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Hi Guys,

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.
HELPPP:crying:
 

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In general, the more you try and get them to eat what and how much you want, the harder it gets. If they don't eat it all, just pick it up and let them go hungry. They won't starve themselves. I know how you're worried, but you just end up encouraging finicky without meaning too.

I may have skimmed over it, but why not just feed him raw? Part of skipping around is he's figured out at some point you're going to give him what he wants, so he has even less reason to eat the kibble. Here's some videos breaking down a raw diet:
Raw Feeding Basics Course - Dogs Naturally Magazine

Also, don't be so sure the skin condition is diet. Omega 3's are always good, but I think the majority of the time its something in the environment and even though most people will swear it couldn't be possible, fleas. Some dogs will react to a single or very few fleas, it doesn't have to be an infestation.
 

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In general, the more you try and get them to eat what and how much you want, the harder it gets. If they don't eat it all, just pick it up and let them go hungry. They won't starve themselves. I know how you're worried, but you just end up encouraging finicky without meaning too.

I may have skimmed over it, but why not just feed him raw? Part of skipping around is he's figured out at some point you're going to give him what he wants, so he has even less reason to eat the kibble. Here's some videos breaking down a raw diet:
Raw Feeding Basics Course - Dogs Naturally Magazine

Also, don't be so sure the skin condition is diet. Omega 3's are always good, but I think the majority of the time its something in the environment and even though most people will swear it couldn't be possible, fleas. Some dogs will react to a single or very few fleas, it doesn't have to be an infestation.
So today he decided to not touch his chicken anymore. I messed up again and prepared him some Honest Kitchen which he only ate a quarter of. I recognize I created the pickiness. I want to get him on some good kibble for now. Should I just completely reset everything and give him plain old kibble (probably Orijen) not mixed with anything? Give him 15 minutes and if he doesn't touch it or eat it all, take it away? Say he doesn't catch onto this immediately, how long do I do that for before I start worrying about him not eating?
 

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Yes that's exactly what you should do. He won't starve himself even if he does skip a meal or two. But he'll learn to eat what's in front of him in a timely manner.
 

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My youngster doesn't always eat well, either. I always mix some chopped boiled chicken in it, too. I guess the advice to just pick it up after a while may be good!
 

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Steve Strom;8553394 Also said:
That happened to me and Deja. With years of dog expereicne I thought I could tell if there were fleas or not. She developed a hot spot, took her to the vet. She combed and sure enough.....fleas! :surprise::headbang:
 

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Just a quick update. Thanks to your guys recommendation I switched him back to kibble almost immediately. He started inhaling his bowls of kibble as soon as I started throwing them down. Three days later though, he is starting to not touch his kibble (I knew the first few days were too good to be true). I'm sticking to the plan though, not changing anything with his kibble and setting alarms for 15 minutes to take away his food. He's missed 3 meals so far (dinner last night, breakfast this morning, lunch today). He seemed to be hungry this morning for breakfast and ate a few bites really quickly. So quickly he choked and spit everything out but cleaned up all the pieces he coughed upe. After that he didn't seem to care for his kibble anymore. He is still a puppy who is still teething but has most of his molars. Should I be mixing his food with a little water again to help him eat it, or just stand my ground and wait it out? He had no issues eating the first couple of days when it was Orijen Puppy, although now he's eating Orijen Large Breed Puppy. The ingredients looked the same so I didn't think he would notice a difference, but the morsels are slightly larger with the Orijen LBP.
 

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You could definitely try soaking it with water, or you could add a splash of raw goat's milk to help with gut health and for making it a bit more tasty.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You could definitely try soaking it with water, or you could add a splash of raw goat's milk to help with gut health and for making it a bit more tasty.
I'm unsure if I want to add milk or anything to make it taste better just yet. I think me doing that early on and started adding different stuff to try and force him to eat made him into the picky eater he is today. If he doesn't eat for another day or two then I'll probably give it a shot. Thanks for the recommendation!
 

