What To Feed an Older Dog That Won't Eat [Tips for Senior Appetites]

What To Feed an Older Dog That Won't Eat [Tips for Senior Appetites]
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People go crazy for puppies because they are so cute, but a senior dog is just as adorable. Caring for senior dogs is a huge but fun responsibility. As dogs get older, their appetite slowly declines, so many dog parents wonder what to feed an older dog that won't eat.


Aging affects dogs differently, and it is easy to understand why some dog owners worry when their old dog won't eat. There could be several reasons why your dog has a loss of appetite. Read on further to explore why older dogs eat less, how to address it, and more!



Why Is My Elderly Dog Not Eating?

It is normal for a dog's appetite to decrease as they get older. Their bodies begin to function a little differently due to their old age.


Here are some of the normal bodily functions that may explain why an old dog isn't eating.


  • Reduced Physical Activity: As dogs get older, their bodies do not handle constant movement as well as they did when they were younger. Since they exercise less due to old age or joint pain, their bodies require less food for energy. A senior dog should still be capable of eating, but only less than it previously did when it was younger.
  • Slowed-Down Metabolism: As dogs are aging into their senior years, it is normal for their metabolism to slow down. A dog's metabolism helps them convert food into energy. When dogs get older, their metabolic rate slows down, and they burn fewer calories, resulting in them requiring less food.


It is normal for a dog's body to go through changes as it gets older. An old dog not eating can also be caused by different factors. Here are some of the other reasons why senior dogs won't eat.



dog sniffing bowl of food



Dental Decay

As dogs get older, their teeth may slowly erode. This is more likely to occur with dogs with bad dental hygiene.


Dogs rely on their strong set of teeth to bite down and eat bones and dry dog food. If your elderly dog is not eating its food, it could be due to dental disease. Different dental issues can make it uncomfortable for your dog to eat, causing it to avoid eating altogether.



Just like people, dogs are prone to anxiety. A loss of appetite is a common symptom of nervousness in dogs, regardless of age and breed. Some older dogs do not respond well to changes in their surroundings, such as moving into a new home or having new people living in a home. You can provide your dog best CBD dog treats for anxiety.


These factors can cause a dog to eat less and experience a loss in appetite. Separation anxiety may also cause your old dog to not want to eat.


Other Health Problems

There are a wide variety of health issues that can cause a loss of appetite in old dogs. Here are some health problems that may be the cause of your old dog not eating.


  • Cardiovascular Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Intestinal worms


These are just some of the health issues older dogs may be causing them to eat less. A dog can last three to five days without food before succumbing to issues related to starving. If it has been over 24 hours since your dog ate, it is best to contact or visit your local animal hospital and seek a diagnosis from a vet.



small toy dog eating from bowl



How Much Should a Senior Dog Eat?

The best way to ensure your senior dog is eating the right portions of food is by figuring out how much it should eat. The amount of food an old dog needs depends on its breed, age, weight, and existing health issues. One thing all old dogs have in common is that they require a lower calorie intake.


Because of their slower metabolisms, senior dogs are more prone to becoming overweight if a dog owner is accidentally overfeeding them. Here are some steps to help you determine how much an old dog should eat.


  1. Determine your dog's weight. One of the best ways to determine the portion size of food an old dog needs is by figuring out how much it weighs.
  2. Select the appropriate dog food. Most older dogs have an easier time eating wet food than dry food.
  3. After deciding what kind of dog food you want for your pet, the next step requires selecting a brand that is low in calories but high in nutritional value.
  4. Most dog food brands have a feeding chart based on the weight of a dog. Use the chart to find out the amount of food your old dog needs.
  5. After finding the correct portion size, decrease the amount by about 20 percent since an old dog requires less food.


An old dog will not eat brand new food right away, so it might be best to slowly introduce your dog to a new food to see how it reacts to it. If possible, purchase the smallest quantity of new dog food to see if your dog likes it first. If your old dog enjoys the new food, you can purchase the same brand but in larger quantities.



What to Feed an Older Dog That Won't Eat

A senior dog struggling with a loss of appetite should be fed dog food with plenty of nutritional value. The list of ingredients on a specific dog food brand is just as important. It is important to remember that whatever you put inside your senior dog's body has a huge impact on its health.


It is best to avoid dog food made with ingredients that can be more harmful than beneficial. Choose a dog food with all-natural ingredients instead of artificial flavors, unknown protein sources, GMOs, and preservatives.


