Help! My dog won't eat!
This is probably one of the single most common pleas for help that we get on a daily basis.
We have actually had customers in tears over dogs that refuse food for days on end.
This situation commonly crops up with young males, between 6 and 18 months, some of the working breeds like German Shepard Dogs and Huskies, and dogs whose owners are routinely over feeding.
So, our first question is always, is the dog underweight?
If the dog is regularly refusing food, yet maintaining a healthy bodyweight then you are offering your dog more food than they need, and they are self regulating. This is the answer in the vast majority of cases.
These dogs are often very picky eaters and will only eat certain foods, they can afford to do this because they are being offered much more food than they need; so if little Buster is a big fan of Lamb but not fussed with Turkey he can turn his nose up at Turkey meals knowing full well that you will soon offer him his favourite Lamb and he can fill up on that.
We often see dogs who are around the 12 month mark still being fed the quantities they needed as a puppy with lots of growing to do, its time to cut back, get your dog weighed, and re-assess the amount you are feeding.
So, if a calculator or guide tells you your dog needs 600g per day, yet he only eats 500 and maintains a good bodyweight, he only needs 500!
Dogs, like humans, all have their own metabolic rate, some can eat until you fear they may explode, yet maintain a trim athletic appearance, others need only sniff an extra gram and they put on weight, so you feed the dog in front of you.
The calculators are a very useful tool, they will give you a starting point, a guide to work from, but then it is up to you to use common sense, and apply it to the individual animal.
If he is fat, feed less, if he is thin, feed more.
At meal times, your dog should begin to eat immediately when his food is placed in front of him. If he does not, he is not hungry and you should remove the food, place it in the fridge, and offer nothing more until his next meal time.
Stick to your guns, a healthy dog will not starve itself and you will find that once your dog accepts that he is not going to be offered anything else, he will eat when he is hungry.
Naturally, if you have a dog who is refusing food, and losing weight, you would seek veterinary advice.