Just like human beings, when dogs get older, there can be many reasons that suppress their appetite. Well, we have listened to many people complaining, “My 15 years old dog stopped eating”. It is quite common that dogs start to eat less food with their increasing age as they get less active physically. But that doesn’t mean having any food is normal. So, if your dog has stopped eating food, we are here for you.
Finding out the reason:
There is no specific reason sue to which your dog has stopped eating food. It can be any medical reason, behavioural problem, or any other possibility. Being an owner, your first responsibility is to find out the reason behind it. For that, you have to follow some easy steps discussed below.
Observe the behaviour of the dog:
At first, observe the dog’s behaviour towards food that either it is avoiding taking any kind of food or refusing to eat some specific food. Secondly, have a check on the urine and stool because it will help you a lot. If the stool and urine routine is normal, then you can allow the dog to skip a meal. But, if you feel any changes, it is good to visit a vet. Also, if you notice any other behavioural issue or health issue including lethargy, dehydration, diarrhoea, or vomiting, don’t waste any more time and rush to the vet.
Check the body and teeth of the dog:
Inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth, or any severe dental condition can cause difficulty for the dog while eating food. Hence, this can be the reason behind it so, keep a check on the dental health of your dog. Secondly, look for injuries, skin issues, lumps, or any change in fur to make sure, there is nothing wrong with the dog physically as well.
Check the food:
One of the possible reasons behind the dog’s not eating behaviour could be spoiled food. Check the expiration date on the label of the food, or smell it to make sure it is fresh and able to eat. If any of these is present, throw out the food as soon as possible.
Check the surroundings:
If the dog accidentally eats something it wasn’t supposed to, then it will have to face various consequences. One of these can be loss of appetite. Check all the areas of your house where the dog can reach to make sure that there is no medicine or chemical-related stuff present. Also, if you have shifted house, this may disturb the dog and stops eating food.
See if you are doing some mistake:
Make sure you are not offering your dog excess table scraps or treats as more than the recommended amount may suppress the dog’s appetite. Also, always provide your dog with tasty and hygienic food. If the dog is finding the food bitter or less tasteful, it will more likely skip its meal.
Possible reasons behind the issue:
As discussed, there are plenty of possibilities that can be the reason due to which my 15-years old dog stopped eating. But first, you have to know that either it has stopped eating the food entirely, or just a little of its appetite is suppressed. Well, if the dog isn’t eating anything, this is something that should be taken seriously. Whereas, if it can maintain its present weight by eating less food as compared to normal food consumption, that is quite a better condition comparatively. Let us discuss some of the common reasons for any of these issues.
Loss of sense of smell and taste:
Older dogs more likely start to lose some of their senses gradually. Well, if due to any reason, the dog has lost its sense of smell or taste, then the food will not appear flavoursome to it. Hence, it will not only consume lesser meals but can stop eating until it gets a scrumptious and mouth-watering taste.
One of the major reasons that put an older dog off the food is a dental problem. Dental issues can not only be painful but are also very problematic for the dog’s health. The dog feels pain while chewing the food hence prefers not to eat then. Well, in that case, you should switch their diet from hard to soft foods.
Disturbed digestive system:
The digestive system of older dogs doesn’t work as efficiently as puppies or adult dogs. For example, they are more likely to have constipation. Hence, they feel satiety and do not want more food. For that, provide them with a diet having sufficient probiotics and prebiotics such as a high-fibre diet, to improve their stomach health.
Low blood sugar:
If the blood sugar level of your dog is low, then there are chances that it may lose its appetite. Therefore, the dog will either start skipping meals or stop eating food. This condition is not seen commonly in younger dogs but older ones. It is recommended to treat the issue immediately as it will bring the dog’s appetite back.
Insufficient physical activity:
As the older dogs spend most of their time at home living a sedentary life, they do not burn as many calories as a young dog. Hence, their body energy requirement is quite less and they usually don’t feel hungry.
If the height of the food bowl is not adjusted properly and the dog has to bend every time it is eating, then this is not a good practice. It will cause joint problems in the dog. Just like dental issues, dogs do not consume food when they are in pain especially the older ones. Therefore, you should buy an elevated dog feeder with airtight storage.
Other medical issues:
Some of the common medical conditions due to which my 15 years old dog stopped eating food can be recent vaccination, the problem with major organs, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, parasites, tumours, problems with gums or teeth, pain, infection, depression, allergy, poisoning, upset stomach, and many more.
