My Dog Won’t Eat – What To Do When Your Dog Is Off His Food
It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten my own dog food. My oldest daughter had her first puppy when she was 12 years old. She’d give me a little bit of the leftover meaty bits from the day before so I could make up some soup for him. That was all it took to keep him happy until dinner time came around again.
I remember thinking “that’s so cute! You’re feeding him like a human!” But then I realized that if I didn’t have to do it every night, I wouldn’t. So I stopped doing it altogether.
Then one day, after my son was born, he started having trouble sleeping. He would wake up crying at 3:00 AM and would stay awake until 6:30 AM crying and whining the whole time.
He couldn’t sleep through the night because he was so upset. At first I thought maybe he was getting too big for his bed, but then I remembered that he slept in our living room sofa when we were living there with my husband and me. Maybe it wasn’t his size that bothered him so much as it was the fact that he couldn’t lay down anywhere else than on top of that couch. It wasn’t comfortable at all.
I couldn’t get any sleep at all at this point so I started wondering if there was some sort of contraption that I could build to make him comfortable enough that he could sleep in the living room. I ended up building a little hammock system with extra sheets and ropes that would hang from the ceiling out to the sofa. It worked! He loved it!
I made sure it was secure and wouldn’t break, but I never thought about him falling.
One night he fell out of it when he was in there sleeping and he broke his back. He couldn’t walk at all after that. We had to put him down. It was really sad and I cried for days after.
I never thought about what would happen if he fell out of the contraption because it never even occurred to me that he could fall. One moment he was happy and the next moment, he couldn’t do anything for himself anymore. It just wasn’t fair.
This has been on my mind a lot lately because I’ve been noticing some concerning behavior in my own dog. She’s been getting really anxious when I’m eating. Not like when most dogs get anxious when you’re eating and they’re stuck in another room. I’m talking she lines up right behind me and when I’m done she literally snatches the food out of my hand.
I’ve never seen a dog do this before. I always thought it was just a stereotype that all dogs are like this. It’s not just the food either, she gets anxious when I’m drinking water too. She doesn’t want me to have anything.
I don’t get it. I’ve looked into different ways that I can curb her behavior but I can’t find anything. She’s not overly obese, so that’s not the problem. I’ve thought about putting her on a diet, but I don’t want to if it’s unnecessary.
I’m at a loss here. I don’t want to make the same mistake that I made with my son, but I don’t know how to help her.
What should I do?
h4. “Well, I’d start by changing her diet.”
Change her diet? How?”
“Try cooking all of her food herself. No more buying pre-made dog food from the store. If you do that, maybe you’ll find that the problem is the food itself, but if not, then I’d start to look into other avenues.”
So you think it could just be the food she’s eating?”
“It’s a possibility. Dogs can get anxious for any number of reasons, but food is usually the biggest factor. By changing her diet and making it more palatable, you should see an increase in her mood.”
“I don’t really like the idea of changing her diet though. She doesn’t get fat and she seems to be doing just fine with the food she eats already. I wouldn’t know where to even start with cooking for her.”
“It’s really not that hard. You can even look up online recipes if you want, but switching her diet shouldn’t be something you have to do all that often. Once every six months or so should be fine, but try doing it as infrequently as possible. Too much of a change can mess with their stomach.”
“I don’t know. I feel like this is just me being lazy. I should be able to bond with her more so we can get past this obstacle, not rely on some pre-made food to solve all my problems.”
“Well that’s one option, but I feel like you should at least give this a try. I don’t think it’ll hurt anything. I know you’re having problems with her anxiety, so at worst you’ll just have to keep both diets for a while.”
“I guess…I don’t know though. I mean I really want to try and tackle this head on.
Changing her diet seems like I’m just dodging the real issue here.
Why can’t I just give her the medicine that the vet gave me?”
“If you’ve tried that already, then I see no harm in it. I just don’t recommend it as a first resort. Some dogs react differently to different types of medicine. Her diet is just something you should be able to control and swapping it out for another food is something I feel comfortable with.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course I’m right!
