Next to fetch, eating used to be your dog's favorite activity. But lately you've noticed a gradual decrease in your dog's appetite. This can be fairly normal in older dogs - their sense of taste and smell decreases and food just isn't as appetizing.
The first thing you need to do is rule out the possibility of an underlying health problem. For one thing, your dog's loss of interest in food could be a result of dental pain or ulcers. Is your dog on any medications? Sometimes a loss of appetite can be a side effect of certain drugs.
Assuming that your dog has been checked out by your veterinarian and there are no underlying issues, there are a few ways you can renew your dog's interest in his food dish.
Start by gradually adding some variety to your dog's diet. Try adding salt-free chicken or beef broth and a few lightly cooked vegetables to your dog's kibble. This should help rekindle your dog's love with mealtime. Some older dogs also like their food on the watery side. You can achieve this by adding broth to his food. But remember, if you add variety, do it slowly to avoid any digestive upset.
Another great way to increase smell and taste appeal is to warm up the food (careful to check it's not too hot). It instantly becomes more enticing (we apologize for the drool). In fact, it is recommended that food always be brought up to room temperature.
A sudden loss of appetite could, however, signal a more serious illness. Check with your vet if your dog refuses to eat for a day or more. If his appetite gradually decrease but diminishes to a dangerously low level, this may also be a sign of something more serious. If you're concerned, check with your vet.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.