l learned the most about feeding a new puppy from Parker, a yellow lab I raised a few years back that ended up in a pet home. When I put his food out, he’d eat a bit, but would not finish his bowl. The first couple of days I didn’t worry about it, I just thought that he was adjusting, and he’d start to eat more very soon. By day three I was concerned. He wasn’t lethargic. He’d eat a little piece of cheese. But, his regular dry food didn’t interest him very much.
My solution? I went to the pet store and got ten sample sizes of various dry dog foods. I put them out in different bowls at one end of the garage. Then I carried Parker to the other end of the garage and let him run to which ever bowl of food he liked best. Then I switched him to that food. He ate it with a bit more enthusiasm than the previous food, but he still wouldn’t finish it. It also gave him diarrhea.
Panicked, I emailed the breeder. She told me I switched his food too quickly. She was right. But, it didn’t ease my worry, so I took him to the vet. The first thing the vet did was bring out a can of wet food to see if Parker would eat it. He wolfed it right down. The vet couldn’t see anything wrong with him physically. She suggested mixing in wet food in with his dry food so that he would eat more. That bit of information cost me nearly $100.
I had a new puppy. I was inexperienced. I made some bad decisions. But, this is what I learned.
Weigh Your Puppy
When you bring him home, hop on the scale with him so that you’ll know his starting weight. If he doesn’t seem like he’s eating enough, you can check by hopping on the scale again. If he’s gaining weight, you can stop worrying!
Stick With One Food
Don’t give your puppy a taste test. That was a terrible idea. Whatever food your dog was eating with the breeder or at the shelter, stick with it. If you want to change to another brand of food, wait a month. Then, switch the food gradually over a couple of weeks. Don’t change it all at once because your dog may end up with diarrhea. 🙁 That makes everything worse.
Moving is Stressful
Your new puppy has just left his mother and his litter mates. Depending on the sensitivity of your dog, it may be a week, or a month or several months before he settles down. When Sherlock went away for service dog training for two months this summer, it took him three weeks to settle back into the routine at my house and eat normally again. He’s a sensitive fellow. So, your puppy may eat less for awhile. Unless he gets noticeably thinner, relax. Give him time to adjust to his new world.
Puppies Have Small Stomachs
Eight week old puppies need small servings of food four or five times a day. Remember, he was used to nursing all of the time with dry dog food as an option. As he gets older you can cut back on the frequency of the feedings, but for the first month, small frequent servings of food are best.
Still not eating?
Even picky, stressed out dogs will eat more food if you mix in a bit of cottage cheese.
Please, if your dog isn’t eating, is losing weight and has a change in behavior take him to the vet! There may be something else going on. But, it’s usually a matter of adjusting to a new environment. Before you know it, your puppy will settle in and you’ll forgot you ever worried about feeding him in the first place!