Monday, July 31, 2017

Picky Eater Shikoku

I hear it a lot, 'My Shikoku is a picky eater and I can't get any weight on him/her!' I've experienced this and other digestive issues in the Japanese breeds, so I'm going to share how I deal with it. So far the results have been 100 percent management success.


So what are you feeding your dog? I guess we've got the kibble feeders, cooked food feeders, and the raw food feeders. I find that most of the time, picky eaters will eat more readily eat cooked or raw food. At least at first. But, a lot of dogs will get bored of eating the same thing every day for every meal.

Since I have a lot of dogs, and a lot of dogs that I kennel for varying lengths of time, I feed my dogs a grain free salmon/sweet potato kibble. Mixed with this I will throw in varying meat topping, and they get cooked boar bones on occasion as well. When I boil the meat scraps and bones for the dogs after butchering a boar, I keep the soup. This soup is gold for dogs that temporarily lose their appetite, or to mix with rice when dogs are not feeling well.

My dogs are fed twice a day, individually, a set amount which varies by season. Dogs don't need to eat quite as much in the summer. Whatever they don't eat in 15 minutes is put away. The kibble is mixed with a bit of topping, and some warm water. Not all the dogs need topping or water, some will eat straight up dry kibble from the bag, but the majority will not do that unless they are starving. So, I could keep trying to force different types of dry dry dry food down them till they are skin and bones, or I can create a system that helps them maintain proper weight. This is especially important for working/show dogs if you're trying to keep them in optimum condition.

If a dog starts leaving food a few meals in a row, I will reduce the amount by a third. If their stool is looking a bit soft, I'll reduce by half. If they have diarrhea they skip a meal. This happens more often during the summer months. Dogs lose their appetite, get a bit more lethargic, and are more prone to digestive upsets.

One important thing to remember when dealing with dogs with appetite loss or upset stomachs is to not go switching their food suddenly. This is generally a bad idea unless you like dealing with poo explosion. Any change in diet or food should be in small amounts and gradual.

I believe there is a train of thought that kibble and cooked food digest at different rates so should not be fed together, but I have not found that to be the case. I read a good study on it somewhere that showed that when fed together they were digested at the same rate. Anyway, I mix. Blocks of meat, rice, pumpkin, these are all things that make it into the mix. Just be careful with keeping the meat you feed low fat. Anything too fatty or oily will often give a dog diarrhea.

And just to throw this in, get your dog's stool checked by your vet every once in a while. Parasites and bacteria can cause loss of appetite and poor stools. Dogs that have a habit of eating random things may also have a blockage in their digestive system (where's mom's other red sock?). Maybe your dogs eating issues have a more serious cause? If you get a new dog or pup, the first thing to do is to get their stool checked. Always. Some parasitic issues can cause permanent damage to the digestive tract.

Where do your dogs eat? Shikoku tend to be pretty reactive to their environment, everything is interesting. So, if you want your dog to relax and eat, set a routine. Mine is that after going for our twice daily walk, everyone goes into their kennels/crates, then it's time to eat. Once they're done eating, the rest of the day begins.

So to sum up my system...
1. Feed them quality food that they will eat (just don't suddenly add new things to their diet)
2. Feed them in a quiet, safe place
3. Always keep an eye (and your vet's eye) on your dog's stool
4. Add toppings - meat, fish, rice, pumpkin (just no fatty stuff, and make sure you check before adding any other exotic stuff) and warm water
5. Skipping meals every now and again is good for dogs. It can help their digestive systems catch a break, and help them regain their appetite.

Lastly, dog's that are burning calories (ie getting enough exercise!) will have more of an appetite, and of course will be happier. Get out for walks/runs/play with your dogs as much as possible!





2 comments:

  1. Hello! I was wondering what the name Suzuharuhime means, if anything? Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. 鈴春姫 Suzuharuhime.
      鈴 Suzu = bell
      春 Haru = spring (the season)
      姫 Hime = princess.

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