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Old Dog Appetite Loss

 Submitted by Michael Adams on April 28, 2010

Similar to humans, when dogs get old, they tend to get sick more often or end up with a chronic disease. In addition to many health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and mange, to name a few, old dogs also frequently lose their appetite.

Most dogs undergo several physiological and behavioral changes after the age of 10. While the life expectancy of dogs differs, depending on the breed, any dog over the age of 10 can be regarded as old.

Old dogs prefer to sleep and eat less; you will find your dog less eager to go for walks, less excited when you come home, and less enthusiastic about a meal. While this is a normal and is part of the aging process, old dogs do require a special diet that is designed to meet his new needs. But before we discuss the key elements of an old dog diet, here are some of the reasons why your old dog has lost its appetite.

  • Dogs rely on their sense of smell a lot. As your dog ages, his sense of smell will also deteriorate. Foods that were earlier appetizing will no longer seem tasty. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why an old dog will refuse to eat.
  • Weather conditions also affect your dog’s appetite. Generally, dogs avoid eating in hot weather conditions.While younger dogs are more active and expend more energy, older dogs prefer to sleep all day. As a result, young dogs are always hungry enough to want food despite the heat; whereas your old dog may not eat if it’s too hot.
  • Another cause for dog appetite loss is lack of physical exercise. As a dog ages his levels of physical activity reduce, and this, in turn, affects his/her appetite.
Now that you know why your senior dog is not eating, here’s what you can do to help increase his/her appetite.
  • You have been feeding your dog the same food for years, and dogs, similar to humans, also get bored of their food. Perhaps, it is time to change the flavor. However, keep in mind that dogs prefer stability, so let the change be gradual. If you are giving your dog homemade food, try adding something that will enhance smell and improve flavor. Do keep in mind that humans and dogs have different nutritional requirements, so never compromise on your dog’s nutritional needs. If you are feeding your dog, commercially available dog food, try changing the brand.
  • In hot weather conditions, it is important to feed your dog in a cool place. No matter how tasty the food is, your dog will avoid eating it if it is too hot, and this holds for younger dogs as well. Also, if your dog does not eat, keep the food in fridge. Do not leave the food lying outside. Not only is this not healthy for the dogs but also an old dog will is less inclined to eat stale food.
  • Lastly, take your old dog for long walks. Not only will this keep other health problems at bay but also it will help increase your old dog’s appetite.
Remember that these are only suggestions. If your dog is not eating food, you should get him/her checked by a veterinary doctor. Loss of appetite could be indicative of a more serious health problem.
Pet Health Instructor
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