Our older pets can sometimes have a reduced appetite compared to when they were younger, and this can be totally normal. For this reason, a specifically formulated Senior Diet is usually a good idea for an old friend. These diets aim to combat a senior dog’s tendency to eat less and are made from recipes that have appropriately adjusted levels of calories, vitamins and minerals.
Improving the palatability (or tastiness) of a senior dog’s meal will often encourage them to eat. If feeding dry food, mixing in wet food can help. Adding bone broth or stock (chicken, lamb, beef or fish), or even a commercial “meal topper” to the regular meal can be tried. Often, heating up the food where possible will also increase its appeal.
Nervousness, loss of confidence or dementia can be part of the problem with older dogs that don’t eat well. You can help with this by staying nearby while they eat, hand-feeding part or all of the meal or offering praise when eating.
Reduced appetite or refusing to eat can be a sign of a health issue so if this develops and continues for more than 48 hours, or if it is accompanied by other signs of being unwell (for example lethargy, vomiting or diarrhoea) then see your vet.
Dr Felicity Banks is a resident veterinarian at 4Legs.
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