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Another update. He's only eaten 3 full meals since Thursday. He's missed 9 meals total. Every meal has been taken away after 15 minutes. Water mixed into it since he's started losing some more teeth this week. He hasn't been about excited about his food at all. The times he has eaten I've had to move the bowl around between my kitchen, living room, and his crate to try and make him comfortable to eat. Even trying to enthusiastically hold the bowl up to him. I'm going out of town for 10 days starting at the end of this week and need to figure this out quick otherwise my in-laws who are watching him when I'm out are going to be as stressed or about this too. HELP :(
 

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I created a similar monster with our previous GSD. They can be very slim as puppies and it's tempting to change foods, add things, etc. This time around we picked a kibble and have stuck with it, only changing proteins every other bag (wellness core chicken, then fish, etc.). You gotta bite the bullet.

As for the itching Salmon oil or coconut oil and rule out environmental things (pretty sure we pick up chiggers around the ponds sometimes). Seems they get itchy when they are shedding that puppy coat.
 

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Does he still need lunch at his age?
Would two meals a day be ok?
How much are you giving him?

I know every one recommends the "picking up after 15 minutes" and i'm not going to argue with that. My breeder told me the same... I just don't listen to it though. I give my guy 2 cups of kibble in the morning... he doesn't eat it all straight away, and thats fine with me, I don't mind. I leave it out for him all day, he eats it whenever, I dunno when I don't check. It is all gone when its dinner time... then I give him 1 cup of kibble, come bed time that 1 cup is all gone. If he has had a bone or a lot of treats during the day due to training I won't bother with giving him dinner at all.
 

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Any other treats like an egg or yogurt or whatever I don't actually give to him in his food bowl... I will put it in a different bowl or a plate or just chucked straight onto the grass... so that he doesn't associate his food bowl with anything other than kibble
 

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Does he still need lunch at his age?
Would two meals a day be ok?
How much are you giving him?

I know every one recommends the "picking up after 15 minutes" and i'm not going to argue with that. My breeder told me the same... I just don't listen to it though. I give my guy 2 cups of kibble in the morning... he doesn't eat it all straight away, and thats fine with me, I don't mind. I leave it out for him all day, he eats it whenever, I dunno when I don't check. It is all gone when its dinner time... then I give him 1 cup of kibble, come bed time that 1 cup is all gone. If he has had a bone or a lot of treats during the day due to training I won't bother with giving him dinner at all.
He used to only eat twice a day until the vet recommended to change to 3x so he would gain weight, even recommended 4x which was impossible. He gets 2 cups of orijen lbp in the morning, 1 at lunch, and 2 at dinner. The recommended on the label for his weight is 4 cups.

Ill try leaving his food out.

So frustrating. He was eating his meals perfectly fine when he was on raw. We only ended up in this mess when the same vet told me he shouldn't be eating raw at his age and to put him on kibble again. Now he won't even touch raw either. I think I need a new vet.
 

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Stick to your guns and don't give in and give him other nicer stuff to eat... he knows you've swapped and changed things before and he's waiting for you to do it again. Stay strong! :)
 

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I'd only feed twice a day at this age. I'll admit too that I'm not one to try to starve them out. If I have a dog that hasn't eaten a bite in three days, well, I'm trying something different. At my house, raw goats milk on your kibble is always a favorite. All three of my GSDs get this, not just the picky one. I feed Honest Kitchen occasionally too. I had a dog that hated eating out of a bowl, but a cookie sheet was fine.

I have a 9 month old right now. She went through a stage where she wouldn't eat her breakfast early in the morning. So I gave it to her later in the morning and she'd eat.
 

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I have a dog who just sucks at eating stuff dry. He chokes and hacks with dry kibble and dry cookies sometimes. With him the kibble just seems to need to be wet a little to make it slide down it doesn't even had to sit and soak. So I always put a little warm water on it
 

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I feel for you ... I too had a picky eater. Tried everything, raw, kibble (various brands), honest kitchen and home cooked. It has been quite a journey but she has finally been eating normally since I switched to home cooked about six months ago. She is now 3 1/2 years old. We have just started the transition to raw once again, and so far it's all good ... fingers crossed. I've had to try a number of different things, including supplements .. probiotics, vitamins, minerals and omega 3s. I can't say what specifically worked or whether it was a combination of things or whether it was just her maturing.

