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What to Feed Older Dogs That Won’t Eat

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What to Feed Older Dogs That Won’t Eat

What to Feed Senior Dogs That Won't Eat | Innovet Pet

Being faced with an old dog not eating or a dog that exhibits indications of a loss of appetite may be a frightening situation for pet owners. Dog loss of appetite often is one of the initial indications that your dog isn’t feeling his best. However, at some point, the majority of older dogs start to consume less food. It’s a natural byproduct of aging, in which the canine’s food intake decreases as their metabolism starts slowing down.

What are the signs of a senior dog dying of old age?

As a dog gets older, they typically experience more health problems which lead to early death in many cases. Signs of an old age-related demise can often be experienced with the following symptoms:

-a decrease in appetite for food and drink that is not usually observed during other illnesses

-slowing down significantly or sudden trouble getting up from lying position; this may also include difficulty breathing due to enlarged heart)

What do you do when an old dog stops eating?

Do you have an old dog that is not eating? When dogs stop or slow down their food intake, it's important to figure out the reason why. Luckily there are many ways for people and animals alike to stay healthy in situations like this!

Many owners first think about changing what type of dish they use but some may want a more natural method. You can try feeding your pooch raw meat instead which has been found by studies done on pets with diabetes mellitus as helpful when supplementing insulin injections-something often prescribed for these cases too! If all else fails, don't worry because help is just around the corner: veterinarians offer services such as intravenous fluids along with dietary management plans if needed so talk to them today before things get worse.

How Long Can a Senior Dog Go Without Eating?

Your dog can go a few days without eating, but in an old dog that may already have health issues the sooner, he’s back to drinking and eating better.

Maintaining hydration is also very important for older dogs because their kidneys are not as efficient with purging toxins from the body when they do drink. If your pup has gone more than 24 hours without either food or water you should call your vet immediately!

How to Get Your Senior Dog to Eat

If your pup is getting too used to human treats and food, it is vital to stop feeding your pet those right away so that he isn’t disinterested in his own food. Occasionally it is a matter of making minor changes such as switching the area you usually place your pup’s food bowl in order to entice him to eat. In addition, you might try to feed him a new dog food brand to check if that does the trick.

Environmental Causes for an Old Dog Not Eating

There are 9 main environmental causes that could influence whether your old dog is eating or not. Some of these reasons range from simple to more complex issues and can be linked back to how you care for them, the diet they have been following, as well as their personality type.

  1. Any new people living in the house?
  2. Has your dog been anxious lately due to thunderstorms, fireworks, construction…
  3. New food may be upsetting his stomach
  4. Recent behavioral changes
  5. Grieving the loss of a companion
  6. A new bowl (that’s right, that can be an issue for some)
  7. Bored with the same dry kibble day after day
  8. Food is too hot/too cold
  9. Eating in a different environment

Appetite Stimulants for Senior Dogs

A dog appetite stimulant may be a valuable tool if your pet experiences a gradual or sudden appetite loss. Mirtazapine is a typically prescribed medication that stimulates a canine’s appetite. Mirtazapine’s primary purpose is as an antidepressant, yet it additionally serves an array of other conditions. As many dog owners are becoming increasingly hesitant to using prescription meds, most are turning to natural supplements for the stimulation of appetite.

A robust, healthy appetite isn’t just essential for the well-being of your dog – it also is a sure sign that your furry companion is in the best healthy possible. Nothing gives a dog owner more confidence in the health of their dog than a healthy, established, regular eating routine. Make certain to consult your veterinarian about different choices to assist in encouraging your pet to begin eating more, as well as gaining weight.

Appetite is partly controlled by your dog’s capability of harnessing key phytochemicals and antioxidants from specific food sources. This “sub-level” of nutrition is layered beneath the obvious advantages of getting sufficient proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, minerals, and additional macronutrients.

What we can’t see in our pet’s nutritional habits and routine eating schedule oftentimes has the most long-lasting effect. That is why it’s important that you ensure your furry companion is receiving the best possible nutrition, every day.

Antioxidants for Canines: What Do They Do?

There are various health benefits offered by antioxidants—apart from preserving dog food. In addition, antioxidants protect the body’s cells from damage, as well as strengthen the immune system. Each day, the body is exposed to the destructive impact of free radicals, produced as cells are damaged because of the impact of oxidation. Those free radicals aren’t stable and may cause even more cell damage if neglected.

