When I was a kid my mom made apple sauce; it was awful. The worst thing I've ever tasted. Although the apple sauce was making me sick my mom made me eat it every day until it was gone. I only started recently eating apple sauce again. Because of this experience, I never force my dogs to eat something – if they turn away from food, it may be because it's making them sick.
My Dogs Tell Me Which Proteins Work
Scout is our slowest eater and he can be picky at times so if he passes on a meal every now and then, I don't worry. Scout has taught me the importance of listening to my dogs. If I want to know if a meat has turned, I give it to Scout and he'll tell me (dogs have a stronger sense of smell). If I need to know if a protein is too similar to chicken for my dogs, I feed it to Scout because he'll turn it down. I never force my dogs to eat.
However, Scout can be picky at times and when I'm running late for work I don't have the time to translate canine to human as he stares at me with those puppy eyes. Thankfully, Scout is a smart boy and when he's being picky, it's usually because he wants his goat milk or a food topper (recipe below).
When My Dog Won't Eat His Raw Dog Food
However, yesterday, Scout refused his breakfast. He wouldn't even come to his dish and that's when I knew something was wrong. I quickly went through a routine to determine if he was sick:
Think about his behavior over the past 48 hours. Was any of his behavior out of the norm; was he moving gingerly as if he was in pain.
Determine if he's refusing the food due to tummy upset. If Scout won't eat because he has an upset tummy, he'll drool, lick his lips, go in as if he wants to eat, but turn away. He may also want to go outside to eat grass.
Determine if he's really hungry. Although Scout is an active dog and I don't feed a lot of treats, sometimes he's not hungry. Fasting is great for his digestive system, giving his gut a 1/2 day break until dinner time when he'll be ready to eat.
Offer him something else to see if he'll eat. I have freeze-dried raw on hand for when I forget to thaw food. I also have a collection of protein treats (duck feet, beef trachea, etc.) that I can offer him to see if he'll eat.
I was able to quickly determine that he wasn't sick, he just didn't want his raw dog food. I have no idea what the problem was – it wasn't bad, he didn't have an intolerance – he just wouldn't eat the food. So he was the lucky dog to eat treats for breakfast and I kept a close eye on him during the day to make sure his poop was solid and he wasn't showing any signs of illness.
He was fine.
Feeding Raw Dog Food to a Picky Dog
It's funny that we always call Scout picky because he doesn't dive into his food like the other dogs. Raising Scout has taught me that my dog isn't picky; he just knows what he needs. Because of Scout's “picky” behavior, the dogs have been switched to partial whole prey and it was a hit! I thawed duck frames yesterday and fed the dogs outside.
To offset the high amount of bone in their evening meals, the dogs are eating a green tripe/organ blend from GreenTripe.com along with emu trim (meat only) for breakfast.
I have found that it's important to roll with it when my dogs refuse to eat something. And to make this a rare occurrence, I do the following to keep meal time interesting:
- Add healthy food toppers (recipe below), goat milk, or a raw egg to their meal.
- Pour bone broth (slightly warmed) over their meal.
- Add sardines (in water, no salt added) to their meal.
- Feed whole raw (duck necks, duck frames, meat chunks, etc.) instead of 100% ground raw.
These keep meal time interesting and delicious for my dogs.
DIY Raw Dog Food Topper Recipe
Ingredients: several single ingredient protein dog treats like dehydrated or freeze-dried mussels, liver, jerky, sardines, minnows, etc.
- Mix several treats in a container (I use recycled peanut butter jars).
- Leave enough room to allow yourself to shake and mix the ingredients.
- Puncture holes in the lid (optional).
- Sprinkle over food when needed.