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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

It's been a little while! Bentley is doing very well, and nearly 6 months old now. He's just as silly/stubborn/charismatic as always and is coming along well with his training.

One issue we've run into is that he seems to be a particularly picky eater. He LOVES the Freshpet puppy roll, but we use that as training treats and not as his main meals. We have gone through 6 different types of high quality puppy kibble now. Every time we think we've found one he likes, after about 1 4lb bag he just refuses to eat it anymore. He's been vet checked and is fine, and if we put down a different brand that is appealing to him, he'll eat the whole bowl. When we try to transition to the new food and mix the old and new, he picks out the last kibble and spits it out all over the floor - just straight up refuses to eat the old kibble. This has happened 3 times now! Has anyone experienced this and/or heard of dogs needing to rotate brands/flavors of kibble this frequently?

We've even tried some of the raw coated/raw pieces kibble and he got sick (too rich/too much protein for his tummy). We're running out of high quality kibble options, and I don't want to put him on a brand that has been known to cause health issues.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

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I went through this with Molly when she was a puppy. She was small and a poor eater so I tried a lot of different options. This never solved the problem and I came to realize that you just have to pick a good quality food and stick with it. A dog is not going to starve themselves and will eat when good and hungry after they realize that this is all they are getting. Your dog may skip a meal or two but will come around and eat the food you put down.
 

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When you say “he’ll eat the whole bowl”, are you free feeding? If so, this is likely the biggest part of your problem. At his age, feed him approximately 2/4 cup of the high quality kibble of YOUR CHOICE twice a day. Put it down at his meal time. Pick it up after 10 minutes, whether he has eaten or not. Repeat at his next meal time. Do not offer it again, do not offer anything else, fo not coax or cajole, and NO SNACKS! For a couple of days, skip other training, so you are not feeding him Fresh Pet. THIS is more important training at the moment. He gets NOTHING but kibble right now. Assuming that he is healthy, and you have not suggested otherwise, heathy dogs WILL NOT starve themselves, even if they skip a few meals!

What is needed here is some tough love. He is manipulating you, and this breed is well known for it. Believe me, if you let this continue, it will only get worse.
 

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Many of us here do not believe in picky eaters :). Pick the food that YOU think is best for him (and fits your budget), put it down, wait, pick it up, put it down at the next meal time. You said that the vet said he's healthy, so it's just your pup training you :). He may test you (since he's learned that he can get a different food if he doesn't eat), but he'll eventually give in. Think about him like he was a kid - of course they want something different (and that may not be what's best nutritionally for them) but you want them to eat good food.

The most I did in deference to "picky" was to moisten his kibble (though I wouldn't say Perry was ever picky but he would some times not eat his whole portion, plus I didn't feel he was drinking enough water either). Since I wanted him to drink more water as well, I figured it was a good compromise.
 

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The only thing I would be careful of is to keep in mind that once a bag of kibble is opened the clock starts ticking and the expiration date no longer applies. It does start going bad, mainly because of the fats it contains which can become rancid. I would be careful to buy smaller bags and use it up quickly. Dogs who turn up their noses at kibble that was opened a couple months ago are smarter than us. This may not be the issue but people sometimes think kibble stays good forever.
 

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Mine used to carefully remove what he didn’t want when I was transitioning food. He eventually stopped, but there were a few days when he was extra hungry before the next meal time. I think if they’re able to go an exceptionally long time, I would double check the portions. The portion sizes on the foods are notoriously high, and can be more accurately calculated for calories per pound or kilo. Even with more accurate calculations it’s just a starting point. I think my food recommends 1/2c 2x day and I do more like 1/3 (I suddenly don’t remember what portion my measuring cup is but you get the idea that my Havanese eats slightly less than the recommended amount since the weight bracket is something like 12-15lbs).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks all!

When you say “he’ll eat the whole bowl”, are you free feeding? If so, this is likely the biggest part of your problem. At his age, feed him approximately 2/4 cup of the high quality kibble of YOUR CHOICE twice a day. Put it down at his meal time. Pick it up after 10 minutes, whether he has eaten or not. Repeat at his next meal time. Do not offer it again, do not offer anything else, fo not coax or cajole, and NO SNACKS! For a couple of days, skip other training, so you are not feeding him Fresh Pet. THIS is more important training at the moment. He gets NOTHING but kibble right now. Assuming that he is healthy, and you have not suggested otherwise, heathy dogs WILL NOT starve themselves, even if they skip a few meals!

