- Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN
Whole Prey Troubleshooting
Updated: Jul 19, 2022
Whole prey is such a great addition to a raw food diet. But when it comes the time to feed, your dog might turn its nose up to it. Pickiness surrounding whole prey can be addressed with these tips. Remember, every dog is different. What works for one dog may or may not work for you, and that's perfectly okay! Here are some tricks to help your dog to get over its whole prey strike.
Before Feeding Prep:
Ensure that the whole prey is high-quality and fresh. If the whole prey is spoiled, do not expect your dog to eat it.
Ensure they are going to be hungry. Introducing a new food shouldn't be done after a long training session with lots of treats. The dog should be hungry and ready to eat what is put in front of them.
The most common reason a dog will refuse whole prey is its new and unusual texture of the fur/feathers. They're not used to eating the pelt of an animal, so it makes sense they'd be a little hesitant.
Sharp scissors or knife
A dog who refuses whole prey (for now)
#1 Expose More Meat
The first approach is to expose more muscle meat by pulling the pelt back. Make a small incision, usually by the chest, at a pullback to reveal the meat. After exposing the meat, tear off some muscle meat and feed it to show this foreign meal is somewhat familiar. Since your dogs are used to eating muscle meat, they usually have no objections to this part.
#2 Small Pieces
The following strategy is to cut the whole prey into smaller, more manageable pieces. It's not fair to expect an unseasoned whole prey eater to confidently gulp down the furry new meal, though many dogs would.
Using your scissors or knife, cut the whole prey into smaller parts. For quail, cut off the wings, legs, and head. Then take half the body as well.
The way you present the whole prey to your dog may affect if they gobble it up or not. If your dog is usually hand-fed, throwing a whole prey on the ground and walking away may not be the best strategy. Present the whole prey meal as you would any meal. If normally hand-fed, hand-feed the whole prey too.
Some dogs need a change in texture. Try feeding the whole prey, either frozen or partially frozen, to change up to feel. Cutting the prey into smaller pieces and freezing or purchasing pre-ground whole prey can make it more enticing.
#5 Tough Love
The last strategy requires some tough love. If skinning the whole prey and cutting it down doesn't work, they do not get to eat. This may sound cruel, but skipping a meal or two will not harm the dog. Not reinforcing the pickiness will motivate the dog to accept the new food.
Some dogs are very stubborn and can go days without eating. But these stubborn little housemates eventually give in. Now Stormy eats whole prey like a champ. This step should only be done for adult dogs over the age of 1.
When saving a meal to present it again, it's essential to store it properly. Store the refused meals in a glass container and keep them in the fridge until the next meal. When the next meal comes around, go through the first and second strategies again, and if they don't work, resort to the third and fourth strategies.
With whole prey providing physical and mental enrichment, fiber, and variety, it is a beneficial addition to the bowl if you can get them to eat it. But with patience and effort, whole prey can be a welcomed food in the rotation.