When we got Larry, he was seriously underweight, like 6lbs underweight on a dog that maxes out at 25lbs. One of the supposed reasons his original owners surrendered him was that they claimed he refused to eat anything but steak.
We had a very hard time believing this. Larry ate everything. Okay, not quite as much everything as Junebug, but still, he was certainly not a picky eater…until we turned him into one.
When we first brought Larry home, both dogs were fed kibble, just kibble, and ate it fine. There were never problems. Then Junebug had one of her many tummy problems and both went on chicken and rice for a week. I’m honestly not certain they’ve ever gone back to “just kibble”.
Toward the end of our time with Howie, we were making all the dogs homemade dog food that was mixed in with their kibble. We’ve since dropped down to just yams or a little chicken grease in their food.
Sometimes, if we’ve run out of whatever we were using and forgotten to make more, we’ll drop a couple carrots in their kibble. In cases like that, June eats everything. Larry, Larry eats a few bites of kibble, maybe his baby carrots, and is done.
Recently, we made a corned beef brisket. We had a lot of beef fat and so were mixing that in with their food. When that ran out, we had yams ready and waiting.
Except that Larry stopped eating. If I sat alone in the room with him and hand fed him, I could get him to eat maybe 1/3 of his dinner, but no more. He would turn his face away from the food.
He was hungry. He was obviously hungry. He was excited for treats. Heck, he was excited as I was making his dinner, but then he would refuse to eat it.
We wondered if maybe something smelled funny in the food or the yams. Junebug was eating it, but Beagles don’t really count for quality control. So, we bought him a different food. We bought one of those pouches of yummy stuff to mix in with the food. He still didn’t eat.
I hand washed his bowl. Then I gave him a different bowl. He still didn’t eat, at least not more than 1/3 of his dinner (which is about 1/6 of what he should get every day) that I hand fed him.
We were starting to panic a little. But, we still had some corned beef left, so I pulled out a tiny bit of fat and “gel” from its container and mixed it in with his food. He ate.
We then made chicken and mixed the chicken fat in with the yams. Then put the yam mixture in his food. He ate.
The answer for us isn’t so much that Larry is a picky eater, it is that he is spoiled. And we’re the ones that spoiled him. We know that if we were to force the issue, he would go back to eating plain kibble. But let’s be honest, we could never go long enough for him to lose 2lbs, let alone 6lbs.
Instead, we’ll slowly wean him back to just yams in his food (but not all the way back to only kibble), or maybe brown rice.
I just hope he doesn’t get too attached to the new kibble we bought him.