View Full Version : Help! My baby won't eat =-(

11th January 2009, 05:38 PM
Hey all. I'm a new owner of a tri cavalier female that's 9 1/2 weeks old. We got her 4 days ago and she has never shown interest in the food the breeder said she was eating (Royal Cannon puppy kibble mixed with Bravo raw). The first day I figured she was just stressed. Day 2 I tried the mix again to no avail. Switched the raw to Natural Balance medallions and had some success with that (only with her on my lap and licking it off my fingers). Day 3 she had a few bites of that and then would only eat the raw by dinner. Only had about a 1/4 of a medallion by then. Yesterday she wouldn't touch anything. Skipped lunch, thinking it would make her hungry for dinner but she wouldn't touch it. I tried 4 different combinations last night, including baby food chicken. She has gotten no treats and absolutely no people food. I wanted her to adjust to eating before she got treats.
She has otherwise been perfect. Happiest puppy I've ever seen. Drinks water. Has had a bowel movement once a day (i'm thinking that should be more frequent). Plays endlessly with my kids. Already crate trained. Had a great night last night. No fever (her temp was 100.3 last night). I'm just getting worried and really don't want to take her to the vet to expose her to anything. I'd appreciate any ideas!

Mom of Jato
12th January 2009, 03:56 AM
Congratulations on your new puppy! It sure is frustrating when they don't eat, especially young puppies. Have you tried contacting your breeder for ideas? You are doing the right thing by not giving any treats, etc. but she should be settling in by now and getting hungry. Have you tried adding a bit of warm water to the kibble or do you mix moist food in with it? The general rule is put the food down for 15 minutes, and if they don't eat pick it up and that's it until the next feeding. She is really young, and should be fed 3-4 times a day. I would place a call to your vet if you are still worried after talking to the breeder. Hopefully she will start eating for you soon. Good Luck!

Cathy T
12th January 2009, 04:05 AM
I'll echo what Jato's mom said. I had a heck of a time getting Jake to eat as a puppy. I followed the "15 minute rule" and within a day or so he was eating again. Definitely contact your breeder for some guidance. Yes, at this age she should be fed 3 times a day (my opinion). Please let us know how she's doing. I am all too aware of how frustrating this can be!! :flwr:

12th January 2009, 04:06 AM
icon_welcome and congratulations on your new Cavalier. I haven't any suggestions-too long since I've dealt with a puppy to have sage advice but am sure others will have good ideas.

Regarding taking so long to get post on-the server ( or something) has been a bit "squirrely" for little while-sometimes everything is lightning fast and other times poorly connecting.

Cathy Moon
12th January 2009, 04:11 AM
I would call her breeder or your vet for advice. She needs to be fed multiple times per day until she is at least six months old.

Since she is just a tiny baby, could you keep a dish of Royal Canin puppy kibble down for her all the time for awhile? That's what I would do if possible, and just observe her eating habits without giving her too much attention regarding eating. I'm not sure what other pets you have. You can't leave raw food out for long safely, but with kibble you can.

Hopefully some of our breeder members will have better advice. :xfngr:

12th January 2009, 04:29 AM
I'm leaving the Royal Cannon out all the time. She is just absolutely not interested. I just fed her the raw & kibble mix. She looked excited at first, but she's really acting funny about it now. She honestly looks frustrated. She's had a couple of bites and then turned around and whined and started biting her bed. Now she's just laying down next to it. Should I try a different type of food? The raw's kept frozen and I take out 2-3 medallions at a time to defrost in the fridge. Don't keep them after they've been in the fridge for 3 days and throw out whatever she hasn't eaten in the first 30 minutes. I'm learning that they can be picky, but not sure when to try a different food. I'm wondering if she ever even ate kibble before I got her.

12th January 2009, 04:51 AM
Bella did the exact same thing when we got her at 9 weeks old. She would run to the bowl, then just lay down beside it. So I sat down and put a few pieces right in front of her, and held one piece in my hand and offered it to her. She would take the one from my hand, then I would let her see me pick up one from the floor in front of her, then offer it to her, she would eventually eat all the kibble. This went on for maybe a week, then I would offer several pieces at a time in my hand, then as she became interested in them, I would place them on the floor. I did this 3-4 times a day depending on how much I could get her to eat. I was afraid that she would become dependant on me being in the room everytime she ate, so I worked my way out of the room once she started eating the pieces from the floor. I went from the floor to a saucer, then to a small bowl, then a deeper bowl once she was eating well. Good luck. I know its scary to watch them go without food. But, I always felt if Bella gets hungry enough she will eat! As long as there are no underlying medical issues, she will be fine! :thmbsup:

12th January 2009, 10:46 AM
Sometimes the kibble can be very large for a little mouth.What was recommended to us for the first few weeks was to mix the kibble with warm water and let it sit and soften for an hour or two.We mixed three parts water and one part kibble and she had no trouble eating that.
Definitely contact the breeder for advice as a pup should be tucking in three times day for food.
It's not a good idea to change the brand of puppyfood either as a dogfood is like an infant formula and changing can cause tummy upsets

12th January 2009, 11:40 AM
It is possible your puppy is just so excited by the whole new world it has found with your familly it has put food on the back burner. Away from the competition of its siblings ,play maybe more fun! Keeping to very small ,soft appealing meals feed in quiet place but only leave down for 10 mins. Put out to toilet and allow some play and then some sleep time. Like children they thrive on routine ,cavaliers are very clever in training us but gentle firmness now will pay off later. The breeder can help with exact preparation of the food as wet/dry, warm/cold ,ammount served ,even the dish its in can make a difference to the puppy

Good Luck

Cathy Moon
12th January 2009, 11:56 AM
Royal Canin makes Baby Puppy food as well as Puppy food here in the US. Since she is still so young, she should probably have the Baby Puppy food, which has teensy kibbles. Is that what you're giving her?

Another thought - the raw food may be too cold for her if it's just out of the refrigerator. Just wondering if you could cook it in a small pan with a little water on the stove, then let it cool to room temperature and feed it to her? I wouldn't microwave it though, because it may overcook, cook unevenly, or get 'hot spots' in the food.

When we got India at 11-12 weeks we had to hand feed her the first few kibbles and remove all distractions so she would focus on eating. Sometimes she would eat softened Royal Canin and sometimes she would eat it dry.

12th January 2009, 12:20 PM
I would agree that you should stick to the food the breeder sent. Leave the kibble out all the time. Eating a different food might have caused a bit of a tummy ache, and that might be why your puppy has backed off the food right now. It always has been hard on my puppies when they ate anything different. Even caused bloody diarrhea in Pixie. Don't change foods.
Hand feeding her kibble might also work. It did with Pixie. I did like mellie did with Bella and it worked great. I also moistened the kibble for about 15 minutes before feeding a few times a day. after a couple of weeks, it wasn't neccessary to wet it anymore.
A trip to the vet to rule out problems might be a good idea, and then just stick to one food and do any changes very gradualy.
Hope things get squared away soon!

12th January 2009, 12:42 PM
I have to totally disagree with several recommendations here.

First, do NOT start hand feeding or holding out pieces of this or that or trying lots of different things to tempt this puppy! I cannot emphasise the disaster this may cause for LONG TERM eating problems.

Second, do NOT leave kibble out all the time -- this is setting her up to continue NOT to eat within reasonable times, and makes it extremely difficult to tell if she has eaten at all, or how much. And again, it setting your dog up to be a lifelong problem eater. Vets do not advise leaving food down on the floor to let dogs free feed. With this breed, which is prone to over eating it is especially unwise.

Here are two things you need to do:

1) If you have not recently done so IMMEDIATELY get this puppy to a vet and make sure here are no medical reasons this puppy is not eating.

2) Assuming there are no medical issues: learn not to worry about what she is eating and IGNORE her, feeding her with total indifference and without watching and fussing over her, giving her only 15 minutes to eat, at which point, and without comment or fussing, simply lift the food and put it away til the next scheduled mealtime, NO treats in between at all. I would feed what the breeder was feeding and stop worrying. The breeder's food is a good one and if this is what she was eating only days ago it wis what she will eat quite happily once she gets a chance to settle into her new house and she also learns that holding out does NOT bring the rewards you are currently offering her -- fussing, extra attention, hand feeding, all sorts of new things to eat. Or to put it another way -- if you were caring for a three year old who refused to eat your healthy lunch would you instead sart cajoling and fussing and cooking the child meal after meal to see if they will eat? Of course you wouldn't :lol:, because a child then only learns that eating nothing brings tons of interesting attention and additional types of food and is a self-perpetuating reward for unwanted behaviour, and is highly manipulative.

It is exactly the same with a dog. Playing into the dog's demands means you will have problems that persist for years and years. Setting them up to learn this as a puppy makes it especially hard to reverse. This can then become a matter of life or death for an ill hospitalised dog that will not eat! There are so many reasons never to allow this to develop into a problem but stopping it requires your will power, not doing anything to lure the puppy into eating.

