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Refuses to eat

Discussion in 'Diseases & Illnesses' started by mmcginty, Feb 4, 2020.

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  1. mmcginty

    mmcginty Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Greetings everyone, it has been a while! I'll try to keep this as succinct as possible...

    For years my dogs ate Royal Canin kibble. When they started losing interest, I started mixing in bits of dehydrated chicken breast (that I make for them) we called it magic dust. When the magic was lost, I started giving them a mix of kibble and canned food (Science Diet's stew-looking stuff) which they loved for a while. Then we went to all canned, then we tried a few other kinds. Then I tried a couple of recipes for homemade food with limited success. Then we tried Dr Harvey's mixed with ground turkey, loved it at first, lasted about 3 days. Then plain ground turkey lasted a couple of days. Day before yesterday I made them a whole turkey, lasted 1 day. Yesterday they refused it for breakfast, and ate a minimal amount of breast for dinner.

    This morning they ate some dehydrated turkey breast -- they seem to like crunching it. And they'll virtually always eat dehydrated chicken breast, but if they eat too much they throw it up.

    Over this evolution of refusals, I let them go no more than 2 days before I try different things, but lately as fast as they've been going through them, a couple of missed meals is more than I can handle. I'm somewhat flabbergasted that they're turning up their noses at fresh turkey... and needless to say I'm worried sick.

    We have seen the vet several times, both had their senior screens, Jake's was normal (more about Brandy in another post.) He had a fractured tooth, that was extracted a couple of months ago. The vet says he sees no health reason for him not to eat, keeps sending us home with different prescription foods, 75% of which has gone into the trash after being nibbled at then disregarded in his dish.

    I'm starting to fear there are emotional reasons. My step dad died about a year ago; 7 months ago I moved in with my mom to take care of her. She has 2 big dogs, a golden and a flat-coated retriever (the latter of which I've come to hate, I call her Amanda-can't-stand-ya.) They constantly bully my dogs, they intentionally block our way, steal stuff from our room, and frequently poll our door, sniffing the crack, which makes my dogs go berzerk, which in turn pisses me off (I'm a programmer, I work from home.)

    I want to try a scat mat to give them a strong aversion to our end of the house, but mom objects... Also keeping the Shelties from accidentally getting hit by it could be a good trick. If I knew for sure my stun gun wouldn't kill her... I'm sorry, but yes I would light that bitch up in a heartbeat... but nothing can die on my watch.

    Anyways, those stupid dogs are making our existence hellish, it's either deal with half a dozen skirmishes before lunch or keep the door closed. Before moving here we had a 4 br house with a big back yard, my office door was always open and they had the run of the place. Now either they're cooped up or cut-off from me. (And the latter is of limited viability.) I take them for a walk daily with very few exceptions...

    So I get that it's a less than positive environment, but enough to make a dog stop eating? That's essentially suicide, are dogs capable of that? My heart breaks to even think it! Bailing on my mom isn't much of an option. I can't bear the thought of re-homing my doggies, I love them to pieces! Talk about a rock and a hard place, jeez!

    Or is an emotional cause very unlikely and I need to press my vet to look deeper for a medical reason? I'm near wit's end!

    About all I have left to try feed him is Ahi and rib-eyes, but how long could that possibly last?

    An obvious potential solution would be to change the big dog's behavior, but Amanda-can't-stand-ya is exceptionally stubborn and beyond devious, she clearly knows what she's not supposed to do, but does it anyway (and just stands there looking at me defiantly after.) I can't put much hope there.

    Sorry you had to see my sh-t show... I didn't know where else to turn.

