Picky Puppy!

Hi, guys! Hoping to get some advice on a picky eater! We brought home our little girl this past Wednesday, and she is so great! Our only struggle is that she is an incredibly picky eater. Our poor girl did come home with coccidia and has been on treatment for that since Saturday. She appears to be feeling pretty good considering what she is going through as she is playing normally, drinking pretty well, and her stool is beginning to become firmer. I would attribute the picky eating to her stomach feeling upset because of the coccidia. However, I first tried a bland wet food from the vet and then switched to chicken and rice when she stopped wanting to eat the vet's wet food, and she absolutely LOVES the chicken and tries her very best to eat around the rice and only eat the chicken. She also loves yogurt, which I have given her just a little because I read that it could be good for her gut for some probiotics (she's also on a probiotic from the vet). She also gets really excited whenever I am eating my meals as if she's super hungry. I am not giving her any treats, so I can't attribute the picky eating to that. I've also tried putting a little bit of unsalted chicken stock with her rice, which only helped a little.. I just want her to be gaining enough weight and getting proper nutrition, especially since she is dealing with the coccidia! I wanted to get y'all's advice on what I might should try or if anyone else has struggled with this same thing because I just want to do what's best for her! Any help/advice is so appreciated! Thank you! :)

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  • We generally advise people to stay with whatever the breeder was feeding and not to change their puppy's food for at least two weeks after they come home. There are several reasons for this, one of which is exactly what you are dealing with: many doodle puppies come home with coccidia or giardia, and introducing a new diet when they are dealing with intestinal bacteria & medications can make things worse. 
    The "bland" diets the vets sell are pure garbage with a big price tag; they contain no medicinal or therapeutic ingredients, just junk. In the future, feed your own 'bland diet" as you are now doing, just substitute cooked mashed sweet potatoes for the rice. Use a 50/50 mixture of boiled white meat chicken and sweet potatoes.
    Be sure that you are allowing at least 2 hours between the probiotics and the medications, and longer is better. 
    Also, human chicken stocks and broths contain onion, which is toxic to dogs. 
    It's hard to adivse on the picky eating when the dog is being treated for an intestinal parasite. But in general, there are a few rules to follow to prevent the picky eating habits. First, never free feed. Give the pup her food at scheduled mealtimes only. Allow 10 minutes and then pick up the bowl and do not offer food again until the next scheduled meal. Young pups under 4 months should be fed three times a day. When you give her her food, sit down nearby and keep her company, perhaps having a meal or snack yourself. Keep all distractions to a minimum: nobody coming in and out of the room, nobody calling out from another room, no kids playing nearby, etc. If you stick with this, it works. 
    We have a large active group hgere on DK where we discuss all of this and every other aspect of feeding our dogs in great detail. Picky eating and digestive issues/loose stools are the most popular topics, lol. You will find a wealth of information in our Food Group discussions. 
    I hpe this helps.


    • Thank you so much for all this great info! Especially the chicken stock information with the onions because I definitely was unaware that chicken stocks contained that. I'm definitely staying away from that now! I really appreciate these tips!! :)

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  • While with human kids, you hope they will eventually enjoy a wide variety of foods and have an understanding of preparing a meal and shopping and cooking, etc.  But even then it doesn't help to cater (though you do want to be considerate of their ability and what looks edible to them).  With a dog, they are going to eat kibble forever (even if you change at some point or end up home cooking, it's not going to be a different breakfast every day all week long).  It's pretty consistent.   So even more so I would not worry about pickiness.  Unless the dog is actually failing to grow or literally eating nothing for days--in which case this is more than pickiness but maybe something medical going on--dogs will regulate their eating if you feed consistently as Karen said above.  You don't have to constantly switch things up or entice them or convince them or "get them" to eat.  Serve the food, give them some time, and then put it away.  

    • This is very true. Thank you so much, Adina! Very helpful!

    • And on that note, here is a link to one of the best discussions you will ever read on the topic of picky eater dogs. It's fun and funny, and you might also have a lightbulb moment! 

      An Ode to Sojos!
      Hallelujah! My picky eater likes Sojos Beef formula. Like is not the right word. He LOVES IT!!!! Monty is almost 2 years old and we've always had at…
      • Thank you, Karen! I appreciate it! :)

  • One of my babies is a rescue and she came to me with a host of medical problems and intestinal ones.  My vet did not offer pre made foods.  In fact her recommendation then and even now that she is 4 for anytime she is having issues is boiled chicken breast, carrots, and peas.  Occasionally sweet potatoes.  And it has served her and me well.  

    • Thank you! Yes, I've realized that maybe she is not so picky after all and that it was definitely a parasite problem as she is eating much better now. Do you blend the chicken, carrots and peas together to make it more like a wet food? I have been serving Riley chicken and rice unblended... Does blending it make it better for their tummies? I've always had dogs growing up in the family but never a puppy of my own, so I'm a little lost in navigating tummy issues!!

      • If you serve it "unblended", of course she is going to pick out only the chicken and leave the rice, lol. The reason for mixing the ingredients is so the dog will eat all of it.
        It's important to think about calorie content when choosing ingredients for homemade bland diets. They typically are much higher in water content than kibble is, so they have fewer calories. One cup of chicken & rice (50/50 mix) or chicken and sweet potatoes has only about half the calories of a cup of kibble. So you need to feed more.
        Using peas and carrots in place of sweet potatoes is going to reduce the calorie content even more. That's why when we formulate homemade diets, we aim for one protein and one starch, because starch is a complex crabohydrate with hgiher calorie content. There's nothing wrong with giving carrots and peas, but you're going to have to feed a whole lot more of them. They also don't have as much fiber as sweet potatoes, and fiber is an important component when you are dealing with loose stools. (Rice has very little and is also almost completely devoid of nutrients. Some dogs don;t tolerate it well either. It's a grain.) And since you cannot buy fresh peas year round, it also means you are going to be using less fresh food and more canned or frozen food. Finally, sweet potatoes contain more nutrients, are easy to prepare (bake in microwave, peel with fingers, mash with fork, no clean up required!) and a lot cheaper than frozen or canned vegetables. 
        Your best bet is a 50/50 mixture of boiled white meat chicken cut up very small, and baked mashed sweet potatoes. 

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