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Discussion Starter #1
So, Quill has bad SA and I'm waiting for a response from our trainer, but in the meantime curious what you all think.

Quill's SA got worse and he no longer eats in the morning before I leave because he anticipates me leaving. The trainer said to enforce a time limit, though not really an issue because like I said -- no amount of time is enough for him to eat it, until I return at 5. Even then, he waits about an hour before showing any interest and then we are at dinner time.

This means he is now eating ~2.25 cups of kibbles a day, pretty much every day. He won't eat until dinner, then he'll eat his 2.25 cups from the morning, and when I give him dinner, he doesn't want it. I assume because he just ate 2.25 cups of food!

Quill is skinny. He lost some weight at the end of the summer, so we upped his food because he was borderline too-skinny. He was 64 lbs in July and at his most recent vet visit (October) he was 59 lbs. The vet attributed the weight loss to being unaltered and wasn't concerned, and I agree he looked healthier by that vet visit. I don't know what his weight was in August/early September, but I would guess he put on a few lbs before the October vet visit based on what he looked like.

And I DO know a healthy dog often is considered "too-skinny" in our world -- I am not using these terms incorrectly. Quill has always been a string bean, so I am familiar with his healthy-skinny and too-skinny looks, just to clarify. He's fuzzy so pics are hard to show his weight, but below in my sig is what I consider his healthy weight. You can easily feel ribs, see his waist, etc. He was far skinnier end of summer. This means I am fine with his weight now, as is the vet. BUT given his weight loss at the end of the summer, I'm a bit concerned he will lose quite a bit if he continues refusing to eat.

He was getting 5 cups, but we switched a different brand of kibble so now he is supposed to be getting 4 1/2 to equal calories. He didn't gobble down the old kibble anymore (Nature's Domain Salmon), and when I bought new kibble, I specifically picked one we used treats when I got a sampler because he liked it so much thinking it might encourage him to eat (TOTW Duck formula). No luck.

He will eat if I add in wet food or pumpkin, but not egg, and I imagine he would still lose interest in those like he did the egg (the egg encouraged him at first, now it still isn't enough). I assume the issue is him anticipating me leaving and being too anxious for the food to be tasty enough to override that, hence why he'll eat with something "extra" tasty added in or will take treats (though not right as I'm leaving or once I'm gone).

Basically, curious about thoughts and opinions on this. Should I add something it to encourage eating? Do I just continue to let him wait until he gets hungry enough, and should I withhold treats as well? He did eat some of his dinner this morning (didn't touch it last night), but I'm home and offered his breakfast again and he still hasn't touched that, so we'll see. I don't want to make him think he can hold out and get something "extra", but I also don't want him to lose weight again!

Also, I apologize if this is more suited to training...I figured being food related, maybe here would be best.
 

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How about sneaking an extra 1/4 cup into the bowl of food he will eat then increasing every week or so until you are happy with his weight? Plenty of dogs eat once a day.

I wouldn't even offer breakfast but if you really want him to eat breakfast then try putting the amount he will eat in the bowl. If that's 3 kibble then put that in there. Once [if] he starts eating that nicely increase to 4 and then 5 and so on until you figure out how much he wants in the morning.
 

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I think eating once a day isn't the worst thing for an adult dog. And also, if he likes toppers, toppers aren't the worst either.

How bad is the SA? If he is already anxious enough to refuse food (where he would normally eat it) as you are preparing to leave, the training should have happened well before that point. Triggers associated with your departure should have slowly been introduced as he continued to eat, and you should have moved back a few steps the moment he started refusing food. I use 'should' loosely here. I am curious what plan your trainer developed though. It sounds like you are already leaving Quill alone. And if he can be left alone with the only symptom being lack of appetite, that's really good! But again, I'm curious to hear what your scenario is. Are you using food to help with SA, or are mealtimes totally separate from the training?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The higher calorie suggestion is interesting. I stuck with TOTW because it is similar in ingredients to Nature's Domain, and went with their highest calorie food (and as I said, he used to love it!). Do you have any suggestions for high calories foods that are grain free? TOTW's is 375 kcal/cup. Sneaking in "extra" won't do it. He usually stops right around his 2 cups and will occasionally go back and "graze" from the bowl periodically, but never eating all of it. I guess my problems with feeding once a day are A) being concerned about it being 4 1/2 cups of food and B) as stated, he won't just eat it all once a day.

