Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

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Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:33 am

Hi everyone. Its been a struggle the last month or so with Harry(my 10-11 +/- year old chow Mix). I'm guessing its been about a month since he really started turning up his nose at his kibble. Admittedly, I've always been one to give him treats and snacks... whenever I'm eating meat or something I think would be ok for him, he almost always get some. So early on, I figured I may have just spoiled him too much and he was holding out for something better. But I've been good about no treats the last couple weeks and he continues to really become more disinterested in his kibble. Even mixing wet food in with his kibble, which worked early on, has worn thin--he will eat bites of the wet food straight but when I mix it w/ kibble, its hit/miss whether or not he will eat it. I took him to the Vet this week and got blood work done...everything checked out really well according to my Vet. The only thing my Vet said was "I think He's older than you think, bring him back if it continues" --which didn't make me feel any better and the cavalier treatment I got is another story of its own. I was at my wits end this morning when he wouldn't eat anything this morning so I broke down and cooked up a chicken breast, which he gobbled down.

I'm really scared my boy could have cancer or something and I'm going to lose him. I can't sleep and every feeding becomes this emotional tightrope for me. I'm hoping you guys have some thoughts...maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion but something just isn't right. He's never been a super voracious eater of his kibble but he's also never really been a "grazer" either...he would almost always eat up his kibble at his meals. I DID probably change kibbles too much the last year...just got into a spell where I was trying different foods/buying a couple different brands when they got on sale... Do older Dogs start to lose their interest in Kibble? Could he be so spoiled, he's willing to hold out for something better EVERY day?

Other notes--No vomitting. Energy levels are good, especially for his age. He looks ok. Teeth are good...no clear signs of anything real bad toothwise.

Hoping that at least him eating chicken breasts today is at least a good sign.

thanks guys.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby maxs_mommy » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:08 pm

First off, you say this has been going on for a month. The vet would be my first stop if it gives you peace of mind. That may be indicative of something going on for him. I would also look at your kibble and see if there's been a formula change (you didn't say which kibble you're feeding so I can't help there). When you were switching foods, was there one Harry liked? Are you tied to kibble or could you just go canned or fresh if he never eats kibble again? Just thoughts off the top of my head.
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby JudyL » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:55 pm

It's always a good thing to have the dog checked out when they are off their food for this long, and since you've done that, I agree that you need to keep an eye on Harry for any more changes. You said that everything checked out well and that he seems pretty good, but you didn't mention his mobility. Since he is an older large breed dog, I wonder if he has some aches and pains that are starting to bother him more in these winter months. Does Harry get any kind of joint supplement or anything like fish oil in his diet that would help with inflammation?

Aside from medical issues, when something like this happens with my dogs I have to step back and try to recall anything that might have changed, and I really mean anything. Some dogs are much more sensitive to changes than we realize. The obvious ones are changes in the food itself. Formula in the food could have changed - was this a new bag of food when you first noticed the lack of interest? Same formula in the food but the manufacturer could have changed processing plants - has the shape of the kibble changed? My mom's dog is a picky eater and we've always had trouble switching foods, and we have encountered both problems I just asked about when not changing foods, but the kibble company threw those whammies in for us. The shape of the kibble must have changed the texture for mom's dog and she absolutely would not eat her food any more.

Are there any other things that might have changed in the dog's environment? Change the dish, bowl or plate Harry normally is fed from? Any changes of routine or timing of meals? Anything you've stopped adding to the meal, or new supplements added? Any new medicines? Any changes with your other dogs at all (medically, emotionally) ?

Any changes in the amount of daily activity Harry gets because of weather or shorter days? Any other changes in your daily routine or life?

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby whiteboxerboy » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:15 pm

did the vet do anything more than look at his teeth? there can be problems under the gum line that can't be seen w/o x-rays. just a thought, i know you already took him to the vet and everything checked out.

in my experience, when my dog had cancer and didn't feel good, he really didn't want to eat anything at all. since Harry is eagerly eating chicken breast hopefully he's cancer free and there is something else going on with him and you'll be able to figure it out.

good luck.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby SherriA » Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:46 pm

How were his kidney numbers? I know kidney issues can cause disinterest in food. For Oliver, a pepcid 30 minutes or so before meals helps a lot.
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Amanda » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:47 pm

Is Harry a sensitive dog? It sounds like you are getting really emotional about him eating or not and if he's sensitive to your emotions, he may be off because of that. In addition to the many suggestions above, I'd try to calm yourself down before you feed him.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:34 am

Thanks everyone. Some great tips in there. Since posting yesterday, he ate a little better. I upped the amount of wet food for him for a late meal yesterday, trying to hide the kibble in the wet food and that seemed to work well. I need to be clear so I don't confuse everyone... Harry IS eating. But its with coercion, mixing with wet, etc.. But I'm not sure he would eat if I just threw kibble down. Maybe after a few days he would.

I know some asked questions so I'll try to reply to them all...


