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Discussion Starter #1
Not new to dogs but figured this counted as a simple question. I've always fed twice a day. Now I have a very picky eater in the form of the Chihuahua. I was considering free-feeding in the future. My main concern is that the dogs would overeat.
 

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Doesn't free-feeding make picky dogs worse? I'd continue to offer food 2x a day. Leave it down for 15 mins and if the chi doesn't eat, pick it back up and offer again later. Eventually, the dog will get hungry.
 

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Doesn't free-feeding make picky dogs worse? I'd continue to offer food 2x a day. Leave it down for 15 mins and if the chi doesn't eat, pick it back up and offer again later. Eventually, the dog will get hungry.
Agreed. It's just so hard to keep track of how much a dog is eating when you free feed, and if a dog is sick enough to not eat at all it can be days before people even realize it free-feeding. I think there are some dogs out there who are die-hard grazers, but I would try Cran's suggestion before coming to that conclusion.
 

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My picky papillon was free fed when I first got her because I was worried she wasn't eating enough. She does much better now on a schedule as far as eating regularly and quickly. Food goes down and is picked up 10 minutes later. Also helps me be aware if one of the dogs goes off of their food. Also lets me measure out each dog's food individually.
 

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My picky papillon was free fed when I first got her because I was worried she wasn't eating enough. She does much better now on a schedule as far as eating regularly and quickly. Food goes down and is picked up 10 minutes later. Also helps me be aware if one of the dogs goes off of their food. Also lets me measure out each dog's food individually.
I see where free feeding could get confusing with multiple dogs, but could you also give one day's portion of food at a time, for the dog to eat whenever he chose? That way you could still control the amount of food he was getting. Or would that not be considered free-feeding?
 

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I see where free feeding could get confusing with multiple dogs, but could you also give one day's portion of food at a time, for the dog to eat whenever he chose? That way you could still control the amount of food he was getting. Or would that not be considered free-feeding?
I don't think that's free feeding, is it? I've always understood free feeding to be letting the dog eat as much as they want whenever they want, which in my case, would lead to me having a 400lb dog.

Still, it's easier to see if a dog is off their feed if you schedule feed. I would be calling the vet in an instant if I gave Kabota his breakfast and came down from my shower to find it still there. If I just left the food out all day, I wouldn't notice until the next day.

what are you feeding her? Maybe we can help you find something that she'd like better.
 

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That's not my definition of free feeding...I assumed you'd put a measured amount of food in the bowl and leave it out. That being said, I don't agree with free feeding. Not good for keeping a dog house broke, allows a picky eater to continue to be picky and not easy if you ever have another dog in the house, be it a newly adopted dog, a foster or visitor.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Purina Dog Chow usually. Yes, I know what everyone will say about that. The puppy is getting Purina Puppy Chow which is what the Chi really wants while the puppy really wants the Chi's food. They all enjoy cleaning up the crumbs (or entire cracker/pretzel/cheese stick/whatnot) after the one year old and four year old. The Lab mix doesn't care what you feed her, she just likes food. Completely preventing the kids from sharing with the dogs just seemed like it'd be impossible so I didn't bother to try. I just make the four year old have the dogs sit and I don't allow the dogs to steal from the one year old, they have to wait until she drops it on the floor or gives it to them and no sharing from the dinner table. The children ensure the dogs will never starve. Cats are fed out of the dogs reach. All the dogs are quick to gobble their food if I add something to it. What would be an inexpensive, healthy addition to their food (like a spoonful of plain yoghurt or something) that's not canned dog food? I very occasionally add raw or cooked eggs, cottage cheese, warm water, meat baby food, or canned green beans as a special treat.

Yes, I would like to feed better food but it's not financially feasible at this point, also my husband is an issue in regards to paying more for food and his feelings matter, especially since he's the sole provider.

I was curious about the free-feeding as some people swear by it.
 

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Do you have access to a costco? cause the kirkland signature dog foods are about the same price as purina around here and they're certainly better than purina. Other than that I'm not sure of any particular food that's comparable to purina in price but higher quality. Chicken soup is the only other decent low cost kibble i can think of but I think it's more expensive than purina.

A scoop of plain yogurt is a fine addition to the food although I usually give stuff like yogurt and milk more as desserts and treats rather mixed in with kibble. I just do that cause I think yogurt and kibble is a disgusting combination taste wise, but my dog seems to love it either way. I also add fish oil which really isn't expensive. I'm not sure if "pet specific" fish oil/flaxseed oils are more expensive but I tend to assume they are. I just get human fish oil softgels and pop them, squeeze out most of the oil onto the food and I eat the rest. The only other thing I've ever added is Tripett which is canned green tripe and would be similar to adding canned dog food.

I'm with the others about not free feeding. Adding water to moisturize and warm up the kibble (either with warm water or microwaving) helps bring out the smells and could help make the food seem more appetizing. I guess floating the kibble is generally a good idea anyways since it adds moisture. I don't think purina dog chow uses citric acid so it's safe to add water to. Check the label just in case though.
 

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I define "free-feeding" as measuring out the dog's daily ration in the morning and making it available throughout the day. It DOES NOT mean allowing the dog to eat all it wants.

If you have multiple dogs, it's impossible to do unless you keep the dogs completely separated throughout the day because there is no way of knowing how much each dog is eating.

if you have a dog with a "chowhound" personality ( and these aren't necessarily actual hounds, BTW) it's also impossible because the dog wil consume the entire ration immediately and then you are, in actuality, not 'free-feeding" but feeding one meal a day with all the potential problems that may cause.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Do you have access to a costco? cause the kirkland signature dog foods are about the same price as purina around here and they're certainly better than purina. Other than that I'm not sure of any particular food that's comparable to purina in price but higher quality. Chicken soup is the only other decent low cost kibble i can think of but I think it's more expensive than purina.

