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Discussion Starter #1
So, Pepper and I just got back from the vet. Today, she is 18 weeks old and 31 pounds. The vet told me she is slightly underweight, and wants me to get her to eat as much as possible to catch up. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

Pepper rarely cleans a bowl, usually eating only half or a little more than half. Some meals, she won’t eat at all.

I think the problem may be that she doesn’t like eating the same thing every day. We have her on Taste of the Wild for dry food (we plan to switch to Acana at the end of the bag) and we usually mix in Merrick’s wet food with it. She seemed to love Merricks, dove into it with gusto for quite awhile. Then, last week, when I served her breakfast, and later lunch, she wouldn’t touch a bite.

I was panicking, so I thought mixing it up might help things. I gave her a new bowl with normal amount of dry, and blue buffalo beef stew instead (I happened to have a can). She inhaled the whole bowl, so I know she was hungry.

So, for the rest of the week, I gave her the beef stew, and she ate normally (still only half a bowl most meals, but hey). Then, today, the same thing happened. She wouldn’t eat any breakfast or lunch. Curious, I tried fixing her another new bowl of lunch, this time using a leftover can of Merricks. Again, she ate the whole thing.

I’ve never had a dog do this before, and I’ve grown up around dogs. They’ve all been more than happy to eat the same thing every day. Has anyone had this experience?

Also, any suggestions on how to get some more weight on her when she doesn’t like to finish meals? The vets only advice was “do what you can”.
 

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How old is the bag of food? If you bought too big of a bag it may be rancid. Maybe the particular food you are feeding does not agree with her. She has no way of telling you this. I find the more expensive the food, the less inclined mine are to eat it. I am not advocating cheap food, but I feed less pricey foods and add raw with the savings.
 

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How old is the bag of food? If you bought too big of a bag it may be rancid. Maybe the particular food you are feeding does not agree with her. She has no way of telling you this. I find the more expensive the food, the less inclined mine are to eat it. I am not advocating cheap food, but I feed less pricey foods and add raw with the savings.

We’re still within the six week time frame, though it’s getting towards the end. We use a Vittles Vault as well to make sure we keep it fresh. I just sniff-tested it too, and it seems to smell ok. But that’s a possibility. Maybe I’ll chuck it out sooner than planned, I want to get her on Acana anyway.
 

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I’ve never had a healthy dog turn down food, so it may be right that something is wrong with the food you have. It is also possible your dog might be allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in that food. Why Acana? My vet said that is too rich for a puppy. I feed my younger dog Fromm. My older one is now on a restricted diet for health reasons, otherwise they would get the same food.
 

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Some dogs just don't want to eat, I suppose. My pup's sister didn't have an appetite and the owners changed foods until they found one that she was slightly interested in. I think they use Orijen. My pup was the opposite...he gobbles up his meal in less than 2 minutes. He's on Victor. I might have to find one of those special "slow eating" bowls. So even within the same litter, there's different appetites.

It's also still the summer. Heat usually affects many dogs' appetites too. It did with my previous GSD. With that dog, every summer I would have to "bribe" him to eat with shredded chicken and chicken broth along with his kibble OR canned food with kibble. My current pup...nothing is affecting his appetite so far….fingers crossed. He just wants to eat all the time. I feel like I'm starving him.


How about skipping a meal or two...build up her hunger. Sometimes you have to take 1 step back to get 2 steps forward, if that makes sense. I'm sure someone else has much better advice than me.
 

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I think it's possible. I have noticed that my dog goes "stale" if getting the same training treats all the time - he is noticeably more excited and eager whenever I change the type of treat. I think that some of them do care / get bored with same food!

Hmm, idea for a Big enticer to eat - mixing in just a few chopped spoonfuls of your dinner meat (plain unseasoned) in with her kibble and letting her eat when you eat dinner? Smelling you cooking it, seeing & smelling you eating it, and getting to eat when you are eating - that really makes eating fun & appetizing :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I’ve never had a healthy dog turn down food, so it may be right that something is wrong with the food you have. It is also possible your dog might be allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in that food. Why Acana? My vet said that is too rich for a puppy. I feed my younger dog Fromm. My older one is now on a restricted diet for health reasons, otherwise they would get the same food.
She’s a healthy girl for sure. Bright eyes, full of energy, thick, glossy coat. Her poops are exactly what they should be, and no vomiting or other signs of illness. We settled on Acana after a lot of research, a lot of reading reviews on different sites, and talking to others on this site. Granted, Pepper hasn’t tried it yet, so who knows?

