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Hello fellow Setter people! 

I've got a few questions about feeding.. Our 7 month old Irish Setter Harley, has always been a pretty fuzzy eater, ever since we brought her home at 8 weeks. The first week with us she ate her food we gave her ( fed her small meals 4 times a day) and continued that until she was about 4 months, but she slowly got less and less interested in her food. She does eat, but normally only maximum 2 meals a day and it takes a lot of encouragement and it can take her ages to actually finish a bowl of food. Like today I put her breakfast out and she's been taking little nibbles of it here and there but it's taking her ages to eat, and by the time it's time for her dinner she's not hungry because she might have just finished her breakfast bowl like an hour ago.

We try not to leave it out all day but take it away for certain amounts of time and then put it back out after so long to see if she wants it then, as I've read that sometimes that gives the wrong idea that meal time is whenever she prefers and not to our schedule which is inconvenient, but with a dog that has her own mind about eating this is hard as we never know when she actually will eat. ( it is not out if we ever have to leave her alone, she only gets fed when someone is in the house. Or before walks as we know this can cause bloating etc. Just to clear that up )  

We are feeding her Pro Plan mixed with tripe and we also have James Wellbeloved soft food that we have found works to give her with her crunchy sometimes if she has no interest with the crunchy by itself or needs a little new food in her life. We have been to her normal check ups at the vet's and they are happy with the way she is growing despite the fact that she is not eating maybe as much as they would recommend and the last time we went there (about a month ago because she had some stomach issues) our vet told us that Irish Setters are known to be fuzzy eaters? Is this something anyone have any experience with, any ideas on how to get her to maybe eat a bit more is appreciated! :)

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Hi Ellie, my sister's boy (I.S.) was an incredibly fussy eater as a youngster, even had to be fed by hand to get him to eat. This carried on for a few years before he came out of it. I remember when he stayed with us while they were on holiday and it was the third day before I could get him to eat something, which was very worrying for me. He was and still is a very sensitive boy, but as I said, now eats completely normally, and much more than he used to! I think that it is just one of those things, and also down to the individual dog. I am sure that it has been mentioned on here before, so check out the search box on the forum tab. I would be more concerned if Harley wasn't eating at all, so I think you will just have to go with it and see how things progress as she develops with age. The main thing is that she is healthy and eating, albeit in a sketchy way! Sincerest regards and best wishes.

Thank you for the reply! Yes, there was a period a bit back when we went with hand feeding as that was the only option to get her to eat anything. But it's not like that can be done all the time, but if it works every now and then we do it. My parents-in-law was watching her while my fiancee and I went to visit my family aboard and the had the exact same problem as you're describing with watching your sisters dog- she didn't eat for at least the first two days. Day three they got some chicken and rice and she ate that, and then they got her to eat some of her "real food". In a situation like that we were happy for them to give her anything really as she wasn't eating for them it was a kind of stressful situation not being used to it, but of course chicken and rice is not something you want your dog to be eating every day!!! Hopefully this will of with time as well, she's just a puppy still, and as long as she is healthy and happy then we'll just go with it. Was just curious to see, and happy to hear, that Harley is not the only one. :) I've read a few other general dog forums and people have mentioned this being a problem in some other dogs but wanted to get some feedback from fellow irish setter owners !

I have two litter sisters, affectionately known as 'fatty' and 'skinny!' Fatty would eat her sister if she could. Skinny has to be fed separately and quite often hand fed! She loves her fruit and veg. I give her two meals a day, and try to include apples (no pips) , cooked meat or fish, rice (she loves) and generally in the ratio of 50%"meat, 25% carb and 25% veg. My last setter thrived for 15 years on that diet. She loves Lamlac (milk for lambs) so sometimes has this. When I cooked dinner for us humans, I do plenty of veg and rice / carb so there is enough for dogs and not extra cooking to do! Sometimes Skinny skips meals and just wont eat, but so does Fatty! I dont get too worried as the vet assures me they are within their normal weight range, and will eat what they need. Nature dictates that they have a survival instinct, and will not starve themselves!

welcome in the IS fuzzy eaters world :)) I am very familiar with the look of people when you try to hand feed , wispering, a big boy who hasnt touched food for 24h ; ) and turns his noose, very worry and  with  very sad eyes, like  if you are poisoning him, while you are offering the same boiled chicken breast that the day before he welcomed as a feast !

eventually they grow out of that, i agree, but... oberon did at 6years of age ; )

ellie: if you google in this website you will find tons of posts on this topic, i hope some are useful.. is  a matter of trial and errors (or, better, trial and trail) : nothing that works one day is guarantee to work the day after, so be patient and try to smile despite the frustration! have you tried alternating raw food with cooked meat? for us it worked . I see you are in London: we live in Fulham, maybe we are nearby? : ) all the best silvia y Oberon

ps: I woudnt leave food on offer anyway.. even with the fussy eater.. i am convinced it creates a bad habit, as you mentioned, so if i didnt success with offering and/or hand feeding etc then i removed the food anyway till the next attempt..

something else that sometimes worked, when oberon was younger,  was to take piece of foods with me and go in the nearby park. A little run and a piece of chicken, a little run and a second piece of chicken with cuddles and so on..a nice picnic in the park worked  better that a fight with a frustrated  mum over a bowl,  in the kitchen.. ; )



these posts are just the first two examples that turned out: there are many many on this topic in the ES website,,,  hope you can have some tips- or at least some confort that you are not the only isolated crazy case... yes, food IS a definitely  a setter's issue (sometimes) !! they can starve themselves even if front of some ham, i know it sounds crazy; )

They Gay suggestions are also all very good!





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