Musical chairs

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

The vet says I have one-and-a-half days of Lexie refusing food before I should get concerned.

Usually, sometime around the 24-hour mark, I’m anxious. And I begin resorting to extreme measures. This only after I have exhausted my options.

Treats hidden in her food? Yup.

Sing-songy voice to make the food sound, um, yummy? You got it.

Lex moves in close, feigns a sniff, then walks away. She could care less.

In all fairness, Lexie’s food choices of late have resembled a crazed game of musical chairs.

Just a few of the dog foods we have tried in the last month. Currently we feed Lex the k/d canine for renal health by Hill’s Prescription Diet (on the bottom).

For most of her life, we fed her a name-brand, mid-grade food. Then we realized the No. 1 ingredient was some sort of corn filler. So we switched to a protein-based adult food. Then when we got her shots in the spring, the vet suggested we switch her to senior kibble, since she was about to turn 14. So we did.

Then her health began to fail. She had lost a quarter of her weight. The vet suggested wet food to stimulate weight gain. While the wet food seemed easier for Lex to eat, we quickly learned a couple things.

  • Lex hates pureed food. I think it’s because it’s hard to get a good bite, and she would end up licking and licking and licking … but never really getting a mouthful.
  • Lex likes chunky food with gravy.

So we found this great holistic chunky with gravy wet dog food … and everything was perfect. For about a week.

Just after I spent about $40 on the new holistic chow, I proudly opened a can, plopped it into her bowl and pushed it in front of her.

She sniffed, looked up at me (or was she rolling her eyes?) and walked away.

While snapping pics of Lexie eating out of my hand, somehow Charlie slipped into the frame to steal a bite. I have no memory of this.

The next day I had to run up to the vet’s office to pick up some meds relating to her kidney failure. I mentioned Lex had stopped eating, and the vet said this is common for dogs with this ailment. For some reason they fall in and out of love with their food.

She suggested a food that might be better for Lex in the long run, a prescription diet for dogs with kidney failure.

The first day, I put an entire can in her bowl and chopped it up with a fork. This was not a chunky dog food with gravy. I backed away, and waited for Lex to inspect her bowl. Then something magical happened.

I found out Lex also liked gelatinous, firm, tasteless dog food made primarily of egg whites and liver pate. Yes. The breakfast of champions.

So the love affair lasted a few days. When she would push the food against the sides of the bowl, I would use a fork to “fluff” the food to make it easier to bite. This continued until I bought a case of cans. I filled her bowl and waited for the feasting to begin.

Lex walked up, feigned a sniff, then walked away.

This went on for 24 hours.

I was incredulous. But she loved this nasty food! Seriously!! I nudged her back to the bowl, and coaxed her to give it another go. She pushed past my hands. I had to find a way to get her to eat. On top of it all, I couldn’t administer her meds without food.

Out of desperation, I reached into the soft pile and grabbed a small piece of food. I held it under Lexie’s nose. She sniffed it, then pulled it into her mouth. I grabbed a bigger handful of food, and held it up to her. This continued, my fingers completely covered in a gelatinous mess, until she ate about two-thirds of a can.

This was a victory.

Today she ate about a third of a can for breakfast, then another half a can for dinner. The food guidelines say a dog her weight should eat at least two cans of food a day. It’s not perfect, but at least she’s still eating. And today, it was without assistance.

Blurry Charlie, with frosting.

Tonight we celebrated with a cupcake/pupcake party.

Lexie didn’t need any help with this treat.

Sitting pretty: Lex has her appetite back. Pupcake please? (Photo by Matt Greenberg)

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7 thoughts on “Musical chairs

  1. I’ve read that this is a great way to bond with your dog, and I’m so glad she ate for you. I hand-feed Linus now and then if he’s not seeming interested in his food. Also I don’t know if this is helpful, but Pedigree = McDonald’s for dogs. That stuff even makes ME hungry. Not the best nutritional value, but I’ve heard most dogs lovelove it and maybe you could supplement with vitamins.

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