I don't even like small dogs.
March 3, 2012 8:01 AM   Subscribe

After a long assault from my SO of horrible puppy pics of things with short legs, smashed faces, or freakishly long bodies, I agreed to this. Which is a 9 week old chihuahua. He joins these two as the four legged contigent of a family that also has two boy child types. So now I need to feed all of them.

Mogriss is the Chi puppy (2.25 lbs), Romero is a whippet (23 lbs), and Bella is an unknown fluff-ball (45 lbs). The older dogs, both between 3.5 and 4, eat the salmon and potato formula of 4health dry dog food. It is a good quality private label sold by Tractor Supply and manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods. For the puppy we bought Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy. I feel like everyone gets a good diet, they're all happy, no problems.

Then the puppy discovers the big dogs food, and LOVES it. If I don't physically remove and separate him from the older dogs he will attempt to eat from their bowls even if I start feeding him his own food first around the corner and out of sight of their feeding area. The whippet is slightly food guardy, so we get growls and suspicion from him. My fluffy girl just looks confused and backs off and lays down with this sad look on her face. I finally end up either putting some of their food into his bowl or having to lock him in my room so they can eat in peace.

My actual question is how detrimental would it be to the puppy to just feed them all the salmon and potato adult formula?
posted by Talia Devane to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Is there a puppy version of the salmon and potato? Puppies need more protein that adult dogs, and they also need vitamins and nutrients to aid in growth and development that might be missing from the adult food. I think they also eat more, or at least more frequently, but I could be wrong.

I have more experience with this for cats, than dogs, but kittens can technically survive on adult cat food. They don't thrive as well, though.
posted by sm1tten at 8:20 AM on March 3, 2012

It's not ideal, but people have fed worse things to their puppies. Since the concern, generally, is for the puppy to get enough protein, feed him first. Then feed your other dogs once he's already eaten. If he gets some of their food, at least he's already had his nutrients. But also, you'll need to let your dogs figure out the new pecking order with a third dog in the mix; someone's gotta be the top dog and someone's gotta be the bottom. It sounds like your whippet wants to be top dog and your mutt may be comfy at the bottom, leaving middle ground for the puppy. But they're the ones that have to sort it out. Aside from being the boss and the ultimate top dog in their lives, you don't get a whole lot of say as to what they decide their order is.

Also, you know they have bowls that are on legs that come off the ground, right? Giving your adult dogs bowls full of food that the puppy can't reach may solve this problem rather quickly.
posted by juniperesque at 8:30 AM on March 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sorry, I'm back. I'm not familiar with the 4Health brand (I worked in pet retail but we didn't sell many Diamond products as we were a specialty-ish retailer), but I know there are other salmon and potato puppy formulas out there if they don't make a puppy version that are good quality and not overly-price-y. You might also be able to supplement the adult formula. I'd actually suggest you either consult a vet or a pet board further.
posted by sm1tten at 8:32 AM on March 3, 2012

Feed the puppy separately until he's old enough for adult food. Get a $40 pressure-mount baby gate and put it in a doorway, feed them all near the gate but with the puppy on the other side. The puppy gets puppy food, the food-guarder doesn't get triggered, and the fluffball gets a full meal.

Given the weight differential and dogs' pretty weak sense of "full", you may have to make this a permanent arrangement just to keep the Chi from becoming completely spherical anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:15 AM on March 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

mix some of the adult food into the puppy food?
posted by elle.jeezy at 9:35 AM on March 3, 2012

The whippet is slightly food guardy, so we get growls and suspicion from him. My fluffy girl just looks confused and backs off and lays down with this sad look on her face.

