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View Full Version : A diet issue or a psychiatric issue?



Pesto's got your back
28th February 2007, 05:52 PM
Pesto is 7 1/2 months old now, and weighs around 15lbs. A few weeks ago we got him off the Eukenuba puppy food on to a healthy organic dog food from Trader Joe's. We make about a cup of food available to him twice a day though he rarely goes through that much food in a day.

Recently his eating habits have taken a bizarre twist. Often when his food is presented to him in a bowl or on a plate, he will check it out, then keep a distance from it and then he may bark at it for minutes on end. Sometimes he just turns his nose at it, sometimes he growls and barks at it.

He is more likely to eat his food promptly if it is poured on the floor, and he always eats it all if he is fed from the hand (what a spoiled brat!). If the food stays in the bowl, he may eventually get hungry enough and eat it at some point later in the day, but this initial reaction of barking at the food has all of us puzzled. It's almost like he sees a ghost dog getting into the food first!

What's going on? Could it be a strange symptom of separation anxiety? He often stays at my parents' house down the street (and this is where he does his "barking at the food" routine the most) since I am at work all day and would prefer him to have attention and company rather than be alone for 9 hours. Lately he stays with my parents overnight on a pretty regular basis, so there is the occasional day when I don't seem him at all if I can't come by after work (this is a temporary situation until I get married in August). Although he gets the love and attention from my parents, is this barking-at-the-food some sign of a deeper problem? Or is it just a bratty Cavalier habit we have to learn to work with? He doesn't seem unhappy or anxious at all in every other way.

One other theory I have is that maybe he once tried to eat his food while it was in a bowl or on a plate and found out that the ants had gotten to it, and that experience scarred him. But my parents are fairly sure his food never got attacked by ants while he was trying to eat it.

anyone seen this with their Cav?

Cathy Moon
28th February 2007, 06:15 PM
Sometimes cavalier puppies get 'spooked' by their bowls - this has happened to several members. If the bowl is shiny or reflective, maybe he sees a reflection that moves when he does, or does the bowl move when he tries to eat? Do his tag clang against the bowl when he tries to eat? Look for weird little things like that. You might want to try feeding him out of a saucer for a while.

Stainless steel or ceramic bowls are recommended over plastic, which can get scratched and then harbor germs. But when a puppy is going through this stage I wouldn't insist that he eat out of a bowl that bothers him. :flwr: :flwr:

sramirez
28th February 2007, 06:18 PM
Ditto regarding what Cathy said. My rescue cav used to have a real issue with certain bowls when he came to our house. It took awhile for me to figure out which type he liked.

My daughter's Lhasa also won't drink water downstairs in her apartment from any bowl - he would rather come upstairs and drink the water from my two cavs bowls!! (I think that's just a naughty boy thing 'tho!!!!)

Sheri

moniechris
28th February 2007, 06:28 PM
Sounds exactly like my MIL's cavie. She will paw at the bowl, growl and bark. We figured out that her tag was knocking against the ceramic and making a noise that scared her. :roll: We now feed her on paper plates and she does just fine.

Charleen
28th February 2007, 06:32 PM
When I first got Jolly at 13 weeks old he didn't like to eat out of his bowl. He would eat the dry kibble out of my hand or if I poured it on the floor. Since I didn't want to foster that behavior I decided the food wasn't appealing enough to him. I was using a different dog food than the breeder used.

So from 13 weeks old until 6 months old - I mixed in a little canned dog food to the dry food and he gobbled it up. You can also try mixing in baby food or canned pumpkin instead. These both worked for Jolly. I finally settled on the canned puppy food, because it was the same ingredients as the dry food (from the same company). He ate his whole bowl of food this way.

At the 6 mo. mark he started to be less picky and between 6-8 months I slowly weaned him off the canned dog food mixer and at 8 months old this month, he gobbles up his dry kibble without any hesitation and no mixer.

It could just be a phase your puppy is going through.

Pesto's got your back
28th February 2007, 06:52 PM
ah! thanks for the input, that helps put us in the right direction.

He's barked at paper plates too but I wonder if it must be the loose movement of the bowl or plate on the wood kitchen floor at my parents' house. It's not a smooth flat floor, it has squares with borders and cracks etc. which makes it a rough surface. Perhaps it's the sound of the plate or bowl moving on the floor while he eats that spooks him? I'll try switching his feeding spot to the carpet and see if that helps. He also still has two little jingle bells on his collar from Christmas, we'll remove those as well.

