How do you know if your dog is just a scavenger or if they are genuinely starving?

(14 Posts)
lougle Mon 14-Oct-13 10:42:44

Patch has always been skinny. I'm concerned that I can see his ribs (all of them) even when he's laying down. I can see his spine.

He scavenges anything and everything - butter, all foods...he even tried to steal a pear through the bars of the fruit bowl.

I feed him Burns and I actually give him the amount suggested for a 25kg dog rather than the 17kg that he actually is.

Burns is great for his tummy (he gets acrid poo and wind on James Wellbeloved) but I just wonder if it's normal for him to scavenge in such a 'desperate' way.

moosemama Mon 14-Oct-13 11:32:23

If he's fed that much extra and still skinny and scavenging I'd get him checked out at the vets. He might not be metabolising his food properly or there could be some other underlying reason why he can't maintain his weight.

My new pup (now 19 weeks old) is ridiculously skinny. When we adopted him he had a campylobacter infection and was totally emaciated. We had him on 8 feeds a day and once the infection was successfully treated he did start gaining, but is still all ribs and hip pins. He has extra on top of his kibble allowance for predicted weight (in fact he eats more than Lurcherboy, who is 24.5 kg) plus training treats, a couple of chicken breasts and a pack of fish4dogs mousse daily. Despite having 4 meals and two x 4 stuffed kongs a day, he eats like the dogs you see on the rescue programmes, where they feed them, watch them bolt their food and say that's evidence of them having been starved. He's also opportunistic in terms of what dh calls 'binnie pigging' and counter surfing, although the counter surfing has all but stopped with some training and increased diet.

BUT, his coat is gorgeous and really shiny, he has bright eyes and is full of life and his stools are healthy. In his case, having fully checked him out when we first got him, the vet feels he has a lot of Saluki in his mix and is just going to be naturally skinny. Many Lurcher people say you should be able to see the last couple of ribs and a hint of hip pins or your Lurcher is overweight. (In which case Lurcherboy is positively porky.) I do worry what people think when they see him out and about though. Almost glad the bad weather's here as now I can put his coat on and they can't see how skinny he really is. blush

lougle Mon 14-Oct-13 12:01:36

A while ago I took him and the vet said 'he's fine, you're too used to seeing overweight dogs'. He is highly unlikely to be full staffy. He's probably a cross with either whippet/lurcher/something, because he has long legs, runs like a horse, etc.

He has very good muscle definition, runs around the garden all day, bright eyes, cold, wet nose.

I just don't like to see him looking so skinny blush

His coat is gorgeous and smooth. He sleeps under our covers at night or he gets really cold.

moosemama Mon 14-Oct-13 13:02:43

Does sound as if he could possibly be sighthoundy then lougle. He could be a Bull Lurcher, like Benny from Lurcher Link - they're often a Staffy crossed with a Grey or Whippet. (More pics of Benny on Page 2.)

From your photos he seems to have good cover on his hip pins, it's more his last few ribs that are on show. If he is Lurcher, that would be fairly typical of a lean, but healthy dog.

Pip really feels the cold at night. He has a hot water bottle and is tucked in under a fleece blanket every night. I also bought him a jumper - the first time any of my dogs has ever worn anything other than a normal dogcoat - and that was my elderly and poorly Wheaten girl.

lougle Mon 14-Oct-13 14:39:03

He's very similar to Benny. Slightly shorter, I'd say, but holds himself in exactly the same way and completely owns the confused/embarrassed look. His neck is slightly shorter also.

His hips are covered although angular. It's his spine/ribs that make me think he's skinny. I suppose having the pinched waist doesn't help (I can get circle my hands around his waist fully).

lougle Mon 14-Oct-13 14:41:34

If you look at my photos, the photos 3rd, 4th and 5th from the bottom are how I think he should ideally look - lovely definition but full coverage.

bergedorf Mon 14-Oct-13 15:47:00

I think Burns is known for keeping dogs on the lean side. You could try adding some tripe to his diet? This is a tip I picked up on from a different forum - I haven't actually tried it myself!

moosemama Mon 14-Oct-13 15:55:53

I'd say he looks like he has a bit of puppy fat in those three pictures. Lurcher pups carry more weight when they're young, then gradually become leaner as they mature.