The training didn't happen well before this point because I was not aware he still had bad SA. The summer of 2016 he would be kenneled while I was working, and he displayed the "usual" bad signs of SA (screaming, panting, destroying the kennel trying to get out). Remove the kennel, and he did nothing. No one complained of him screaming, he didn't soil the house, he didn't destroy things, he seemed fine. I posted here about it, and was told if he was fine out of the kennel, leave him out the kennel. The only sign he was maybe not 100% okay was not wanting his kong when I left, but that wasn't this huge red flag of OMG WE NEED A TRAINER for me, it was just okay, no kongs when I leave. It seemed a huge improvement from the screaming mess of a kenneled dog and really, he was only kenneled because we lived in a friend's house and if he DID destroy something, it wouldn't have been mine.

This summer, while living with other people, I was informed he wasn't doing anything when I was gone. He was restless and not drinking, but still eating in the morning and otherwise seemed okay. He then started refusing food in the morning. It wasn't gradual. He went on fluoxetine in August for a host of other anxiety problems, the SA being a contributing factor, but not the only. He still isn't (usually) showing other signs of SA, at least that I'm aware of. No screaming/barking, no soiling, no destroying. He is still free to roam the house and the only other incident we had was him chewing/scratching up the door, which the trainer thinks may be an effect of the fluoxetine lowering his inhibitions. And it happened twice, and now nothing.

We're incorporating my BF more into the scenarios once he returns. He feeds Quill, he starts doing more with Quill without me (walking him and having mixed returns (me there vs not), I make Quill work for my attention, that type of thing.
 

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I feed Primal Freeze Dried (Lamb and Beef formulas) to my hard to keep weight on pom. It has the highest calories of any food I have checked.
However this would be quite expensive to feed a larger breed dog, but you could maybe use it like a topper.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I feed Primal Freeze Dried (Lamb and Beef formulas) to my hard to keep weight on pom. It has the highest calories of any food I have checked.
However this would be quite expensive to feed a larger breed dog, but you could maybe use it like a topper.
Truth ha! A $31 14 oz lamb bag has 2520 kcals...I feed 1688 a day! But I'll keep it in mind as a potential topper, thanks! That's the big thing. He needs A LOT of calories to even maintain weight (which is all I'm trying to accomplish, at this point) so anything I feed him he needs a lot of. And it makes sense he isn't wanting to eat 4 1/2 cups of food in one sitting. That's a lot of food. Maybe I'll just top it and try mixing up the topper frequently to hopefully make it special enough he doesn't lose interest.
 

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Okay, so it sounds more like a feeding issue and less of an SA issue. I'm sure his anxiety is a contributing factor, but it doesn't sound like you're needing him to eat while you're gone.

I get that one huge meal with 4+ cups of food might be too much. Okay, what if you fed first thing in the morning before his walk? (Pair eating his meal with going out with you). You can increase food drive with good timing and good motivators. Example, eat this handful of kibble and we'll play tug for 2 minutes! Eat this cup of kibble and we'll go right out the door for a hike! Etc.
You don't want to feed too close to your actual departure because you might be inadvertently decreasing the value of his meals if they are associated with your departure.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I guess I'm confused to what you mean by it being a "feeding issue" and not a "SA issue"? He isn't being fed right before I leave, ever. He is being fed generally around 2 hours before I leave. When I am making coffee, getting dressed, etc he is following me around and not willing to focus on his food. Even on the weekends, it generally takes about 2 hours of just sitting around before he will finally go eat his food. If I'm up and moving, he is following me and not eating. That's the only situation where enforcing a time limit as my trainer said seems plausible, as it is the only situation where he'll wait X amount before eating.