What is needed here is some tough love. He is manipulating you, and this breed is well known for it. Believe me, if you let this continue, it will only get worse.
Thanks for the advice! We aren't free feeding - he gets one small bowl in the morning and one at night - about 1/2 cup at each meal time (we vet checked the portion size - the bag said 1 cup at each meal and I knew that couldn't possibly be right lol) and he only has access to the food for about 20 min. Since the start, the rule is that he does NOT get Freshpet if he doesn't eat his kibble. The problem is that he throws up if he doesn't have enough to eat. So we tried the tough love thing (feeding only kibble, but still doing short training sessions) initially for 5 days and then again for another 5 days a few weeks ago, but after cleaning up after him 3+ times a day (including the middle of the night), we found that not to be the best solution. It didn't help getting him to eat, even though the kibble was his only food option, and he felt sick all day. We had this issue with one of our older havs and free feeding ended up being the solution for her - she never ate more than she should have and food was available when she was hungry to avoid the sickness. Unfortunately, Bentley thinks the older dog's senior kibble is DELICIOUS and will eat their entire portion and vice versa, so we can't free feed anymore.

I think we'll have to try some tough love again and see if we can get him out of this habit. It's odd because we have no issue for the duration of each 4lb bag (usually around 3ish weeks) and then all of a sudden he won't eat it. And no issue means he eats when the bowl is put down no problems. I will try the no treats part for a few days - we were still giving his potty treats/training him through out the day at that time so perhaps restricting everything no matter how small will do the trick. If this doesn't work, we might need to visit the doc again to make sure nothing else is going on that may have been missed when we brought it up last month with them, since it sounds like this strategy has worked for multiple people here!

The only thing I would be careful of is to keep in mind that once a bag of kibble is opened the clock starts ticking and the expiration date no longer applies. It does start going bad, mainly because of the fats it contains which can become rancid. I would be careful to buy smaller bags and use it up quickly. Dogs who turn up their noses at kibble that was opened a couple months ago are smarter than us. This may not be the issue but people sometimes think kibble stays good forever.
Totally - this actually happened with our older girls. We buy the smallest bag we can find now because of this! I actually thought initially this may have been the issue because we live in a very hot climate and I worried about the shipping time on the hot trucks. But after multiple bags (both shipped from chewy and bought in store) I don't think that's the issue now.
 

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Are you saying he goes through an entire bag of kibble in three weeks no problem and then when you open another bag of the same kibble he turns up his nose? Do you feed the same kibble all the time? I wonder if it would be helpful to rotate different kinds and brands of kibble. I actually think this could have nutritional benefits as well. Although kibble all meets the AAFFO minimum requirements, they do provide different amounts of different nutrients and by rotating you may be providing a more well rounded diet.

The other thing I was wondering is if you had thought about feeding Fresh Pet as his regular food? Not sure if you want to do this or not. If you are avoiding this to save Fresh Pet for high value treats, I would think your dog is still going to love the Fresh Pet as treats. I give mine some of their regular food as treats and they love it. The only thing that is more high value for Mia is the blood juice plate that my husband gives her when he is barbecuing. Urghhh…there is nothing more high value than that and if Mia thinks it is time for her blood juice plate, it makes any training impossible. The husband has started a new habit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Are you saying he goes through an entire bag of kibble in three weeks no problem and then when you open another bag of the same kibble he turns up his nose? Do you feed the same kibble all the time? I wonder if it would be helpful to rotate different kinds and brands of kibble. I actually think this could have nutritional benefits as well. Although kibble all meets the AAFFO minimum requirements, they do provide different amounts of different nutrients and by rotating you may be providing a more well rounded diet.

