Many pet owners 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.
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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 two 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.
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.
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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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Has your senior dog started eating less? Tell us about it in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love Pets Adviser’s email newsletter. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll be among the first to get alerts about major pet food recalls. New subscribers also get instant access to our 40-page ebook — which has “secrets every cat and dog lover should know.” Learn more here.