In reading your email trail, I read a lot about all the things you've tried feeding her, but I don't think you reported on how her stools have been. I found this the best barometer in trying to figure things out for my girl. The whole "... eats fine for first few days, then turns her nose up at it and refuses to eat" could be pickiness or it could be that it tastes good but doesn't feel so good later in the tummy. She remembers this so next time you feed her she knows if she eats it, her tummy will hurt, so refuses it. She gets really hungry and so after skipping a few meals, eats anyway because she's really hungry, but oh how the tummy hurts. Again, not sure if this is what was going on with my girl, but it did make me stop and really think about it. Home cooking for a while, adding probiotics, vitamins, minerals and omega 3s (salmon oil) seemed to have helped her digestive system settle down and mature so that now she is not only eating well, pooping well but is also food motivated (she was not as a puppy). But it's been a long journey, takes time for the digestive system to settle down and become healthy. I'm sure Moms and or Carmen can explain better than I.

Two more thoughts, has your puppy been vaccinated recently? This sometimes causes a reaction and that can take a loong time to recover from. Read up on the pros and cons of vaccinations. Again, not sure if this was what caused my girls issues, but just to be safe, I have had her titered and will not be vaccinating again unless her titers fall which is very unlikely. Same thing in regards to flea prevention. I've decided to take a more natural approach to flea prevention this year rather than giving her flea medication. Hope this works.

Good luck with your pup.
 

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I feel for you ... I too had a picky eater. Tried everything, raw, kibble (various brands), honest kitchen and home cooked. It has been quite a journey but she has finally been eating normally since I switched to home cooked about six months ago. She is now 3 1/2 years old. We have just started the transition to raw once again, and so far it's all good ... fingers crossed. I've had to try a number of different things, including supplements .. probiotics, vitamins, minerals and omega 3s. I can't say what specifically worked or whether it was a combination of things or whether it was just her maturing.

In reading your email trail, I read a lot about all the things you've tried feeding her, but I don't think you reported on how her stools have been. I found this the best barometer in trying to figure things out for my girl. The whole "... eats fine for first few days, then turns her nose up at it and refuses to eat" could be pickiness or it could be that it tastes good but doesn't feel so good later in the tummy. She remembers this so next time you feed her she knows if she eats it, her tummy will hurt, so refuses it. She gets really hungry and so after skipping a few meals, eats anyway because she's really hungry, but oh how the tummy hurts. Again, not sure if this is what was going on with my girl, but it did make me stop and really think about it. Home cooking for a while, adding probiotics, vitamins, minerals and omega 3s (salmon oil) seemed to have helped her digestive system settle down and mature so that now she is not only eating well, pooping well but is also food motivated (she was not as a puppy). But it's been a long journey, takes time for the digestive system to settle down and become healthy. I'm sure Moms and or Carmen can explain better than I.

Two more thoughts, has your puppy been vaccinated recently? This sometimes causes a reaction and that can take a loong time to recover from. Read up on the pros and cons of vaccinations. Again, not sure if this was what caused my girls issues, but just to be safe, I have had her titered and will not be vaccinating again unless her titers fall which is very unlikely. Same thing in regards to flea prevention. I've decided to take a more natural approach to flea prevention this year rather than giving her flea medication. Hope this works.

Good luck with your pup.
Thanks! Stools were always consistent. Never a runny poop or diarrhea. Even when I first started converting him to raw and he was eating nothing but chicken quarters for two weeks I expected the worst as I've read it was very common for dogs to get diarrhea as they were adjusting. He didn't have that problem, he was solid from the beginning. I couldn't take it anymore and gave him a quarter of a can of Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream wet food mixed with his 2 cups of Orijen LBP dry food and he ate every bit of it. I gave him another serving this morning and he ate that as well. Ironically, his poop is coming out in mass amounts of soft serve textured poop. I can't complain though. This is the first time he's eaten two consecutive meals in almost a week. Now I think his stomach needs to adjust to the wet food.

I want to start giving him goats milk or yogurt to help with his digestion but I'd want to replace the wet food completely with it. I know he previously wouldn't touch yogurt mixed with dry food. I'm really curious to if he would like the goat milk which would be great with him for his digestion and all the other good stuff. I'm scared to change stuff up immediately though if I finally found something he would eat.
 

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Try a little goat milk separately in a bowl, and see if he even likes it. All mine do, and when my dog Sage was very ill, it was one thing that she didn't refuse.
 
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