The other thing I was wondering is if you had thought about feeding Fresh Pet as his regular food? Not sure if you want to do this or not. If you are avoiding this to save Fresh Pet for high value treats, I would think your dog is still going to love the Fresh Pet as treats. I give mine some of their regular food as treats and they love it. The only thing that is more high value for Mia is the blood juice plate that my husband gives her when he is barbecuing. Urghhh…there is nothing more high value than that and if Mia thinks it is time for her blood juice plate, it makes any training impossible. The husband has started a new habit.
Yes exactly. We haven't been able to feed the same kibble because he's been doing this since we brought him home. The first kind we tried, he ate through two bags and refused to eat when we opened the third. At this point we've tried 6 different brands now - 3 he liked for 1 bag, 2 he just refused to eat all together, and 1 he ate but got sick every time he ate it. We were thinking about rotating the brands, but we aren't sure he will eat the old kibble again, since he was picking it out. We are hoping to try that after this bag, so good to know it wouldn't be terrible for him to do that!

We initially started with Freshpet being his regular food (as that's what his breeder had him on), but our vet didn't think that was best for him, so we switched it to be his training treats. Our vet preferred a high quality small breed puppy food, or at least a puppy kibble. Cute about the BBQ plate - we haven't gone there yet, but I can only imagine how crazy he would be about that haha!
 

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Yes exactly. We haven't been able to feed the same kibble because he's been doing this since we brought him home. The first kind we tried, he ate through two bags and refused to eat when we opened the third. At this point we've tried 6 different brands now - 3 he liked for 1 bag, 2 he just refused to eat all together, and 1 he ate but got sick every time he ate it. We were thinking about rotating the brands, but we aren't sure he will eat the old kibble again, since he was picking it out. We are hoping to try that after this bag, so good to know it wouldn't be terrible for him to do that!

We initially started with Freshpet being his regular food (as that's what his breeder had him on), but our vet didn't think that was best for him, so we switched it to be his training treats. Our vet preferred a high quality small breed puppy food, or at least a puppy kibble. Cute about the BBQ plate - we haven't gone there yet, but I can only imagine how crazy he would be about that haha!
In order to be able to switch without problems, maybe try to stick with 1 brand (ex. Fromm) and then just rotate between "flavors" - though I know some people do not want to do that because it changes the protein which can be problematic if you are (or may) deal with a food allergy situation. I'm not so sure about rotating brands since that does require gradually changing between them - which could get to be a pain doing that ever 3-4 weeks.

If he got sick eating one bag, have you been able to isolate what was making him sick (food sensitivity to something in it?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
In order to be able to switch without problems, maybe try to stick with 1 brand (ex. Fromm) and then just rotate between "flavors" - though I know some people do not want to do that because it changes the protein which can be problematic if you are (or may) deal with a food allergy situation. I'm not so sure about rotating brands since that does require gradually changing between them - which could get to be a pain doing that ever 3-4 weeks.

If he got sick eating one bag, have you been able to isolate what was making him sick (food sensitivity to something in it?)
He doesn't seem to have any issues changing brands right now - since he refuse to eat the old, we aren't able to transition him slowly. We wanted to keep him on the same brand, but most brands just don't have multiple puppy options. I'm hoping it will be easier when he can switch to adult food!

We're almost positive freeze-dried raw is what makes him sick - it's just too rich for his system. Any food that includes freeze-dried raw pieces or freeze-dried raw treats we've tried have made him sick. So far he doesn't seem to be allergic to any proteins, but he certainly is picky about the ones he will eat (he's not a big fan of salmon or bison we've found).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Have you tried feeding only once per day? I know some dogs who prefer this.
We have not - he gets empty belly sick if he doesn't have food regularly unfortunately. We actually just transitioned him off of meals 3x per day. Our other two havs eat once per day, so it may be something we try with him in the future to get them all on the same schedule!
 

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There are many good brands of dog food that don’t have specific “puppy” food. The food is suitable for all ages, and the portion size for puppies is just more than for adult dogs. The puppy food designation is just a marketing strategy some dog food companies use. You may open yourself to new options if you try one of these companies. You would have more proteins to rotate through within the same product line and really make switching foods less likely to upset the GI system.
 

