finding the right food for a fussy dog with tum/poop problems

We have a 4 year old French bulldog who has always had some difficulty with his food. For a year and a bit he was initially on Tails, then we switched to Forthglade, and then Aatu (these switches were spread over the course of 4 years). The reason for the switch each time is because he becomes less and less interested in the food, skipping eating entirely or just having a tiny nibble. With Forthglade he refused it so often he started to lose quite a bit of weight.

We’ve always given him primarily dry food, mixed with a bit of wet to make it interesting - because when he was a puppy he quickly decided dry alone was boring. We keep the dry food as chicken, and then rotate the flavours of the wet.

He’s never had particularly great poops - usually the first one of the day is fine and then any subsequent ones are very soft. He has regular health checks and the vet thinks he’s in good condition. They don’t have anything useful/new to say about his poo or his food.

I think we’re back in the same place again where he’s starting to lose interest in the Aatu, so I have tried once again to switch him to something new, this time opting for True Instinct Natures Menu. Whenever we’ve switched, I’ve always taken care to manage the transition slowly and carefully. With this transition I’ve gone extra slowly because I had tonnes of Aatu left. However, even on a ratio of 50% new: 50% old, he has become much more flatulent than usual and all his poops are extremely soft. This is after two weeks of this ratio.

He likes the new food but it doesn’t seem like it’s agreeing with him. The problem is I obviously don’t want to be jumping about from one new food to another because that won’t help him either… but if we stick with Aatu I’m also worried about him getting back into the mindset where he refuses it entirely. Because of his upset stomach, this evening I offered him a ratio of 90 old:10 new, and he rejected it. This could be because his tum isn’t quite right, but it could also be because it was mostly Aatu, which we think he’s going off.

To help him reset after an illness in the past we have given him chicken and rice - but he no longer eats the rice at all, so this isn’t particularly viable. Feeding raw isn’t an option for us because we don’t have the freezer space or the time to make it ourselves fresh. In terms of treats, he was being given too many by my partner but this was then strictly reduced, so he shouldn’t be refusing food because he’s already full up.

Would really appreciate any thoughts. I just want him to be happy and healthy. My partner is a fussy eater too, I feel like I’m the only sane one in the house. :-\

Hello and welcome to the forum. We have a thread on feeding the fussy eater here. There are other threads that may be helpful. You can find these by using the search box - the word ‘fussy’ should bring these up.

First of all it might help to give your dog a daily canine specific probiotic. YuDigest is one but there are more. A dog’s appetite is often stimulated by aroma. You seem to prefer dry food but unfortunately kibble doesn’t smell very tempting and fussy eaters are often not keen on it. Soaking it in warm water might make it more tempting as it can release aroma so is worth a try. Also be sure that you are not overfeeding. Three smaller meals a day might be helpful. You can also try putting the kibble in a toy so that he can enjoy the challenge of retrieving it.

If you have time and the facilities, enhancing dry food with something home cooked could well improve matters. I have just completed a thread with some ideas about this and it can be found here. Interest in home cooking for dogs is gradually gaining momentum and we have information in the home cooking section. However, it is time consuming and needs to be studied carefully to prevent deficiencies.

There is very little choice regarding commercial fresh cooked frozen food at the moment but if you want to know the two companies who offer this they are Butternut Box and Different Dog. Freshpet is not the same but it is on sale in some larger supermarkets.

Lastly, try not to become too stressed as dogs are very quick to pick up on this and it can make matters worse. If your dog doesn’t eat his food, pick it up after about ten minutes and put it out of the way.

Edit: It might be worthwhile checking your dog’s teeth and gums. A sore mouth can lead to poor appetite. Perhaps a routine urine test at the vets might be useful just to make sure there are no abnormalities.

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Thanks for your considered response, I’ll take a look at the thread you mention and look into probiotics.

We don’t particularly prefer kibble, but it’s what we can afford. Unfortunately we’ve tried warming it and having it in toys long ago, no joy. We also used to feed him smaller meals twice a day but found he was more likely to eat full stop if we gave him one in the evening only. We’ve got to where we are through tonnes of experimenting.

The vet checks his gums when we go for appointments and haven’t found anything, and frustratingly appointments are on hold at the moment, but I’ll bear in mind the urine test idea, thank you.

