Luna has defeated us!
She’s now 6.5 months old. Have a recent picture…
Ever since we got her, we’ve struggled to get her to eat dry food consistently. We want her to eat dry food because wet food is disgusting. She was on a kibble called Chudleys when we got her, which to be fair, was too big and hard for her puppy teeth. So we soaked it and she ate some of it, but with no enthusiasm.
Before long, we switched her to Tails.com dry food, which she couldn’t get enough of at first. She would work for it, she would get it out of her spinny food dispenser thing. It was going well. Then she gradually became less interested in it. We’re trying our best to train her, which of course involves using treats as rewards, so presumably, she started to think “what’s the point of eating this dry stuff when I get tasty moist treats anyway?” It doesn’t help that she’s so small, so if we give her a handful of treats during a training session, she’s pretty much full, or at least not hungry enough to eat her food.
Tails.com constantly change your dog’s blend to meet their nutritional needs as they grow, and with each new bag, there seemed to be a new type of kibble in there that Luna didn’t like, so she would leave that and eat the rest. We also tried soaking the food, but it didn’t seem to make a huge amount of difference. We had a dog trainer visit the house for a training session, and he recommended a food called Platinum, which is a dry food, but cooked in a different way, so it’s quite soft and a bit moist, more like a treat than a normal piece of kibble. It’s also over 70% meat, so we ordered some.
Then Luna got ill. One morning she woke up but wouldn’t get out of bed, and when she finally did, she was shaking uncontrollably and barely moving. So off to the vets we went, thinking she was about to die. They couldn’t find anything wrong, and said it was probably just something she’d eaten, so they gave her an anti-sickness injection and sent us on our way. HOWEVER, they also recommended feeding her Hills prescription food for a few days, which is a bland chicken and rice wet food, supposed to be easy to digest and good for sensitive stomachs. She loved this food and wolfed it down in seconds. Then the shaking thing happened again a few days later so we were back at the vets. This time they did x-rays, ultrasounds and kept her in overnight, but again found nothing wrong and put it down to something she had eaten working its way through her system. Another week of Hills wet food for Luna.
By this time, the Platinum dry food had arrived, and once she was on the mend, we switched her to that and again she loved it and would do anything for it, so we thought we’d struck gold (funnily enough the food is a similar price to gold!) and that we’d found a dry food she would eat.
A couple of weeks later, and again she started to turn her nose up at it. She would sniff it and just walk away, holding out for something more interesting.
At this point she was coming up to 6 months old, and we were starting to think about getting her spayed, but the vet said she could do with gaining some weight first. She was about 3kg, and ideally she would be around 4kg before having the operation. So we were a bit stuck, as it’s not easy to get your dog to gain weight when she won’t eat her food.
We read a lot of advice, and consulted our dog trainer, and decided to try the ‘wait it out’ approach to get her eating again. This involves limiting any treats, and putting the food ration out for 15 minutes, then taking it away whether it’s been eaten or not. The idea is that eventually the dog realises there are no other options and eats the food before its too late. This method is even recommended by Hills so it seemed fitting that we should give it a try. The general consensus was that you might have to stick it out for 2, 3, or even 4 days, but once your dog got hungry enough, they would start eating and all would be well in the universe.
Luna lasted 5 days before we caved. She would occasionally pick at a few bits of food, usually in the evening, but other than that she ate pretty much nothing. Since she was already a bit underweight, we felt we couldn’t continue to starve her out. We considered food toppers, but in the end went with some advice we read to add a few drops of fish oil to the food. This worked a treat, and she ate the oily food with relish.
A week later and even the oily Platinum food was being rejected!
This whole thing was causing us so much trouble. We couldn’t get her spayed because she wouldn’t eat enough to gain weight, and so we couldn’t take her to doggy daycare in case she came into season and accidentally got pregnant. And we couldn’t do any training because we were still restricting her treats, so she was getting really badly behaved.
In the end, we decided it wasn’t worth all the stress, and we’ve put her on wet food (Wainwrights) for the time being. We figure we’ll get some weight on her, get her spayed, and then reassess the situation and maybe try to get her back on dry food once she’s a healthy weight. In the meantime we can continue training knowing that no matter how many treats she’s had, she’ll still polish off her disgusting wet food in a matter of seconds.
Luna, you are the most stubborn dog in the world, but we love you anyway!