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We have not - he gets empty belly sick if he doesn't have food regularly unfortunately. We actually just transitioned him off of meals 3x per day. Our other two havs eat once per day, so it may be something we try with him in the future to get them all on the same schedule!
This may be unrelated. However, the only time mine have ever done bile vomiting is if I feed too much fat. Some commercial dog foods are higher in fat than others. Bile vomiting for my dogs appears to be unrelated to having an empty stomach. This may not be your problem but throwing it out there.
 

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Also with the freeze dried, there are some types that are mixed in or small pieces and the instructions for those types often say they don’t need to be rehydrated. That is not the case for Sundance. When Sundance was on a mixed kibble and freeze dried food I broke apart the freeze dried pieces and spread them throughout the food, and wet the whole thing. I initially did this because otherwise he’d eat the 1-2 freeze dried raw pieces and then be done. I was surprised that the food soaked up a much larger amount of water than I expected. Sundance likes it better this way and his poop looks better, too.

Still can’t get over writing about how good his poop looks.
 

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Also with the freeze dried, there are some types that are mixed in or small pieces and the instructions for those types often say they don’t need to be rehydrated. That is not the case for Sundance. When Sundance was on a mixed kibble and freeze dried food I broke apart the freeze dried pieces and spread them throughout the food, and wet the whole thing. I initially did this because otherwise he’d eat the 1-2 freeze dried raw pieces and then be done. I was surprised that the food soaked up a much larger amount of water than I expected. Sundance likes it better this way and his poop looks better, too.

Still can’t get over writing about how good his poop looks.
Nothing wrong with being a poo perfectironist🤣:poop: which reminds me I have to go and clean up a fox poo from outside…is it very grim that I am waiting for the sun to bake it on before I scrape it off the patio:sick::mad:???
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This may be unrelated. However, the only time mine have ever done bile vomiting is if I feed too much fat. Some commercial dog foods are higher in fat than others. Bile vomiting for my dogs appears to be unrelated to having an empty stomach. This may not be your problem but throwing it out there.
Interesting - I'll keep this in mind. He seems to only vomit bile if he hasn't had any food, so I think that's the case with him, but know he is sensitive already to the fat content, so will try to keep an eye on that. Thanks!
 

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Interesting - I'll keep this in mind. He seems to only vomit bile if he hasn't had any food, so I think that's the case with him, but know he is sensitive already to the fat content, so will try to keep an eye on that. Thanks!
If the bile vomiting is the result of too much fat in the diet, it will still show up when the stomach is empty so that is confusing.

Here are my thoughts on bile vomiting which has proven true for my dogs, however please do your own research. I am sure there are many reasons for it.

Too much fat in the diet requires the dog to produce excessive amounts of bile in order for the dog to digest it. This excessive bile will show up as bile vomiting when the stomach is empty. Although bile vomiting appears to be caused by the stomach being empty, the root cause is actually the excessive production of bile. It just happens to cause problems when the stomach is empty and there is nothing for the bile to do.

Fat is an essential and critical part of the diet, however too fat in the diet can be a cause of bile vomiting. I think fat tolerance differs between dogs. Please do your own research though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
As an update - we have two foods he will eat (at the moment): the canidae limited ingredient puppy and the solid gold small breed puppy. It seems that if we give him the choice of which he wants to eat, he'll choose one and eat normally. I guess he just likes variety? Today he chose one in the morning and the other at night. It doesn't seem to upset his digestive system at all to switch back and forth. Hopefully this will work longer term, since it appears to be working now. He is also on a strict no fresh pet if he doesn't eat his kibble. While we has skipped a few meals, he seems to be eating a little better with the selection (and not skipping many meals or getting sick from not eating).

If the rotating doesn't work longer term, I suppose we'll try the honest kitchen kibble and/or the dehydrated food. Since he was sensitive to the freeze-dried raw, I was concerned about the HK being too rich for him (as I've heard that can be the case). I'll ask our vet what she thinks about the dehydrated and/or one of the fresh food companies (since she didn't like only freshpet as his food, and actually preferred us to feed kibble). Like many of you have said - I'm trying to find a balance between him enjoying his food, but also feeding what I feel is best for him.

Thanks all - I'll keep this updated if we find something that works for him, since I've seen a few threads about picky eaters.
 
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