I am at a wit's end with finding the right food for my 5 1/2 month old puppy. He's decided he won't touch any dry food no matter what it's mixed in. We've tried several high quality kibbles to no avail.
From the breeder, he was first eating Merrrick Grain Free Puppy Formula Chicken. I was given a small bag of the Merrick and decided I was going feed him Fromm LBP, so I started feeding him the Merrick and mixing it with the Fromm LBP. He loved both and once he was fully on the Fromm he was eating his meals fine.
About two weeks into the Fromm I noticed he was itching frequently and developing hot spots. The vet recommended to start giving him Omega 3 fish oil to help with his skin and see if that would help clear it up. He ate Fromm with Grizzly fish oil for a few days before I decided to try and see if another food would fix his itching. From that point I went to Wellness Grain Free Puppy > Orijen Puppy > back to Fromm. All of these foods he would still itch with Fromm being the worst. Somewhere between the Wellness and the Orijen he stopped eating and wouldn't finish his meals. He was about 4 months old at this point and I realized he was teething. Reading some posts on here I decided to add some water to it to soften it up and then he started inhaling his food again. Again, still itching. I realized all of the dry food he was trying all had chicken or chicken meal in them and most of them grain free besides the Orijen. At some point I started to think he had a chicken allergy so I switched him to Taste of the Wild Puppy Pacific Stream. With the TOTW having less kcal per cup than the others and requiring more food, he began to not finish all his food at this point. Itching seemed like it subsided a little, but his appetite started becoming less and less. I switched to TOTW Puppy High Prairie to try to mix it up and get him interested in eating and he wouldn't even touch it. We took him to the vet for a checkup and she noticed he had some hot spots on his crotch and put him on antibiotics for a week to prevent infection in the area. He weighed about 33 lbs at the time and was underweight due to his lack of appetite. He was tested for worms and it came back negative. He was also given Comfortis as his 2nd round of flea medication.
In effort to get him to start eating again and hopefully get over the itching, I started to switch him to a prey model raw diet starting with chicken quarters. He LOVED the raw chicken and for the first time in a while I started to see him eat all his food and start looking for more. He did this for two weeks but the itching never fully stopped and the hot spots on his crotch never got better after the first round of antibiotics. He now weighed 46 lbs (gain of 13 lbs in two weeks), but was still underweight. The vet attributed the lack of weight to the raw diet ignoring the fact he gained 13 lbs in 2 weeks of being on chicken quarters and wanted him back on puppy kibble. She even commented how the raw was a sufficient diet for a 5 month old puppy because of the lack of nutrients. She sent us home with a 2nd round of antibiotics for two weeks, anti-histamine pills, and some allergy shampoo that was to be given to him twice a week for 4 weeks.
At this point we switched him back to TOTW Pacific Stream and he ate a couple of bites before completely losing interest. I started to mix it with yogurt to try and draw his interested. He enjoyed this for a meal or two before losing interest in this as well. I would have to hand feed him to get him to eat food. We battled with this for a week and started seeing him drop lbs again. In a panic, I started trying to mix other stuff with it that I've found on here. We tried Nature's Variety raw toppers since he loved the raw diet and he even loves raw treats. He didn't budge on that. We tried mixing TOTW Pacific Stream canned food with his dry food and he devoured one serving and then wouldn't touch the same meal the day after. We've also tried broth and also cheese to no avail. To get him to start eating again we decided to try Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Patties. He loves the lamb patties. The first couple of meals I would mix one patty with 1 1/2 cups of TOTW High Prairie and he ate every bite. He then started realizing there was kibble mixed into it and started turning it away completely. I gave him the patty on top of the kibble the next time and he ate the patty alone. NV raw is too expensive for me to maintain with the amount he eats as a puppy. I decided to try and feed him raw chicken quarters again and try out with The Honest Kitchen Love dehydrated food. The first day on this he got chicken for breakfast, THK Love for lunch, and chicken for dinner. He ate all of it. Today he ate his breakfast chicken fine. His THK lunch was a different story. He ate half the serving and the other half I had to hand feed him before he tapped out on the last 1/4 of it. Knowing my dog, he's going to start turning away the Honest Kitchen sooner or later as he's done with every other food that isn't raw chicken.
How can I make eating interesting for him if he's not interested in majority of food? He was never very food driven with training and I assume that carries over to his overall appetite. He has an extremely high play drive and sometimes leaves his food to go play. Taking it away after 15 minutes leaving him starve doesn't do anything for the next meal. He'll still turn the food away if he wants to. Am I stuck feeding him just straight NV raw patties until he grows to normal weight or an adult? Can I continue feeding him the prey model raw diet and is the vet just full of it regarding the diet not good enough for a puppy? Has anyone else had a puppy this picky? Am I a bad owner?
Sorry for the essay. I'm extremely desperate and figured the history would help assess the situation.
tldr: 5 month old pup doesn't like majority of food no matter whats mixed with it, but loves raw chicken.