Help! My Dog’s Gone Off Raw Food!
When it comes to raw feeding for dogs, it is not unusual to hear reports from an owner that their dog has gone off their raw food or won’t eat it anymore. Often, the dog has been on a raw diet for a while seemingly loving it at first before becoming increasingly “fussy” and appearing to “favour” certain options over others. This can limit the range of proteins that the owner starts to order. It can even go as far as dogs refusing to eat and owners throwing perfectly good raw away!
This situation can be extremely concerning for dog owners. A typical response is to try another raw brand or food type (treats or kibble) which the dog seems to miraculously want to eat instead! Many owners assume it is the fact their dog doesn’t like the old food any more when this is not actually the case. Often, the answer is quite simple having absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they have gone off their raw food or developed preferences! In fact, you may be surprised at the real reason why the food that you put down for them isn’t being eaten.
The Dog is Just Not Hungry
“How is that possible?” you might ask. Well, if you analyse how much you feed your dog and how many treats they get in a day versus what they should actually be eating, you may well find that you are overfeeding them. Of course, we do this with the best of intentions and sometimes without even realising but you would be surprised at the number of owners that contact us to say their dog won’t eat only to discover that this is because they aren’t actually hungry. This is especially common around 9 or 10 months old when growth rates slow and puppies no longer need as much to eat.
To add further confusion to the issue, a dog who is refusing to eat old raw may be drawn initially to a new raw or alternative food source at first as it smells new and enticing. This will be short-lived however as if it’s a new source of raw the same will apply and the dog will eventually behave the same refusing the food again. Many owners can find themselves going through every raw food on the market until they give up or figure out that the dog is just not hungry.
It’s Time to Re-Calculate What Your Dog is Eating
Our raw dog food calculator can help you determine how much your dog should be eating. If you compare this number with what they are actually eating, then you can work out if you are feeding too much. We get used to feeding based on what is eaten and not what should be consumed. Once this becomes routine it seems perfectly natural to carry on giving them the same amount of food at each mealtime. Eventually, you may start to notice an expanding waistline. When you know how much your dog should be getting, stick to it and make sure that any treats are included in this daily food allowance.
Also, feeding guides are exactly that – GUIDES! There are no hard and fast rules as to how much a dog should eat. A common-sense approach should be taken. For example, most Bulldogs need approx. 1.5% of their “ideal body weight” to stay lean and healthy. Their breed is prone to a slower metabolism and bulkier composition so they need less food to stay trim and athletic. Now, most raw feeding guides say 2-3%, but in our experience, this is almost undoubtedly too much for the British Bulldog. This will also apply to elderly or overweight dogs, or dogs that have reduced appetite. It is simply that they are NOT HUNGRY and that’s why they are leaving food. Don’t be concerned – simply skip a meal and then reduce the amount you feed them going forward.
Concerns About Your Dog Not Eating
If you have a dog that is refusing their raw food, at this point you may be worrying that they haven’t eaten their last meal and that they are going to get hungry. Do not worry! If a dog is hungry it will eat, whatever you put in front of them. The only exception to this is if there is an underlying issue or illness in which case, you will want to rest their stomach and get professional advice if it is an ongoing concern.
Be Strict with Their Feeding Regime
If you want to get your dog back into their normal feeding habits then here is what you should do:
- At their next meal time put out the correct amount of the food you want them to eat – in this case it is their raw meal.
- Do not start preparing special meals, giving them treats and trying to get them to eat anything other than what they should be eating. You will only encourage picky eating habits.
- If they clear their bowl of the reduced amount don’t be tempted to feed more. Stick to the plan!
- Put their food down and leave it. If they haven’t eaten after 20 minutes, pick it up and put the food away again until their next meal time.
- At the next meal time do exactly the same again!
- Stay strong and don’t give in to your dog and don’t feel guilty that your dog hasn’t eaten and start to panic.
A hungry dog will eat and as long as energy levels are normal and water is being consumed, they will be fine. If, after following the above steps, they still don’t eat consider the fact that they may just be having a rest day and try again tomorrow. Some days a dog will want to eat more than others. You shouldn’t panic if they don’t eat at all one day. In fact, it is advisable that you rest their digestive system once a week with a fast day.
The Benefits of Regular Fasting
Fasting dogs is a well-researched and highly recommended part of the raw feeding process. It is also how nature works! Remember, a wild dog would not eat daily and when you take a dog back to a natural diet they often mimic natural eating habits, including periods of fasting. The burden of canine digestion demands all of the resources of the immune system. In order to strengthen immunity and give the dog’s digestive system a chance to recover, it is important to fast your dog regularly.
Improving Digestion and Immunity
Now, this may seem like a tall order when faced with a dog that expects their food at a certain time. As owners, you feel obliged to feed them at their expected meal times daily. You feel cruel, mean and like you are starving your dog but the truth is you are doing them a whole world of good. Regular fasting can help the immune system detoxify. It will restore the normal homeostatic balance and help their immune system to stay in peak form. But how often should you fast your dog? It is widely recommended to fast on the 7th day. Feed them their normal recommended allowance of food for six days then give them nothing on the 7th.
A New Routine Will Improve Their Feeding Habits
Once your dog is eating again, start the new regime of feeding for 6 days and fasting for 1. Remember to keep an eye on the amounts you are feeding and the weight of your dog. If you notice a difference either way in their weight then adjust how much you feed accordingly and remember to include treats in their daily allowance. Your dog will no longer be fussy about what they eat and when and they will benefit from much-improved digestion and a stronger immune system.
Follow the Advice Before Considering Other Issues
If the problem persists and the dog has not eaten for a few days or more, then you can start to consider other issues that may be going on. In the majority of cases though we find that, by following the above guidelines and advice, the issue normally rectifies itself after 2 to 3 days and the dog will happily go back to eating the raw food that you put down.
At ProDog Raw, we have many years’ experience of feeding raw dog food are happy to answer any concerns you may have. Our team of friendly experts are on hand to talk you through everything and to offer the benefit of our expertise, especially if you are new to raw feeding. Just get in touch and we will be happy to help.