Force feeding

Force feeding brings to mind a not so great act.  I have had to resort to force feeding several times over the years of living with dogs; it was done because it had to be done.  Force feeding is feeding when a dog is not willingly eating themselves.  But when should we or should we not force the issue of eating?  Illness or injury can cause a dog to not eat; they can actually go for sometime without eating but at some point they must eat.

Several times throughout Tilley's life I had to force the issue of eating.  When she was struck with Vestibular disease she would not eat for days.  I watered down and strained baby food; then syringed it into her.  Without this nutrition she may have become weak; perhaps so weak that she would not have been able to recover.  She had a bad time when she was spayed; I had to force feed her for two days until she felt well enough to eat on her own.  Another time when she became paralyzed in her front end and could not eat, out came the syringe and I got nutrition into her. 

Sometimes a little food can be all that is needed.  Over the holidays Luke was not eating well.  On the 23rd I had to go out for the day and we had a sitter coming over to stay.  Typically if Luke does not eat breakfast I will snack him all day long.  But with the sitter coming I couldn't rely on that.  Much like administering a pill I simply opened his mouth and placed a very small piece at the back of his throat.  Closing his mouth, I wrapped my hand around his muzzle so he couldn't spit it out.   I did this several times and it was enough to spark his appetite.  It is the first time that I have done this; but I knew that if I just got a bit into him that he would eat and it worked like a charm.  But you have to know your dog.

You have to know your dog and you have to know why they are not eating.  Not eating is a huge sign; sometimes not eating is the best decision.  If a dog just doesn't want to eat one meal; it could be because they have an upset stomach and not eating is a good decision as it will typically come back out again.  I listen to my dogs, if a good eater just doesn't want to eat, I don't force the issue.  Knowing when and when not to force the issue is important.  

Many dogs stop eating at the end of their life.  This is a very tough spot to be in; knowing if you should force feed or not is tough.  Are you helping them to get over a hump of illness?  When Jessie stopped eating it was huge; I did not force.  I coaxed but did not force; there was no eating or drinking and sadly it was the end for her.  Eating was her life, the only other time she had stopped eating was when she was struck with autoimmune disease.  I did force feed her then and I know if I hadn't we surely would have lost her. 

Force feeding can mean syringe feeding or simply a little piece in the mouth like a pill.  But it must be done very carefully and slowly so that no food goes into their lungs.  Not eating is a huge sign and should never go unnoticed or taken lightly.  Knowing when to force the issue is all about what the not eating means.  Dogs can stop eating when stressed, feel sick or are unable to eat physically. 

Force feeding simply means feeding when your dog is not eating on their own.  It can be the help they need to get over a hump.