The Healthy Dog Who ‘Won’t Eat’

Frequent dog food changes, gas, & dry flaky skin. This fellow needs a consistent diet.



We adopted “Satchmo” a few months ago–he was the featured pup in the paper one day–and I’m having a heck of a time trying to get the little bugger to eat. I started him right off on Lamb & Rice, but he had the patchy red armpits, itchies, and heavy scalp flaking right away. So, I switched him to a new Nature’s Choice Hound Formula. He ate it initially, but had some nasty gas and started to refuse it completely. Then, when left at “camp” while we were away, he ate Wayne’s Chunks, which is beef-based. He was doing really well, and we’re on the beginning of our second 40-lb bag, but since last weekend, he won’t touch it. Not even with warm water. And I’ve given him a few sample bags of some food that our neighbor gave us; he’s eaten those (but with some gas again). Many thanks for any advice you wish to spare!


Dr. Nichol:

So I guess Satchmo has a discriminating palate. He also has gas and an armpit and dandruff problem. This sounds like another one for Ann Landers. But this column is called Pet Care so I suppose I’m on the hook.


You are clearly a doting dog owner and I respect that. But I want you to know that your pandering to Satchmo’s tastes shows what a good trainer he is. And I respect that too. Each time he tires of the delicate morsels that you offer him, you oblige him with more exotic fare. It’s time for you to be the trainer and for Satchmo to be the trainee.


Here is your assignment: Feed Satchmo any high priced dry food you want (cheap pet food is no good-you don’t get what you don’t pay for). But wait-if you plan a diet change do it gradually over a few days. The gut is a creature of habit. Sudden changes cause-you guessed it-gas and loose stool.


But don’t food allergies cause patchy red armpits, itchy skin, and dandruff? Maybe. Skin disease can have many causes. For diagnosis and treatment of skin disease I recommend the services of a real doctor. But what if Satch won’t eat? Ah, that’s the real problem isn’t it? You’re afraid that Satch will starve because he doesn’t prefer today’s menu selection right? Here is what I would like you to tell Satchmo. Repeat after me: “Sorry Satchmo but that mean Dr. Nichol says that this food is all you will get morning and night. If you refuse it I will not feel guilty but instead I will know that by giving only one brand of high quality dry food I am showing my love for you. If you realize that I, your loving owner, have taken charge you will finally eat when you are truly hungry-even if it takes several days”. Now take a deep breath…