My puppy is around 5 months old and he has recently became a very picky/sporadic eater. Some days he will eat all of his food for all the meals, other days he won't even touch the food at all. On the days/meals that he won't eat, he will turn away from the food or push it away even if I put in in front of his face. This has been going on for a few weeks now. I tried feeding him different brands of food, mixing in chicken and rice, or mixing in yogurt. But nothing works. I generally feed him about 1.5 cups per meal, 2 meals a day, so totaling 3 cups. He seems to be fine on the days that he doesn't eat; good bowel movement and good energy. He will eat some food if I hand feed it to him. He will also eat any treats.
Anyone else seen this before? Any advices?
I have to admit, I have never experienced a Lab that has not devoured it's food immediately! But if your pup seems otherwise healthy, then I would not worry too much about it.
I would caution about switching brands of food though. It can potentially cause some dire digestive problems.
Karen and the gang
BBI Kodi's Journey To Anotch (Journey)
BBI Kodi's Blackpowder Striker (Flint)
What Karen said. If the dog is happy, healthy and a good weight, I wouldn't stress about it. Some dogs are simply easy keepers.
I rescued a 12 year old female about 6 months ago. She is a little chubby LOL. She is a problem eater and it was driving me crazy. Her previous owners were feeding her crap and that is what she wants. She would scarf her food down one meal then go 2 days without eating much. For my mental health (and the vet's advice) I put the food down. If she has not touched it in 5-10 minutes I put it in a container in the fridge and microwave it at the next meal. I got really tired of throwing very expensive food away. LOL
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. -- Gandhi
My younger Lab did this at about that age. I would hand feed him a little bit - maybe for a minute - and then put the bowl down. He usually kept eating. After a week of this - he stopped needing that convincing.
I agree with taking the dish away if he does not eat for you. Don't put bribes in his dish or he will always hold you hostage to needing special stuff in his food.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Stop changing the food or offering 'human food.' As with the suggestions above, leave the dish down for 10 minutes; if he doesn't eat, pick it up. Offer it again at the next meal. As long as the food is not stale or rancid, a hungry dog will eat it. Don't add anything to it.
If he goes for longer than three days in a row without eating, then see about trying a different type of food. If you keep adding stuff to it, then he'll never want plain kibble and he'll hold out until he gets what he wants. Don't fall into that trap.
Jackie, Champ, and Buddy
You are being manipulated and trained by your dog. Pick a food and stick with it. Be tough. He won't starve himself to death. You are in control and he's going to eat what you feed him. Be strong.
♣ Laura ♣
I went through that with mine about a year ago. He was about 2 years old then. He'd be very energetic and happy but would turn the nose away from food or barely pick at it. I did what the folks are saying above - take the food away after about 10 minutes if he's not eating.
He figured it out after a while. Now I very, very rarely have to deal with him being picky. He scarfs it down.
I have several questions:
How much did your pup weigh when you got him (and at what age)?
<Because he might be projected to have a less than average adult weight>
Do you know the weight of the parents?
<Because that can be a big influence on his adult weight>
How large a bag of food are you buying?
<Because I've found through experience with my Lab that the kibble in opened bags of
dog food can lose their appeal over time for similar reasons that opened bags of soda
crackers we humans eat can taste stale over time>
My first Lab, Bess, was a glutton and had to be continually monitored and regulated in the
amount of food she had available/ate. The ONLY food I ever knew her to NOT eat was
raw mushrooms. (Runt of her litter; Bench line; adult weight 55 lbs.)
My present Lab, Puff, (also the runt of her litter) is the opposite and self-regulates the
amount she eats & never over-eats. (About 8 years ago, I ran a poll on JL and the res-
ponses showed that only 10% or a little less of the Labs self-regulated the amount of
food they ate.) So you may have one of the rare, self-regulating Lab as far as food
intake is concerned. Puff has taught me that I have to be particularly careful to NOT
let her stored kibble be exposed to the air or it'll become something she rejects after
a few weeks -- I immediately transfer the contents of a fresh bag of kibble into sealed
one gallon ZipLock freezer bags to keep it fresh and edible in Her Royal Highness's
Below is one of my JL posts from years ago with some information that may be helpful:
Around 7-9 months is when many puppies need to have the amount of food they eat reduced.
So it may NOT be her dislike of the food but, rather, a needed natural reduction in amount of
Very young puppies (say 8 wks age) need to eat about 2X the amount that an adult dog of that
same weight would need. As they grow older and as they come closer to their adult weight, that
decreases to 1X. (See the chapter Puppy Nutrition in the UC-Davis "Book of Dogs.")
When Puff was about 8 months old, she weighed 50 lbs of her eventual adult weight of 62 lbs.
She'd started eating about 1 cup/day total when she was 6 lbs (@ 9 wks age). That had gradually
increased to 5 cups/day (over 2 meals) when she was about 8 months age.
Then she began skipping meals. Sometimes for a day or more. When she began eating again,
she ate a reduced amount so I gave her that amount. Then after a bit she'd stop eating again
and when she resumed, it was again a reduced amount. We kept going through these stages
until she got down to a little over 2 cups/day total.
It was through this that I discovered my Puff is largely a self-regulator of her food intake. That
puts her in the minority; most Labs are gluttons and some could easily kill or injure themselves
by over-eating if given a chance. Self-regulating (according to a poll I conducted on JL several
years ago, responded to by about 70 owners) is only found in about 10% of Labs. And, at that,
it applies only to regular kibble and not to steak, fish, cat food, cheese, horse manure, etc.
So, consider the possibility that it may NOT be that (s)he dislikes the food but rather that (s)he's
somewhat of a self-regulator, is sufficiently full, and now needs to begin reducing the amount
of her/his daily food intake.
Last edited by Bob Pr.; 09-06-2013 at 12:06 PM.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
I just opened a new bag of food 2 days ago. He does eat everything else, such as treats or dry earthworms on the ground (can't stop him all the time). He also eat some food if I hand feed him.
Following the general advices that others have given here, I have started to take away his food after 15 mins and give it to him again at the next meal. Hopefully that works.