Softer dog foods
Many senior dogs suffer from dental issues that make chewing hard kibble painful. Some smaller breeds — dachshunds come to mind — often have severe tooth decay and may have had several teeth removed in their older years. That makes it hard for them to comfortably chew their food.
If you’re a lifelong kibble feeder, try soaking the food with water or a healthy store-bought or homemade bone broth that doesn’t contain salt (sodium can cause problems for elderly dogs with heart and other conditions).
If your dog still isn’t munching and you’re not sure he or she will like canned food, experiment with cooking rice, sweet potato and your dog’s favorite protein. If this softer texture gets a response, try a wet/canned product for senior dogs. It might be that all your dog is looking for is some jaw relief.
Food that is simple and easy to digest
When normally healthy dogs get upset stomachs, vets often recommend feeding them rice because it’s gentle on the digestive system.
You may have to try some home cooking for your elderly friend. Sometimes dogs will be more appetized by human food like boiled veggies, chicken breast, quinoa, carrot, apple, fish, or cottage cheese. Hamburger and rice may be a tempting option.
Try to make mealtime more flavorful and fun
It might be time to try some fruits and veggies out on your dog, if this isn’t part of their normal mealtime routine. You can throw greens and some low sugar, high fiber fruits into the blender with a little bit of water, and then pour it over dinner. Or, add some high nutrient bone broth.
You can add these extras to their normal food, or try them out on a new commercial product.
Make mealtime delicious
Everyone wants to make sure their dog is getting a balanced, healthy meal. But sometimes, getting your dog to eat anything rather than nothing takes priority. You may need to offer your dog its favorite proteins, or something special like canned pumpkin to get it to put its nose in its bowl. You know what your dog loves to eat most. See if you can lure with its favorite foods.
Or, try new-to-your-dog food. There are so many options available that you might find a new favorite meal and your dog may be curious enough about the new smells coming from its bowl to try it out.
Get some age-appropriate exercise
Senior dogs do slow down eventually and may be more reluctant to go for a little walk to the park or around the block. But appropriate length exercise may get your dog’s appetite going, so it’s worth trying. Senior dogs tend to sleep more than their younger counterparts, so they are burning fewer calories and reducing their appetite that way too.
Rule out external factors
Is your dog more stressed than usual? Have you moved recently? Did you change the household routine, add a new member to the family, get a new pet, change the dog’s food, or try to feed your dog in a different room? Sometimes old dogs can’t learn new tricks and changes to the familiar may put them off their food. If you’ve made a major change, your dog will likely adapt. Or, if the change was something you can reverse, like feeding the dog in a new room, try going back to the original space.
What else can you do to get your senior dog to eat?