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Chronic Skinny Dog - I Sure Could Use Some Help Pls!


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I have a permanently skinny dog. It has proven impossible to put much weight on her or increase her appetite - in fact at one stage she hardly ate enough to keep a bird alive.

She would eat something one day, I would get all encouraged that I had found something she liked to eat, then the next day she wouldn't eat it. I would continue to offer it, she would eat a bit then just leave the rest. Luckily I have others who eat normally and they would be more than willing to have her left overs. (BTW she will not eat Satin Balls)

She approaches everything with her nose, it has to smell right before she will even taste it!!! I have even tried cooking stews etc. just to get the appetite going - it didn't work!!!

Eventually I settled her on BARF as that is what I give all my lot here - I was able to get her to eat 1/2 patty of BARF and 2 or 3 chicken necks per day which has been going OK for about 4months.

Recently I was also able to get her to eat 1/8th cup of Royal Canin dry food in the morning, then she stopped eating it, so I got a sample of EVO which as everyone knows is high protein and also very expensive. She has eaten the EVO twice now OK, I don't mind buying it if I know she will continue to eat it and if it will put some weight on her but I have to be careful because if I feed her too much in the morning she won't eat of an evening.

I have taken her to the vet numerous times, all with the same result of the vet finding a heathy dog with no obvious problems.

She is now 17 months old, active, healthy looking, no obvious signs of anything wrong except for the fact she is extremely thin which for her breed, she shouldn't be.

She is a dog with a lot of nervous energy which is what I put it all down to - but maybe I am wrong and should be looking for another cause???

If anyone has any ideas I would really love to hear them as I have just about run out!!

(Of course she is regularly wormed, immunised, doesn't have fleas, etc. etc.)

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I'm also struggling to get weight on an otherwise very healthy dog, I'm trying premium puppy dry food with minced chicken or beef or lamb etc, and trying her with pasta dishes, eg spag bol, and porridge with her breakfast, roast chicken appeals one day and not the next..

She's a fussy bugger and also runs around a lot.

I've decided to treat her like a pup and see if it makes a difference, more fatty food and small varied meals more often. So far she's eating a lot more than she was, and I think.... (if I squint..) she's put on more weight.

I've never pandered to fussy dogs but this girl eats like a sparrow and has gone 4 days without eating in the past.

I look forward to some eplies to see if anything makes a difference, she doesn't mind a slice of toast with butter and vegimite for breaky either.. ??

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get yourself some minute oats from the supermarket, soak them for 15 minutes in enough warm water to make them sloppy and add a tablespoon of Livamol to it. Some sausage mince mixed with this as meals will do the trick to get the weight on.

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No real ideas Stitch but wanted to offer support as I also have a fussy dog. An example is yesterday. In the morning she had minced chicken frames. She ate it but looked like I was trying to poison her. Ears all droopy, sad eyes, dropping food out of her mouth etc. At night she had a chicken frame - grabbed it very eagerly and ran off all happy to eat it.

She will eat a kibble for a couple of days and then refuse to eat it too. Cal Natural was the last kibble refused. She eats the Black Hawk but I think the brewers yeast in it is causing a rash.

She doesn't like cooked meat. Wouldn't touch the Barf patties at all. Her fav is mince and rice and she also loves bones. She hates all veggies too.

Find what she will eat and feed that.

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Hi Stitch,

My dog back home is a mix between pomeranian and shih tzu. She is more or less the same with your dog, she's very skinny and she doesn't eat much. I finally gave up trying to feed her on a schedule basis and just leave a bowl of food out. I find that she is more willing to eat of I make it into a game, sometimes I would throw the food and she'll chase it but now as an addition to the bowl of food, I also gave her the ball food dispenser. She likes rolling it and the harder it gets to get the food out, the more excited she is - although sometimes she won't eat the food that came out of the ball.

However, she loves human food and dog treats...and my mum has been known to gave her left overs when I'm not around. I would let her watch us eat dinner and then give her the food dispenser ball to get her excited about her food.

She is very skinny, you can easily feel her rib cage when you touch her. But she's always been very active and happy and according to my vet, as long as she seems happy and active then it's okay to have a skinny dog. She never had any health problems and she's 8 years old now...still very happy although not so active anymore.

