Mel's eating habits
Fellow Cavie Enthusiasts!
It is with great shame that I admit- I may have pampered my little Mel into a food monster. Mel has only ever been fed five-star dog food and treats. This being said, when I first got Mel, I fell into nearly EVERY puppy trick in the book. icon_blshing. ... So now Mel is a very finicky eater. He rarely eats all of his food and sometimes goes two meals without eating (he's fed three times a day). He's waiting for me to make it more "fun."
Now, before I get into trouble- I have been working with my trainer for months on getting Mel to eat better, but it has been in vain. I cannot get Mel to eat consistently, and my intuition tells me that it is the cause of his abnormal coat. Mel is almost two years of age now and has not grown a the full, "signature" cavalier coat. In fact, he still looks like a puppy. Sure, his tail has wondrous feathering, and so do his ears- but the rest of his body has hair no longer than one inch. He also has little hair on his belly and chest. I NEVER cut it and he gets brushed every other morning.
I am earnestly seeking some fresh ideas on how I can correct Mel's eating habits (our should I say- my poor training..) AS WELL AS knowledge on how I might supplement his diet safely. I'd do anything to make this right. Mel has a savings account for all his health needs (I saved for him as I worked through college) so cost is not an issue. Tragically, there are no dieticians in my vicinity.
Best Regards and Gratitude,
Not all cavaliers have those really heavy coats that so desired in the show ring. My instinct says he'll never have that head-turning coat.
However, there are a variety of factors that influence coat: genetics, health, climate...
So it's possible you could improve his coat somewhat through diet. Personally, from your description it sounds like you are offering more food than he needs, and he thinks he can get a better offer out of you by holding out.
How old is he? If he's an adult 3 meals a day is not necessary, 2 would be plenty. Puppies need to eat more often. If you're feeding a high quality food that will cover all of his dietary needs.
I'm not personally a fan of "nutrition through pills" for myself or my dogs, but you could try fish oil (break a capsule over kibble and stir). I make a sunny side up egg, and mix that into my dogs' dinner the yolk is a good natural source of fats, and it coats kibble really well.
As far as coat is concerned, I found that my B/T was very slow to grow a full coat - he was 4 before it got anywhere near long. So you may just have to be patient!
As the previous post said, a 2-year-old shouldn't need 3 meals, so part of his refusal to eat may be that he simply isn't very hungry. And an adult doesn't need as much protein as a puppy - 18% in a tin or dry food is ample. On both counts, you are over-feeding him, so his tummy probably needs a rest!
The only way to get a healthy Cavalier to eat sensibly is tough love! Breakfast and supper, food down for 10 minutes and if uneaten, removed. No between-meals snacks or substantial treats. And it's easy to overfeed - decide what is a reasonable amount and weigh it every day, then divide between the two meals. If you don't weigh but just guess in a cup or similar, it's easy for the amount to creep up. A reasonable amount for an adult Cavalier can look very small! My Aled is 4 years old, medium size, weighs 10kg and keeps very well and fit on about 50g a day of Burns dry food. He has a few extras - a raw egg twice a week, half a tin of sardines, a few training treats, raw or cooked vegetables - but that 50g of Burns is the staple (and all he has when we're away from home).
You'll have a battle with Mel for a few days, but healthy dogs don't starve themselves to death. And it is so important for his future health (and your sanity!) that he eats a proper diet. It's important that everybody in the house backs you up as well - no sneaking titbits becuase they feel sorry for Mel!
Be tough - and good luck!
Kate, Oliver and Aled