Same End Result, Different Causes.
Some Snow Dogs are notorious for being finicky eaters. It is important to determine the cause of the lack of appetite because there can be numerous reasons for it. Sometimes the answer is as simple as your dog just isn’t hungry but at other times this lack of appetite can be a signal that there are other causative factors in play.
Here is a step by step check list to help you determine why your dog is being a fussy eater.
Rule Out Illness Or Parasites
If your dog is not eating the first thing you must do is to take him to the Vet for complete check up to rule out illness as the reason for not eating. If you have have taken your dog to the Vet and he has ruled out specific ailments and parasites in the G.I. tract then it is safe to consider these other contributing reasons for your dog not wanting to eat.
In healthy Snow Dogs, activity levels will determine how many calories your dog needs and how enthusiastically he eats. If your dog is not eating well, check your dog’s activity level. If he is not getting vigorous daily Breed Appropriate exercise then his body may be simply telling him that less calories are needed. This is normal. But if your dog is getting lots of exercise but still turns his nose up at the food, then this is not normal and warrants some further investigation into this behaviour.
Poor Quality Ingredients
If your dog is turning up his nose at his food check the label and look for cheaply sourced meat by-products, grains, and any other Breed Inappropriate ingredients that your food may contain. Your dog may be trying to let you know that the food your are feeding is not good for him. Dogs are pretty astute about knowing instinctively what their bodies need to remain healthy. Sadly, many food manufacturers hide poor quality food stuffs from plain sight by referring to them by other names to keep you unaware and uniformed about what they are actually putting into their dog food. They may try to hide the evidence of poor quality ingredients but your dog’s senses can detect it.
Why Is My Dog Constantly Hungry?
If a food is not nutritious, Snow Dogs may under eat or over eat. Though not usually known for over eating, some Snow Dog’s body’s may be telling them to eat more because the body demands more usable nutrition than they are getting from their daily food allotment. If your dog is always hungry but looks to be heavy and over fed, check your food label and look for wheat, corn, soy, or animal by-products in the food.
Cereal Grains In The Food
When cereal grains appear in the ingredient list, especially as one of the first few ingredients listed on the food label, this is an indicator that this food is primarily comprised of grain filler. Your Snow Dog will not be getting much needed high daily protein from a food full of filler.
Poor Quality Protein
Poorly sourced animal by-product protein will not be able to supply your dog with adequate nutrition. Only good quality whole meat protein will supply the high protein needs for Snow Dogs. So if your dog is consistently turning up his nose at his food, take careful notice of the type of protein in his current food and switch to a food that uses a better quality source of Breed Appropriate protein.
Change Protein Base With The Change of Seasons
If your dog eats his food with enthusiasm for a while but then begins to turn his nose up at it, he may be telling you that the type of protein is not right for him at this time. Try switching up the protein base as the seasons change and see if that does not entice him to eat with more zeal.
Other Things To Try For a Fussy Eater
Some dogs, like people are very particular about things like the texture or size of their food. Some dogs like their food dry and crunchy while some others may prefer their food dampened with liquid. Experiment and see what your dog prefers.
If your dog likes his food softened you can try adding water or even some Chicken Soup for Dogs to his kibble to add some desirable moisture. The soup also brings the added benefit of adding a wonderful, and for the fussy underweight eater, a much need array of extra nutrition.
You can also try adding a good quality canned dog food mixed in with the dry food to entice your dog. This gives you the added benefit of changing flavours often to add interest to your dog’s diet.
Been There, Already Tried That. Now What?
So what about the dog that wants to eat but when the food is placed in front of him he is turned off after that first bite of the food? What is going on for this dog?
Wants To Eat But Won’t
There is a growing number of Snow Dog owners who are at their wits end trying to find a food that will appeal to their dog. These dogs give the signals that they are hungry and yet when presented with food, they refuse it.
These owners have changed foods countless times. They have tried wet food, dry food and everything in between. Many of these owners have also tried Raw Food Feeding only to have it be a dismal failure.
Owners of these dogs are at their wits end trying to appease their dogs. They are tired of being on the losing end of this battle of Dog Versus Food. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired from worry about their dog’s refusal to eat and the effect on their dog’s health.
These are caring owners look like they are not caring for their dogs. They have all been to the Vet countless times. Their Vet assures them that they cannot find any reason for their dog’s behaviour. Often they prescribe a ” Vet Formulation” of special food that also does not help.
And oddly enough, these “special foods” only make the problem worse. Why?
