Dog Won’t Eat? Manage His Feeding Issues

Super-skinny models might have food issues. So do the majority of children under the age of 4. Then, there’s your brother who hasn’t tasted a carbohydrate since 2001. He definitely has issues. But what if your dog won’t eat?

Your dog might be finicky. Or perhaps he possesses the appetite of a lumberjack. Wherever the problems lie, take heart. You can help your dog eat a nutritionally sound diet -- without the aid of a high-priced doggie psychologist or canine chef.

What Your Dog Needs
Before we tackle idiosyncrasies, let’s step back and look at good dog nutrition. All dogs need a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates like those found in high-quality pet foods. Feed your dog according to its size, breed and stage of life.

Feeding the Dog That Won’t Eat
If your dog sniffs its bowl then rejects all but a few bites, analyze your dog’s behavior. Like kids, dogs will eat when they’re hungry. A few things could be happening:

  • Too many snacks Is your dog fed people food or extra dog treats that suppress his appetite? Feeding table scraps is a no-no, and too many treats can dull your dog’s appetite for the nutritious food he needs.

  • Illness Neither people nor canines eat if they’re ill. Make note of whether or not your dog is pooping regularly and playing normally. Recording such information in a notebook could help you and your vet determine a pattern and thus lead to a diagnosis. “Some dogs actually have a dental problem, and it’s painful to eat,” says Dr. Bruce Silverman of Village West Veterinary in Chicago. “These dogs need this problem addressed at the vet’s office before they can go back to their food dish and eat without discomfort.”

  • Overfeeding Your dog might be eating all it needs and leaving the rest alone. Check to make sure your portions are on target.
  • Yucky food Cheaper dog food brands might be made with low-quality ingredients that may not suit your dog’s palate -- or his body. Your dog might not like the taste or likely has difficulty digesting it. “Some dogs are just picky eaters because they don’t love the food in front of them,” says Silverman. “If you haven’t experimented with different-quality diets, perhaps it’s a good time to do so.”

Feeding the Dog With a Big Appetite
We know Irish Wolfhounds that can pack it away -- and Miniature Schnauzers that can keep up with them. If your dog seems truly hungry (you’ll know if he inhales supper in five minutes flat then begs you for more) there could be a reason:

  • Food quality Is your dog getting the right kind of nutrition to feel satiated?

  • Adequate portions Are you feeding your dog enough? If you’ve recently taken up cross-country skiing and your dog joins you in the adventure, he is burning more calories. Take a look at the feeding guidelines on the package or consult with your veterinarian.
  • Water Like people, dogs often eat when they’re actually thirsty. Make sure your dog’s water bowl is clean and contains fresh water at all times.

If you’ve got this checklist down, then try a couple of other solutions. “I got my dog from the pound and noticed he wolfed down his food as if he was competing for it,” says attorney Shane Fischer of Winter Park, Fla. “Of course, 10 minutes after he ate, he’d barf it back up. I took a small bowl, turned it upside down and put it in his dog dish, which prevented him from scooping up a large amount of food at once. Then, I started feeding him in increments of one-third his normal rations. After he ate, I’d wait 15 to 20 minutes before giving him the next ration.”

Silverman also recommends training exercises with treats before mealtime (you can use the same kibble you use for food), both for dogs that won’t eat and dogs that overeat. “It gets dogs in the mood for eating, they respond better to the training exercises, and some of their appetite is satiated before they dive into the food dish,” he explains.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/Jolka100

How to Find a Lost Puppy: 12 Smart Tips

There are few worse feelings than realizing your puppy has escaped. But your actions both before and after your puppy goes missing can help ensure a happy ending.

