Thursday, November 3, 2011

Food, Food, Glorious Food!

My dogs love agility, but they really love food! There isn't much that they won't do (or at least attempt to do) for food.

In the beginning, feeding Travis was a challenge. We continued feeding him the food the breeder had been feeding him but we switched to twice a day feedings instead of once a day. Travis didn't eat. He wouldn't eat. This went on for months. When he got really hungry he'd obviously eat his food but on a day-to-day basis he'd only pick. He would never eat his food in one serving so we always put his food in his crate with him. Yes, we tried denying him food to force him to eat in one sitting but at most he'd pick at a few morsels and move on. We'd take away what he left and offer it to him again in 12 hours - be he'd only ever eat a few bits. Clearly the dog didn't like his food.

I'll state now that at no time was my dog in danger of starvation - he maintained a healthy weight at all times. Our vet advised us that he may simply be a "eat to live" dog instead of a "live to eat" dog.

When Indie came home Travis showed interest in the puppy food. We thought that a change in Travis' diet might be in order because he did obviously did want to eat. I figured that Travis should be able to like the food he is eating - after-all don't we enjoy our food?

I think we tried at least 2 different formulas or brands of food before the "incident" this past Valentines Day. The day or two previous Travis had eaten another dogs kibble of a questionable quality. Expectantly, the diarrhea ensued.

Long story short Travis was put on a food only available from a vet. At first we thought he enjoyed eating it because he hadn't eaten anything in the previous 3 or 4 days. Turns out he really did like it.

With our vets permission we continued to feed Travis this new food and he continues to have a healthy appetite for it. He eats two meals a day (quickly) with no digestive problems! He was now eating 3/4 cups twice a day.

My story continues...

When Indie came home (4.5kg) from the breeder we were advised to up his food to something like 1/4 cup, 3 times a day. Over the next 2 weeks we saw Indies legs grow like weeds but he wasn't putting on weight (he was being fed 1/4 cup more a day then when he was with the breeder). So we up'd his food to include another 1/4 cup each day. Two weeks passed and he still wasn't putting on weight - the legs kept growing however. Indie was starting to look unhealthy. For his age/weight we were over feeding him by 1/4 cup a day - what was going on? Desperate to put weight on him we stared feeding him 1/2 cup three times a day - twice what the bag said he needed and the same amount of food Travis (at 13.5kg) was eating.

After two or three weeks Indie started to fill out to a healthy size. We decided to continue feeding him as we were until he started to fatten up - he never did. In fact by about 7 months (about 9kg) he started to look skinny again so we switched him to twice a day feedings with 1 cup at each sitting - 2 cups of food a day!!!

The lessons in all this...
1) Feeding your dog a food he likes has benefits - you can monitor his weight regularly and adjust his food accordingly. You can't put weight on a dog if he won't eat what you give him.
2) The bags feeding guidelines are just that - guidelines. Adjust your dogs food as they require.
3) A 7kg puppy can out eat an adult dog twice his size.

Today, we feed both dogs the same vet food. Our regular feedings for both are 3/4 twice a day but we monitor their weight weekly and adjust as needed - sometimes Travis gets less and sometimes Indie gets more.

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