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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

First of all, I apologize if this isn't in the correct sub-forum as I'm pretty new. Also I apologize this post is a little lengthy, so there's a summarized version at the bottom if you'd rather read that, hahaha.

Long version of the story: We have a 1 year, 4 month old golden retriever, Ollie. He's my first dog, although my family has had 3 dogs since I was young. Since about 10 months of age or so, he stopped eating his food like he used to. He used to devour his food in seconds and he would eat three times a day - about 4.5-5 total cups of food if I remember correctly. He was on Science Diet for large breed puppies. He was about 68 lbs at 10 months.

I'm not sure what happened at 10 months, but he pretty much stopped eating like he used to at that time. We switched him to the Science Diet adult food and he would eat that for a few days before getting tired of it and he'd stop eating as much. We read online and posted in a dog group on Facebook about it, and some ideas were suggested, all of which we've tried:
- We've tried switching his food (gradually). He's had all of the Costco flavors of dog food as well as the science diet food he started on
- We've tried adding water or an egg to his food to make it softer
- We've tried mixing wet dog food to his kibble to make it taste better (we did this for a couple weeks but he grew tired of it after a few days)
- We've tried taking his food away if he refuses to eat it. He'll always eat at least some of the next meal, but it doesn't seem to be enough.
- exercising him more so that he's hungrier (we take him on 1-2 walks and take him to the dog park each day)
- not giving him ANY treats or human food

So basically the issue we're experiencing now is that he's gradually lost a lot of weight over the past 6 months. He's now probably 58-60 lbs (my best guess), and he has definitely visibly lost a lot of weight. At 10 months he was fairly thick and we actually worried he was overweight. Now you can easily feel all of his ribs, his hips, and his spine. You can also faintly see his ribs and spine through his fur. Others at the dog park comment frequently that Ollie is very skinny. It's worrying me that he keeps losing weight!!! I have tried everything I can think of and he doesn't seem to eat as much as he should. We have spoken to three separate vets about this and they've all said that some dogs are pickier than others and/or may have morning stomach issues... but he keeps losing weight. Ollie seems to be healthy and very active, and we exercise him fairly regularly, especially since the first vet we spoke to emphasized how important exercise is with concerns like this.

Short version of the story: Our dog Ollie is 1 year, 4 months. He used to eat very well but for the last 6 months, he has become a frustrating eater. Instead of eating recommended 4-5 cups of food per day, he usually skips breakfast and eats maybe 2-2.5 cups of food for dinner. He's losing weight and is very boney and skinny currently. We've spoken to three vets over the last 6 months and they've said some dogs are picky and/or may have stomach issues in the mornings but overall he seems to be normal. He is not lethargic, he plays hard and loves exercise, but he's still not eating, and he's still losing weight.

I'm hoping someone else has had this issue and can give me some ideas. Honestly I want him to just grow out of this so I can stop stressing! I'm in grad school currently working on a doctorate and it significantly increases my stress levels when my dog won't eat throughout the day. Is this normal? Is he going to starve himself to death if I just let him free eat and only eat when he is actually hungry?

Thanks for any advice!
 

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10 months old is about the time their growth slows down and they don't need as much food every day.

2 to 2.5 cups of food a day is ALL he really needs at his age, he did a good job of self regulating and stopped eating the excess food he didn't need. 4-5 cups a day is twice the amount an adult Golden Retriever needs.

Is he actually continuing to lose weight or just gone down to about 60b lbs and stayed there? It is better for him to be lean than to be overweight, but if he is continuing to lose weight I suggest you ask your vet to run a thyroid panel, T3 and T4, to see if he needs thyroid medication. He's a little young for that, but my dog was not quite 2 when we found out he needed thyroid meds. Along with that I would have them run a full blood panel to make sure all internal organs are functioning correctly. If your vet doesn't go along with running these tests, find a new vet.
 

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Also, how are you feeding him? Do you keep food down all day long so he can go get it whenever he wants, or do you have set meal times where you measure out his food and give it to him to eat twice a day?

If you are free feeding, stop. Set meal times. Measure out a cup of food, offer it to him, give him 10-15 minutes to eat, if he leaves it pick up the food and don't put any more down until the next meal time. He should eat more readily if food is only available at specific meal times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply!

Yeah, we're thinking it's about time we take him to the vet once more to make extra sure that something isn't wrong. He has gotten a lot skinnier over the past month, which is what has caused my added stress. We tried free feeding for a couple weeks and he would eat about as much as he does now, but only in the middle of the night or late in the evening. We've been giving meals for 10-15 minutes at a time, twice a day for a few months now and he usually doesn't eat anything in the morning (sometimes he'll eat a few bites), and then he'll eat about 2 cups at night. I'm confused though because on his bag of food, it suggests 4-5 cups of food per day for his age and weight. And he just keeps getting skinnier even though he eats 2-2.5ish. :/
 

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Never go by what the bag says to feed. The manufacturer wants you to buy more, more often, and in my experience they always over state how much to feed.

Has he been dewormed in the last couple of months?
 

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I would not expect thyroid trouble to be causing him to lose weight, but rather gain weight. However, I do think he needs to be checked out. How is his stool (frequency, consistency)? Has he had any fecal tests? Blood work? It is not normal for a dog to be given access to more food than necessary and yet lose weight. I would recommend following up with your vet. Get their professional opinion of his body condition. There are standardized charts using a scale of 5, with 3 being ideal, or 9, with 5 being ideal. Most people are used to seeing overweight dogs, so it is possible that he is not actually underweight. However, if he is (I am bothered that you say you can *easily* feel his ribs and spine) and is losing rather than gaining weight, that deserves to be checked out.
 

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Our guy is 4 and eats two cups of food per day which seems to be more than enough for him. The continued weight loss should be of concern. Other posts have focused on the potential for an underlying medical issue which I would agree is important to explore with your vet. It feels odd that vets you have taken him to do not seem unduly concerned about a lack of appetite and weight loss. When behavior significantly and suddenly changes in dogs and people it is important to find the cause.
 
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