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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've noticed that in general everyone here seems to feed either dry or raw. What are the pros and cons to feeding canned food? Is it possible to raise a healthy puppy on canned food alone?

Here's the background for why I'm asking: Piper is 5 months old and currently eating Royal Canin LBP. She only averages eating about 1 cup per day, though feeding guidelines for her size and age are 3 cups/day. I know feeding guidelines tend to overestimate, but it seems like Piper eats very little. She sometimes will skip 2-3 meals in a row. It's not just the Royal Canin, I've tried a number of different kibbles since I adopted her, with about the same luck. The only thing that increased her food intake was mixing the dry with canned food. Even then, she doesn't eat much and will skip meals, but was taking in more food than with the dry alone. I've tried the advice "just put out the food and eventually the dog will eat - they don't starve themselves" but this does NOT appear to hold true for Piper. I did break and give her canned mixed with dry on day number six after she went FIVE whole days without touching her food at all. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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Do you moisten the kibble before giving it to her? FYI, greyhounds are fed an all-meat diet at the track, not raw, but canned and they all have crappy, crappy teeth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've tried it both completely dry and moistened. Same results for both of those options.
 

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Are you saying you keep the food out for her at all times? If so, stop. Have you tried putting it down for 15 mins and then picking up and give her nothing, including treats, until the next feeding?
 

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Is she energetic and acting fine other than not eating much? Has she lost any weight? Can you see her ribs? Are you feeding a lot of treats? Does she eat them right away? Lots of questions I know.
Mocha had a bout when she was about 6 months old where she didn't want to eat she was kind of picky up until then but it got really bad. She would only eat around a cup or so a day even with wet food mixed in she didn't want to eat it. Her weight was good though and she was energetic. My vet told me to start only feeding her meals, put the dry food down for 10 minutes then pick it up. Then again at the next meal time. Feed NO treats at all until she was eating her regular kibble. She said they will not starve themselves but it may take a few days before she eats. Mocha went 2 1/2 days without anything then she started eating with gusto. The vet also said not to make a big deal of her eating just set it down and walk away don't try to coax her or anything. It worked for us. Oh I also switched her food at that time just incase it was the food she didn't like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
kiddsmom said:
Are you saying you keep the food out for her at all times? If so, stop. Have you tried putting it down for 15 mins and then picking up and give her nothing, including treats, until the next feeding?
Oh, no, definitely not leaving the food out at all times. Even if I was thinking of free-feeding Piper, it wouldn't be possible because my cats will eat anything and everything and her food would be long gone. The usual routine around here is meals twice per day, once around 7:00 AM and again around 6:00 PM, for 10 minutes per meal. Then all food is put away. Treats are sporadic - the time that she went five days without food also included no treats whatsoever in an attempt to get her to eat. My trainer does use treat training, so now that we've started training classes, there will likely be more treats. She's even picky about her treats, too. The training may end up going slowly this way, because if she refuses a meal, I still won't do any treating until she has eaten during a mealtime.
bacatherine said:
Is she energetic and acting fine other than not eating much? Has she lost any weight? Can you see her ribs? Are you feeding a lot of treats? Does she eat them right away? Lots of questions I know.
She is energetic and acts fine. She isn't losing weight, but also isn't really gaining any weight either. I've read that at her age, she should be gaining 1-2 pounds a week? She's gained two pounds total in the last six weeks. Can't see her ribs. I'm not sure what a "lot" is considered on the treats, but she only gets treats at all if she's eaten at the most recent mealtime. I often try to do any treat-training right after a meal she has eaten so she still has around 10 hours before the next meal to get hungry again. She does eat any treats right away, even after she just had a generally larger meal. (She is picky about her treat, too, and will refuse to eat any that she doesn't like, but I have figured out which ones of those she likes now.) She also loves marrow bones at any time. I don't try to coax her to eat, but I usually do stay in the same room with her. She will follow me around the house, even at mealtime, so if I go to a different room she will follow me to the other room instead of even considering eating. If I close her in a room, she spends the entire 10 minutes whining to be let out and scratching at the door rather than eating. ::)
 

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Yes- teeth. Teeth are much better in a dog that eats dry food.

Have you had her checked by your vet? That's an important first step.
 

