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Question
Posted by: Mel | 2004/01/22

Skinny Jack Russell

Hi

I have a Jack Russell / Foxie male dog. He really is a wonderful animal and he's a great family pet. I'm worried about him, though. He is very, very skinny. I have six dogs at home (I have a huge stand for all of them) and all of them eat Pedigree. He eats his food and all the dogs are fed according to their size. In addition to the Pedigree, I tend to spoil him with scraps here and there, mostly meat or fat from meat. I also don't know whether it's actually possible for an animal to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, if it is, he has it. We buy three tennis balls for him every week, which get chewed up in hours and then he plays with the bits of ball until he gets a new one. The problem is that he forever wants us to throw the ball for him and when we don't, he just walks around with it in his mouth. We actually have to take it away from him to make him eat. When he doesn't have a ball to play with, he's miserable and sulks and simply won't eat or move. What can I do?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hi Mel
Yes it is possible for dogs to be obsessive and your dog sounds like he is! I'm sure his thin condition is due to this hyperactive (and stressed?) behaviour. However, from experience I know it is very difficult to change this behaviour. He has an occupation which is relatively harmless and I feel if you stopped it he may start doing something less desirable - e.g. digging, destroying, escaping, hunting, fighting. If you can find something more constructive for him to do then go ahead - it's his only hope. Apart from regular walks out of your property, interesting meals, a view out and access to the house, you could get him some "smart" toys. One is called a Cong and is a rubber cone which is indestructible and can be stuffed with biltong, peanut butter, pellets etc. Another is called a Treat Ball which can be filled with biscuits or pellets which drop out every now and then - also indestructible. These are available from some vets and pet shops and are expensive as they are imported, but they are worth getting as they last. They may also encourage him to eat more.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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