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Thanks so much for all your replies. It seems like the skinny dog syndrome is much more common than I would have expected!!

After reading what you all had to say and knowing what this dog will or won't eat, I think I will try the rolled oats/porridge idea, mix it with a little mince and also add in some enzymes to try to help the digestion/absorbtion - then cross my fingers she will eat it!!! All my others have the opposite problem so they don't need any more left overs!!! LOL

I don't know whether leaving food with her is appropriate for this dog as I have left food with her before, albiet 6 months ago, and she just refused to eat it. To me it seemed like it just reinforced the non-eating habit. Maybe she has changed now???

I am also going to restrict her activity during the day by putting her in a kennel run although this may have the effect of reducing the appetite because she isn't getting as much exercise - time will tell!

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I'd get full blood tests done to check for liver function too, my dog was underweight and eating would make him feel sick so he would be very fussy and didn't eat much, he eats normally now since the problem was fixed.

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raw chicken frames made my old dog fat so maybe try those out?

She lost the weight but I was amazed at how quickly she got fat eating them :)

edited because my keyboard can't spell today

Edited by Jaxx'sBuddy
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Your dog sounds like mine - although with my boy it is about his digestive system function. In part I strongly believe thyroid dysfunction has affected his digestive system function (from a considerably earlier age than one might expect). But to talk about that side of things would be digressing. The point is, I strongly believe my boy 'went off' certain foods because they made him feel unwell and/or caused abdominal pain. With some foods, this could occur very quickly. With other foods (eg. Vets All Natural and BARF) it might take a while (even months) and then all of a sudden he goes off it. This may or may not be happening with your dog.

I now have my boy on Hills Science Z/D (prescription). It's very expensive (especially when it's a big dog and he's eating 5 cans a day plus, if we're lucky, a portion of the kibble, which is also Z/D) but his appetite has been much improved and steadier. I *touch wood* here as I am aware that he could just as easily turn off this for some reason, although I'm a bit more confident that he won't, this time around.

I have recently begun to add cooked sweet potato. I don't know the truth in it but it was suggested by a Vet that it may assist with adding weight to my dog. For all that he eats when he does eat it, weight doesn't go on easily.

I am now trialling, bit by bit, with different protein sources, to see what upsets him and/or causes him to go off his food.

Ok - I'll stop rambling, but bear in mind that if you are offering foods based on their fat content because it is what you want to do (ie fatten her up) it could be this very thing that is putting her off her food or making her feel a bit off and therefore off her appetite in general.

I hope you understand where I'm coming from. It doesn't fully answer your question but maybe does open up some area for thought. Whilst I know that some dogs can learn fussiness in their eating habits, I do not automatically assume this to be the case, as I also know from experience that some dogs come to know what is right or wrong for them, or that they might feel uncomfortable once they have eaten.

ETA: You might be interested to know that Dr Jean Dodds (USA) has a "new breakthrough" to be released shortly in relation to problematic digestive systems. It will involve a test kit (from what I gather, something the home dog owner can use - this would be the basic test level) and then depending on the result from that, there will be other things that are at a Veterinary level, that can be done. I expect I will be writing here on DOL when it is released and I have more information. Dr Jean has included me on the list and I'm assured I'll be contacted once it is ready to go.

Edited by Erny
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I agree with you Erny. I don't believe Amber is being fussy just to annoy me. Interestingly she also gets rashes and the things she doesn't like to eat seem to be the things that give her a rash - chicken and fish.

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I too have a problematic eater....the things that dog has reduced me to doing to get him to eat ....well I do not know that person :)

Im currently doing a bit of work through a holistic place and after two weeks I have seen a very slight improvement (long may that continue).

Im just wondering - does your dog show any signs of nausea..(licking of lips, head down, ears back) etc etc...and is there any pattern to it...ie wont eat breakfast...but will eat dinner...

As one of the others mentioned...there can be a number of things that impact on appetite, liver, digestive imbalances ...........liver complaints can show up as a refusal to eat in the morning...as can a system that is too acidic. An unhealthy digestive tract can also impact on appetitie and failure to thrive.

All I know is that having a skinny dog who obviously needs nourishment but refuses to eat is one of the most frustrating things I have ever encountered....a constant roller coaster....