And I have tried giving something more high value as a reward for eating before, but to no avail. But maybe having my BF incorporate that would be beneficial as well. I'll see what we can do, thanks!
 

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another thought, use his food for training? so in the morning set aside time to do a 10-15 min training session using his food as treats.
 

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My only real contribution here is that prozac (can't spell the generic, darn it) suppresses appetite and may be a contributing factor. Playing with when you give him his meds may help. It also may not, but might be worth trying to give him his meds immediately after he eats in the evening.
 

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My only real contribution here is that prozac (can't spell the generic, darn it) suppresses appetite and may be a contributing factor. Playing with when you give him his meds may help. It also may not, but might be worth trying to give him his meds immediately after he eats in the evening.
That is actually exactly when he gets the meds. I did wonder if they could be contributing to it at all, so good to know they CAN suppress appetite some. Thanks!
 

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I guess I'm confused to what you mean by it being a "feeding issue" and not a "SA issue"? He isn't being fed right before I leave, ever. He is being fed generally around 2 hours before I leave. When I am making coffee, getting dressed, etc he is following me around and not willing to focus on his food. Even on the weekends, it generally takes about 2 hours of just sitting around before he will finally go eat his food. If I'm up and moving, he is following me and not eating. That's the only situation where enforcing a time limit as my trainer said seems plausible, as it is the only situation where he'll wait X amount before eating.

And I have tried giving something more high value as a reward for eating before, but to no avail. But maybe having my BF incorporate that would be beneficial as well. I'll see what we can do, thanks!
Ahh, gotcha! I think what I would do in your shoes is pick a good time, offer food with topper, and if he eats any significant amount of it, immediately go do his favorite thing (play, short walk, etc), and make it a habit that the sooner he eats, the sooner he has fun times with you. Picking up works too, if he won't starve himself. I think it can work in conjunction with making it a game. And with the meds and the rapid weight loss, I get the concern for keeping him at a good weight.

Regardless, I hope you figure out something soon and best of luck!
 

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Maybe I'll just top it and try mixing up the topper frequently to hopefully make it special enough he doesn't lose interest.
My dog is much smaller (17lbs) but also on prozac, and we have similar issues with food. I do just what you said above, change up the topper frequently or even feed straight protein (cooked ground turkey, chicken breast chunks), just to get something in her stomach in the morning especially if it's a day she'll be going to dog camp to play for 8 hours. Sometimes I mix in rice because she loves it. Mine is also underweight, and I figure any calories I can get in are worth it. Unless it's straight meat, she'll generally skip breakfast 5 times out of 7.
 

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What CptJack said about Prozac suppressing appetite. I would also recommend feeding a higher calorie food as TOTW is on the low side if you are worried about him loosing weight. Or you could look into feeding raw or freeze dried (maybe more tempting to eat). I would also consider his SA to be at a tolerable level and wouldn't be too concerned about it. SA doesn't just go away completely-it's always going to be there. It is usually a genetic predisposition. I will say that you will probably see improvement as he gets older. Right now he is reaching sexual maturing. My dog was much worse than yours when he was 2 and when he reached about 4 years old his SA became much more manageable and he is no longer on meds.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The meds are actually more for general nervousness. I wouldn't have put him on them for the SA, as I agree it has never been awful, awful aside from when kenneled. He struggles with being anxious about odd things (for example, the stethoscope at the vets or his toy's reflection in a glass door), so we resorted to the meds to help with that, though the SA was another thing we factored in for it, given we kind of "rediscovered" he still had it this summer. But it is good to hear your guy settled some as he got older. We're hoping that helps with Quill's stuff, but know it may not.

I'll look into some additional types of food with higher calories! I didn't realize the TOTW was that much lower than other options. Thank you!
 
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