Hey there Yorkie owners, if you’re wondering what an old dog not eating really could mean, you’re in the right place. It can be a little bit unsettling if you notice your aging pup is not eating the way it used to. This could mean that they’re not eating the same amount as they once did, they’re eating on different schedules, or they’re not eating altogether.
While there are a lot of explanations out there and it would depend on your individual situation, it’s good to know as much as you can. If your dog won’t eat, by reading this article we hope that you can pinpoint exactly what might be the cause.
What we can do for you today is outline all the possible causes we know of for a senior dog not eating. Aside from providing potential causes, we can also help you by providing potential solutions. Hopefully, your beloved pet will get back on track in no time!
Causes of Lack of Appetite in your Older Dog
The first thing we’ll do is go through a few causes for a lack of appetite in dogs, and more specifically, older dogs. If you have an old dog not eating, it could be for a different reason than if a puppy were ignoring its food. So now, let’s get into the why.
The first and most common cause of a senior dog not eating is simply the natural aging process. A decreased appetite is completely normal in older dogs, just as it can be in humans. Why is this? Well, young and strong animals require more calories for their bodies to run efficiently. That, and they get more exercise due to increased energy.
As dogs age, their systems don’t need to work as hard since their bodies don’t permit them to burn as many calories as they did back in the day. It’s natural for energy to be lesser, so it’s natural to consume less energy to make up for what is spent.
The food you buy for your dog can have an impact on how much they want to eat. Have you recently changed your pet’s diet, or are you giving them a new treat each day? If so, this might be the reason your pup is not eating as much as it once did. Even older dogs have preferences, and some foods they just might not like.
If you have not changed anything about the diet, it could be that their taste buds are getting less sensitive. This also happens with age, making food less desirable in some cases. But, it’s less likely that this is the case. If you suspect your older dog is not eating due to a health problem, read on below.
Health Factors that can Cause Lack of Appetite
This section is for those that suspect there might be a health factor affecting their dog’s appetite. While the cause is most commonly the simple aging process, it’s true that in older dogs, health risks are increased. There are some health problems that can affect appetite more than others, and below we’ll go through a few.
Health problems usually affect more than just appetite. If you read through the list below and see parallels to your own pet’s situation, the best course of action is to take them to a vet immediately. Some health factors can be greatly improved if caught early.
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A Bad Mouth
The first health problem associated with a reduced canine appetite is what veterinarians call a “bad mouth.” Badmouth is a blanket term used to describe a condition where your pet’s mouth has some problems. These problems include but are not limited to boils, infection, or broken teeth.
Any pain in the mouth area when chewing could cause your pet to resist eating to avoid discomfort, so definitely check your pup’s dental health regularly!
Gastrointestinal problems are the second health risk that might be affecting your dog’s desire to eat. Dogs can’t communicate with us in English, so sometimes these problems will be invisible while they deal with them in their own way. This is another reason it’s so important to give them regular checkups at the vet.
If your pet is feeling any pain due to an intestinal blockage, ulcer, or upset stomach, they might stop eating to “solve” the problem.
We know this is a scary thing to think about, but as a good owner, you need to be aware that a common side effect of certain cancers is a reduced appetite. Every time you take your pet in for a checkup, especially if they’re a senior age dog, your vet should be screening for all types of cancers.
Cancer is somewhat common in dogs over 10 years of age. So, if your pup is starting to turn food away, you might want to think about scheduling a checkup.
Another unfortunate potential cause for an old dog not eating could be dementia or another neurocognitive affliction. Dementia is a disease that causes the brain’s functionality to decline over time. As we know, that could cause a pet to forget that food is there, or simply not realize that they’re hungry.
If you see other symptoms of dementia in your senior dogs, such as general lethargy or confusion, have them checked for a disease of this type.
Here’s a Yorkie article you might enjoy: What is Yorkie Hypoglycemia
Low Blood Sugar
This one might be a cause, but we’re including it in the health risks section because it could also become a symptom of your pet’s lack of appetite. We need healthy levels of blood sugar to function at our best, and so do our furry friends. A drop in blood sugar accompanied by a lack of food can cause them to become incredibly lethargic.