But you might be right that something could be wrong with her current bag. It’s just about time to change it anyway, might as well do it now.

I wish I could ask my vet for her honest opinion on food, but I know she won’t give it. She sells Royal Canin in her office, gets paid by Royal Canin to promote it. She acts like feeding your dog anything else is just shy of animal abuse. So I won’t be able to have an unbiased conversation there.
 

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She’s a healthy girl for sure. Bright eyes, full of energy, thick, glossy coat. Her poops are exactly what they should be, and no vomiting or other signs of illness. We settled on Acana after a lot of research, a lot of reading reviews on different sites, and talking to others on this site. Granted, Pepper hasn’t tried it yet, so who knows?

But you might be right that something could be wrong with her current bag. It’s just about time to change it anyway, might as well do it now.

I wish I could ask my vet for her honest opinion on food, but I know she won’t give it. She sells Royal Canin in her office, gets paid by Royal Canin to promote it. She acts like feeding your dog anything else is just shy of animal abuse. So I won’t be able to have an unbiased conversation there.
Yeah, my vet's the same way. He asks me what food I feed my pup and his answer is always, "Never heard of it." and "You should feed any of the foods that you can find at PetSmart/Petco."
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's also still the summer. Heat usually affects many dogs' appetites too. It did with my previous GSD. With that dog, every summer I would have to "bribe" him to eat with shredded chicken and chicken broth along with his kibble OR canned food.
That...is a definite possibility. Pepper HATES the heat. She frequently sleeps on top of the vent when the AC is blowing, and her favorite things to play with are ice cubes. I hadn’t considered it might be affecting her appetite.
 

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I agree that they do not like to eat as much in the heat.

Adding a hard boiled egg to the kibble sometimes helps. It is animal protein and about 75 calories, good for the coat.
 

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Rocky was not a puppy, he was three years old when I adopted him. I started him out on Earthborne Great Plains (bison) which was what I mostly fed my other dogs.

At first, Rocky ate the Earthborne, but never wolfed it down like my other dogs had. Then, he started turning up his nose, eating just part of it or nothing at all. Sometimes, if I let it sit there, he would come back to it and eat. I wasn't really worried because he is a robust dog and was losing little if any weight, but I do like to see a dog with a healthy appetite, so I started buying small bags of different flavors of Earthborne, to see if he liked one of the other options. Some he liked better than others, but still not really going after his food. I tried putting a little something on top of the kibble to get him to eat and that usually worked.

I was beginning to think that Rocky was just a picky eater, but I decided to try a small bag of something else. I got him a small bag of Natural Balance Limited Ingredient (Duck and potato) and he loved it! He cleans his bowl now every time with no topper and no encouragement. We have been through several big bags now with no loss of interest. I may eventually decide to try some of their other flavors just because some people on this forum have talked about the benefits of different protein sources, but for right now, we are good.

It was that simple. Rocky just didn't like Earthborne, he likes Natural Balance. Here is a little video of him polishing off his food. Notice how he licks the bowl at the end to make sure no crumb has escaped him, lol.

 

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My pup had the same issue from 10 weeks to 6 months, she just did not want to eat! Even premium treats she would often get bored off after one or two. However, she's now almost 7 months and finally settled down into regularly eating enough of her dry kibble without issue. She was also borderline underweight at 10 weeks, but we still managed to get her to put on a considerable amount, she is 60 lbs now, still very lean, but probably considered large for a female of her age!

We used variation to tempt her into eating for sure. We tried adding canned food and she also got bored of that, but it did help for a while. We often found ourselves adding a small amount of cooked egg or cooked (unseasoned) meat and cutting it up and mixing it through a bowl of her kibble. I'm ashamed to admit it, but sometimes out of worry I would add a little meat fat from cooking or other scraps and mix it through a bowl of her kibble (she would eat 2 or 3 cups at once when I did this of course!).