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Kibble really doesn't clean their teeth...maybe a tiny bit better than canned, but I've seen some really horrible teeth on kibble-fed dogs. Marrow bones are great for keeping their teeth clean - regardless of what you feed.

I agree with gabby's mom, I'd check with the vet first just to make sure there aren't any medical problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
She's had a basic vet visit about a month ago, everything seemed normal/healthy at that time. She's going in at the end of this week for her spay and I will definitely ask the vet if a more thorough check needs to be done at that time.

I did give her straight canned food for dinner last night. It was the first time since I've had her that I've seen her complete all the food put out for her.
 

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A vet visit could help your peace of mind.

Another possibility is that you have one of the rare (10%) "mutant" Labs that self-regulate their food intake and do not over-eat.

Possibly that combined with having an equally rare small Lab (say adult weight of 45 lbs. or so).

My Puff self-regulates her food intake and as she approached 8 months age, she began skipping meals, sometimes for a day or two. [She'd increased from one cup/day at 9 weeks up to 5 cups/day at 8 months.]

I measured the amount of food given and the amount remaining and kept decreasing the amount offered so it matched her intake. She eventually worked down to 2½ cups/day (divided into 2 meals).

Do you know the genetic history of the parents?

Are they both from similar breed lines?

A very commonly posted misperception on this JL forum -- an often repeated, wrong advice -- is to look at the size and weights of the parents to judge the future size of the offspring.

That MAY work out maybe 50-90% of the time but be wrong another 50-90%.

WHEN BOTH parents come from breed lines (i.e., parents produce offspring with consistent characteristics) that are very similar in size then you can expect the offspring to be consistent (with very slight variability) around their average. That gives you your 90% hit rate.

However, when the parents come from different breed lines with different sizes, some dogs will be larger as adults, some smaller, and some in between. That gives you your 50% hit rate.

When the parents come from BYB (back yard breeders), EVEN IF the parents are of the same size, each can carry a wide mixture of the genes that regulate ultimate adult size. So one littermate could reach 130 lbs. while another would reach 45 lbs. -- the range of most Labs.

That's the Nature (genetic) side of it.

Then there's the Nurture (experience) side of it.

My Puff came from a Lab field breed line which consistently produced adults in the 75-90 lbs range.

But Puff was the runt of her litter. At 9 weeks she weighed 6 lbs. when all of her littermates weighed 12 lbs. All of those have grown up to mirror their parents' sizes. But Puff has stabilized at 63 lbs.

Put those two major variables together and you can have a wide variety of outcomes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bob Pr - Thanks, I think I really needed reminded that there ARE Labs that just don't eat much and are fine. And small Labs. The vet visit is scheduled for Thursday, so I will be able to check in then.

Piper is what I refer to as a "shelter Lab". She appears to be all Lab, but I adopted her from a rural county shelter about 6 weeks ago. I have no idea about her history or parentage, as she was found hanging out in someone's barn. BYBs are common around here, so that's a high possibility. Unaltered pets are also common around here, so that's another possibility. And, in the rural areas, even well-bred purebred animals are very often allowed to run free, so even that's a possiblity.

Given my experience with feeding Piper dry food, combined with feeding her canned food for two dinners in a row, I'm starting to believe that I simply have a damned picky puppy. She will ignore dry food for days on ends, preferring to starve herself. She will eat the dry/canned mixture in moderation. She is absolutely INHALING the canned food straight. Eats a full large can of Canidae in about three minutes flat.

If I don't find any reason why she can't or shouldn't have the canned food, I'm willing to switch her fully over. I know the objections over dental health, but the research I'm finding seems to indicate that dental disease is about equally prevalent in animals fed dry and canned. And I'm plenty willing to give her marrow bones to help with that, as it's already found to be one of her favorite treats.

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JackieG said:
If I don't find any reason why she can't or shouldn't have the canned food, I'm willing to switch her fully over. I know the objections over dental health, but the research I'm finding seems to indicate that dental disease is about equally prevalent in animals fed dry and canned. And I'm plenty willing to give her marrow bones to help with that, as it's already found to be one of her favorite treats.
When I'm not feeding raw, I feed a dehydrated food that has basically the consistency of canned food. I do give raw marrow bones, but I also brush Sami's teeth every night, using a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste. You might want to start this while your puppy is young. Sami loves it and will lay between my legs, on her back, and let me brush her teeth. Anyway, just a thought for you ...
 