Good luck and I hope you find something that works for you soon.

Cheers

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One of mine was disturbingly skinny as an adolescent, not unusual for the breed at that age but she occasionally strayed into what I considered to be an emaciated look so I tried to build her up. She could drop a couple of kilos in a weekend if she was 'busy', LOL and she didn't have a large appetite so what she could lose easily took ages to get back on. I'd say she was 10% under an acceptable weight much of the time. Very high energy dog.

Oat porridge helped, and so did a performance formula kibble added to her mostly raw diet. I fed more fequently and hand fed the kibble as a training treat - I didn't want her to get fussy so didn't fuss around changing foods or pay any attention when she was eating, I acted like I didn't care if she ate or not. I made her work for the training treats so she didn't get used to being hand fed as a way of life, LOL. She did get a lot of training jackpots! I stayed away from satin balls, just didn't think the recipe looked healthy, but others swear by them

But I was pretty sure she was healthy (vet checked and her general constitution) and that it wasn't an unusual problem after consulting with breed gurus, she was just one of those skinny energiser bunny puppies. Now that she has hit 3 she is starting to hold weight on her own. How much you worry depends on whether it's a growth stage or whether you think there might be an underlying health problem, I'd treat the two issues very differently. Mine looked fabulous apart from the weight, could out run anyone, good stamina and was as happy as a dog could be. If she hadn't looked so healthy, I would have tracked down a more intensive vet check.

Edited by Diva
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As a pup in the litter situation, this pup was always the one that got everything first. She was the noisiest, the funniest, the most demanding etc. and she ate well BUT when the litter mates went to their new homes the appetite of this one severely diminished.

At that stage I went through the try this, try that thing that most of us tend to do but it became obvious that unless I settled on what I wanted to feed her myself and stopped trying to find that special food that would make her eat properly again, I would send myself crazy!!!

It seemed to me that eating would make her feel sick, so she would stop after a few mouthfuls.

Actually I think it would be worthwhile getting a bloodtest if that is what is needed to see if she has a medical problem.

Anyway I settled on feeding her BARF and chicken necks because I found that was what she would eat most of. As it stands at the moment, it generally takes her several hours to eat 1/2 a BARF sachet. The chicken necks go within the first few minutes but if I don't feed the necks first, she doesn't eat the BARF.

When I look back on her history I don't think I would have fed differently as I don't consider that this dog has given me the run around deliberately. I really feel that there is an issue here, whether it is a medical or psychological issue is what I want to work out.

I am going to try the rolled oats and mince tomorrow morning - rolled oats is very soothing to skin, maybe it will work in the gut too??

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We had trouble with getting weight back on to our best bitch after she lost her litter :( we tried this stuff called NUTRIGEL from teh vet, it's an appetite stimulant and worked MARVELLOUS (and smells good enough to eat to). dont know if it would work on dogs but i had a horse that went on a spell and came back anorexic after being bossed by the lead mare (unbeknowns to me) and vitamin B injections got hi going again. Good luck! Failing that, lactose free milk mixed with lamb mince and an egg all uncooked, with some cooked barley and oats (make sure the barley is really well absorbed) will be gentle on puppys tummy :cheers:

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Oh! i had a dog that would not accept treats or eat while you were watching - have you tried leaving her unattended alone to her own devices? you need to restart her metabolism, so maybe even force feeding her for two weeks to get her used to having ffod in her tummy again might help. blindfold her to do it so she has less association with you and the force feeding. The same dog that waouldnt eat while watched when she grew up had to be force fed as a pup, maybe it stes from that but i didnt blindfold her or anything, just fed her. She eats while we watch now - cured that one by putting her in with a dog she had to compete with for food! wont work for everyone, but worth a try :( good luck :cheers:

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blindfold her to do it so she has less association with you and the force feeding.

What?!! :(

Apart from the fact that force feeding isn't necessarily what this dog needs, you think a dog needs to see you to associate with you? Unless you stuff its nostrils with cotton wool as well???? :cheers:

Edited by Erny
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It seemed to me that eating would make her feel sick, so she would stop after a few mouthfuls.

Actually I think it would be worthwhile getting a bloodtest if that is what is needed to see if she has a medical problem.

That would concern me, and probably send me back to the vet. Hope the porridge helps.

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