What Do You Feed A Senior Dog With No Appetite (Why Is My Old Dog Not Eating?)

If only we could talk to our dogs, things would be a lot easier. However when something is up with your dog and they aren’t acting their usual self, it’s up to you to do the detective work.

One thing that does occur in senior dogs is a lower appetite, and sometimes just not eating at all.

Sometimes I’ll eat anything, but sometimes I’m just not hungry. Even if I could talk, I’m not sure I’d know what to tell you.

What Do You Feed A Senior Dog With No Appetite (Why Is My Old Dog Not Eating)

Loss of appetite can be worrying and it could seem like a senior dog is giving up – this could be as simple as a loss of interest, or could be more serious. When we know the signs and know our dogs’ health well, we can know when to act and when to not.

In this article we are going to address what to do when your dog seems to stop eating, and what might be worth feeding them instead. Keep reading to learn more about senior dogs and loss of appetite.

What Might Cause Loss Of Appetite?

Loss of appetite can be common in senior dogs, but there is still variation in this. Your dog might have skipped more than one meal, or might just not be eating immediately when you put their food down.

This can all occur as a result of different things, but understanding you dog’s normal behavior is important.

Changes To Diet

As I get older I need different food, but if you have changed my diet recently I might just need to get used to it.

A dog’s diet can change a lot when they get older, for a bunch of reasons, but if you have decided to switch up your dog’s diet, they might just be confused.

In this case, your dog might just be expecting something else, and encouragement can go a long way, praising them when they eat it. If you leave it long enough they will just get hungry and chow down.

Lack Of Interest

If your vet can’t identify a health issue that might be a loss of appetite, it could just be a mental thing. Yet, if your dog is not eating this can be debilitating to a senior dog if they lose weight. It could just be a matter of making your dog’s meals more enticing.

I love food that has different textures, as well as being super tasty – but I get bored easily.

Dogs generally prefer textural foods. Mixing wet and dry food can help entice a dog, or even something like warming it up a little can provide the interest they need to eat. It could simply be a case of changing their feed, should they seem uninterested.

It’s likely your dog might give a favored food that they go crazy for, whether that’s tomatoes or chicken livers, if you have changed your dogs diet it can be worthwhile to mix something they like in with their food as well, to make sure they eat.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Probably one of the biggest reasons a dog might not be eating is because they are either constipated or have diarrhea.

The best gauge of a dog’s digestion ability is in their stool, you are the one who picks this up so it’s good to keep the last stool in mind.

If it’s runny, they might have a funny tummy and don;t want to eat, which will go away. If it was particularly hard they may have a stool lined up and they may not eat until passing the stool.

To avoid these issues a high fiber diet is always the best option. High fiber diets should encourage regular bowel movements which should in turn help increase appetite and digestion generally.



Today it was really hot and I needed more water than was in my bowl. When I’m dehydrated I don’t really want to eat. Even when it isn’t hot, sometimes I just need my water changing.

Older pets have a higher risk of getting dehydrated then their younger self. Sometimes it might be hotter than you realize and your dog just needs more water to help regulate their appetite.

For one reason or another, their water might just have been sat around and the smell can actually put your dog off their food.

It might just be a case of the bowl itself carrying germs that your dog can smell but you can’t. Try changing your dog’s water or just cleaning their bowl.

Joint Issues

If your dog has joint issues, even arthritis, their old feeding system might just not be working anymore.

A raised dog bowl, and vice versa, could result in your dog actually not being able to eat without some sort of pain, and this can largely add to a loss of appetite.

Sometimes I need super easy access to my food – I know I used to be messy when I was a pup, but a raised dog bowl isn’t suitable in my mature age.

Environmental And Behavioural Factors

There can be things that stress me out that you might not realize. New people in the house, an embarrassing moment due to my seniority, even when I’m grieving, all these things can cause me to lose my appetite.

If there aren’t legit health issues that might cause your dog to lose appetite it might just be a behavioral change or environmental factor.

Maybe you have a new partner and your dog isn’t comfortable with them yet, maybe you just had a baby and your dog is jealous of attention – all these things can affect your dog’s appetite.

If they just lost a companion, human, feline, or canine, this will affect appetite, for example.

Health Issues

A change in appetite might be a sign of something more serious like a health issue that has become worse with old age, whether that’s something joint related, or just a health issue surfacing.

If your dog doesn’t eat for 24 hours or more it’s probably best to take them to the vet to check that it isn’t serious. Losing lots of weight as a result of not eating can be quite bad for an older dog.


Perhaps you already know of a health issue with your dog and they have been taking medication. This itself could cause loss of appetite, and it might be a case, with a vet’s agreement, that the medication might need to be changed.

This is also true for temporary medication such as anesthetics or pain killers that might be used if your dog has undergone surgery or some other veterinary procedure.

Final Thoughts

When i’m not eating it might be a mystery to me as well as you, it could be the sign of something serious or it might just be a me thing.

There are loads of reasons why a dog might not be eating. When your dog doesn’t eat for 24 hours you should take them to the vet to check for more serious issues.

Yet, it could be as simple as jazzing up dinner times for your dog or simply adapting to their senior needs.

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