First of all, you are anthropomorphising the puppy. Second of all, you're looking at this as a negative interaction, when it's not - the older dog is schooling the puppy and putting manners on her, which is exactly how it needs to roll in a multi-dog family. Finally, yes, baby gate + puppy = useful, but as long as there is no danger to the puppy I would be inclined to let the dogs continue to work this out on their own. As long as you are feeding the puppy appropriate food and she has access to it, it's fine - no healthy dog every starved to death in the presence of available noms.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:08 AM on March 3, 2012

I would imagine the "puppy schooling" might go on for a week, but that chihuahua is going to be the alpha in that pack. I would mix the puppy chow in with some adult food and let them work it out.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:13 PM on March 3, 2012

I know this isn't what you asked, but I have to respond to some previous comments.

By "letting the dogs work it out," you are surrendering the leadership of your pack to the dogs. Some dog owners allow small dogs like Chihuahuas to become extremely undisciplined because they fail to establish themselves as the alpha. The result is often a snappy, domineering, unpleasant little animal.

If you crate or otherwise separate your dogs during feeding time, you would be able to feed the puppy its own food, and prevent your whippet from lashing out at the puppy due to food aggression.

My two dogs are the best of friends, but the doberman/whippet mix will slash my pit bull's face open if she thinks he wants her food. Dog fights due to food aggression can result in expensive vet bills and a disrupted pack, and can be easily prevented by simply separating the animals during feeding.
posted by Seppaku at 6:36 PM on March 3, 2012

Response by poster: a snappy, domineering, unpleasant little animal.

Avoiding this is my main goal for this dog. See my title. I would have never chosen a toy breed and would probably not have adopted the whippet based on size had he not been such a calm dog when I met him at an adoption drive. He acted like a five year old but was actually only five months.

I do understand the need to allow the dogs to determine the canine pecking order but food related snapping or growling is not allowed. Dominance for the older dogs has always been rather fluid. Whoever was more energetic that day got to be top dog. And I really don't see Romero ever yielding to the puppy.

I'll continue to try and keep the groups separate it's just hard to do while herding the human children and spouse as well.
posted by Talia Devane at 9:44 PM on March 3, 2012

Puppies do not have to eat puppy food, I have a nearly 7yr old weimaraner who has eaten adult dog food (first Innova Adult before they were bought out, and now Orijen) since he was a puppy. I also recently gotten a new puppy (mini doxey) who I've put on ZiwiPeak which does not have a puppy formula. You just need to feed a little more than recommended for adults of the same weight (or check their website). Puppy formulas are pretty much mostly a marketing thing.
posted by violetk at 2:06 PM on March 4, 2012

Just separate them - food bowls should come up between meals anyway. I would feed the puppy in his crate or a separate room. If the dogs are taking more than 20 minutes to eat, you are either overfeeding them or you need to retrain them to eat, which means taking up the food bowls, even if there is food left in them, after 20 minutes (unless the dog is actually eating at the time). Food is a prime place for resource guarding and other unwanted, conflict-oriented behaviors to occur, and it's very easy to just keep the dogs separated for the 10 minutes or so that it should take them to eat (my dogs clean their bowls inside a minute). And feeding the puppy in his crate has the added benefit of helping him to love his crate.

Good for you for staying out of the pecking order. The puppy's get out of jail free card will expire one day and you would be wise to make sure that there isn't built-up resentment over things like food stealing when it does. Just separate them, this is not a battle that needs to occur at all.
posted by biscotti at 4:57 PM on March 4, 2012

Oh, and feed a puppy food or an all-life-stages food to the puppy. There is no reason he can't eat his own food, especially if you separate them for meals, as you should. My dogs all eat in the same room, but with supervision, not because they fight over food, but because the glutton will "share" the others' food if unsupervised, and they need the calories, she doesn't.
posted by biscotti at 4:59 PM on March 4, 2012

Honestly, I always advocate feeding dogs separately. My 12-year-old Corgi will shove my little rescue terrier out of the way and chow down on his food if I don't separate them. I do make sure to give the older one her food first.
posted by radioamy at 9:10 AM on March 5, 2012

« Older Help me make a bunch of fussy people happy   |   Animal breakdown? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.