We adopoted a 4-6 year old adult male chihuahua on December 5th. When he came home, he had an ear, eye, and mouth infection - all of which my vet said had been plaguing him for some time. Because of his mouth infection, he could not eat hard dog food - (which has been his diet at his foster mom's home).
We gave him two weeks of antibiotics and fed him a diet of yogurt, rice, chicken and steak, and a bit of cheese as treat (his absolute FAVORITE). I tried lots of other food, but he just turned his nose up at it. He especially would NOT eat dog food - wet, or dry.
We are on week three, and my vet said that we should try to get him back on dog food. Even when I mix wet dog food in his yogurt or rice - he won't touch it. At this point, I'm not sure what to do. Can he eat a purely meat diet and not eat dog food? I'm up for any suggestions!
Hmmmm. If he's had the mouth infection for a long time and ate hard dog food when he was fostered, then it doesn't sound like there's any medical reason why he can't eat it. But if the mouth infection is new, most dogs will continue to eat their dry food soaked in water so they can lap it up until their mouths heal.
One thing that can prevent dogs from eating normally is when people become so worried about the dog not eating that they keep changing the food. In that case, all that fussing and changing food actually rewards the dog for not eating. Pretty soon, the dog is getting nothing but the best quality meats which, no matter how expensive, aren't a balanced diet and can set him up for (more) medical problems.While all dogs are capable of doing this, some little dogs are particularly good as manipulating people. Sadly, this can create the medical and/or behavioral problems that may result in these animals getting given up by their owners.
If you've been changing the food on a regular basis since the 5th, it may take a while to get him back on a balanced diet. The key is patience and consistency. Start by softening a little bit of the dog food he was on in water until its mushy to soupy. Then add a very small amount, so small you can't even see it, to his yogurt and rice mixture. Only put down a small amount of the mixture for him and don't make a big deal about whether he eats it or doesn't. If he eats it, give him a little bit more later. If he doesn't, wait several hours and replace it with more of the same.
If he's a begger, feed him the same mixture when he begs. If for some reason you want to give him a treat, give him the same mixture, too. After a while he'll figure out that you want him to be healthy and are as serious about him being on a healthy diet as his foster family was.
Very gradually increase the amount of dog food in the mixture and decrease the amount of people food over time until he's eating all dog food. This may take 6-8 weeks but that's OK because, with each passing week, he'll be getting a better diet than the week before. This wouldn't be the case if you keep switching from one human food to another.
Good luck and remember he's not a victim. He's a tough little dog who's a survivor :-)
Dr. Myrna, thanks for your response! I will start trying to incorporate dog food back into his diet tomorrow, starting by mixing a tiny bit of his wet dry food, into the foods he will eat.
You are right - we were very concerned when he wouldn't eat, he's so tiny, I was fearful he would starve. Little Mugsy weighed in at 5.6 pounds when we first took him to the vet (the first week we had him home) and two weeks later, due to his poor eating habits, he is down to 5 pounds. His weight loss is adding to my fear about him not eating dog food.
He is such sweet boy and he is a survivor! Thanks for your advice. We will be patient and consistent with his diet. :)
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