It’s where antioxidants come into the picture. Antioxidants slow damage from free radicals, as well as prevent more cell damage. They permit the immune system to work without free radical interference. That protection is critical to prevent severe health problems from worsening or developing.

In younger animals, antioxidants offer a boost to a developing immune system before vaccination has the opportunity to work. In elderly animals, oxidative injury to cells within the organs and brain might be slowed by antioxidants, offering a healthier lifespan.

Antioxidants: Where Do They Come From?

There are two kinds of antioxidants typically used in pet foods — synthetic and natural. Natural antioxidants involve vitamins E, C, citric acid, and a few herbal sources such as rosemary. Vitamin C may be extracted from common vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, tomatoes, apples, cranberries, and more. Natural vitamin E commonly is listed as “mixed tocopherols” upon the dog food ingredient label. Citric acids are extracted from numerous citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, and oranges.

Step One: Checkup 

As you experience an elderly dog not eating, it might be a sign that there’s an underlying clinical condition. It’s particularly a fact when he loses his appetite. A checkup with the vet is not just a great idea because it might reveal an undiagnosed condition, it also is suggested because an appetite loss may lead to health complications in elderly dogs. 

One common effect of appetite loss is dehydration, which may produce more health complications if neglected. Your vet will have the ability to check their present health and perform diagnostic tests to find if an underlying condition is at fault. Ruling that out may provide peace of mind moving forward while determining what you should feed your pup. Your vet also will have the ability to provide guidance about what you should feed an older canine that might assist you in fixing your pet’s older dog not eating issue.

Step Two: Experiment

Once you’ve ruled out all underlying medical conditions such as dog diseases or cancer and gotten a bit of guidance from the vet, it is time that you attack the issue of your undereating or picky dog. There are several reasons an old dog not eating, and in some instances, there isn’t any single answer. As canines age, they might start changing longstanding habits, develop new preferences, as well as otherwise manifest the aging experience within various ways. As a pet owner, those changes in your companion might seem sudden, as well as catch you off guard.

But, it’s vital that you bear in mind that an appetite loss or picky eating behavior might simply be a manner of communicating that your pet wants you to change it a bit. Adapting to picky eating in elderly dogs requires having a bit of flexibility, and open mindset toward figuring out a solution which works while additionally sticking to the suggested dog nutrition what to feed an old dog that won't eat checklist. As such, pet owners will see that they might need to attempt a number of different approaches to accomplish an acceptable nutrition level for their older canine. The following what to feed a dog that won’t eat tips may be utilized as a basis for early experimentation; however, your particular option might require thinking outside the box.

Adjust Eating Time

Occasionally the solution is as simplistic as making small adjustments to your pet’s meal time. Experiment with offering him food somewhat later or earlier than you usually would.

Try Some Different Foods

What to feed an old dog that won’t eat? Do not be afraid to attempt various foods that you’ve fed him in the past. Occasionally a new flavor or formula may excite his palate, as well as encourage him to normally resume eating. Your older pet might simply be bored of the same ‘ol food he has consumed for years. If you change his food, choose a good source of food which uses quality ingredients, as well as meets his nutritional needs as he ages.

What Should Your Dog’s Diet Include?

It’s natural for a pet owner to attempt to keep their dog in the best condition possible through their dog nutrition. Since your pup depends on you for exercise and meals, his overall well-being and health will be greatly influenced by how you take care of them. That is why it’s important to do everything in your power to provide him the proper exercise and diet he needs.

One main component that contributes to a healthy canine is his diet. Remember that not all foods are created equally, meaning some products may be full of harmful ingredients that do more harm than good. Just like in a human body, the quality of food ingested will also have a direct impact on our dog’s health. While shopping for a food product for your dog, it’s critical to select one that has nutritious, natural, and wholesome ingredients.

By law, the AAFCO sets certain guidelines which require organizations to have outlined standards while creating their pet food. This way animals are receiving the minimum nutrient requirements they must maintain healthy body functioning. But, with that being said, specific food products for dogs might be better than other ones depending upon your specific pet.

Since it may be challenging to know precisely what components ought to be included in your pet’s diet, below we list a guide outlining a canine’s required nutritional consumption. This section will specify which ingredients ought to be added in your pet’s diet and how you should follow a dog nutritional checklist while shopping for a food product. In following this guideline, you’ll have the ability to discover the best food to assist your dog in living a healthy and long life. As you move through this section, remember that every canine is different and thereby requires various needs. The best method of ensuring you’re feeding your pup a healthy diet is by speaking to a vet.