Please have a careful read of this page from a cavalier breeder with decades of experience:


From which:

Whether you decide to feed a high quality kibble or a commercially prepared whole foods diet, the following directions will apply.

Puppies between 8 and 16 weeks of age do quite well on 3 meals a day. They start out with about a large handful of kibble for each meal or about 1/4 cup. At about 4 to 6 months of age you may begin feeding your puppy twice a day, about 1/2 cup or so each time. Somewhere between 10 and 18 months of age you may begin feeding just once a day--with some really good eaters you may need to feed just once a day by 6 or 7 months of age.

Each time you feed your puppy, put the food down for approximately 15 minutes. If the puppy hasn't finished it after 15 minutes, pick it up and put it away until the next feeding time. Do NOT try to feed in between. Refrigerate if you are feeding a commercially prepared whole foods diet. Do not worry if your puppy appears thin. Puppies are just like humans. Some are very thin while growing up and some are not. It is highly unlikely your puppy will starve itself unless it is already ill. A puppy that grows slowly is best--there is no first prize for gaining full size as early as possible! Puppies who grow slowly are more likely to be able to develop muscle and tissue at the correct rate to keep up the the bone development. Of course some puppies are gluttons! Be careful not to overfeed a glutton.

Also please read:


In summary: do NOT hand feed, do NOT fuss over her eating habits, do NOT leave food down for more than 15 minutes at a single meal and do NOT then try to feed treats in between meals, and do NOT start to try all different types of food. It is very important at this age to get her eating regularly what YOU choose to feed. Most dogs are pretty indifferent to what they are fed -- having 4 of my own, and placed about a hundred cavaliers into foster places and new homes, I can say with absolute confidence of experience that in 99.9% of cases the only reason they are kicking up a fuss and not eating is because they quickly have learned their owners will immediately start to give them loads of extra attention. And for adult dogs it makes NO DIFFERENCE with a healthy dog if they eat daily or not. Their stomachs are designed for them to not eat for gaps in the wild. Puppies generally will not hold out more than a day or two and almost no puppy unless seriously ill will starve itself. It will simply give in and start eating properly. :thmbsup:

Cathy T
12th January 2009, 04:23 PM
Puppies generally will not hold out more than a day or two and almost no puppy unless seriously ill will starve itself.

This was key for me. There was nothing wrong with Jake medically. So, I knew it was just a matter of going through the paces with him. He would not starve himself, there was nothing medically wrong with him. Sure enough, a day or so later he learned that the food was there, eat it if you're hungry. It won't be there 15 minutes later. He had days where he would only eat 1 meal but I knew he was okay. I did wet the food, add gravy, hand feed a piece at a time, put the food on a silver platter :D, a paper plate, a ceramic bowl, a stainless bowl, everything you can think of. It wasn't until I applied the 15 minute rule that things started to go smoothly for him.

13th January 2009, 04:14 PM
Just wanted to say thanks for all the advice and update on little Joy. I started the 15 minute "drop" yesterday and committed to the Royal Canin and some canned puppy mixed and by dinner last night she ate most of it! I'm so relieved. Really appreciate everyone's help!

Mom of Jato
13th January 2009, 04:26 PM
:pi*no: Yipee!!!! That's good news. They can be little stinkers at times, and have us worry over them. :rolleyes: Enjoy her now, as she won't be little for long. Please take lots of pictures, and share them with us.

Brian M
13th January 2009, 05:10 PM

And HURRAY ,and pics pls:)

13th January 2009, 05:24 PM
I'm working on it. Not quite sure how to do that and having some trouble loading them onto my computer. But, I am taking tons and will get them on as soon as I figure it out. THanks again!

Cathy T
14th January 2009, 03:00 AM
Hooray!! I know exactly how you felt! My Jake did that when he was a baby. My folks were visiting and my mom knew I was worried. When he finally did eat she then told me she was worried too (but mostly worried because I was worried ;)). Glad things are good now.

14th January 2009, 04:34 AM
I'm so glad you followed the "15 minute" plan and your baby is eating! Unfortunately, I did everything under the sun to get Holly to eat -- except follow the 15 minute rule. I knew the advice given by Laura and Karlin, yet I was just CONVINCED that Holly was different and that she was going to be the first healthy puppy ever to starve herself:o

I finally "broke" one day when my two young children were sick, my husband out of town, and my time to cater to Holly at meal time very limited. It took all of ONE SKIPPED MEAL (and no treats in between) before Holly decided she had probably start eating because Mom's done with the game.

Good for you for sticking with it this early -- it took me months to get on board, but I'm so glad I did!