Food. Harry was on Petcurean "Go" for his last bag. Prior to that, it was Fromm and Tim's with occassional mixes with HK and wet food... I know I've been switching him around too much. My fault there. There were some sales on foods and I let cost and curiosity about different brands drive me which was wrong. My other 2 guys are so simple with food that I get spoiled with them...they devour EVERYTHING. I'm finding that Harry is way different.

Blood test numbers were all excellent. My Vet was actually impressed with how good they all looked for an older Dog.

Joint issues...hmmm, good one. I haven't seen any limping or other signs but honestly, I'm not sure how to tell for certain if Joint issues are there. Harry is Chow/Border Collie and the Border Collie go-go-go is very prevalent. He's always ready to play ball and even as an older Dog is leaping and jumping from furniture all the time. He's started to quiet down a bit maybe but still loves to play.

No food bowl changes.

Teeth...Vet said they looked good. I know just because teeth look good doesn't always tell the whole story. My VET said in all his years, he's only seen a couple Dogs not eat due to teeth.... that he's seen Dogs with half their teeth falling out still fighting to eat. No clue if this is an accurate view.

Yes, I'm open to anything. Watching him devour that chicken breast made me happy. I've thought about going with the Honest Kitchen or GL base mix where you add your protein. Harry loves HK... looking back, I wonder if thats what kind of got him spoiled and makes him hold out for something better. I've read that alot online, that you can spoil your Dog so they get conditioned to knowing they can wait out better options. No clue if this is true.

YES. Harry is a super sensitive guy.

Watching him yesterday, I'm hopeful that he's ok. He IS eating. He's just much pickier and on HIS terms.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby emmas_mom » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:34 pm

Glad to hear he's eating a bit better. From my experience with older dogs, it doesn't have to be dental that makes them reluctant to crunch kibble - it can be a neck issue (bending to the food dish to eat kibble takes longer than to inhale soft food) or a jaw issue, as well as gums. Sight can also affect ability/choice of food - soft food often provides a stronger 'YUM - Dinner!" reaction than kibble because it has a stronger meatier smell even if they can't see it so well.

And, when they reach the very senior years, some (though by no means all!) dogs do lose a bit of interest in food. My Charley sometimes wanted to just eat once a day instead of twice. Food just wasn't that exciting anymore, I guess. As a senior, I wish my interest in food would decline! :grin:
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:21 am

thanks EM. Yeah, its day to day... some days he eats ok. Others not so much. I've narrowed down to the kibble. He REALLY doesn't like eating kibble. Wet food is ok... but if I try to add any kibble, he even starts to hesitate with the wet. Chicken, no problem...he woofs it down. I feel bad, I may have done this by spoiling him. I don't know... But honestly, I've ALWAYS spoiled Harry and he's still usually eaten his kibble.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:17 am

update... Well, Harry ate well on Wednesday. Mixing wet food with his kibble worked pretty well on Wednesday. Yesterday to this morning...not so good. He barely ate anything. I did cook up a chicken breast this morning for him....probably more for ME to calm myself. He did eat it pretty readily.
So I'm pretty worried again.

I left a stool sample w/ the Vet this morning and haven't heard anything back yet. Really fearful that something very bad is going on with my boy. No one prepares you for this stuff :(

I do wonder if Harry may have IBD. He's always struggled with softer stools from time to time and I've never been able to get it fixed. Never any vomitting though...nearly never in his life.

I also wonder if my VET could be wrong on his teeth being fine. I was watching him chew and he kind of tilts his head and chews to the side--just doesn't look real natural. He visually examined his teeth and I've looked at them a million times myself(not that I'm any expert but I was just looking for something really obvious). I know that I've heard you guys say that some teeth issues can be deep in the gums and not readily visible.

If my Vet can't find anything, I may take him up to Michigan State. Getting really lost. Any comments welcome. thanks guys.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby LisaT_II » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:07 am

Did you get a copy of the bloodwork? It often helps to have some more eyes on that. I can't tell you how many times on the forum a dog with "normal blood tests" had something abnormal on them when we got a copy to look at. Sometimes things just inching towards the out of bounds regions can tell you something.

Somethings if their neck I misaligned, it can cause all sorts of problems? When you look at him, does the mouth seem symmetrical or crooked? If it's reall off, somethings you can see it in the jaw set.

Any changes in digestion?

When he is relaxed and laying down, try to feel the stomach to see if it's tight or very relaxed.

Just a few thoughts, not really sure. The only time my dog went off her kibble was when she was young and had pancreatitis - she acted like she felt great though.

I know how frustrating these things are!
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:36 am

thanks Lisa. No, I can't say that I've noticed any real misalignment...but honestly, I'm not sure I would know it. His belly does feel sort of tight when I feel it... I can't say its super out of the ordinary though.

Harry's always been kind of "burpy" dog. He's always let out big belches after eating from time to time...but thats been going on for years and years.

I'll look at his bloodwork readout. Almost all of the readings were right smack in the middle... except there WAS one that I recall(I don't have it in front of me right now) that was toward the low end of the "normal" region.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby LisaT_II » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:48 am

On the blood, was the amylase and lipase included? Bloodcounts all in the middle ranges? Sometimes values can be low but not significant...