Another reason due to which the dog is not eating food can be separation anxiety. Now if the dog is alone at home, and it suffers from separation anxiety, it will have no interest in food. Another aspect for the reason is that the dog may feel that it is its responsibility to protect the house when it is empty. During protection, eating food may distract the dog hence, it starts eating after the owner or family come back home.
How long can a dog survive without eating food?
Every dog is different from the other so, we cannot say that which one feels less hungry. The survival rate depends on movement, temperature, health, and age. But on average, a dog can survive five days to three weeks without food.
How to feed a dog with no appetite?
There are plenty of solutions that can help you feed your old dog. Not every solution is efficient for all dogs. Hence, we are going to tell you some of the widely used solutions so that, at least one among all will help you to do so.
- It is recommended to offer home-cooked food to those who eat canned food, and vice versa.
- Do not give the food to the dog at a low temperature. Always, do it a bit warm before eating.
- The addition of liquids to the diet can help at large.
- Remove the peel of boiled vegetables for better digestion also, do a topping of lean beef or chicken breast on the dog’s food.
- Make sure you are giving a hygienic and nutritious diet to your dog, which is home-cooked food.
- Place the food near the dog where it can be easily reachable.
- Hand feed or spoon-feed the dog.
- Take your dog to a park, and then offer its favourite food.
- Take the dog on a drive and have someone to feed it little bites of the food.
- Take your dog for a little walk every day. This nit only increases the metabolism, but also it will burn calories and the dog will want to have some food to regain its energy.
- Offer your dog some food near another pet. Let the other pet eat a lot of food so that, the competitive instinct of the dog helps it in having some food.
Which steps can improve the appetite of a dog?
We have discussed the ways that will help you to feed the dog. But, mostly there is something that lacks in the diet of the dogs. Improving these things is quite simpler and also, they help in increasing the dog’s appetite. So, if you want to improve the appetite of the dog naturally, then follow the below-mentioned steps.
There can be some problem with the food that you are offering the dog regularly. Try switching the food with other options such as home-cooked food with canned food. If there is any problem with the old food, then the dog will most likely eat the new food excitedly.
Improving Quality of food:
Do not ever compromise with the quality of food to save some pennies. If you are providing your dog with cheap and low-quality food, not only it will suppress the appetite of the dog but also, it can cause various health problems. Always buy quality and hygienic food for dogs, especially the older ones as they are at the risk of getting diseases.
Likes and Dislikes of the dog:
Let your dog taste a variety of food. By observing the reactions, get to know which one food’s smell and taste does it like. Then offer it its favourite food to fulfil the nutritional needs.
Nutritional value of food:
While switching food, make sure you are not messing with the nutritional values. If you were giving the dog less fatty food before, but now after switching to a new food, you are giving it a high-fat diet then, it will cause various health problems to the dog.
Dogs love to please their owners, no matter it is older or younger. Whenever the dog takes even a little bite, praise it by saying some rewarding words. When it gets to know that eating food makes you happy, it will enjoy eating the food for sure.
Plenty of water:
Dehydration I quite common in older dogs that can cause serious health issues including kidney diseases, constipation, and improper digestion. Well, being hydrated properly will keep the dog away from such conditions and will help in improving the appetite.
Sometimes, it is not about the food, but the ingredient. The dog may not find one of the ingredients present in its food easy on the stomach. Hence, it refuses to eat the entire food. Make sure this is not the case with your dog by checking all the ingredients.
Is force-feeding a good idea?
Force-feeding the dog can cause more problems than solving the issue. Hence in our opinion, it is not a sensible idea. For example, when you are force-feeding the dog, it may get into its windpipe and that can be fatal for the dog. On the other hand, the dog will start distrusting its owner, as force will hurt its feelings. But in case you have decided to do this, we recommend you seek some help from the vet.
How to stimulate a dog’s appetite?
If the dog has stopped eating the food, you should start providing it with more and more appetizing food. But if this not works, then you may give them appetite stimulant after consulting the vet. The most widely used appetite stimulant recommended by most vets is prednisone.
When not to try feeding your dog:
In some conditions, trying to make your dog eat some food is not helpful. If the dog is facing some serious health condition issue, then forcing food into its stomach may cause multiple complexities. Some of these issues can be unconsciousness, inability to swallow, and uncontrolled vomiting.
Are you one of those people who are wondering, “What to do when my 15 years old dog stopped eating”? Well, we have discussed all the possible reasons for this issue along with their solutions. You should observe the behaviour of your old dog, and improve its appetite. But if it is beyond your understanding, visit your nearby vet without wasting any time, and provide your dog with maximum care along with hygienic food.