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7 month old puppy only feeds by hand

(21 Posts)
Goldiehawnoverboard Tue 12-Dec-17 16:34:48

Looking after a 7 month old golden retriever indefinitely as his owner is very ill in hospital. He arrived on Saturday having been in kennels for a few weeks.
He's settled well considering how traumatic and confusing recent events have been.

He apparantly eats chappie blush due to sensitive tummy. So that's what he came with. Unfortunately he didn't come with his own food bowls.

He hasn't touched any food or water since he arrived, other than water from the bird bath in the garden and a whole (small) tin of Chappie fed to him by hand yesterday afternoon (yuk!). He wolfed it down so was obviously starving but since then has refused any food in a selection of bowls and plates.

He was sick this morning but seems fine now, enjoyed his walk and poo'd.

I'm about to try feeding him by hand, but don't know if I'm making a mistake in going down this route.

Suggestions/experience of this would be very helpful as I'm feeling bad for this poor chap.

missbattenburg Tue 12-Dec-17 16:44:41

Bless him. He sounds like he's been through a lot.

He is young and may have only ever eaten out of his normal bowl so be struggling with the change to a different bowl. Being brave and doing something different is even harder when your whole world has changed.

I think if it were me I'd transition him to a bowl over a few meals.

e.g. decide which bowl you would like him to use and next time you feed him try still hand feeding but hold your hand over the bowl (even if you have to lift the bowl off the floor). Just get him used to the bowls presence during feeding.

Then next time try using your hands to push a bit of chappie into the bowl and point to it fo him so that you are still handling the food but it is also now in the bowl.

Then try dropping bits in the bowl but then allowing him to take it out the bowl.

Then try giving food in the bowl but you still there and holding it for him.

Then with the bowl on the floor.

Then with you some distance away.

You get the idea. He is likely to take a few days to settle down so it may not even take as many tries as that if he feels settled sooner. My guess is that a confident, settled retriever will not spend too long avoiding chances to eat a bit of tasty food grin.

Goldiehawnoverboard Tue 12-Dec-17 17:21:26

Thanks MissB,
I've just done as you suggested. He's very cautious at coming to me, always ready to do a runner. He steps forward nervously but quickly backwards at the smallest noise or sudden movement.

I've just done as you said. He ate the whole small tin out of my hand, forwards for a quick bite then off again. Wouldnt touch the bowl but I turned my back and stood still and he actually licked some dog food crumbs from the floor. I will perservere.

Re water, the bird bath is now empty. Do I refill it for him or limit it to bowl only and hope that thirst makes him venture to the bowl?

We have a very placid spaniel who accepted him immediately, no problems there but I wonder if he doesn't like the smell of her water bowl?

He's very jumpy despite accepting cuddles. Literally jumped at his own shadow, the Aga, floorboards under his feet. I think the weeks in kennels were traumatic for him and he didn't know us before so the first time meeting us was Saturday.

missbattenburg Tue 12-Dec-17 17:35:17

The smell of another dog could well be putting him off. Water is a resource like food and he may well not want to cause trouble by drinking someone else's water.

I think I would refill the bird feeder to make sure he is drinking regularly but also offer a 2nd dog bowl somewhere out the way a bit, just in case he feels comfortable to drink out of it.

If he has never know anything but his owner's home then the kennels could well have been a total overwhelming shock for it. The good news is that, at 7 months, he has a good chance of learning that the world isn't as scary as he might think.

I always think of a quote I once read by Susan Friedman (I think) who is a renowned dog/animal trainer. She was asked what she looks for in new trainers to mentor. "Kindness and perseverance, everything else I can teach". Give him plenty fsmile

missbattenburg Tue 12-Dec-17 17:36:43

p.s he may feel more comfortable eating if you are not looking directly at him. Eye contact is a complex one for dogs and can make them nervous at first.

Elphame Tue 12-Dec-17 17:37:12

I'd refill the bird bath - it's so important that he drinks. Tackle one issue at a time!

Malga Tue 12-Dec-17 17:42:57

When mine would not eat from a bowl I found two things helped:
giving her a plate for food instead
taking her collar off - the tag would hit her bowl and make noises which startled her.
Now she is nearly three and for the most part happy to eat out of a bowl with her collar on smile I say most part because she is still fussy but she is part poodle so it goes with the territory.
I could never get mine to drink from a shared water bowl, unless it was her brother's but she sees him on a regular basis and has done since 9 weeks.
I think your young one will improve as his confidence grows.

BrownOwlknowsbest Tue 12-Dec-17 19:24:42

With the water, it might be worth seeing if he will drink from a clean (so no smell of other dog,) bowl placed in the birdbath. If so, once he is used to drinking from it you may be able to move it inside

Goldiehawnoverboard Tue 12-Dec-17 20:07:58

Malga I was also wondering about his collar clanking. Had kept it on so that I could grab him if need be. But have just sat on the kitchen floor with him (collar removed) standing cautiously outside kitchen in hallway (he doesn't seem to like the kitchen) and scooped water from a clean different (non doggy) bowl and he drank from my hands. Relief!!! It's hard for us humans not to give eye contact when the eyes are so huuuge and sad but you're right I had probably been unintentionally staring into them.

DH just came home with an enamel dog bowl (maybe he doesn't like the reflection of the shiny metal?) and with a bit of hand scooping encouragement he's just gulped it all down. He must have been so thirsty!