It jut might be that the kibble isn't working for him anymore. I don't believe that we "spoil" them by giving them foods that make them then not eat their kibble. I think that not eating is the only way they can show something is not working for them, and some dogs won't do that until it's extreme. Now, why it's not working is the tricky part!
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:40 pm

thanks Lisa. I wouldn't worry so much...but he's actually starting to refuse wet food too.

I will say, he won't refuse real meat. I cooked up a chicken breast at lunch today and he gobbled it up. Not sure what that means?... I'm hoping that if it was Cancer or something really wicked that he wouldn't want to eat ANYTHING. But I'm not sure my logic is correct there.

Not sure on your amylase/lipase question. It was a printout of a bunch of funny terms with marks inside a grid showing a normal range on all of them. I'll take a closer look at it when I get home(at work right now).

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby LisaT_II » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:12 pm

My experience is that, with food motivated dogs, they will keep eating, even if there's an issue, until their body starts sending the message louder not to eat. It might be something simple, like a developing allergy or intolerance, or something more medical (which can be other than cancer). Of course, the big C is always lurking :(

Can you swing feeding a homecooked bland diet for awhile? I've always been a big fan of meat and steamed veggies like green beans, though some dogs do fine on things like over steamed white rice. I would keep a check on how the stomach feels.

I'm guessing that if bloodwork and fecal are okay, there are a couple of options. Some vets might try something like flagyl to see if it's an intestinal bug. I believe that the next step up in testing would be an ultrasound, though I'm not really sure.
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby LisaT_II » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:15 pm

Can you swing feeding a homecooked bland diet for awhile? .....
Just saw your HK post. I think changing to something completely different from kibble, no matter what it is, is a good idea.
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Carson_Crazies » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:09 am

In the last year of Zippy's life I went through this same thing. I'm pretty sure that he wasn't really smelling his food anymore. It was a constant struggle, and his bloodwork was pristine. I tried everything - kibble, canned, home cooked, HK, mixtures of all of the above. He's usually eat whatever it was for about 2 weeks at a time. It was very stressful, but I just kept switching as needed. There came a point where it was more important to just get food IN him, because he was going to starve himself to death (literally) if I didn't.
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:52 am

thanks again guys. Well, Harry IS eating. But I tell you... it is a struggle. Its like he's a different Dog. This weekend, I made up a home recipe of ground beef, rice, and eggs(with egg shells for the calcium ground up in my magic bullet). Made it into kind of a "meatloaf." Cut it into squares and I've been feeding him that throughout the day. He'll eat it with some hesitation. Doesn't love it but he'll eat it.

Canned food... kind of touch and go. He'll devour at some feedings. Walk away from it at others.

Honest Kitchen, Sojo, and Grandma Lucy's... No way. He smells it(the stuff has a really strong smell) and walks away.

One thing he DOES love. Cooked chicken breasts. He'll devour them...at least for now. Eggs also. He'll usually eat a hardboiled egg. Also, apple slices... he loves Apple slices. Those 3 things are about the only consistent things he'll eat.

I'm worried about calcium levels though. I know he's probably not getting enough calcium throughout the day. If anyone has any tips there, I'm all ears. Are Tums w/ Calcium ok to give him while I work thru this?

I've thought about going to Sabine for a diet but with this going on, I'm not sure he'd even eat what she would put together for him.

Kind of lost right now. But I am happy that he's eating anything now. I haven't ruled out that I may have CREATED a picky eater in Harry. But I've always given him treats on occassion and never seen anything like this with Harry.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby LisaT_II » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:21 pm

Have you tried probiotics?
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby Kevin » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:15 am

not yet, Lisa. Any specific brands/dosages I would start with?

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby SherriA » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:57 am

I'd be stressing out too. I don't have any advice for you, but I do understand how you feel.
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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby RobinS » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:56 am

Probiotics and an acid reducer to see if that helps. My Gina ate so much better when she was on an acid reducer.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby UpwardDog » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:08 am

you can use tums but it's easier to just buy some calcium carbonate powder if he's not consuming raw bone. it doesn't seem to change the tatste of the food--I can add it to Sam's food and he doesn't care.

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Re: Harry becoming really disinterested in kibble

Postby LisaT_II » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:29 pm

not yet, Lisa. Any specific brands/dosages I would start with?
Probiotics seem pretty individual. My girl always did well with a product that contained acidophilous, bifidus, and bulgaricus, without fos or inulin, I used Solaray's multipdophilous 12, but the local store here no longer carries it. After trying about 6 different ones for my current girl, this one seems to be a winner for her: http://www.renewlife.com/ultimate-flora ... llion.html

I would start with one a day, and see how it goes. If it goes well, you can give twice a day if needed. Larger on dogs on antibiotics might need more, but I'm giving my girl one or two (she is small, but currently on abx) a day, and expect maintenance to be one a day.

Some dogs with a probiotic alone won't need the acid reducer, but some will, as mentioned.
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