Now do you have any other questions for me?
I have to get going soon.”
“Well now that you mention it. There is one thing…”
An hour later, you’ve got everything you need to get started on the dog diet. You still don’t feel great about it, but you suppose it’s for the best. You head to the pet store and pick up the food you need, then go home. As soon as you get home, Kayla scurries out from wherever she was hiding and greets you at the door as per usual.
“Hello girl.” You say, petting her on the head.
You go to the pantry to get a bowl and the bag of food that you just bought. You look through it and find that it’s split up into little individually wrapped biscuits. You grab a few of them and put them into the bowl.
“Here you go girl.” You say, dropping the biscuits into the bowl.
Kayla wastes no time in devouring the food. She looks up at you as if asking for more, but you tell her to slow down. It’s probably a mistake to give her too much food at once. She looks a little disappointed, but seems to slowly calm down as she eats.
Once again, you’re reminded of how much this dog acts like a person.
You leave the kitchen and sit down on the couch. You take out your phone and start reading up on dog food and nutrition. It actually isn’t too complicated. As long as the food contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals for a dog to stay healthy, then it’s a good brand.
You’re relieved to find out that the food you bought appears to be very good.
The only thing left to do now is to monitor her weight. If she starts gaining too much, you’ll have to limit how much she eats. You aren’t looking forward to having to deal with that, but if it helps her out in the long run then so be it.
You stay on the couch for a while flipping through channels before your mom comes home from work.
Hey honey, how was your day?”
“It was alright.” You respond.
How’s Kayla doing?”
“She seems to be doing better. I got her a new diet and I’m supposed to monitor her weight every now and then to see if she’s gaining any.”
Did you buy the dog a toy or something?”
Your mom asks.
“I got her food. I didn’t think about buying her a toy.”
“Hmm, well I guess you don’t really know her that well yet. Let me go buy something for her.”
Your mom takes off and comes back within ten minutes.
“Here honey. Try giving this to her. Kayla loves it.”
You examine the object. It’s a bright red rubber ball with little bumps all over it for traction. You’ve seen a lot of dogs play with these in the past and always thought they looked fun.
“Thanks, I’ll try it out.” You say as you take the ball from your mom.
You go down to the basement and call for Kayla. She comes running out from who knows where. She must have been hiding somewhere.
Hey girl, do you want to play with this?”
You ask as you show the ball to her.
She immediately starts jumping around and barking after she sees it.
You want this, huh?”
“Okay, then catch!” You say as you start tossing the ball to her.
She goes bounding after it and then brings it back to you. This becomes your afternoon activity. You play ball for hours until you’re both too tired to continue. By that time it’s dinner time for you.
Later on that night you get a call from your mom at work.
“Hey honey, I just got some of Kayla’s results from the vet. She’s doing really well on her new diet. Her weight is normal and her blood work is good. The vet said we’re doing a great job with her diet, so keep it up.”
You take that as a sign to continue what you’re doing.
Over the course of the next month, Kayla begins to act more like a dog than a person. She spends most of her time playing with her ball or just running around the yard. It’s actually really relieving to see, considering you were starting to doubt your decision to keep her. Your mom is also relieved since she was starting to feel bad for Kayla and was thinking about taking her back to the pound.
Now, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
“Man, it’s nice to have a dog in the house again.” Your mom says.
“I know, it’s been a while.” You reply.
Now that Kayla has become more well adjusted to her new home, you’ve become more attached to her as well. You’ve named her and see her as your companion rather than just someone who’s always in the way.
A month passes and Kayla is doing great. You think back to what Roger said about getting her fixed. You’ll have to look into taking her to a vet at some point, but other than that you’re good on taking care of her. She’s truly a part of the family now.
You find yourself heading downstairs in the middle of the night for no reason at all. When you get downstairs, you notice that the door to the basement is open. That’s weird, you’re pretty sure you closed it before going to bed.
Kayla? Is that you?”
You call out.
No response. The house is dark and quiet.
