Advice appreciated on food issues

Hi, i am a newbie to this forum and a first time dog owner of 6 months. I have had endless problems with food since adopting my lab/cocker spaniel cross, Buddy. I tried several highly rated dry foods (eg Orijen puppy, burns plus a couple of others) and buddy had huge amounts of diarrhoea (8-10 times per day). I don’t know what caused it but the problem was resolved when I switched to natural instinct raw food. Buddy loved it and the diarrhoea stopped. Now he has gone off it completely and spits it out. I tried playing hard ball and letting him go hungry but he was surprisingly more stubborn than me and I hated to force him to eat something he hates. I’ve tried to work out what the problem could be. He’s fine on pure meat (chicken pieces, mince), it seems to be the non meat additions or combinations that disagree with him. It’s such a pain.
I would be hugely grateful for advice. Does anyone know why dry food might be such a problem for buddy? As the natural instinct was good for buddy should I force him to get used to it again?

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Hello & welcome to the forums.

The first benchmark has to be a healthy dog. You need to be as satisfied as you can be that the dog is relatibelt healthy & absent of medical issues that may impact on appetite, impact on waste output, & free of worm issues etc. Dog must not be constipated, should be free from any internal obstructions…young dogs and old can eat all sorts of items & rubbish…sometimes causing blockages & appetite . I am assuming food was provided and removed if not eaten at once. Encouraging grazing can arguably cauze selective eating &/or remove food drive. Dog should also be drinking well, (some including myself mainly provide filtered water). I would regard a total lack of eating/drinking for any significant period as needing vet visit… urgently if dog is lethargic or presenting with other signs of concern !

The following advice is assuming the above not being negative factors…If not then address accordingly ideally seeing your vet asap…If genuinely satisfied dog is healthy then consider the following…

I am somewhat suprised if your dog is refusing various foods…Have you tried feeding treats ? I dont mean rubbish from supermarkets - I mean cheese cubes, liver cubes, dried lung, pure fish bites etc etc. …Most dogs love food of one sort or another.

Assuming all was well with the dog then your kibble issues may have been down to overfeeding individual meals &/or daily amount. Orijen has realively high protein & less fillers than many foods so accidental overfeeding could cause loose stoo!s. Burns isn’t as bigh on meat/protein content but contains rice & in relatively high ammounts.

There are mixed opinions on feeding grains with some alleging they are not a primal food source… Others speak of grain intolerance. In my view allergy and intolerence are words used a little too frequently. i am not saying allergies & intolerances do not exist, but some could argue it is often just the case that some dogs suit certain foods better than others.

Going back to protein…the other considerarion would be protein sources, some will suggest single source protein foods are best yet others might argue that feeding one protein can cause later intolerances to newly introduced proteins. We cant ignore that a dogs might not get on with certain protein sources or food sources.

You state you were feeding a raw complete without issues. I am keen not to point finger at any particular brands or protein sources within brands as being better or worse than others…(Note that I keep making references to compatability between foods and individual dogs). I have no idea if there have or have not been small changes to the manufactured composition of what you feed or if you have changed from maybe red meat to poultry etc.

Brief mention specifically re raw feeding…A reputable local raw feeder/supplier to me states that too higher bone content can sometimes cause constipation issues in some dogs…her advice to me was to introduce offal/tripe or other lower bone content periodically - so as to keep things moving properly, (particularly if stools show signs of being over hard or excessively crumbly…(dogs stools are typically beirmer than if fed kibble)

Kibble wise I have fed various products…lastly Akela. Cold pressed was seriously considered prior to me switching to raw complete (I fed raw to one of the dogs this before) am currently happily feeding nutriment but it is no secret on here that I change foods from time to time - My highest dog food loyalty is to our dogs not individual dog food companies…however good they may or may not be. Cost cannot be ignored by me either…especially when considering similar acceptable quality products.

If your dog is genuinely not getting on with various flavours from a particular manufacturer then maybe try another manufacturer. Whether looking at another raw complete, another kibble or other options such as cold pressed or air dried…the directory has lots of different foods. You can enter dogs age & weight to get some idea re cost. Do consider that if you return puppy foods only then your result total will be significantly lower. Personally I dont think puppy food is essential. i woukd avoid foods for older dogs (sometimes called senior). I would also be mindful that some working foods are for closed season feeding so they might not provide enough of what a youngster may need.

If I was you I would be looking to get free samples (not usual for raw complete) or small trial amounts. You wont be wanting to waste food so don’t buy large amounts. This will be best way to see what your dog will actually eat.

Any changes made must be your choice & for the right reasons.

Please return & update this topic.


Thank you Coaster for your advice. I have been surprised that buddy has gone off his food. Until 2 months ago buddy was your typical food obsessed lab. Now at 10 months he is very fussy. On the one hand I am glad he is no longer food obsessed but I’m not sure how to deal with it. I read that food should be removed after 5-10mins if not eaten and I have not done this. I will do it from tomorrow.
I don’t give many treats but occasionally I give ludicrously expensive fish/ chicken treats from our local pet shop or raw chicken wings.
Buddy is wormed and seems very healthy. I have asked the vet for advice but they didn’t add anything because buddy seems so healthy and happy. I don’t want to over think this but it bothers me that I don’t know what causes his food sensitivities and I don’t know who to ask for help.

Hello and welcome to the forum. I am puzzled that your dog had diarrhoea with dry food, not least because the varieties that you mention are so dissimilar. As Coaster mentioned, that can be due to over feeding but also intolerance. If it was the latter then finding out what the problem is involves using an elimination diet and carefully monitoring the results.

The treats that you are giving are high protein/quality. For now, I would suggest that you stop the treats but carry on with the raw diet. Chicken wings can be regarded as a meal and the weight should be subtracted from the daily allowance. You might want to consider a different brand of raw complete. Carefully weigh the food and start at the lower end i.e. 2% of body weight. Divide into two meals per day. If your dog doesn’t eat it in a 5 to 10 minutes, cover and put it back into the bottom of the refrigerator until next meal time. Monitor your dog’s weight - perhaps every two weeks. If there is any weight loss or there is no improvement in appetite then it might be best to discuss the situation with your vet again.

I can’t really add anything to the excellent advice form Coaster and Dottie but just wanted to say welcome to the forum.

I also wanted to add that I have noticed. as coaster says, the tripe elements of raw food appears to aid good digestive health. I have been feeding the raw varieties with the higher content of green tripe when the stools become too firm and they improve. This is also very popular with the dog. It stinks though!

I hope your dog isn’t off raw food for good if it suits him. Good luck with your quest.

Thank you everyone for your kind advice. Buddy actually ate his natural instinct his evening without a problem so fingers crossed it keeps going!