If you have a look at some of the later pictures of Flint - a Lurcher Link Bull Lurcher puppy you can see he's well covered, but he will get leaner as he grows and develops more muscle tone.

Testosterone also plays a big factor in weight. Neutered males tend to carry a bit more weight - is your boy neutered?

lougle Mon 14-Oct-13 16:07:06

No he's entire because he's very fearful of most situations, so a behaviorist said not to get him neutered. Having said that his testicles are so small that a very asked me if they had descended properly (although didn't check herself...)

lougle Mon 14-Oct-13 16:08:21

I see what you mean - that is what patch looked like When young.

moosemama Mon 14-Oct-13 16:50:35

Ah - similar to my pup then. Think we are going to have to delay neutering for similar reasons. In some dogs who are already anxious or fearful, neutering compounds the issue by affecting the reuptake of serotonin - among other things.

We had a fear aggressive, very large dog years ago. When he started showing signs of aggression (little socialisation due to bone problems) the vet advised us to get him neutered saying he was 'dominant' angry. We didn't know any better back then and followed her advice. It made him much worse and we spent years working with him to get him over it.

This pup has had more socialisation, but was unable to mix and interact with other dogs due to delayed vaccinations (health reasons again) as a result he is really fearful around other dogs. He starts puppy classes this week, but I'm fairly sure it's going to take most of his first year of life to sort this out. The place he came from makes you commit to neutering at 6 months - unless you can provide evidence from a vet that it shouldn't be done for medical reasons. Between that and him being a very long-legged boy with big knuckles (so potential issues with growth plates if neutered young) I will be having a discussion with my vet in the hope she agrees it's best to delay neutering until maturity and will write to the rescue to that effect.

Entire dogs do tend to be on the leaner side. Being a sighthound cross it's likely to be more pronounced than in other breeds. My adult Lurcher was also a skinny minnie until he was neutered. Since neutering we have to watch his diet or he has a tendency towards middle-aged spread! grin

Anxious/fearful dogs are often skinner as well - just like some jittery people, they seem to burn up calories fretting.

With my dogs, if they drop a bit of weight we give them raw lamb breast a couple of times a week for a while and that seems to do the trick. Might be worth a try - an alternative would be to make a broth using the lamb breast and make sure he eats all of it, including the fat.

Owllady Mon 14-Oct-13 17:24:22

one of my old collies was crossed with a lurcher and I have no idea where she put all the food she ate smile she also used to steal apples out of the fruit bowl!

If the vet thinks he is okay, i am sure he is. Just make sure he is wormed etc

howhardcanitbetofindanewname Tue 15-Oct-13 12:46:58

Can I just suggest you get a second opinion from another vet? Our pup came to us from a rescue at ten weeks, very skinny. Everyone assumed she hadn't been fed properly.

She has always scavenged but remained very thin and had lots of tummy upsets. Vet insisted she was fine.

She is on burns food, more than her daily allowance butsstill feels the need to eat anything, including dog Poo.

We changed vets and told them our concerns. New vet was horrified. Initially they did stool samples which showed e coli. This was treated but the problems still remained. Blood tests showed a major lack of vitamin b12 which has meant she hasn't been absorbing her food. She was starving to death.

She has now had a month worth of weekly vitamin injections and the blood tests have been repeated.

You can still see all her ribs but she is gaining weight. Many people have thought she must be a lurcher cross, and it is possible, but she is way too skinny even for these breeds as the vet can feel how much fat they have.

I really would get your dog checked again, even just to rule it out. The always being starving and being skinny are just very familiar.

lougle Tue 15-Oct-13 13:52:28

Thank you, I will.

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