Zippy
28th February 2007, 08:22 PM
Another thing might be his wiskers, if they're touching the sides of the bowl, he won't want to put his face into the bowl.

We've had to use shallow bowls or plates for that reason.

He's trying to tell you something, up to you to figure it out..... :) :flwr:

Kodee
28th February 2007, 09:17 PM
yup I'd agree with everyone else - kodee had issues with bowls/plates. We were told to feed her from a flat plate as she was only 8 wks. the first plate she did pretty much the same as yours. The next plate (which looked the same as the first to me?) she didnt mind. I switched her to a low cat dish a few wks ago and she ate out of it immediately. Odd though I got her a water bowl a wk later and that she had issues with for about a day. Never seen these little spookies in other breeds though - mind you this is my first small breed dog.

Yvonne117
28th February 2007, 10:55 PM
Am so glad this thread started. I thought Alfie was going mad. He will only eat his dinner if I take some out of the bowl and put it on the floor in front of the bowl. When he eats that bit I put some more down from the bowl. It has been driving me mad. Will now try changing to a saucer. At first i thought I needed to cut down to one meal but he will eat everything at both meals if I do it this way. Because he had such a bad start with allergies and is still small I try to do anything to ensure he gets enough.

Lisa_T
1st March 2007, 04:22 AM
*g* Yes, been through this with Holly too. She still has intermittent issues with the water bowl, but the food bowl issues were more or less sorted by the advent of Amber. Having said that, I did end up having to give Holly the plastic dish I'd bought for Amber because she wouldn't use her own steel dish. Amber, thankfully, has no hangups whatsoever on this count. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Karlin
1st March 2007, 07:22 AM
Also: are you saying you give a full cup of food, twice a day, or one cup fed in two meals? Two cups is way, way too much food for a cavalier that age and size and I'd halve that immediately, regardless of whether he eats the larger amount right now or not. This is a breed prone to obesity which in turn exacerbates their propensity towards heart problems, and though puppies are pretty good at self regulating, adults are not and you don;t want to set him up to start overeating. Much healthier for your dog to be fed the proper amount daily and have amounts be controlled. I'd do half a cup in am, half in pm. :thmbsup:

Maxxs_Mummy
2nd March 2007, 12:43 AM
Charlie had mega issues about eating out of a bowl when we first got him too. He was severely underweight as he really wouldn't eat.

Needless to say, soppy me sat on the floor & hand fed him for a few days - he actually went for 2 days without eating anything so it was hand feed or watch him starve to death.

Eventually, he wanted to eat and would only eat off a mat so I started to use an oblong shaped shallow pyrex glass dish. He was fine with this and now will eat his dinner out of anything :D

Lexie
2nd March 2007, 02:58 AM
We had the same problem with Lexie. She has stainless steel bowls and does not like to eat food out of them. She would either paw the kibbles out on the floor, wait until we poured some in floor for her or did the grab some kibble and run somewhere else to eat it. I bought her a small ceramic cat food bowl and she will eat out of it.

Pesto's got your back
2nd March 2007, 09:58 PM
Also: are you saying you give a full cup of food, twice a day, or one cup fed in two meals? Two cups is way, way too much food for a cavalier that age and size and I'd halve that immediately, regardless of whether he eats the larger amount right now or not. This is a breed prone to obesity which in turn exacerbates their propensity towards heart problems, and though puppies are pretty good at self regulating, adults are not and you don;t want to set him up to start overeating. Much healthier for your dog to be fed the proper amount daily and have amounts be controlled. I'd do half a cup in am, half in pm. :thmbsup:

Yeah I figured it was too much food. He rarely ends up eating more than about a cup of food a day anyways, but we'll be sure to adjust his available portions of food to what's recommended. Thanks!

CavyGirl
3rd March 2007, 04:34 PM
Just recently, I added fish oil into Charlie's food. He did the exact same thing as Pesto -- he'd growl, bark and back away from him bowl. He wouldn't eat it until I put some kibbles on the floor or would feed him out of my hand. Very curious! I thought it was because of the fish oil and a new overwhelming smell, and the vet said that maybe I shouldn't give him the fish oil because it just might be his way to tell me that he is allergic or has a sensitivity to it.

Charlie's been very itchy lately, so I decided to try it again a day later. I locked him in the kitchen, but eventually he did eat it and now he loves it!! No gowling or being scared of his new food.