Before You Lose Your Puppy: ID Your Dog
Your puppy’s first line of protection is identification. Here are four popular methods:

  • Collar Tag The most common and visible form of identification, a tag simply attaches to your dog’s collar to display the dog’s name and your phone number. The downsides: Your pet must wear a collar at all times, and it’s always possible that the collar or the tag could detach. It’s smart to include your area code with your phone number in case your dog is lost when you’re traveling or wanders far from home. Consider using a cell phone number to ensure you’re accessible 24/7.
  • Tattoo More permanent than a tag, a tattooed pet I.D. number links your dog to a national organization, such as the AKC’s Companion Animal Recovery program.
  • Microchip A microchip the size of a grain of rice can be implanted under your dog’s skin. (No anesthesia or surgery is required.) It contains an alphanumeric code that can be read by animal shelters that are equipped with a hand scanner. The shelter then notifies the chip manufacturer that the pet has been found, and the manufacturer contacts the owner.
  • GPS Dog Collar GPS-enabled devices are everywhere these days, and that includes GPS-enabled dog collars. Originally designed to help hunters track their dogs in the field, GPS collars can also help you find your pet.

Because a tattoo or microchip could go undetected, it’s smart to supplement it with a collar and tag.

It’s also a good idea to have several photos of your dog on file, along with details about your puppy’s weight, color and identifying marks. Carry this information when you travel with your dog.

If You Lose Your Puppy, Don’t Panic
Be persistent as you go through this checklist:

  • Scour your property. Include places where your dog might try to hide.
  • Search the neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors, and leave a note with your name and phone number at houses where no one is home. Call your pet’s name frequently.
  • Help your pet find its way home. Place its bedding or some of your dirty clothes outside your house as a homing scent.
  • Call local veterinarians, shelters and humane societies. Also check with the local transportation departments, in case your pet was injured on the road.
  • Post fliers in the area. Include your puppy’s photo, a detailed description and your phone number (but not your name or address).
  • Advertise. Place a “Lost dog” ad in your local newspaper’s classifieds or in the online classifieds.
  • Use social media. On Facebook, post photos of your dog along with details about its appearance, characteristics and temperament, and ask friends to spread the word.
  • Consider a recovery service. You’ll find these services online. A recovery service can deliver an automated phone alert to as many as 10,000 homes in your area, asking that the recipients notify the service if they’ve seen your dog.

No one wants to face the misfortune of losing a puppy, but making smart moves can make all the difference.


Photo: @iStockphoto.com/pflorendo

Serve This to Keep Your Aging Dog Healthy

When you were a kid, you probably tried to figure out how old the family dog was in “people years” by multiplying its age by the number seven. Veterinarians, however, look at a dog’s physiological condition.

Veterinarians find that most dogs begin to experience the first signs of aging at about 7 years for small or medium breeds and around 5 years for large and giant breeds. Often the first changes are hidden or are not recognized; however, telltale signs may include a dull or dry coat, flaky skin, joint stiffness, energy loss, weight gain, increased water intake, digestive problems, frequent constipation, and loss of muscle.

Simply put, these issues are symptomatic of the body’s inability to rejuvenate its cells. Although genetics and environment play a large role in how quickly your dog ages, your best friend’s health is also up to you.

Good Nutrition Is Critical for Your Aging Dog
A healthy diet can help make up for the physical shortfalls of an aging dog. Good nutrition can help your dog:

  • Maintain muscle tone
  • Maximize digestion
  • Retain ideal body weight

“While some senior dogs need condition-specific prescription food from the veterinarian following a general health screen, many older dogs can simply benefit from a diet formulated for their age-related needs,” explains Dr. Bruce Silverman of Village West Veterinary in Chicago. “Healthy senior dogs need an optimal-quality senior diet to address joint health, cardiovascular health and decreased metabolic demand: that is, fewer calories while not sacrificing high-quality ingredients. Fortunately, there are some excellent diets found in the stores these days that satisfy these requirements.”