What Should You Include in Your Senior Dog's Diet?


One of a canine’s main energy sources is through carbs. While carbohydrates ought to be mixed with protein to develop a balanced diet, it shouldn’t be a component that’s avoided. Apart from being a source of energy, carbohydrates additionally work to regulate blood pressure and may add a fiber source to aid with digestion. Carbs may be included in different forms like rice, oats, corn, and wheat.

To check which carbohydrates are including in your pet’s food, all you must do is look at the bag’s back. As a general rule of thumb, always search for whole grains or addition nutritious sources. A dog’s diet, on average, ought to include from 30 to 70% carbohydrates. That amount might vary depending upon the dog’s metabolism, activity level, size, and age.


After the carbs come protein. Protein contains amino acids that work to strengthen and restore muscles and additionally repair tissue. Those amino acids are crucial for any animal’s diet and are critical components which also aid in strengthening the immune system. As it’ll come to the protein inside your pup’s food, search for a natural source. It’s always a great idea to avoid ingredients you do not know.

Attempt to locate a common protein that’s easily identifiable like beef, chicken, fish, turkey, or eggs. As with human beings, the more natural an ingredient, the better. Canines ought to have 18 to 25 percent protein in their diet. Beware of any products containing high protein levels, for too much can actually be harmful to the body.

Oils and Fats 

Oils and fats are crucial components that must be in your pet’s diet. While an overabundance of fat never is a good thing, a small quantity actually can aid in absorbing specific vitamins. In addition, it may be utilized as a source of energy in a moderate amount. One other major advantage of adding fat to your dog’s diet is it’ll promote healthy coat and skin health.

Possible sources of fat which may be used in your pet’s food includes chicken fat, fish oil, pork fat, soybean oil, and several others. Usually, a dog ought to ingest 10 to 15 percent fat in their diets to sustain a healthy body. Be careful that your dog’s fat intake doesn’t exceed this amount, which may cause them to gain weight, as well as be vulnerable to obesity.

Minerals and Vitamins 

Essential minerals and vitamins are a vital factor that’s necessary in every diet. There’s a broad array of different minerals and vitamins which are needed to support numerous body functions. For instance, vitamin A aids in promoting a healthy coat whereas vitamin C aids in reducing inflammation. The majority of a dogs’ vitamin consumption comes from meats, vegetables, and fruits which are included in pet food. Common minerals which also should be in your pet’s food should comprise of potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, and sodium. If your pet food is labeled as “balanced diet,” it generally means those components already are included inside the mix.


Last but not least, water is an essential component that’s important for every canine’s diet. It offers countless benefits from mineral transportation to waste elimination, and even aids in cell functioning, too. Water also is critical for lubricating joints, tissues, and the spinal cord. If a dog doesn’t receive sufficient water into his day-to-day routine, he quickly can become dehydrated, and cause other unfavorable symptoms to arise.

To ensure that your pup is consuming sufficient water on a regular basis, move his water bowl into an easily accessible space that’s in a central location of your home. It also is vital to ensure that his water bowl is regularly cleaned and filled up with fresh water as frequently as needed. As a rule of thumb, dogs ought to consume 1 oz. of water for each pound of body weight. Now, that might vary if the dog is in a warm environment or has been excessively working out.

Dry vs. Wet

When it comes to dry and wet dog food, if your pup has always consumed kibble, it might be time to try to feed him some wet food. It’s possible to try to mix some wet food inside his dry food, or if he displays a liking towards this kind of food, just completely transition him to the wet food. The wet variety has the extra benefit of offering a higher moisture level than dry food, helping to prevent dehydration related to appetite loss.

Warm It Up 

Try to stir your pet’s food with a little warm water or microwave it for a couple of seconds to make it more attractive. That might assist your dog in finding some curiosity towards the source of food and excite his palate sufficiently to encourage them to start eating.

If you’ve followed these what to feed a dog that won't eat suggestion above and you’re still experiencing problems getting your older dog to eat, it might be time to take him to the veterinarian for further examination.

For more information contact Innovet Pet Products today!


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Approved by:

Dr. Sara Ochoa

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University

Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.


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The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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