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Since I brought my Moose home at 8 weeks, getting him to eat has been a struggle. I feel I've tried everything and yet he will not eat consistently full meals to keep a decent weight...which as a puppy is SO important.

Background -- I started him on Purina Pro Sport, which is what the breeder started him on. He stopped eating it (like legit skipping meals/sniffing and walking away) at 11 weeks, so I switched to Orijen large breed puppy (ancient grains) (which I'd secretly wanted to feed him for the high quality protein). He liked and ate that decently, but soon needed toppers, cheese, crushed beef liver treats to entice him to eat. I even cooked bacon, fish and chicken to mix in.

At 13 weeks, I grew concerned at his lack of appetite and the vet said to try Fromm. I did. At first he loved the kibble (hated the wet canned stuff). After 3 days he wouldn't eat again. After trying the rounds of toppers and mix ins I went back to Orijen...gobbled it up.

We've yo-yo-ed back and forth a few weeks. I told myself, if he's hungry, he'll eat. And just put down what was for breakfast/lunch/dinner and if he ate, he ate, if not, fine. Some days he picked. Others, he scarfed down 2x much without a blink, regardless of the food.

I'm now at 18 weeks and he again is not eating his meals and is getting quite ribby. I know vizslas are lean, but I really do think he needs more meat on his bones.

I've tried wet/dry, cold/warm, name the mix-in I've tried it -- Turkey, duck, lamb, beef, chicken. I've tried doing off leash first to build an appetite, as well as games of tug or training. Worked sometimes, but not consistently. I've tried puzzle games - he doesn't get into them. I've tried working kibble into training or outdoors...he spits it out. I've tried even using the good stuff for training -- if he's not hungry, he legit won't eat it if offered as a reward.

I even made satin balls (though I cooked because I don't trust raw meat -- used grass fed beef). he wouldn't even eat those initially when I tried to do tricks or just give them to him around 5pm. Eventually at like 8pm, he ate 6 balls. But then wouldn't eat dinner. The only thing he really ate today was a Bubba Burger (pure Angus beef) with rice and carrots around 2pm. He didn't eat the boiled chicken and rice I made for him for dinner, thinking maybe it's an upset stomach.

I let him run off leash at least an hour per day or more with additional walks and sniffs and socialization (including day care).

Over the past 2 weeks he is tired in the morning...wants to sleep until 9 or 10 unless he has to pee...so if we potty at 7 or 8, he crawls back into his downstairs donut bed until 9 or 10. Not even bacon get him up to eat breakfast.

His poos only recently have been good solid, followed by mushy/soft/runny, which makes me think there's something wrong. I honestly don't understand how he's pooping so much out given the lack of food he's taking in!! His energy levels whenever we go outside, off leash or for a walk are total vizsla normal - you'd never know he wasn't eating with the energy he has.

Any ideas? Do you think he has a food allergy? Just a very strict self regulator? Any advice welcome. I really am at a loss for why he won't eat more to sustain his activity level :(

Pics from the past weekend. He's not emancipated by any means, but seems too skinny and boney for a growing puppy with so much nutritional needs to grow.

(he does drink water and doesn't seem dehydrated...if he wants to drink water at 11pm I let him...figure I'd rather wake up to let him pee than have a dehydrated pup if he's thirsty)
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Have you tried any probiotics? just checking based on the poop situation you described. I agree that especially for a growing puppy it would be very important to eat regularly and also I do agree with the belief that a huge percentage of a dogs heart is controlled by the health of their gut. So chances are he is not eating well as something is not 100% in the tummy area.
I understand that you are afraid of raw (initially I was too, but then I changed my mind), but you could try things like freeze dried green tripe, which is full of probiotics. I finished the show championship of Bende using the brand below, the show ring can be pretty nerve wrecking and when I started using this, he stopped having any of the typical nervous stomach challenges young dogs often have during competitions. Let me know fi you need other probiotics recommendations too.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you tried any probiotics? just checking based on the poop situation you described. I agree that especially for a growing puppy it would be very important to eat regularly and also I do agree with the belief that a huge percentage of a dogs heart is controlled by the health of their gut. So chances are he is not eating well as something is not 100% in the tummy area.
I understand that you are afraid of raw (initially I was too, but then I changed my mind), but you could try things like freeze dried green tripe, which is full of probiotics. I finished the show championship of Bende using the brand below, the show ring can be pretty nerve wrecking and when I started using this, he stopped having any of the typical nervous stomach challenges young dogs often have during competitions. Let me know fi you need other probiotics recommendations too.

Thank you! I'll try this. I have been giving him a cup of frozen yogurt with probiotics and digestive enzymes made for dogs, the only yogurt he likes (I tried plain human yogurt and he took one lick and decided he didn't like it). I usually give him 1/day as "dessert" after he eats dinner. This is the brand -- he loves them and they have probiotics in them (just very expensive...).

 

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I kind of hate to say this, but he looks great to me!
I know you’re worried, but he’s not showing any body ”poverty lines”.
His hips and butt are nice and round, and there is no evidence of his vertebrae showing. Vizslas are notorious for being picky eaters. We spent a decade with three or four different brands of foods in the house for my previous vizslas. They just wanted veriety I guess. Drove me nuts.
 