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yeah, if you are pulling the food after 10 minutes, putting it down three times/day, then she probably is not that hungry and if self-regulating. She will eat when she is ready. As for 1-2 pounds/week, that is an average, not a fact. That means, some dogs will gain 3-4 pounds and other dogs - zero pounds some weeks.

How much does she weigh now? (I don't think you mentioned that). Being a female lab usually ends up between 55 and 70 lbs, then at 5 months you would expect her to weigh between 22 and 35 lbs. If she was below 20 I would be concerned, unless she was a runt or something....

Sounds to me everything is going great and your did is happy and healthy per the vet!

You can try up the amount of play you give her for 2-3 days, especially outside iplay n the yard if its nice and cold. The more they play and the colder it is, the more they will eat...so you can give it a test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Piper's actually a good weight for her current frame and age - she's 33 pounds.

I hadn't actually thought about brushing her teeth. Last time brushing was suggested to me was regarding my cats and there was NO WAY my cats would allow such a thing! But Piper is good about any handling I've tried except clipping her nails, so it's worth a shot. I suspect she may just chew the toothbrush to bits. :)
 

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I have to look at the ingredients but I thought most canned foods state that it shouldn't be the only source of nutrition for the dog. Isn't canned food mostly water based?
 

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Is she teething? Have you checked for retained or broken baby teeth? Just a thought, since both can be painful and can make kibble less fun to eat.

Canned food can be excellent food, but it's mighty expensive to feed!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
threelabs said:
I have to look at the ingredients but I thought most canned foods state that it shouldn't be the only source of nutrition for the dog. Isn't canned food mostly water based?
I don't know in general (it's why I posted the question :) ) but the food I'm feeding says on the can "Canidae Chicken and Rice Formula in Chicken Broth is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages."

What does worry me a bit is that Canidae, while formulated for all life stages, is not specifically a large breed puppy food. However the calcium content is quite low. 0.25% calcium, with 78% moisture, which comes out to 1.14% on a dry matter basis. I've read the recommendation is no more than 1.5% calcium in dry food, which typically has 10% moisture, which computes to a recommendation of no more than 1.7% calcium on a dry matter basis. So if calcium is the main concern for LBP food, then the Canidaie does fit well within those guidelines.

everydog said:
Is she teething? Have you checked for retained or broken baby teeth? Just a thought, since both can be painful and can make kibble less fun to eat.
She is definitely teething, as evidenced by her chewing on everything she can wrap her teeth around! ::) A quick check reveals no obviously broken teeth and nothing that looks "out of place". I'm assuming it doesn't hurt her to chew as she still happily chews on toys, hard treats, marrow bones, and one particular section of door frame!
 

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I'll have to look again, but I don't think calcium is calculated the same way you'd find the % of protein on a dry matter basis.

Calcium is based on the percentage by weight (not on a dry matter basis). So if you have 100 grams of kibble, a food with 1.5% calcium has (1.5%) x (100g) = 1.5g of calcium in that serving. Now since canned food weighs more, the % will be lower, but I don't think it's directly related to the percentage of moisture. Did that make any sense, or did I just muddy the waters?
 

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The biggest problem with an all canned food diet is teeth problems. The crunchy kibble helps keep teeth strong and clean.

My dogs are on a kibble diet but I do put a tablespoon of some canned meat in their food just to give them some variety. Now I'm sure they couldn't care less about variety but it makes me feel better. ;) They get a small taste chicken, duck, fish, etc.

kiddsmom said:
Do you moisten the kibble before giving it to her? FYI, greyhounds are fed an all-meat diet at the track, not raw, but canned and they all have crappy, crappy teeth.
Hmmm...I've been out of the racing business for awhile but that is not what the kennel I worked for did. The dogs were all fed raw horse meat and kibble on a daily basis. The only time they got meat only (still raw horse meat, not canned) was just before a race when they would pour Kayro syrup over a small amount (a couple of ounces) of meat for a quick burst of energy. After they ran, they got their normal ration of meat and kibble.
 
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