Select a brand of dog food that contains a certification of approval by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. This non-profit organization sets the quality standards for dog foods.


Help your dog meet its nutritional needs by selecting dog food that is rich in the following nutrients.


  • Protein: Dog foods rich in protein help provide a senior dog with essential amino acids that help it maintain its coat, nails, bones, and other body tissue in top shape. According to a study, a senior dog should be fed a protein-rich diet.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs should not make up the majority of a dog's eating habits. The most important carb a senior dog can consume is fiber.
  • Fats: Fats are a great source of energy for any old dog. Dogs cannot produce enough essential fats on their own, so they receive it from the food they consume. Omega fatty acids help keep an older dog healthy.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins contain antioxidant properties that help your dog in its old age. Common vitamins include calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
  • Dry Food vs. Wet Food: Your canine might have enjoyed dry dog food when it was younger, but it might be best to switch to wet food. Wet canned food can be easily chewed and easily digested by senior dogs.
  • Home-Cooked Meals: Dogs can consume human food. With the help of a vet or professional animal nutritionist, you can feed your dog a home-cooked meal that contains essential nutrients. Consult with your pet's veterinarian to see which human foods are safe and not safe for your dog.


Are Treats an Okay Meal For an Older Dog?

When an old dog doesn't eat due to loss of appetite, some dog owners may resort to feeding it treats only. Although dogs generally enjoy eating treats, it is best to avoid making treats its primary source of nutrients.


An old dog not eating the appropriate type of treats can have negative impacts on their health. Calorie intake is important for a senior dog, so select treats that are low in calories.


Besides offering treats formulated for senior dogs, you can also feed your senior dog common human foods like berries as a snack. Your older dog may be more enticed to eat its regular food if you provide it with a yummy treat like peanut butter.



owner holding treat for unkempt dog



How Can I Increase My Older Dog's Appetite?

If your dog refuses to eat, there are ways to help increase its appetite. Before you try ways to motivate your senior dog to eat more, it might help to visit a veterinarian to see if any underlying health problems prevent your dog from eating.


After running tests, your senior dog's vet may suggest some of the following ways to encourage your dog to eat more.


  • Appetite Stimulants: A veterinarian may prescribe appetite stimulants that can allow your senior dog to eat more. There are different FDA-approved appetite stimulants that your dog can ingest to reverse its lack of appetite.
  • Adjust Eating Habits: One way to help a dog that refuses to eat is by changing up its eating habits. This can be done by changing the time of day it eats or by getting your senior dog a new feeding bowl. Some dog owners have had luck getting their older dogs to eat more by warming up their wet food, increasing its aroma, and making them hungry.
  • Offer Exercise Before Feeding Time: The more active a dog is, the hungrier it can get. Without straining it too much, take your older dog out for a walk before the time they normally eat. There is a higher chance it will come home with a strong appetite.


Can CBD Increase My Older Dog's Appetite?

One of the most natural ways to increase appetites in older dogs is by offering them CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) works by binding to the endocannabinoid receptors in a dog's body that help regulate overall internal balance. One of the benefits of CBD for dogs is that it acts as a natural appetite stimulant.


If your dog doesn't eat the food you feed it with, you can provide different best CBD products. The best brand to offer CBD-infused products is Holistapet. We are a brand created by pet lovers with years of experience in the hemp industry. The Holistapet team noticed a lack of alternative products that cater to dog's wellness and aimed to provide a healthy option.


Here are some of the well-tolerated CBD products offered through Holistapet.


  • CBD Oil for Dogs: You can add drops of CBD oil to your senior dog's favorite food or water to stimulate its appetite.
  • CBD Treats for Dogs: Holistapet offers soft chews for older dogs with teeth problems. There are different CBD dog treats available to boost wellness in senior dogs.
  • CBD Capsules: Like the rest of Holistapet's products, these capsules are made with all-natural ingredients.



Final Thoughts - What to Feed an Older Dog That Won't Eat

Dog owners may not have an easy time figuring out what to feed an older dog that won't eat. A decreased appetite in dogs can be due to normal body functions associated with aging, or it can be due to an internal or external source. Whatever it is, there are ways to address the issue and help your older dog eat naturally again.


With premium broad-spectrum CBD for dogs, your older dog can enjoy eating again and receiving the nutritional boost from the carefully selected food you provide it with. If you want to check out CBD products, check out Holistapet!

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