MissB ahhh.. That quote is so lovely and so right. smile

Brownowl I was worried that his water source would then be outside (and full of bird poo and leaves) but I will fill it up tomorrow so that he knows there is always water there for him.

Malga Tue 12-Dec-17 22:25:32

yeay well done you star one step at a time, he will get there, slowly but surely.

Catsrus Tue 12-Dec-17 23:27:04

In my experience (6 puppies over 30yrs) it's not a problem to hand feed puppies. It's important they eat as they are still growing. I have a 6month old Golden retriever bitch puppy ATM. I often hand feed her, deliberately, so that she associates my hand with positive things, but also so that she is very comfortable with human hands touching what she considers to be hers. Very useful when you want to take something dangerous or unpleasant from their mouths. She recently discovered a dead mouse left by one of the cats, my dd was able to take it from her mouth with no issues.

I've done this with all my puppies, never had one that didn't happily eat food from a bowl as an adult. Sounds like you're doing fine 👍

Goldiehawnoverboard Thu 14-Dec-17 11:33:52

Thanks for your great advice. I’m persevering with the hand feeding of Chappie. Fed him this morning and an hour later he vomited the whole lot up again.
So I don’t know whether this is normal for him, or it’s stress related or he’s ill. Assuming it’s stress for now. Unfortunately unable to ask his owner as she’s very ill in hospital.

Don’t know whether I should keep on giving him Chappie or try some plain chicken or rice or if that would exacerbate the stress?

missbattenburg Thu 14-Dec-17 13:31:05

It could be stress.

It could be the meal was too large. Try cutting meals down into more frequent/smaller portions if you think it might be too much.

There are 2 types of chappie also (I think fish and chicken), so maybe you don't have the one he is used to?

Maybe he ran around after eating. Doesn't sound likely in his case, but can cause sensitive dogs to vom it back up.

If all other meals have been kept down and this was just a one off I'd treat it as such and persevere a bit. If you really don't think he is getting enough food and hasn't been for a few days because of his picky eating/stomach/vomiting then i might try some plain rice and chicken to see how he went.

Goldiehawnoverboard Fri 15-Dec-17 20:24:42

He arrived on Saturday. Didn't eat until hand fed on Monday afternoon.
Sick on Tuesday am
Hand fed weds ok
Hand fed Thursday am, vomited it all back up an hour later
Hand fed Thursday evening (small amounts, slowly) was ok
His poos have seemed normal although he did poo frequently when I walked him today.
Hand fed this afternoon, again a small amount (1/3 a tin) and small pieces, slowly. Vomited it all back up again an hour later.
Since then, he's had violent, completely liquid diahorrea EVERYWHERE
Was upstairs reading bedtime stories so didn't manage to catch him doing it and let him out.
Let him out when we realised. He was out in the garden for ages vomiting and diarrhoea at the same time.

I am SO sad for this little chap.

If I was able to ask the owner I would ask whether this is normal for him (hence the Chappie, but I've only given him the Chappie he came with), and whether he was ok in kennels.

He looks sad but has been active and perky on walks and even bounded about a little with our other dog in the garden when I let him outside just now.

Goldiehawnoverboard Fri 15-Dec-17 20:27:15

I'll call his vets in the morning and hope they'll be able to confirm his history.

missbattenburg Fri 15-Dec-17 20:29:25

Agree you need to talk to his vets. This sounds like more than nerves...

Best of luck, poor little guy. He's lucky to have you looking out for him.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 16-Dec-17 00:14:57

Is he usually fed on Chappie or is that just what he came with? Only when I once had to give my dog a cheap crappy dog food as it was all I could get hold of he also vomited the whole lot back up. Perhaps try him on some of that stuff the vets sell?

Hoppinggreen Sat 16-Dec-17 11:09:22

I might try some rice cooked in chicken stock.
We have. Goldie and if he has an upset tummy that’s what we do.
I would also go for a vet check

Goldiehawnoverboard Sat 16-Dec-17 16:46:44

Thanks for your kind support.

Yes he came with the Chappie so I thought I should keep him on what he's used to, to begin with.

Update: I fed him boiled rice and chicken this morning which he kept down.

Then called his old vets - no known previous problems/history

Took him to my vet - £93 later.. 2 anti vomit anti diarrhoea injections and 2 lots of medication (one was anti inflammatory for his bowel) prescribed. He doesn't have a temperature, gums good etc. He thinks it's likely to be stress related. He's only a baby and been through so much.

And amazingly the vet said Chappie is actually "pretty good and not that bad"! shock.

I asked if I should keep him on the chicken & rice for now but he said the jabs should stop the vomiting and diarrhoea and to get back on the Chappie!!

I've fed him a couple of small portions of the chicken and rice this afternoon (can't face hand feeding the Chappie again yet!)

My dog's on More, so I'll move him over to that gradually.

MimsyFluff Thu 21-Dec-17 22:25:07

Hows he doing Goldie?

Goldiehawnoverboard Sun 24-Dec-17 22:23:35

Much better thank you! He's finally ventured into the kitchen and eating food from a chopping board on the floor! This is a major breakthrough as before I was hand feeding and only in the hallway.

Less jumpy and scared and more affectionate. Still as stubborn as a mule!

He's lovely!

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