Picky Eaters

Most malamutes aren't picky eaters - trash, poop, roadkill are always on the menu. A few will prefer to eat those things, saving their dog kibble for tomorrow. Eventually even picky eaters eat. I've often said, when a Malamute won't eat it's usually serious. Whenever we've had a dog that is normally a good eater refuse food there was some underlying and serious medical condition that may or may not be treatable.  Some will eat up to the day they die.  But if your mal who is normally ravenous and desperate about food, begins picking at his meal something is wrong. There are two exceptions, when a girl is in season some boys just can't bear to eat when their girl is smelling so good!. And sometimes extreme heat will make a mal's appetite waver - but not often.  Some of the things that have caused a healthy appearing mal stop eating have been:

  • Tooth abscesses
  • Tumors in vital organs
  • Pyometra
  • Dehydration (due to illness or virus)
  • Mouth soreness (a stick wedged between teeth, abscess, or in Star's case - a salivary gland that was blocked)
  • I'm sure there are other reasons and if you know of any, please write and I'll add them. Often, a mal's refusal to eat is the ONLY sign you'll get he's seriously ill.

Some mals are notoriously picky eaters.  Unless your dog is losing weight, it's better not to give in to that pickiness or you will find yourself on a roller coaster of perpetually changing dog foods and half-eaten bags. In the first year studies have also determined that changing a puppy's food often can result in allergies as well.  So stay the course.  It doesn't hurt to occasionally add some gravy or other treat to the regular food if the mal hasn't eaten in a couple of days to encourage him, but it's not always the best course to run out and try something totally different.  Also, be observant of your mal's habits.  For example, our typical routine is feed the dogs then let them out to potty...but this doesn't work for Max.  He will not eat until he has peed.  So for Max we let him out first, then let him keep his food in his crate until he's ready to eat.  Usually after he eats he's ready to poop and play...maybe he's just not a morning person?  Superman also does the picky dog thing too.  He'll eat typically at alternate meals.  One day he'll skip breakfast, next time lunch but eventually it evens out.  Often I'll just add his new food to the existing food in his dish.  Then he'll gobble it down all at the same time.  I suppose this wouldn't work for a dog that easily bloated or some other reason, but it worked for him. Gracie also did the same thing.  One thing to consider is if your dog is on thyroid or other medications it's important they get those medications.  You may have to give them by hand rather than wait for the dog to eat.  This was a problem we had with Grace.  She would randomly not eat which meant she didn't get her thyroid....which made her appetite wane and she would eat less...so eventually we had to give her meds by mouth to make sure she got them. 

If your dog is eating well and still losing weight, you need to look at other possibilities.  Parasites or digestive problems can cause this so it's important to get your dog checked out by a vet.  It's also important they poop and pee regularly and that you pay attention to when they do.  Not saying you have to obscess on it, but should a problem develop such as a swallowed toy or sudden loss of appetite, the first question the vet is going to ask is when they eliminated.   

One thing owners can do is MAKE their dog picky.  By not waiting out a short period of pickiness, and going overboard trying other foods and special treats they train their dog to wait for something better to come along.  It's hard when your baby doesn't eat, but if you don't give in you'll eventually see a pattern.  Some won't eat in the morning, some evening, some during certain weather, etc. This is important because you'll know if the pickiness is caused by something external rather than something INTERNAL (illness).  If you give in and bribe them with a new food every time it happens, you won't see the pattern.  No healthy dog will willingly starve themselves to death.  They WILL eventually eat, even if it makes you anxious trying to wait it out.