A scoop of plain yogurt is a fine addition to the food although I usually give stuff like yogurt and milk more as desserts and treats rather mixed in with kibble. I just do that cause I think yogurt and kibble is a disgusting combination taste wise, but my dog seems to love it either way. I also add fish oil which really isn't expensive. I'm not sure if "pet specific" fish oil/flaxseed oils are more expensive but I tend to assume they are. I just get human fish oil softgels and pop them, squeeze out most of the oil onto the food and I eat the rest. The only other thing I've ever added is Tripett which is canned green tripe and would be similar to adding canned dog food.

I'm with the others about not free feeding. Adding water to moisturize and warm up the kibble (either with warm water or microwaving) helps bring out the smells and could help make the food seem more appetizing. I guess floating the kibble is generally a good idea anyways since it adds moisture. I don't think purina dog chow uses citric acid so it's safe to add water to. Check the label just in case though.
I will check the label for citric acid. Why would that ingredient make it unsafe to add water?

Guess should I add my definition of free-feeding, I didn't realize people would have different definitions of it. The people I know who free-feed just fill up those big containers that connect to a bowl and refill when empty so that was along the lines of what I was thinking when I said free-feeding.
 

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I suggest you talk to your husband about choosing a new food. The dog and puppy chow is full of terrible ingredients. While you may pay a bit more per bag of a higher quality food, you won't need to feed as much because it doesn't have all the useless fillers. You will also save money on future vet bills. Your dogs may not show it now, but that food is not doing them any favors. It could very well be harmful to them. You want to think short term vs long term.... is it worth more to pay 5-10 dollars more a bag, or would you rather pay hundreds of dollars down the line at the vets because your dog couldn't handle the chemical menadione?

Ingredients: Whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), meat and bone meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, whole grain wheat, egg and chicken flavor, animal digest, calcium phosphate, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, added color (yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40, blue 2), zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite

I bolded the "bad" ingredients in the Dog Chow formula. When you buy this bag, most of what you are buying is fillers. The first TEN ingredients are just not good for dogs, and those are the ingredients that make up the majority of the food.

Again, please try to talk to him. Ask him, would you rather pay 5-10 dollars more a bag, or possibly hundreds of dollars in vet bills down the road? Not to mention quality of life, this food has got to be hard on their bodies to digest with all the plant matter and chemicals.

As for your definition of free feeding, definitely do not do that! Kibble has meat in it and should not be left out like that. As it is exposed to air and light, kibble's nutrients will degrade and the oils will go rancid. Kibble should be kept in a sealed container and changed out everyday. Free feeding of any kind will also not help with potty training since they will always have poop in them. My dogs eat around 10-11 am, and then they poop it out around 6-7. They eat dinner around 9-10, and they poop out that first thing in the morning. Knowing when your dogs eats and when it is due to eliminate makes monitoring their health much easier.

So again, short term vs long term is the way to think. Five Guys is cheaper than a whole foods or central market meal, but it doesn't do my body and good. It ONLY benefits my wallet.
 

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We used to free feed our hound mix Callie (85 lbs), she is a very light eater and often leaves leftovers. Then we got little Pete (17 lbs) who would hoover his way through anything Callie left in her bowl at lightning speed (3,4 or 5 times what he should be eating). Now we only feed around a structured mealtime. At first Callie was resistant but she warmed right up to the idea when we started layering on half a cup of homemade chicken stock to her food, she will now eat it dry as well.
 

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Free feeding can be a little difficult because you need to keep track of how much your dog is having to eat and it may also mean that your picky dog will become an even pickier dog. You can definitely not feed your dog all it wants (well, at least in my experience). Since you clarified what you meant by free feeding though, I would advise against it because the kibble can't really be out like that for that long, like Lila's mom explained. I think you might want to change what you are feeding them if you are struggling right now and good luck!
 

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I was going to suggest the Kirkland, Costco, food, too. The puppy chow is around $17 for a HUGE bag, it lasts us a month or more and I have a big 8 month puppy. It does very well on dog food comparisons. perhaps you can do what people do with cats so the other dogs don't eat their food and you can see how the chi is eating, cut a hole in a plastic bin that only the little one can get through and keep the food in there so you can at least keep better track of the food intake he's getting. I hope you can get your little dog eating...
 

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I was going to suggest the Kirkland, Costco, food, too. The puppy chow is around $17 for a HUGE bag, it lasts us a month or more and I have a big 8 month puppy. It does very well on dog food comparisons. perhaps you can do what people do with cats so the other dogs don't eat their food and you can see how the chi is eating, cut a hole in a plastic bin that only the little one can get through and keep the food in there so you can at least keep better track of the food intake he's getting. I hope you can get your little dog eating...
Another vote for Kirkland food! It's so much better than anything else in the same price range.
 

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I will check the label for citric acid. Why would that ingredient make it unsafe to add water?
adding water to foods with citric acid has been shown to increase the chance of bloat. While bloat is more of a concern in bigger dogs and certain breeds, I've had a bloat scare even in my 35lb mutt so it's certainly not something to ignore in smaller dogs. Although I'm not sure if a chi can get bloat.
 

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I give two meals a day so that I can get some predictability her in need to "go" .
We free feed our dog as she wont eat kibble in one go and will munch on it throughout the day, as we only have one dog its easy to keep track of how much she has eaten and she is perdictable in her toilet habits, she will only go on grass as well so we take her out to the top of the road at certain times and she'll 'go'. It may varey for dog to dog but I have found with ours that free feeding dosn't effect regularity
 
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