The Unique and Specialized Needs of a Breed Appropriate Diet
Those that read my articles know that I preach endlessly about the unique needs of Snow Dogs’ and their need to have adequately high Zinc levels in their Diet. Without it, there are a whole list of common breed specific medical issues that occur in this breed of dog.However, there is one more very important piece of the puzzle that we may have stumbled across as it pertains to these Picky Eaters.
When questioned about why your dog is being such a fussy eater, Vets may often respond with the generic answer that our breed is predisposed to being a picky eater. Yes but WHY??? Not all Snow Dogs are fussy to the point of being anorexic and dangerously underweight. So why are only some of these dogs being plagued by this issue?
Full Circle and Back to Zinc Deficiency
We have very good reason to believe that Snow Dogs who are severely Zinc Deficient or who carry elements of factors giving them a heavily weighted predisposition to having Zinc Deficient Syndrome ( this really is a whole syndrome not just one isolated issue), are not able to taste their food and this puts them off eating all foods!
We know that in people, one of the symptoms of severe Zinc Deficiency is that their sense of taste is altered sometimes to the point of it being non-existent. Think back to time when you had a really bad head cold and your sense of taste was altered. How did your food taste to you? Did it taste off or wrong? Did you taste it at all? One thing is for sure, this off tasting food certainly did not make your meal enjoyable. It definitely did not make eating a pleasure. You probably ate enough food to address the hunger pangs and then that was all you ate.
Well what if this was also the case for severely Zinc Deficient Snow Dogs?
Singing A Song of Food
All food has a flavour or multiple flavours. Even dog food is formulated to have a flavour. These flavours are called notes or tones. Notes or food flavours hit on certain places of the tongue and send signals to the taste buds. These signals are then sent to the brain and the brain gives you feed back in the form of taste. Human food is developed to compliment the human taste palate. Dog food is created to please and entice the canid palate.
But what if a dog does not perceive all, or any, of the ” notes” in their food? If this were the case, a food might taste very wrong, off, or even bad to him. If a dog does not taste anything when he is eating food, his brain might not be getting the signal that the substance placed in front of him is food that he can eat. His brain may not even be able to categorize this food as good, bad, or appropriate!
This would explain why these dogs ARE hungry but when presented with food after eating a small amount of food they stop eating. Additionally, there is a chance that since smell and taste are intricately intertwined, their sense of smell may also not be able to accurately identify this food substance to the brain as palatable food.
Finally we may have an answer that explains why no type of food seems to pique these dogs’ appetites. It is not the food that is the issue. It is their sense of taste and smell being affected by the Zinc Deficiency that is the problem.
What You Can Do To Help Your Dog
Understand that before your dog’s appetite can improve you have to bring up his daily Zinc levels. And since you cannot do this (yet) using foods naturally high in Zinc, at this time, you have to rely solely on adding elemental Zinc. And since every dog’s body functions differ, how Zinc behaves in their body and what form of Zinc is best utilized by your dog may vary tremendously. All you can do at this point is to try different formulations of Zinc to see which gives you the best results in your dog.
What Kind of Zinc To Try
Zinc tablets can be found in any store that sells vitamins. It is a commonly carried item. There is no special dog Zinc. Zinc is Zinc. It does the same job in both bodies.
The type of Zinc to try is either chelated, gluconate, or picolinate forms of Zinc. You can try using methionine ( as found in some many of the popular over the counter Zinc formulations) but not all dogs respond well enough to this form of Zinc. Additionally, these add-to-food Zinc preparations don’t end up effective because they end up competing in the stomach for absorption. While mild cases of Zinc Deficiency may respond to these products, severe cases most likely will not fully satisfy the higher Zinc requirement.
In severe cases you may have try one of the other Zinc formulations to see if you get a better result. For those professionals who give you the pat answer of “elemental Zinc won’t work”, I found that sometimes these dogs just did not receive that memo. Try it anyway and see if it MIGHT just work for your dog.
Avoid: Zinc sulphate and Zinc oxide. These really are truly poor forms of Zinc and are not readily absorbed by the body. Interestingly Zinc oxide is the form of Zinc most often used in cheaply made foods to give you the illusion of it being a healthy food.
How Much Zinc Do I Give?
Really, there is no cookie-cutter standard answer to this question. Everything depends on your dog’s body and its ability to absorb adequate amounts of Zinc.