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Thank you for your reply. He’s probably only eating one meal a day because by then he is quite hungry. If you can find something that he does enjoy, two meals a day would be better for his digestion. The fact that he wouldn’t eat rice but ate the chicken seems to indicate that addition of fresh food might help. As you have a lot of Aatu in stock it would be one way of using it up. Some dogs prefer variety and this is one way of providing it. Sardines (not in brine) is often a favourite, as is chicken. Scrambled eggs are also often acceptable. It needn’t cost too much to top up and you might find that the dry food will go further because you can give a smaller amount.

If you prefer not to cook then once the Aatu is used up it might help to switch to a quality wet food. These can be found in the Dog Food Directory. With dogs who have a poor appetite it’s useful to give the best affordable product. Unfortunately wet food does tend to be more expensive than dry.

You could consider trying him with some samples of cold pressed dog food. If you are interested, take a look at
this thread because there is lots of information in there. The two UK brands that I would recommend are Gentle and Guru because they contain specific ingredients to aid digestion. You should be able to obtain samples from them. They are made by Markus Muhle who also sell their own brands. Cold pressed food is dense so the amount needed is small in comparison to kibble. This could be an advantage for dogs who have a small appetite.

Thanks for your thoughts Dottie… Forthglade is cold pressed so we’ve tried that… we’ve also tried augmenting his food with tuna, chicken, ham, corned beef and sardines. Eggs make him sick. Forthglade and Aatu are great quality products so we aren’t giving him junk.

Are samples a good idea given that transitions have to be very slow? Don’t people find it upsets their dogs’ tums?

One food you could try is pure this is a food that has been dehydrated and you make it up by mixing it up with warm water. They do smaller bags to try, not cheap but it is good and may help with his loose tummy. I do hope that you can help your dog enjoy this meals… As Dottie says cold pressed food is good as you can give it to them dry or add water and make the food in to a thick liquid. :slight_smile:


As Rebecca says, Pure might be worth looking at. They also do Veggie Mix to which you add your own meat etc.

The samples are useful just to ascertain if the dog actually likes the taste and aroma. They are usually too small in quantity to determine if the food will suit the dog. If your dog wasn’t tempted by Forthglade cold pressed food then it’s probably best to rule that out.

Did you find anything useful in the article Why is my dog a fussy eater? You have tried some good quality foods by the sound of it. Is your dog’s weight alright? Is he active and well in himself? The vet has given your dog a clean bill of health but you could consider going back and asking for a blood screen and/or urine test.

Going forward, probably dry food is not the best thing for him just now. A good quality wet food might help but choose one with a simple recipe, single protein. Perhaps it would be an advantage to look for non pate type ones because you mentioned that Forthglade wet didn’t suit him. I used the Dog Food Directory and it returned six pages with the filters wet food, clearly labelled, no red ingredients, nutritional rating 75%-100%. Some of those are pate type but the ones that aren’t may have ‘carrageenan free’ in the description. Low carbohydrate could suit your dog better. Freshpet fits much of this criteria and you can buy just one roll from the supermarket.

If you repeat the search that I did you might be able to find something suitable.

Finally, if the reason for the fussiness is intolerance then that can be addressed by a controlled elimination diet but that is a separate issue and one that takes diligence, time and effort.

Thanks guys. I’d like to give him all wet but I just can’t afford it from initial research.

His weight is ideal and he’s generally OK in himself. Sometimes he’s sick but they think this is the bracycephaly that is common to the breed.

I think he’s just generally fussy to be honest, he’s the same with some treats he’s offered. I haven’t looked at the thread yet but I will.

My dog used to be fussy and can still be choosy at times. Ive found the best priced wet food is either forthglade or natures diet. Feeding amounts are relatively low in comparison to price and to keep costs down, I mix kibble with the wet food. You don’t need much wet food and you could always portion a carton up and freeze the extra. Forthglade freezes particularly well…especially in a Kong! Fish flavours also go down well, both in kibble and wet food. The smellier the better. If you are buying big bags of kibble that last a few months, the kibble will lose its aroma and it may be contributing to your dog going off food. Also, watch portion sizes and always weigh the food. Over feeding can lead to soft poops every few days. If you do buy big bags, maybe try smaller bags and alternate flavours within the brand. Good luck sorting things out…you’ll figure it out in the end.

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Thank you Lewie0205 - it’s good to hear from someone who has experienced this problem. I’ve had dogs for a very long time but never had a fussy one - the opposite in fact because some have been greedy. Perhaps it’s because I have always kept more than one. There’s nothing like a bit of competition.