8 month old puppy refuses to eat

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8 month old puppy refuses to eat

This is a discussion on 8 month old puppy refuses to eat within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi all, I first posted here about my parents' shih tzu puppy a few months ago... and its attachment issues. I don't live in the ...

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Old 10-24-2010, 03:34 AM
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8 month old puppy refuses to eat

Hi all,
I first posted here about my parents' shih tzu puppy a few months ago... and its attachment issues. I don't live in the same country as my parents, so I can only give them advice on the phone - however, they seem to have difficulty getting good advice from their vet about their puppy's behavioural issues so I was wondering if anyone here could help?

The issue is basically this... ever since they got the puppy, they have had trouble persuading him to eat his kibble. The pet shop owner advised them to keep feeding him the same kibble for a year, but the puppy didn't seem at all interested. It also seems to suffer from gastric hyperacidity, possibly from not eating, and then pukes up little yellow liquid puddles. The vet just gives him antacids for this problem. My parents then took to force-feeding him the kibble because they didn't know what else to do. Eventually, on another vet visit, because they were worried about the dog not wanting to eat, the vet opened up a can of chicken chunks dog food, and the dog gobbled it all up.

Thereafter, the dog was VERY keen on his food and would be enthusiastic at feeding time. However, one day my parents bought him a doggy treat biscuit from the pet shop - after he had a biscuit, he REFUSED to go near his usual dinner of chicken chunks and only wanted the biscuits. My parents have since refused to feed him the biscuits, and have returned to force-feeding the dog his usual dinner. They've tried everything, even cooking him his own food... he WILL eat chopped liver, but will refuse minced beef, chicken, etc. However, he seems very keen on plain bread for some reason.

Anyway they're reaching the end of their tether. They sometimes let the dog go hungry (as per the vet's advice) when he refuses food, but then the next day, the dog throws up, gets gastric issues, etc.etc. and once it even went hypoglycemic when it refused food for a day! I tried telling them that force feeding the dog just gives it unpleasant associations with food - however, the dog is VERY keen to beg from them as they are eating their own dinner... they don't give the dog any of their own food though, but they think the dog is hungry, it just refuses to eat its own food.

Does anyone have any advice on what to do? My parents are clearly newbies at this and need a lot of help!

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Old 10-24-2010, 12:05 PM
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I'm more horsey-based then doggie, but my first thought is stomach/mouth ulcers. I don't know if dogs can get mouth ulcers, but horses can go off their feed when they get mouth ulcers. It might be something to bring up w/ your vet.
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:54 PM
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Getting sick on the biscuit also makes me think he could have a corn/wheat-based allergy. Have they tried limiting his diet to only chicken/rice for a few weeks to see if he does well on that consistently (it's sort of the sick dog recipe that gets advised consistently)? They could also try switching him to a higher quality kibble with no grain (Wellness, Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo).
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Old 10-24-2010, 01:16 PM
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I would also think it is an allergy, and I agree with trying chicken and rice or maybe even turkey and rice for a couple weeks to see if he improves. I think that if he is begging for food he is hungry but maybe what he has been eating is upsetting his stomach so he doesn't want to eat it. And I think it is a bad idea to force feed him cause it does give him bad associations with food.
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Old 10-24-2010, 02:17 PM
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It sounds to me like you have a complicated interplay of both medical issues and behavioral patterns.

First your folks need to find a food that does not upset pup's tummy. Then they will need to eliminate all the drama that is going on for the dog about mealtimes and eating. There may be a lot of reinforcement for the dog in "oh poor boy, you must be so hungry!" etc.

Force feeding is a really bad idea, for so many reasons. First, the pup sounds like initially he was refusing food for a good reason, ie his tummy is upset. Second when you are force feeding now you've got all sorts of unpleasant associations for the dog with food. Third, now you and the dog have no idea which end is up anymore with regards to food, if he's hungry or not, if the food is actually suitable for him or not, and so forth, as you've taken away his sense of being able to choose to eat.

I might suggest they consult an animal behaviorist, as well as a vet.

I might also suggest you make something absolutely benign for the dog to eat, such as boiled chicken and rice (half and half) and give it to the dog whilst he is in his crate, or otherwise in a happy place ALONE... that is without people around making him nervous that he is about to forced to eat etc. Present the food for 15 or 30 minutes, then pick it up without any emotion, and try again a couple hours later, and so on. Don't cajole, comment on or otherwise make the whole eating thing a drama.

I would not ever force the dog to eat this food, even if he starts throwing up bile. One way to help with the acid tummy is to let him lick a couple teaspoons of Milk of Magnesia. But I think your folks need to give up the force feeding. Its just making the problem so much more complicated and worse.

Last edited by Tess; 10-24-2010 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 10-24-2010, 02:18 PM
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This is oddly like my Pomeranian, just without the health problems.

He's picky with his food. We've tried countless types and he just refuses to eat it. He USED to eat his own food fine, until my family started feeding him the table scraps we didn't eat very day. (Which meant a LOT of meat, not just a little bit) He also refuses dog treats. We've tried a lot of things, but he only likes what tastes better then the human food I guess (Which isn't much) The only animal food he'll eat is cat food, the only treat he'll eat is a cheese and egg dog treat.

I don't know what could be wrong with your dog, but we think our Pom is just a picky eater. Maybe yours is the same.
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:24 PM
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ditto tess and seebrown... good advice... why exactly have they chosen to force feed the dog? if he isn't eating there is likely a good reason for it... boiled chicken and rice are a good short term food for *MOST* upset tummy issues with dogs (some dogs have an allergy to chicken believe it or not), but they are not good as a long term diet... what is the brand of food that they are feeding the dog? are they leaving kibble out for the dog to eat all day? or measuring specific meals out for him? they may want to try measuring out his daily food and leaving it for him to eat as he pleases throughout the day, not something i normally recommend, but if they are force-feeding him, i imagine that there is now a bit of trauma associated with feeding for him, maybe putting it in his crate/safe place will help him to feel more comfortable eating...
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:29 PM
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my first thought was what are they feeding? It doesnt seem like he likes his food if he will take other yummy stuff.
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Old 10-25-2010, 02:34 PM
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Thanks for all your responses. It will definitely reinforce my own pleas to my parents about NOT force feeding their dog. It has definitely traumatised him and given him all sorts of unpleasant associations... My parents are first-time pet owners, and they are also quite neurotic, and utterly spoil their puppy!!! They let him do what he likes and for the most part, he is totally pampered... but they are at a loss when it comes to feeding him. I think he started off as an extremely picky eater... they have tried feeding Orijen puppy kibble but the dog would just sniff it and walk away huffily. He USED to like chicken chunks, until they fed him some doggie treats, then he refused to eat chicken chunks again. He loves chopped liver, but they know its not healthy to feed that to a growing puppy too often...

I've passed on some of your advice about not pressuring the dog to eat, and maybe feeding him less also - and see how they get on.

Thanks again!
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