  2. Cindy

    Cindy Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    Can you put in a doggie/child gate between the 2 sides of the house?
    Keeping your dogs separate from your Mom's?
    I know they have semi-permanent ones that are pretty sturdy.
    you don't mention an outside... dog run?

    you don't say why your Mom needs help, but I would guess her big dogs are somewhat neglected? you could try sending them off with a dogwalker or doggie daycare just to see if their behavior changes.
    Sounds like they were never well behaved to begin with and need some training. If those dogs don't listen to you that is a problem, your problem, your Mom's problem, and the dog's problem. I have seen this before where kids end up with parents unruly dogs because they were too much to handle or just never trained. the dogs end up in shelters or rescues, and who wants to adopt an unruly dog or one that isn't housetrained?

    and yes, the stress of the new living arrangement could do this.
    Sharon7 and ghggp like this.
  3. mmcginty

    mmcginty Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Mom is 79, falls down sometimes, needs help managing her meds. I wouldn't call her dogs neglected, she has a guy that runs them a couple of miles twice a week, has a mobile groomer come by monthly. They are kennel trained and house broken, it's just that Amanda is a notorious thief, can't leave food on the counter, barks at nothing 20 times a day... and has a major attitude. The contract with the breeder specifies if she ever needs to be re-homed, she goes back to the breeder. My step-dad freaking hated her too, he almost talked my mom into returning her, but his passing left that work unfinished.

    There is a back yard but if left outside she barks incessantly, and is already on the next door neighbor's last raw nerve.

    We tried a gate that wasn't strong enough, but even if it was, it'd be an incomplete solution, and I fear would make them dogs-on-the-other-side-of-a-fence, which my Shelties see as motions to war. It would cut the thievery, but I doubt it would cut the skirmishes, the big dogs would just press a different border, and the Sheep dogs wouldn't be any less pissed off about it... But I might give it a more serious try anyway.

    Thanks for your input.
  4. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    I feel so bad for your situation and I know you must be at your whits end!

    Can you ask the vet for an appetite enhancer? It worked for him.
    When my boy was elderly and would stop eating it made me so panicked!
    I tried everything under the sun to get him to eat as well. Some people suggested baby food too.

    Stress is no good for humans or dogs.
    MidWestJen and Hanne like this.
  5. Cindy

    Cindy Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    My cat was so great my roommate 'had' to get a cat. the new cat would attack my cat (and had claws). so for a year the cats were kept separate....my cat in my room except for a few hours day in the evening. It was no fun...and wisper was so happy when that ended! thankfully it was only a year. And the sight thing is an issue..you would need a solid gate sounds like.

    does Amanda get affection type attention? the incessant barking makes it sound like that may be an issue?
    Sounds like either training or going back to the breeder. seriously, the best argument is that the breeder will work with her to make sure wherever the dog ends up she has a good chance at a happy life. the dog is obviously not happy now, and it will only get worse. If I died, people would fight over who gets my dog (even with some physical issues) because he is so well behaved. Sounds like Amanda is the opposite. No one will want her because your Mom never trained her (sorry to be so blunt, but it sounds like that is what happened and things snowballed. again, I've seen it before especially with older people). So either train Amanda or find someone who will. she is only an evil dog because someone let her. If she stays the way she is, only bad things will happen to her.
    MidWestJen, Sandy in CT and Sharon7 like this.
  6. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    I feel your pain with the dogs not eating. I am going through the same thing with my Barkley. He essentially stopped eating well about 3 months ago, and I did the same thing you have. Bought every variety and texture of food on the market, made home cooked turkey and sweet potatoes, tried raw, freeze dried, you name it. We ran every veterinary test on him available, including a full abdominal ultrasound a week ago, nothing. Did bloodwork: fine. His teeth have been done. He is literally starving himself. I've been syringing a veterinary IV formula into his mouth and giving him Nutrical to keep him going. There is no medical reason we can find; he just won't eat.

    I tried one veterinary appetite enhancer that worked for two days and then stopped. What has helped a bit is one called Entyce, a liquid that you give once a day. This week he is eating a bit...I'm feeding him soft kibble one piece at a time from my hand. Not ideal, but he's eating and I'll take it. He is otherwise healthy and normal! I've also gotten Zukes Power Bars which are meant to be a treat but are loaded with nutrients and he will eat those...you might try something like that too.