Now we also leave a bowl of kibble out for her at night times, often I will hear her eating a lot at midnight or even later, I think because she is finally relaxing and realizing she is hungry after a loooong day of being hyper / play / exercise mode, and eating just isn't her first priority when there are more fun things to do! We have no issues with potty training so we weren't worried about this and it works well for us.
 

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One of the steps I took when my pup decided he didn't wanna eat was to change the formula. And in conclusion, he hates duck or lamb, and he likes fish the most. So yeah, it might have something to do with preference.
 

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We’re still within the six week time frame, though it’s getting towards the end. We use a Vittles Vault as well to make sure we keep it fresh. I just sniff-tested it too, and it seems to smell ok. But that’s a possibility. Maybe I’ll chuck it out sooner than planned, I want to get her on Acana anyway.
Before you do that you may want to catch up on the FDA warning thread. I am a firm believer in informed choices.
 

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Before you do that you may want to catch up on the FDA warning thread. I am a firm believer in informed choices.

I was just about to post this too -- here's the link:
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/diet-nutrition/748011-fda-dog-foods-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy-13.html


OP, around page 2-3 of this long thread, there's a link to a spreadsheet (Google Doc). PLEASE read that linked document -- it shows the blood test results for taurine, along with what brand/flavor of food they're eating, identifying the ones coming up low in taurine (which may eventually lead to heart failure in some dogs). ACANA seems like it's very over-represented in producing problems on that list -- while the researchers are trying to figure out what's going on, I would be very cautious with it (and with any other food that has a lot of dogs listed).


The FDA and vet nutritionist advice right now while there are unknowns about taurine is to avoid "grain free" foods -- and especially foods with peas/beans/lentils/potatoes high up in the ingredient list (or multiple sources of all of those items). Your puppy doesn't need "grain free" if it has no food allergies. Grain free just means "replace grains with beans/peas/lentils/potatoes" (which dogs don't digest as well as rice or oats), and sell it at a higher cost. They aren't adding more meat! Some of them have LESS meat because legumes are relatively high in protein so adding them possibly lets you achieve the same protein level with less meat (increasing the food's profitability).


A food that many on the forum have had good luck with is Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy (with grain). Nutrisource Large Breed Puppy is also worth a look. At a significantly lower price point is Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy -- which I've fed a lot of to puppies who came into our rescue (and it feeds out very well).



Fromm gets good marks from me for quality control and transparency -- no major recalls, they own their own plant, they've been making dog food for generations. I also like that when the dog transitions to adult food, they sell a diet ("Four Star") that's designed to be rotational: this month we feed chicken, next month we feed fish, and then duck, etc., all without any transition, exposing the dog to a wide variety of ingredients with different amino acids, micronutrients, etc. (Interestingly, dogs fed rotationally seem to not be coming up low on taurine. I can't tell you why, but it's an interesting thing that jumped out at me from the spreadsheet.)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the advice on the taurine, but I’m not too worried about that. Pepper gets a LOT of training treats a day, and I give her a mix of Vital Essentials and Only Natural pet. They’re freeze-dried raw and taurine rich because they both contain liver and the chicken ones contain fermented goats milk.
 

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Thanks for the advice on the taurine, but I’m not too worried about that. Pepper gets a LOT of training treats a day, and I give her a mix of Vital Essentials and Only Natural pet. They’re freeze-dried raw and taurine rich because they both contain liver and the chicken ones contain fermented goats milk.
She’s not hungry. You just answered your own question. Treats have calories and take the place of food. That is one reason I don’t like treat training.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
[/quote]

She’s not hungry. You just answered your own question. Treats have calories and take the place of food. That is one reason I don’t like treat training.[/QUOTE]

No, that’s not it. We do treat training at night before bed, well after dinner. Only once or twice do we do it during the day, when we work outside under distracting circumstances. And yes, the treats do have calories, but the vet still says she’s underweight.
 

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It’s not the time you give treats, it’s the total number of calories you give during a 24 hour period. It’s like a person eating a huge meal at night not wanting breakfast. How do you know she’s underweight? I don’t remember what line she is but some lines look very thin until they fill out between 12-18 months. Vets who aren’t familiar with line differences won’t know it. My neighbor has an ASL or pet line puppy. I can’t tell which. He is very long and looks extremely thin but he’s not emancipated. I’ve seen dogs like that completely fill out when they are older.
 
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