Each dog that comes to Misfit Manor teaches me something new. Rosie’s role is to teach me all about how to feed a dog that has difficulty eating.
Rosie has been with me for almost two months and she has a complex set of issues surrounding eating so I have had to learn fast. Rosie often gags and chokes when she eats. I figured out pretty quickly that she needs to eat sitting up (she also has no ability to bark). She has some sort of partial paralysis/neuromuscular issue with her mouth and throat.
Rosie also has difficulty masticating her food (chewing). I feed her very small bites of food…one at a time. I don’t give her anything that would be really difficult to chew. I also push her food back on her tongue slightly so she can chew it with her back teeth.
She also gets very tired during eating. Sometimes she is just a few bites into her meal and she is exhausted….her jaw muscles just seem to stop cooperating. She will try to eat but the food just falls out the side of her mouth.
Sometimes Rosie just seems to get bored with eating and refuses to pay attention to me or the food. She will actually bury her head in her booster seat to intentionally ignore me and her dinner.
She is also INSANELY PICKY. A dish she seemingly loved for breakfast…a few hours later she spits right back at me.
I love a challenge…especially when it comes in the form of such a sweet and beautiful dog. I have pulled everything I have out of my dog mom bag of tricks. Here are some of the ways I am handling getting enough calories in Rosie every day…
- I feed her sitting up in a high chair and I hand feed her small bites of food one at a time. It’s time consuming…but it works. The gagging on food rarely happens and I can be certain just exactly what she is eating (rather than assuming she ate it but one of the other dogs actually ate it).
- I feed her 4-5 several small meals per day. Because she seems to fatigue so fast from eating the small meals seem to work better. My goal is to get at least a cup of food in her each day (not including treats).
- I add vitamins. Twice a day I crush a multi-vitamin into a spoonful of peanut butter. (I use PetMD multi-vitamins). Most days she is really enthusiastic about the peanut butter. When she is not cooperating I gently open her mouth and put the peanut butter on the roof of her mouth with my finger.
- I added Lixotinic (an iron and B12 supplement) to raise her energy and appetite. While it took a few days so see an impact from the Lixotinic it has had a very noticeable impact on her appetite.
- I break the dog mom rules. I am fairly militant about what my dogs eat. I cook their food from scratch…organic, fresh and homemade. With Rosie I have had to let that go sometimes. Rosie gets sick of food fairly quickly. There have been some days when I have cooked her three different meals before I could find something she would eat. If the only thing I can get her to eat is Macaroni & Cheese (true story)…then for that day I will concede and let her eat that.
- I warm her food up. For some reason Rosie likes her food slightly warm.
- I trick her! Rosie is always interested in what I am eating when I sit down at the kitchen table. On days when she is refusing to eat her meals. I let it go for awhile. I later pull her food out…warm it up and then sit down at my kitchen table and pretend I am eating it. She comes over to see what I have and I pretend I am giving her table scraps. What she refused to eat 1 hour ago…she is now gobbling down. I will also start giving some of her food to my other dogs if she is being difficult. That usually perks her interest in her food.
I couldn’t adore Rosie more than I do. I am learning a lot about working with a difficult eater. Rosie is very young (about 1 year old) so I am determined to work at finding the best solutions as this will be a lifelong struggle for her. If you have any dog mom magic tricks for getting difficult dogs to eat…please share!
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