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D'Elle

What is your favorite trick to get a dog to eat?

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This is not for me, actually, but for a good friend and fellow freestyler whose 10 year old doberman is having as yet undiagnosed health issues. She has had myriad tests run and they still don't know what is going on.

 

But the pertinent thing here is he doesn't want to eat, so I am asking for your favorite tried-and-true methods to get a dog to eat, so I can pass them on to her.

 

What has been tried so far are the obvious things: steak, roast chicken, broth, canned food, tuna, cheese, liverwurst, liver, etc. Last night she said she was going to try to get some tripe today and try that. I suggested stinky canned cat food mixed in with other stuff to make it smell good; that usually works for me. Don't know if it worked or not.

 

Any ideas are welcome. Thanks.

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I am so sorry to hear about your friend's dog and the health issues that prevent it from eating. As I am sure you know, sometimes they just feel so crappy that nothing will entice them to eat - not that we don't all try when it happens to one of our pets. As just one example, my vet told me that in late stage kidney disease, there are so many toxic products circulating in the body that the animal has no desire to eat.

 

If the dog is feeling nauseous (which is different than crappy), mirtazapine worked for my senior dog for the last 18 months of her life.

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Hand feeding helped Tilly for a while before she died when she wouldn't eat out of her bowl.

 

I've heard that canned ravioli will entice some dogs. Unfortunately I didn't hear that until after Tilly had died so I don't have any first hand experience with it.

 

Hope your friend can find some answers.

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Overcook some white rice, using extra water. You want to end up with a creamy soup. You can use chicken or beef broth to add some flavor, or turkey.

 

Hand or syringe feed after it is cool, just a couple tbs worth at first. Do 2-3 rounds of this.

 

Sometimes when a dog hasn't been eating for a while, her/his stomach reacts unpleasantly to anything. Bland food, a little at a time, can get the stomach to accepting food again, then the appetite increases.

 

If this stimulates the appetite, then gradually re-introduce a regular diet.

 

I hope your friend finds out what's going on soon.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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With my oldest dog, we try a lot of different things. Pasta, chicken and rice, cream of wheat, a lot of different canned dog foods heated up to make them extra stinky, mashed potatoes, etc. Changing things up and making it interesting seems to work best.

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Gerber's baby food, second stage, chicken, turkey or lamb.

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Hand feeding might help, all other good suggestions - though I didn't see scrambled eggs (sometimes with cheese added).

 

Also, dogs get "associations" - such as: feeling nauseous, getting fed in a metal bowl, henceforth metal bowls are associated with feeling nauseous. I had an old guy who ate, variously, in metal, ceramic, paper, and eventually his fav, a glass pie plate. Just another thought.

 

Good luck to your friend.

 

diane

 

p.s.: Your "subject line" made me laugh: At first, all I saw was "What is your favorite trick..." and I'm thinking, what the heck is this doing in the Health and Genetics section? Thanks for that laugh!

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I have yet to find a dog that will turn down green tripe and usually after eating that they will eat a little of something else

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All I have had to do is put some plain yogurt (I make my own and have a stash) or some canned pumpkin on whatever I want either the dog or cat to eat.

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Thanks for the replies. Last I heard he was still not doing well.

 

I do find the association with the food bowl information very interesting, Diane, and I am filing that away for future reference.

 

Also, I will suggest the baby food and scrambled eggs because I don't think she has tried that yet. She did say she was going to try to find some green tripe. That's a really good idea, too.

Thanks again, everyone!

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When our Brody was sick we tried everything to get him to eat, and it was a huge struggle, the biggest thing was variety especially if he had been sick with a particular food we then had to try something new.

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^^ Variety was really important for Tilly as well. I'm not sure if she was nauseated or not, but she'd often only eat something once or twice and not want it anymore so I'd have to try something else. It was really unpredictable and I ended up having all sorts of things open in the fridge to see what she'd eat that day. The other dogs got lots of little goodies from her leftovers.

