My dog seems afraid to eat his food

in Pets & pet care
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zaksmumzaksmum Forumite
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My dog Jack is nearly 7 and a labrador/whippet first cross,and I've had him since he was a puppy.

He used to be just like any other dog with his food and scoffed it the minute it went in his bowl.

For a while now he's been acting as if the food is going to eat HIM!

Some days he'll go over to his bowl and sniff it before walking away. Today he fled upstairs and HID when I put his breakfast out!

I've tried everything including a visit to the vet who said Jack was fine and would eat when he's hungry. And if I leave his food out, he will eat it eventually, maybe about 7pm when he's had nothing all day.

That only gives him half his daily food ration though as usually he has 2 meals a day. And I have to make sure my other old dog doesn't pinch it.

I can't imagine what Jack's problem is. He wants the food because he salivates while staring at it, but shakes like a leaf as if he thinks I'm going to kill him if he touches it.

I'm at my wits end with him! Anyone got any ideas please?
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  • pinkteapotpinkteapot Forumite
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    Have you tried different food, or a different bowl?

    Have you changed your washing up liquid or dishwasher tablets? Whatever you use to clean his bowl. Our kitty doesn't like his bowls when they've been handwashed with Fairy, but is fine when they've been through the dishwasher.
  • Money_makerMoney_maker Forumite
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    Presume the vet checked his teeth and gums?
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  • edited 25 February 2015 at 11:00AM
    Johnny_DangerouslyJohnny_Dangerously Forumite
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    edited 25 February 2015 at 11:00AM
    Do you also feed them together? Any chance of a food related incident between them that you may not have seen?

    All I can suggest is try mixing it up to see what works. Different food, different bowl, different location, with/without other dog etc and see what clicks.

    Also, although it may be tough, try and be completely unemotional about it. Food down, and leave him to it. If he doesn't want it, remove it and carry on as normal. Just want to make sure you aren't verbally reinforcing any fear he might have developed.

    Kind of stuck for other ideas than that. Normally I'd say check his mouth for dental issues if he is acting hungry. But if the vet has checked him over then we're good there.
  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    Try to find the cause

    Is it the dish? Try a different dish.

    Is it the place he is fed? Is there a noisy appliance such as washing machine or fridge/freezer etc

    Did something happen when he was eating to frighten him- a timer pinging or such like.

    Is it the food?

    Will he eat the food in another room?

    Will he eat it out of your hand?

    Will he eat it if raised up on step or stool so he doesn't have to bend down.

    Did the vet check his neck and spine? Spinal problems could make bending his head down painful.
  • zaksmumzaksmum Forumite
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    Thanks guys. I've tried all of your suggestions. Different bowl/hand fed/raised the bowl up on a stand/teeth, gums, neck & spine all checked and pronounced fine. He still won't eat till he's gone the whole day without any food at all.

    He's got some kind of psychological issue with the food - he's quite nervous anyway thanks to the whippet in him - it's as if he thinks I'll be angry with him if he eats it.

    I've praised him, cuddled him, stroked him etc. if he ever does eat without the palaver, and try to ignore him when he doesn't.

    I think he can somehow sense that I'm desperate for him to just eat it and stop the messing about, and normally he's very obedient and will do what I tell him, but not where food is concerned.

    My older dog is fed at the same time - always has been, all the time I've had Jack. She won't tolerate him touching her food but will leave him alone if they just eat together. She will try to eat what he leaves though.

    I wish there was a way I could get Jack to eat like a normal dog.
  • Change the food. The supplier may have changed ingredients.

    What about putting it in a kong/treat ball so he can transport it to wherever he feels safe?
  • My puppy has never eaten normally, we got her at 6 months old and she is now two, if you put her food down or tell her to eat her food she just sits in her bed as if she feels it would be naughty to do it, as soon as you go out the kitchen she can be heard eating, sometimes she leaves it and goes back to it later on. I think she just doesn't like being watched.

    Like you I feed her twice a day but sometimes she only eats once a day.

    Maybe leave him and the food where he normally eats and go out the room and see if he eats it without someone watching him?
    Slimming World Member - Started 05/02/15

  • zaksmumzaksmum Forumite
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    pawsies wrote: »
    Change the food. The supplier may have changed ingredients.

    What about putting it in a kong/treat ball so he can transport it to wherever he feels safe?

    I've tried just about every dog food on the market.

    Even the ones he used to love are now ignored.

    He'll eat stuff like hand fed chicken but that's not something I want to give in to if I can help it.
  • I don't often come on here but thought I would reply, our dog scoffed food and then went off it. I tried changing the food etc and she would eat by the evening especially if it was something really nice. Went to vets three times and nothing. I wish I had insisted on a x-ray as she suddenly went down hill and the vets then found she had a tumour and we had no choice but to put her to sleep. The non eating had gone on for months by this point though.
  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    Don't make a fuss when he eats. Treat him the same whether he eats or not.

    Try taking his food out with you on walk and feed him bits as you go along

    or feed him at some point on the walk.

    If that fails then I think you need to return to the vet for more in depth assessment.

    A friend's dog that hasn't eaten for three weeks has just had a blood test done to try and find the reason.
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