Picking Food to Support Aging
Dogs of all ages need the same ingredients in their food, but aging dogs need quantities that are different from those needed by younger dogs. Here’s what you’ll want to look for when shopping for an older dog formula:

  • High-quality protein: Much of your dog’s food should be made up of protein. Make sure it’s derived from an animal source -- chicken liver, for example -- rather than a vegetable. Protein is used by the body to build and maintain muscle.
  • Fat: Choose a food with sources of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. These promote a healthy skin and coat and provide the body’s essential fatty-acid requirements.
  • Fiber: Pick a brand that offers a fermentable fiber, like beet pulp, and a prebiotic for a healthy gut. These types of fibers enable excellent nutrient absorption and help push small, firm stool through the intestines.
  • Antioxidants: These molecules protect the immune system by ridding the body of free radicals, which corrupt cell membranes and DNA.

Timed Feedings for Your Aging Dog
Because aging dogs generally eat less than their younger canine friends, you might consider dividing your aging dog’s food intake into two or three meals. Try a morning/evening schedule or a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way, the food in the dish isn’t so overwhelming. Moreover, the food is likely fresher and thus more appealing. Such timed feedings have the added benefit of increasing your dog’s metabolism, which will help your friend maintain its ideal weight.

Meeting your dog’s dietary needs and managing mealtimes smartly will go a long way toward ensuring a high-quality life for your aging canine pal.

4 Steps to Socializing Your Puppy

Your puppy has to learn to live in its new world -- and that includes the occasional guest, the regular arrival of the letter carrier, and the fierce growl of the vacuum cleaner.

Fortunately, a few simple steps can help you socialize your new puppy so it can manage these interactions. Here’s a look at how to handle some common situations that your puppy will face:

Socialization Step No. 1: Meet new people.
It’s essential that your puppy can relate to people both inside and outside of your home. As your puppy engages successfully with new acquaintances, always reward it for demonstrating a desired behavior.

  • Home turf first. Begin by introducing your puppy to quiet friends on your own home turf for short periods of time. Invite one or two neighbors over to have some refreshments and to scratch your puppy’s ears. When greeting your little one, have guests crouch down low and allow your dog to approach them on its own time. This will give your pup a greater sense of control.
  • Meet all kinds of people. It is also important to introduce your puppy to adults of different ethnic backgrounds, ages and professions, as some dogs might develop an aversion to people who don’t look like you and thus seem unusual to them. (The mail carrier will thank you later.)
  • Introduce kids. Once your dog begins to enjoy new adults, introduce it to older children for short amounts of time. Supervise the visit, of course, as kids can play roughly and scare your pup. If you don’t know any children personally, take your dog to a park and your puppy will likely draw kids in on its own.

    (Please note: Even if you don’t have kids in your family, it is imperative to socialize puppies with them. If dogs don’t interact with children early in life, they often develop aggressive behavior toward them later. Small children who race around and make high-pitched squealing noises can trigger prey instincts in dogs that are not used to them.)

Socialization Step No. 2: Meet other dogs.
Even puppies that consider themselves “human” will have to learn to get along in the canine community. At the very minimum, you’ll come across another dog (or its scent) during your daily walks. So your dog needs to practice doggie-speak.

  • Visit the park. Once your pet masters home visits and feels comfortable around people, try taking it to the park or on a dog run. Let your pup decide who to meet and for how long. Allow cordial sniffing and some play, but back off if your puppy seems intimidated or if the other parties have poor manners. You never want to force your pet into a situation in which it feels fearful. (Of course, make sure the person your dog approaches wants to be greeted. Some people are afraid of dogs -- even puppies.)
  • Host a doggie playdate. Invite friends to bring their dogs to your garden or backyard for a game of Frisbee.

Socialization Step No. 3: Integrate other pets.
Your new puppy and your cat might never be best friends, but you can at least encourage them to tolerate one another.

  • Introduce slowly. Begin by keeping the newcomer in a kennel and allowing the resident pet to visit it through the safety of the bars. Gradually extend the length of visits before allowing the two to meet face-to-face. Supervise these meetings until you feel confidant that all will go well.
  • Protect other pets. Please note that no matter how well-behaved and well-socialized your puppy is, it will likely still try to chase animals it considers to be prey.