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My parents have a standard poodle mix with chronic IBD. For the last ten years, we've played the "what will Carmel eat today?" game. And my god, it is the most frustrating thing in the world. Carmel has bad spells every 4 or 5 days, so he very easily makes bad associations.

 

As soon as you say "Carmel, go eat." he'll turn his nose. He associates it with stressful eating situations.

 

But if you forcefully shove string cheese down his throat, his appetite will magically reappear. Half of his problem is that he feels bad so he won't eat, then the hunger itself makes him continue to feel sick even after they give him his prednisone. We can tell when it's hunger pain, so now he associates food being shoved down his throat with feeling better in the next couple of minutes.

 

High maintenance to the max.

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Most important thing is to not dress up food in a healthy dog. (Not saying your friend did this.) Common mistake I see. Owners of (generally fat) dogs claim they have picky eaters and must add broth, cheese, bacon, etc to get their dogs to eat on a daily basis. Then when the dog gets sick, there are no extra special things to try.

 

For your friend's dog it's likely a matter of trying out different smelly foods until she finds one that works.

 

She can also call her vet and ask about appetite stimulants and anti nausea meds. These often help pets eat better while sick.

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^^ Variety was really important for Tilly as well. I'm not sure if she was nauseated or not, but she'd often only eat something once or twice and not want it anymore so I'd have to try something else. It was really unpredictable and I ended up having all sorts of things open in the fridge to see what she'd eat that day. The other dogs got lots of little goodies from her leftovers.

 

Tilly was 17 years old and had had digestive issues for a few years prior t that by the time she stopped wanting to eat.

 

I absolutely agree that healthy but picky eaters shouldn't be catered to in their fussiness unless you want to make the problem even worse.

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Most important thing is to not dress up food in a healthy dog. (Not saying your friend did this.) Common mistake I see. Owners of (generally fat) dogs claim they have picky eaters and must add broth, cheese, bacon, etc to get their dogs to eat on a daily basis. Then when the dog gets sick, there are no extra special things to try.

I seriously agree with you there, Liz. It is possible my friend inadvertently made this situation worse because she dressed up his food and hand fed him every day when he was a young dog. She kept saying it was the only way to keep the weight on him for the conformation ring because he was so picky. I tried to convince her that letting him go two or three days without eating would cure the whole thing - I have seen this happen time and again, and have personally cured a number of picky eaters this way - but she wouldn't do it because she thought it was cruel. Of course, that may have nothing to do with what is going on now.

 

My Kit dog is picky these days, too, although she did not used to be. I do dress up her food now, because she is 14 and in my world once a dog becomes an elder I cut them a whole lot of slack. I will even hand feed her the first few bites to get her started. But if she won't eat what is in her bowl it gets picked up and she goes without until the next meal (when she usually eats it). I coddle my elder dogs, but unless the dog is ill I won't go overboard about it.

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Sadly, my friend's doberman was euthanized last week. She is devastated. He was 10 or 11, I am not certain which, but it turns out that that is very old for a dobie. Gosh, I would not want to have a dog that got old and died at age 10. But if that is the breed you love, that is what you want. And I will say he was a wonderful dog, beautiful and funny and goofy and sweet, gentle, and extremely meticulously trained in obedience and freestyle. An all around good dog. So sad they do not live longer.

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A new member of our therapy dog group has a Bernese mountain dog. He tells us their average life expectancy is down to about 7-8 years now. How tragic.

 

I'm sorry your friend's dog didn't make it, but maybe for the best in that he's not suffering. I knew Tilly was close to the end when she hardly ate any more and the deciding factor when I had her euthed was that she'd refused all food for three days.

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I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's Dobie, D'Elle. My condolences to her and to you. Losing a beloved dog is painful to anyone who cares about the dog.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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I can't tell you how many Mastiffs I have diagnosed with cancer at 3, 4 and 5 years old. I think English Bulldogs have the shortest life expectancy of a purebred dog.

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Sorry to hear about your friend's dog.

 

I also knew a BMD that lived until 7 or 8. When I heard that the distant acquaintance got a BMD puppy, I told my husband that the breed was not long-lived. Unfortunately, it was true for that dog.

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