When Senior Dogs Start Eating Less

One possible solution includes splitting a meal into 2 smaller meals, which may entice your pet to eat more.

Is your dog eating less? By: chriswsn
Is your older dog eating less? By: chriswsn

Many pet parents worry that their senior dog isn’t eating enough.

This is a problem — especially if the dog has been losing weight over time. As you know, it’s important to get proper nutrition. Older pets especially need necessary nutrition, or they will begin to show signs of failing health.

Here are some things we would consider when wondering why your dog isn’t heading to the food bowl as often as in the past:

Possible Dental Problems

As in humans, older dogs have dental issues that can cause discomfort while eating. Have your veterinarian check the teeth. The dog may need extractions, and this is not uncommon for an older animal.

Don’t Miss: Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs, and What to Do

Feeding a quality canned food may solve the problem. Chicken or beef broth added to dry food will also help a senior dog chew food more readily.

Splitting a meal into 2 smaller meals may entice your pet to eat more. Elderly pets’ stomachs seem to get upset easier, so several smaller meals throughout the day may help. Food designed specifically for older canines is available — it can work wonders. Ask your vet for advice.

Watch for Problems Eliminating

Your dog may be having problems evacuating his bowels. Watch him closely on walks: If he is straining and having difficulty pooping, you’ve likely found the problem.

Don’t Miss: 9 Dog Constipation Remedies (But Just Try 1, Please)

Weight Loss = Problem

As a dog gets older, his or her level of activity decreases.

You may have noticed that your once-active buddy sleeps a lot more now. He no longer chases a ball with the voracity that he once did. Older pets don’t expend the energy that they did when they were younger, and they usually reduce their food intake to reflect that decline.

If your pet is just eating less but not losing weight, he’ll probably be fine. However, any weight loss in a senior dog is concerning because there could be an underlying medical problem. In this situation, you should definitely seek veterinary care.

Don’t Miss: Top 10 Foods That Can Harm Your Pet

Sense of Smell May Be Off

The sense of smell might also diminish as a dog ages.

Food items that once drove your pet crazy will often be passed over now. A trick that we have found to be useful is to rub a little tuna oil on the inside and edges of the food bowl.

At your pet’s next veterinary visit, ask if your dog is at a good weight. Many people worry that their senior dog is not eating enough — but the best judge of that is your veterinarian.


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At Petful®, founded by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and editor Dave Baker, we are on a mission to give our readers the best, most accurate information to help their pets live happier, healthier lives. Our team of expert writers includes veterinarians Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, and Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, among others. Petful is also the leading independent source of U.S. pet food recall information on the web. Learn more about the amazing team behind Petful here: Meet the Team.

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