forgot to mention is that he burps a fair bit and tummy gargles like he’s hungry, but even then he doesn’t go for food.


Hmm that does change things a bit. Being gassy can be uncomfortable. There are many possible reasons. Most obvious is a food sensitivity- for that I would do something super basic (just tripe, or single meat with oatmeal- which is easier to digest than rice) with no additives whatsoever for a few days, then add one thing at a time.
Other possibilities are worms (did you know the most common side effect of hookworms is intestinal gas?), or that he is swallowing air which could be related to how he is eating or chewing possibly.
 

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I despaired a lot about Buck’s food and eating. I held onto PF advice that no dog is going to starve if there is food. At that age Buck grabbed a bit here and there, and it was mostly gone at the end of the day. Free feeding worked well. I never felt ribs or hip bones, so I would want to check in with the vet for peace of mind.
 

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I have an 11 mo old tpoo

who is a terribly picky eater, and for the first 6 months of his life the vet harangued me about his weight--
now, he has filled out and looks totally beautiful--but some days he still eats very, very little--for example, today he ate nothing of either his kibble or his wet food that I can tell--I free feed him, because on days like today, all of a sudden he will take a meal at 8 or 9 at night--
as long as his poop looks normal I don't worry too much. I have tried every kibble and wet food that I can get my hands on--nothing has been any different for him.
He really wants to eat the cat's food if he can get to it, or people food--loves scrambled eggs, and today I did let him eat small amounts of sharp cheese but generally I don't let him beg food from me. However, my dad and daughter do sneak people food to him when I am not paying attention, which has been a problem. He also like to eat acorns and leaves and grass, even on days when he is eating well--I have to watch carefully to see what he is picking up when we walk. Today I fed him Royal Canin poodle kibble and a commercial wet food ( which many of you probably would never feed your poodles but I have to try different things every day) and he ate nothing, as I said. Who knows--its a mystery, but he looks fine, acts fine, poops fine. He's a joy, apart from being an extremely picky eater.
 

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