You hold your breath and strain your ears to listen for any noise. Your heart beats like a drum and the adrenaline rushes through your veins. Something isn’t right here…you slowly back out of the basement and head back to your room.
The next morning, you find that the door to the basement is back to where it should be. You think it’s probably nothing, but the uneasiness and anxiety you experienced the night before still lingers.
It’s the next day when everything suddenly changes.
“Ken!” You hear your mother call from downstairs. You’re busy playing a game so you don’t respond. No reason to stop playing if you don’t have to.
“Ken, come here a second!” You hear her say in an urgent tone.
You ignore her and try to focus on the game. A few moments later you hear her coming up the stairs. That’s strange, you thought she would have just walked into your room since she’s come in unannounced before. You turn around and see her in the doorway.
She has a look of sadness on her face that you’ve never seen before. It’s enough to cause you to pause your game immediately.
She doesn’t say anything at first, she just looks down and begins to cry. Alarmed, you get up from the edge of your bed and approach her.
Is it dad?”
You ask with concern.
She shakes her head no, but doesn’t say anything. You’ve never seen your mother like this before; you have no idea what to do. This is a completely new situation for you.
“I…” She begins to say before stopping. Then she takes a deep breath and exhales while wiping her eyes.
“I can’t take care of you anymore. I’ve enrolled you in a good boarding school. You’ll be leaving tomorrow.”
She leaves without saying another word. You’re confused and scared, but you don’t have time to dwell on it. You have to start packing if you are indeed going to some boarding school tomorrow.
It doesn’t take long for you to be packed. You don’t really own that much since your trips to the laundromat are much more frequent than others. After throwing everything into your suitcase, you take it down stairs and find that your mother has come back inside.
“Here,” She says while handing you a piece of paper. “This has the name and locations of all your new schools. I’ve already talked to your teachers and they’ll transfer all of your work to your new school.
You don’t need to worry about a thing, okay?”
You just stare at her and nod while taking the paper from her.
“I enrolled you in a good school. You’ll make lots of new friends and get a good education there. This is for the best. Come on, let’s go to the park before you have to leave.”
You follow her to the car and sit in silence on the drive to the park. You don’t know what to think.
Is this it? After all you’ve been through, is this really how it ends?
Upon arriving at the park, you and your mother get out and find a empty spot on the grass. You don’t say anything; you just sit there and wait for her to start talking.
“I want to apologize about this. I hate having to do this to you, but I can’t take care of you anymore. It’s not me, it’s you. I’m not a good mother.”
She gets up and tries to smile.
“Let’s go get some ice cream,” She says while extending her hand.
You grasp her hand and she helps you up. The three of you walk over to the ice cream truck that has just parked nearby and buy a couple of cones. You all sit down at a bench and begin to eat them. They’re delicious as usual.
“I’m going to miss this…” You mutter under your breath.
What was that?”
Your mother asks.
“Nothing,” You say while getting up. “I’m going to the bathroom.”
You walk away from the two of them and head over to a different bench, away from the crowds of people. There’s no line at the bathroom here like there is back at the park, so you should get back soon. You sit down and begin to think about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Will you make any friends?
Sources & references used in this article:
- The best” chink” food: dog eating and the dilemma of diversity (FH Wu – Gastronomica, 2002 – online.ucpress.edu)
- Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet: Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way (S Brown – 2009 – books.google.com)
- Raw dog food: Make it easy for you and your dog (CB MacDonald – 2004 – books.google.com)
- The nature of animal healing: The definitive holistic medicine guide to caring for your dog and cat (J Jones – 2014 – Knopf)
- Fit as Fido: Follow your dog to better health (M Goldstein – 2009 – books.google.com)
- Performance Dog Nutrition (DA Marcus – 2008 – books.google.com)
- Natural Dog Food: Raw Feeding for Dogs: A comprehensive guide to healthy dog nutrition (J Jacobs – 2005 – books.google.com)
- Don’t eat this book: fast food and the supersizing of America (S Reinerth – 2014 – books.google.com)
- 8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog (M Spurlock – 2006 – books.google.com)