    It does sound as if some of the issue is emotional/behavioral for your dogs, especially since it's both of them. I would try something like Entyce, which you'd get from your vet (warning, it isn't cheap) and see if that helps. It is beyond frustrating and stressful when they won't eat. I hope you find a solution. Please keep us posted!
    mmcginty, Hanne, ghggp and 1 other person like this.
  7. TheDailyPainter

    TheDailyPainter Forums Enthusiast

    Sep 19, 2019
    I'm going to suggest something really radical and you probably won't be happy, but you asked for advice. Hating that dog is not helping your dogs, yourself, your mother or you. What about trying to build a bond with Amanda by taking her to some obedience or nose work classes. I'm sure your dogs pick up on your stress and unhappiness. If you could find something to love about Amanda things might ease. I've cared for an aging parent in the past and I know how difficult it can be. Amanda probably picks up on your dislike of her also. I'm sorry for your situation and I wish you the best. Take good care of yourself.
  8. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Moderator

    Oct 31, 2009
    Hi Mark, I remember you from years ago - the Sheltie Express rescue idea. Welcome back.
    I'm so sorry about your situation. I read your post twice, and I do think your dogs are just stressed out to the max. Since Shelties are normally chow hounds something is definitely off. And yes, they would for sure pick up on your anger and distress also. You've gotten some good advice from others. How attached is your mom to Amanda? I mean the option of returning her to the breeder is a solid one to me. She is not happy where she is, and your mom sounds likely to only get more frail and eventually would need to potentially re-home both dogs.

    I wouldn't generally advocate for anyone to give up their dog unless there is no other workable option. If you weren't there taking care of her and she had to move into a care home she would be unlikely to be able to take a rambunctious dog with her there.

    Sad situation and I really feel for you.

    If your dogs are a healthy weight, it might be better to go for a few days giving them one option and removing it in 10 minutes if they don't eat. If the vet thinks they are medically OK, I wouldn't rotate all those foods, I've only done that when my dogs were end-of-life ill.

    When my Elijah came to us at a year old he was very weird about his meals - eating only one kibble at a time and wandering away from his bowl, not finishing, etc. I waited him out and now he's a regular wolf it down kinda guy.

    Good luck to you.
  9. mmcginty

    mmcginty Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2011
    You've got the wrong impression, Amanda has been to obedience school and did well from outward appearances, she obeys when people are watching, she sits, lays down, stays and kennels. But she has experienced the rewards of stealing so many times, she is never going to stop. The idea that positive reinforcement could be used to train her not to steal is, in my humble opinion, idiotic. The net yield of her career as a thief is ginormous, even a truck load of treats will not impress her, when she's scored turkeys and prime ribs, and dishes full of Sheltie food.

    And how do you train a big dog to stop trying to intimidate little dogs? She gets affection -- more than she deserves... none from me, of course, I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire. She only barks incessantly if left outside. Inside she barks intermittently, way too often. You may not think dogs can be evil, but then again you haven't had to live with Amanda-can't-stand-ya, either. Nothing has snowballed. Defending her is unconstructive.
  10. mmcginty

    mmcginty Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Yes! If mom had to go to assisted living I doubt they'd let her keep any dog, that's the darkest irony. my presence is what enables her to keep them. I don't want to have to issue an ultimatum, but it may come to that. I usually don't just roll over and switch up foods, for one thing I have to deal with their stomach upset from not doing gradual change-over. That is never fun. Plus I'm trying to keep things sustainable. But Jake has lost 4.5 lbs in 6 months, his ribs are becoming prominent. I'm in desperation mode now. Yes he's not that old but his life is going to end if he doesn't eat!

    And I just figured out as I was typing, I'm causing much of this, I've gotten angry because they aren't behaving normally, they've been extremely disruptive and I tell them to stop, it's soooo frustrating to have them explode a dozen times a day, they have NEVER been like this before, but they think we're under attack! And they're right, we are! And then I can't help but resent that they're trying to leave me on purpose, way, way before I'm even close to prepared for it, it's going to destroy me, it will literally destroy me -- OMG OMG... i'LL HAVE TO GET BACK TO YOU, i CAN'T SEE THE SCREEN...
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2020
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