The best way to approach this issue is to pick one formulation of Zinc and begin by adding 25mgs of it to your dog’s diet. To keep Zinc from competing for absorption, give the dose about 3 to 4 hours after the last larger meal ( what ever that may be for your dog who is not eating well). If your dog is barely eating then this is less of a concern because your dog really does not have a large quantity of food it his stomach at any given time. Continue this dose for two weeks.
If no improvement is seen in the dog’s appetite, then after 2 weeks increase the dose to 50mgs using the same Zinc. Try giving divided daily doses to keep from upsetting the stomach and also to help a deliver a more constant daily supply of Zinc. Watch for signs of improved appetite.
If there is still no improvement after 2 weeks, increase dosage to 75mgs, again in divided doses and watch for change.
In dogs between 35 and 50 pounds I would not increase the daily Zinc dosage to more than 100mgs. Instead, change Zinc formulations to a different one and start from the beginning by giving a 25mgs dose and then wait for 2 weeks for an improvement. If you do not see an improvement keep incrementally increasing dosage until you reach 100mgs. If no improvement is seen then try the next formulation of Zinc until you have tried them all.
In the case of large Huskies and Malamutes, expect that it will take larger doses of Zinc to adequately supply this large dog’s body with Zinc. For dogs 75 pounds and over, the daily Zinc dosage can be increased up to 150 mgs but no more. While this amount is still well under the one time toxic levels, more is not always better.
For those who may be concerned, daily one time Zinc toxicity levels are as follows:
At 250 mgs, smaller dogs will vomit.
900 mgs is considered to be a one time single lethal dose.
So as you can see we are working well under the lethal toxicity levels.
While there are no guarantees that this protocol will work for your dog, many Snow Dogs’ Zinc Deficiency issues and the accompanying symptom of anorexic eating patterns have been helped greatly by addressing all of the above mentioned issues. It certainly is worth trying them to see if they help even a small amount for your dog.
More Research Is Needed To Fully Understand
Please know that we here at Snow Dog Guru mean every word when we say, “Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.” We here do what we do because we CARE about your dog and all the other Snow Dogs.
We work tirelessly to bring you cutting edge developments and sometimes we even take it upon ourselves to delve further into areas where Allopathic Medicine, has up till now, only shrugged its shoulders and given the answer, ” I don’t know.” Sorry, that is just not a good enough answer for a worried owner or a suffering Snow Dog. While there is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer, that should not mean that the medical community should stop looking for the answers.
As many of you know, when one of my Huskies developed epilepsy at the young age of 14 months, I like many others, got the pat answer of, Breed Predisposition to a medical condition. But if epilepsy is not genetically linked then how and why is our breed disposed to these conditions? It was because of my Jhett and his condition, that I chose to delve further into this medical mystery and it is because of Jhett that I found the link between Zinc Deficiency and the host of other medical issues that commonly plague our breed of dog.
Today we bring you one more piece to this puzzle, that our Snow Dogs are not just being fussy eaters; they cannot properly taste their food due to Zinc Deficiency.
We vow to you to keep chipping away at this issue until ALL Snow Dogs are living healthier happier lives. The well being of our dogs should not be at the mercy of an Allopathic Medical Community who does understand the specialized needs of this breed of dog.
In the end I could not save my beloved Jhett, who succumbed to this condition in April 2014. He had massive cluster of 13 back to back seizures and died in my arms. He was gone in less than 30 minutes. I NEVER want this to be the experience for any of you so we here at Snow Dog Guru promise NEVER to give up trying to helping you and your dog by bringing you Breed Specific information about the health of your dog.
The Energy Of Worry
Unquestionably, the worry associated with issue of picky eating and not eating does eventually permeate all areas of your everyday existence. You begin to dread feeding time. The longer your dog does not eat, the more you worry and even panic. You watch as your dog loses weight and despite your best efforts, nothing seems to help. It is easy to fall into a habit of fear and frustration over this issue.
Please know that your dog picks up on this fearful, worried, and frustrated energy. Dogs are masters at reading energy. If they sense that you are fearful, upset or frustrated, they will respond in kind. Try to be aware of your state of mind when it comes how your dog is behaving. Remember your dog may not have any control over how he feels about food and eating. He is certainly not doing this to be difficult or to be diva. He may legitimately not be able to help himself.
Also, please remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself about this. You did not cause this problem and chances are you have tried your very best to fix this problem. Think about it … if your Vet cannot figure out the cause of this issue, how are YOU supposed to know how to fix this? You have done the best that you can for your Snow Dog.
As always, we welcome your comments and questions regarding this topic. When we share our stories we may well be helping someone who is currently struggling with their Snow Dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.