If you see increased levels of lethargy even after you’ve noticed they stopped eating regularly, this could be the reason.
Medications that Cause Lack of Appetite
Is your dog on some type of medication right now? If none of the health conditions sound right when it comes to your pet, it could be because of certain meds. If your dog is on the older side, it’s likely that they might be using something to treat other chronic health issues.
Something to note is that a side effect of many canine medications can be a loss of appetite. There are some medication brands that cause this a little bit more than some others, and they’re as follows: antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and incontinence-based meds.
Minor Health Issues Leading to Lack of Appetite
Now, we’ve explored some larger health factors that, albeit scary, could still lead you to the answer you need. But, those conditions aren’t necessarily the cause still – it’s important to check though.
There are some minor health conditions that can indirectly influence a lack of appetite in your pet. Things like a deteriorating sense of smell and taste are common in older dogs and could affect their appetite. Otherwise, it could be something like chronic pain associated with a different condition like arthritis.
Idiopathic Lack of Appetite
The last potential cause to look out for is one that even scientists might not fully understand. When we say “idiopathic,” we’re referring to the fact that sometimes a loss of appetite really is inexplicable. Idiopathic, in this context, means unexplained.
The thing is, an idiopathic loss of appetite doesn’t need to be scary. If your pet is maintaining its everyday way of life (and normal energy level), it’s likely that you don’t have much to worry about. Even so, you should still schedule a checkup and health screening for your pet any time you notice a significant change in their habits.
Here’s a Yorkie article you might enjoy: Common Yorkie Health Problems
Treating Loss of Appetite in Older Dogs
If you’ve made it this far, you might have found a potential reason why your dog won’t eat. If you think the reason is one that we’ve described below, we can help you find out how to treat it. There are lots of home solutions if the reason is mild, so let’s take a look:
When you narrow the cause down to constipation or a benign intestinal blockage, there are a few things you can do. The first thing is to increase your pet’s fluid intake, as this can stimulate the digestive process. Fiber can help this too!
To increase the fluid intake, you can soak your pet’s dry food in water or increase the wet food ratio. Adding more fiber can be easy and done in supplements or through certain treats.
Decreased Sense of Taste or Smell
This is a hard one – the senses are bound to be a little bit muted with age, but if this is affecting their appetite overall, it’s time to implement a fix. If kibble just isn’t appealing to them anymore, you might want to supplement it with food of a more powerful scent.
Foods you can incorporate that might re-inspire their noses are bits of cheese (especially cottage cheese), peanut butter, general wet food, chicken or beef bone broth, and even scrambled eggs!
Increase Physical Activity
A simple way to encourage your dog to eat more is to take them out for more walks, or at least give them more physical activity in general. If you have a senior dog not eating, don’t push them too hard, but up the amount just a bit. With dogs, they burn calories fast, so even just an extra 15 minutes here and there of activity can increase appetite.
Again, they need to eat in order to maintain their energy, so if they’re spending more their bodies should tell them they need to eat!
Low Blood Sugar
Something to keep in mind is that low blood sugar could be both a cause and a symptom of a low appetite. Luckily, there are many solutions out there to manage a pet’s low blood sugar, but it should start with your vet.
However, even without a formal diagnosis, if you suspect low blood sugar you could try feeding them less than a spoonful of honey. If they perk up after eating it (or if they won’t eat it, try rubbing it along their gums), that was likely the cause.
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Work with your Vet to Address your Aging Dog’s Lack of Appetite
We can’t stress enough how important it is that you don’t always take matters into your own hands. Veterinarians are there so that when you sense a problem with your pet, they can solve it as quickly as possible. After all, the faster a problem like lack of appetite is solved, the better your pet’s quality of life will be. And you won’t have to worry anymore!
Overall, if your dog won’t eat normally, always take them to a vet’s office for a health screen. It’s always better to catch things early, and with older dogs, it’s even more important that you be a monitor.