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Puppy Only Eats If Handfed?

My 14 week old Maltese will only eat if she is hand fed. We got her 2 weeks ago and rescued her from what we think is a puppy mill. She is healthy, weighs 43.5 oz today (9/26/15). She runs around, plays, and has lots of energy. I am soaking her puppy food until it's very soft and that's what she eats. She also won't drink. I give her liquids from a syringe.

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How do I get her to eat on her own? I'm afraid to just stop feeding her as I worry about hypoglycemia and dehydration.

I put pieces of her soft food on the table for her to eat on her own, but she won't touch it. She has no idea that eating is something that she can do on her own.

When we went to pick her up from the breeder she was squeezing honey water into her mouth from a pointed squeeze bottle. She told me that she had been feeding her cooked chicken. My vet had a fit and told me that it was a poor diet and get her on a good food, which I did.

How can I train her to eat on her own? Thanks!

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September 27, 20150 found this helpful

Your dog is used to being hand fed. She has never really had to eat on her own.

I would suggest giving her plain water by syringe so she doesn't dehydrate in the meantime. Stop hand feeding her. Put her softened food down where she can get it. Lead her over there about every hour.

Don't worry if she doesn't eat for more than 24 hours. Dogs can go that long without eating. There is no need to worry about blood sugar if she doesn't have diabetes. Humans and animals can handle occasional fasts.
Scatter food around if you need to but don't hand feed. When she gets hungry enough she'll eat.

Once she gets the hang of the food, give her a water dish as well. When you're teaching her about the water, give her a bowl of fresh water and change it twice a day. Put it near her food. To be sure she doesn't dehydrate completely, give her one or two syringes of water a day but not too much. if she doesn't get really thirsty she won't drink it.

The idea is that she has to get hungry and thirsty enough to eat and drink of her own.

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September 30, 20150 found this helpful

I agree with Abigail's statements. Also, you could play a game with some of the food to encourage pup to eat it. I would do that with my pup and he would have fun and eat it too and created more bonding time. However, I've read extensively online about giving a pup soft dog food as it will eventually cause gum/teeth problems. Use one of those vinyl finger brushes and doggie paste to clean its teeth after it eats. My pup enjoyed chewing on it too which helped to keep teeth/gums clean.

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