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Thank you! I'll try this. I have been giving him a cup of frozen yogurt with probiotics and digestive enzymes made for dogs, the only yogurt he likes (I tried plain human yogurt and he took one lick and decided he didn't like it). I usually give him 1/day as "dessert" after he eats dinner. This is the brand -- he loves them and they have probiotics in them (just very expensive...).

I give mine raw goats milk too, they love it. Not inexpensive either, but they don't need a lot, I pour a little over their breakfast usually.
I make once a month bone broth jelly for them, I leave about 3-4 days` portion in the refrigerator and freeze the rest in ice cubes and use them for the rest of the month. that is great for their gut too and since I make them from chicken feet for their joints and soft tissues too. that is actually a very inexpensive way to keep them happy.
you can also give him some hard boiled eggs, another one good for the stomach and having many nutritional benefits. I slice them up in the egg slices and use them as training treats, huge hit! hope he will be fine, your gorgeous pup.
 

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While I wouldn't say Moose is critically thin, I wouldn't want him to get any thinner! Though, as posters have eluded to above, vizsla puppies are notoriously thin and can be picky eaters. As long as Moose remains very active, his coat remains healthy and his nails grow wildly, I wouldn't fret. I also would't apply correlation of his recent late sleeping to current nutritional concerns. My belief, it's a stage... and is exactly the time Aly did the same!

As for my immediate concern (if Moose was in my care), it would be his apparent lack of fat... whereby he's less able to store fat soluble vitamins (i.e. A, D, E and K). Less able to store these vitamins, he's much more dependent upon immediate ingestion, where ya hope there's adequate vitamins (and the fat, required to put them into solution). Personally, I've little faith in the dog food guarantees of nutritional values.

For baby mammals, I prefer they are a little more on the pudgy side, than too thin. Whereby they have greater capacity for fat soluble vitamin storage within intramuscular fat deposits.

So, how would I remedy Moose's lack of weight? First, I'd bring him to the vet for a stool sample and testing. I'd want to ensure he was clear of digestive system parasites.

I'd also take heed to @texasred's thoughts and advice. Also, @Gabica's suggestions! Aly was an egg freak for a while! LOL

I'd also incorporate fermented cheeses into his diet. They contain fats, proteins and probiotics. Cheeses such as Cottage, Feta, Swiss, Parmesan and Gouda. I want the high fat content. Aly VERY frequently gets a lil "Sprinkle cheese" (parmesan), as a topper with a tablespoon of melted butter.

I also noticed, the only vegetable you mention was carrots. As variety and great nutritional value, Aly gets baked or grilled squashes. Winter squashes are fantastic, mashed up after cooking, with a little butter! She also gets... and perhaps also try some pure pumpkin from a can (not pumpkin pie blend). Aly also LOVES peas! Get the frozen, not canned. Too much sodium in canned vegetables. Ohhh.... Sweet potatoes, too! Broccoli and cauliflower!!

Lastly, as it relates to your lack of trust in raw meats, I'm not a huge supporter of the concept of raw only proteins... especially for under-weight animals. The moderate cooking of proteins begins to break them down into the constituent amino acids. Animals don't ingest proteins and then utilize the complex proteins as a whole. Their digestive system breaks the proteins down, to amino acids... then their metabolic processes build proteins they need, from the amino acids. The moderate application of heat causes more easily and readily available amino acids.

Just my two cents. Wishing you and Moose the best!
 

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Agree with everyone , he looks fine just make sure he maintains and doesn’t get thinner. Ellie is the same way sometimes skipping meals. We used to be concerned but seems par for the course with this breed. She will graze more than woof it down, then occasionally eat like crazy for a few meals. We add coconut oil, Probios powder, and nupro powder to each meal. Also don’t worry about the poop, Ellie does one firm, followed by a soft serve a few minutes later on her daily runs.
 

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He actually looks really good to me. Our Hannah is a good eater. We do give her a teaspoon of grated cheese, canned tuna, or grilled chicken with most of her meals, just as an appetizer. She is 9 years old in a couple more days. We helped our daughter get a V and few months back, and she will be 6 months old next week. She has been more picky and the kids can’t afford a topper for every meal, but she has recently been doing quite well without the add-ons. She looks pretty similar in build to your boy. I wouldn’t worry too much. He won’t starve himself to death.
 

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I have an 8 year old and a 14 week old. The 8 yr old is picky and we just went to The Farmer's Dog out of desperation. He went completely off his food when his brother died in Oct. First food he has EVER literally loved and it's healthy for him, and all measured out. It is pricey though. The 14 week old is on Purina Pro Plan 30/20 (which our breeder also recommended). He won't eat it without a bit of chicken broth to mush it up and a shake of parmesan cheese. He's not a huge eater either but he's still got the puppy weight so I am not too worried about it. Looks like you got some good advice here but I did want to just chime in with what is working for us. Good luck.
 
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