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Why Do Old Dogs Get Bony? (And What You Can Do To Help)

As your dog begins to age, some physical changes can occur, and one of the more noticeable changes that can happen is that their bodies become much bonier than they ever were as an adult dog, but why exactly is this the case?

Why Do Old Dogs Get Bony? (And What You Can Do To Help)

Our four legged Editor-in-Chief, Honey says:

As an aging pooch, we may experience changes in our bodies that can make us appear bony or thin. This guide will help your human companion understand why this is happening and provide them with all the information on how to help us maintain a healthy weight as we grow older!

Key Takeaways - Why do old dogs get bony?

  • Boniness and loss of weight can occur in your senior dog for many reasons, including decreased appetite, muscle loss, and even underlying medical conditions
  • You can help by adjusting their diet and feeding schedule, and by providing plenty of water and appropriate exercise
  • You should be visiting the veterinarian at least twice a year, where they’ll be able to monitor your dog’s weight and check for any underlying medical issues.

Understanding Weight Loss In Senior Dogs

Why Do Old Dogs Get Bony? (And What You Can Do To Help)

When dogs begin to age, it’s common for them to lose weight, but why is this the case?

Muscle Loss

As a result of less exercise, dogs can lose significant amounts of muscle, making it appear as though they’ve lost weight.

Just like our human parents, we dogs can naturally lose some weight as we get older. This is because we may not be able to go for as many walks as we used to, which can lead us to lose some muscle mass, making us appear bony.

Bone Density Loss

As dogs age, they too can lose density in their bones, which can lead to fractures and breaks if they’re not careful.

As I get older, my bones can become less dense, which can make me more prone to injury and can also affect my weight. Combined with my reduced ability to exercise, can cause me to lose muscle mass, which makes it even harder for me to stay active and maintain a healthy weight.”

Fat Loss

As dogs grow older, they can also lose fat too, which is why you might begin to notice your precious pooch becoming bonier as they age.

Fat loss is quite common amongst us older pups, so don’t be surprised if you notice that we’ve become bonier as the years go by. We’re still excited to spend time with you, though. Woof!

Causes Of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs

There are a range of different health issues that can affect the weight of your senior pup. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with some of these issues, so you know how to spot the signs in your dog!

Reduced Metabolism

As dogs age, their metabolism slows down, making it harder for them to maintain a healthy weight.

My reduced metabolism can mean that even with my normal portions I still lose weight, so it’s important to make sure that I’m eating enough food to keep my weight at a healthy level!

Change Of Appetite

With old age, a dog’s appetite can change as a result of their loss of smell and taste, which might mean that they begin eating less food and losing weight.

As I get older, my desire for food goes down slightly, especially since it doesn’t smell or taste as nice as it used to, so my owner might need to adjust my diet!

Dental Problems

Why Do Old Dogs Get Bony? (And What You Can Do To Help)

“When we senior dogs suffer from dental issues, eating food can become painful and uncomfortable. Our human companions need to recognize the signs of dental problems, so we can enjoy our meals again, and maintain a healthy weight!

Symptoms of dental issues can include things such as red or bleeding gums, loose teeth, drooling, swollen faces, and blood in the saliva. So if you notice any of these symptoms in your pooch, alongside their weight loss, then a visit to the vet is in order. 

Underlying Medical Conditions

Sudden weight loss in dogs is also a symptom of several different medical conditions that might require some serious treatment and can be fatal if left unchecked, which is why it is so important for you to ensure that your dog receives regular checkups from their vet.

Us senior dogs can experience sudden weight loss due to health issues such as thyroid problems, liver and kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes. Our human companion needs to keep an eye on my weight and inform our registered vet of any changes!

What You Can Do To Help Your Bony Senior Dog

If your dog is getting thinner, and part of it is down to their lack of appetite, then why not try giving them some more premium food, or make their current food more appealing to them? 

“If I’m not very interested in my regular dog food anymore, my human companion could talk to our registered vet about switching me to a special food made just for senior dogs.

Or, they could try adding small amounts of yummy cooked chicken or tuna to my meals to make them more appealing. I might just start eating more and feeling better soon!

Feeding More Frequently

Feeding your dog smaller portions more frequently is a great way to help them gain back some of that lost weight.

I might like it if you feed me more often, but too much food can be harmful to my health. So, it’s better to consult with our vet first before doing so!

Ensuring Adequate Hydration

Dehydration can be a big issue for some senior dogs, so ensuring they have access to regular clean water is important. 

Drinking enough water is important for me, as it can make me feel better and give me more energy for our walks and playtime. 

When I feel good, I’m more likely to eat, which can help me gain weight. Plus, staying hydrated can also help my body absorb nutrients better, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight!

Incorporating Exercise

While they might not be as athletic as they used to be, exercise is key to helping keep up their muscle strength and tone.

If I’m not as spry as I used to be, my human companion can still help me stay healthy and happy by taking me on shorter walks, playing gently with me, or even taking me for a swim. 

These activities will help keep me active and engaged. Woof!

Regular Veterinary Checkups

With any senior dog, you should ensure that you are taking them to visit their vet at least twice a year, which will help to identify any underlying health issues before they become too serious.

I may not like visiting the vet, but if it means that I get to spend more time with my favorite human, then I’ll do anything. Woof!

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