Socialization Step No. 4: Introduce new experiences.
The vacuum cleaner can be a terrifying thing for a young puppy. All is quiet, and then suddenly this towering devil growls to life and begins sucking up hair from the couch. Introduce your pup gradually to new experiences and noises, and it’ll better adjust. Here’s how:

  • Let your puppy check out the quieted vacuum, car, baby toy, or hair clippers on its own.
  • Next, place your puppy a safe distance away before turning the object on for a moment or two. After turning it off, stand by the object and call your pup to you. Reward him with a pat.
  • Finally, try calling your pup to you while the noise is actually going. It will eventually see that the television, fan or washing machine is no big deal.

Raising and socializing a puppy is a labor of love that pays off in a happier everyday life -- for both of you.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/DenisZbukarev

Fix Common Dog Behavior Problems

Dogs aren’t born knowing our rules. They bark and jump and dig not because they’re being bad, but because it’s instinctual. Besides, it often gets a reaction from us. It’s up to us as owners to teach our pets how to express themselves in a manner we appreciate.

Often, common behavioral problems occur as our dogs engage in a natural behavior that conflicts with our needs. But you can teach your dog how to fit in to your household and the world around it. Here’s an overview of how to deal with several basic problems:

Stop Excessive Barking

Your dog barks to communicate in one of the only ways it knows how. Tend to your dog’s needs, and you can often circumvent the noise altogether. The key is to learn to read your dog’s body language. When your dog barks, try to deduce the cause. Is it because your dog is lonely, hungry, hot, bored? Then aim to correct the scenario with exercise, attention, play or a meal. If you’ve tried to get to the root of your dog’s barking habit but simply can’t seem to solve it, then it’s time to consider professional help from a trainer.

End Nipping

Dogs that nip aren’t aiming to hurt you. In many cases, they’re attempting to play. Try yipping loudly when your dog grazes you so it knows you’re hurt. Your dog will instinctively set its teeth less firmly next time. If the behavior occurs again, yip again. It might take some time, but your dog should learn control. (Note: If you’ve got a nipper, never let others approach your dog. Call out a verbal warning to children who go near your dog with an outstretched hand, or put a muzzle on your dog when you’re out.)

Stop Digging
Dogs entertain themselves by scrabbling in the dirt. They love to hide treasures, build dens and lie in the cool earth. And, frankly, it seems sort of unfair to ask them to stop this instinctual behavior altogether. Instead, block off a section of your yard and let your dog use it as a playground. Teach your dog to dig in this area by burying bones and toys, and offer praise for digging them up. If you’d like a cleaner alternative, construct a doggie sandbox.

Abate Jumping
Your dog’s habit of jumping on people can be terrible. Not only is it scary for some guests, but it also greatly increases your dry cleaning bill. When your dog jumps up, walk backward and say “Off!” Praise your pal when all four paws are back on the ground. Consistently using the right reinforcement should abate this behavior.

Stop Submissive Peeing
Dogs that want to show they’re submissive pee on the floor when you come into the house. Instead of scolding your pet -- which will cause it to feel further belittled -- immediately let it outside to pee when you step foot in the door, and ignore your dog for the first 10 minutes that you’re home. Sooner or later, your dog will realize that this behavior doesn’t register with you.

Ease Separation Anxiety
If your dog misses you, it might whine, cry, bark or become destructive when you leave the house. Often, this issue can be stopped by spending adequate time with your dog and exercising it so it doesn’t have the energy to get wound up when you’re not around. You’ll also want to teach your dog that you will return. Do this by practicing quiet departures, then coming home quickly. Offer a reward for good behavior.

Lucky for us, dogs are fast learners. If you provide the right instruction (sometimes with a bit of outside help), your dog will manage life in your household just fine.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/TerryJ