Reasons Why Elderly Dogs Stop Eating


Reading Time: 12 minutes

Dogs are considered members of the family, and just like any other member of the family, they can experience health problems as they age. One common issue that old dogs face is a decrease in appetite.

This can be due to many different factors, including dental problems, arthritis, cancer, or other serious medical conditions. Suppose your old dog has stopped eating, and you can’t identify the cause. In that case, it is important to take him to the veterinarian for a thorough physical examination to determine the cause of his decreased appetite.

In the material that follows, we’ll talk about health problems that can affect your dog’s eating habits. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Do Dogs Develop Dental Problems?

Dental disease is one of the most common reasons why older dogs stop eating. This is because dogs develop dental issues in the same way that humans do.

As they age, dogs can experience tartar build-up on their teeth, eventually leading to gum disease. Gum disease is painful and can make it difficult for your dog to eat. If your dog has dental problems, he may need to have his teeth cleaned by a veterinarian or have another dental procedure done.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for keeping your dog’s teeth healthy as they age. For example, you can brush his teeth regularly at home or take them to a professional for teeth cleaning. In addition, some special dental diets and treats can help keep his teeth clean and healthy.

If you think your dog’s lack of appetite may be due to dental pain, give him wet food (because wet food is easier to chew), and be sure to talk to your vet about the best way to proceed. Then, with proper care and treatment, your dog can continue to enjoy his food (and life!) even as he gets older.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

There are many different causes of arthritis in dogs, but the most common cause is simply aging. As dog’s age, their joints and muscles begin to deteriorate, which can lead to pain and inflammation. This is why arthritis is so common in older dogs.

Other causes of arthritis include injuries, infections, and autoimmune disorders. Whatever the cause, arthritis can make it difficult for dogs to eat properly.

If your aging dog has stopped eating, it could be because he’s experiencing joint pain. When you’re hurting, you probably aren’t all that interested in eating, and when your dog is in pain, he feels the same way.

There are many different treatments for joint pain due to arthritis, and the sooner you catch it, the better. With proper treatment, your dog can enjoy a good quality of life even into his golden years.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Cancer?

You can’t, not without a medical examination. However, the first and most common symptom of cancer in dogs is a sudden change in appetite.

If an older dog stops eating or isn’t as enthusiastic about his food as he usually is, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Other symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Cancer is a serious disease, and early detection is key to treatment and recovery.

In addition to appetite changes, cancer can also cause pain. If your dog is suddenly reluctant to move or seems uncomfortable, it could be due to cancer. Pain is often the reason why old dogs go off their food; they simply don’t feel good and don’t want to eat. If you think your dog may be in pain, talk to your veterinarian about possible treatment options.

Cancer is a serious disease, but it is often treatable. With early detection and proper treatment, many dogs go on to live long and happy lives. However, if you think your dog may have cancer, don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian. They can help you determine the best course of action for your beloved pet.

What cancers are most common in dogs?

Many different types of cancer can affect dogs, but some are more common than others. The most common type of cancer in dogs is lymphoma, which starts in the lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Other common types include mast cell tumors, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and skin tumors.

While any type of cancer can be serious, some are more aggressive than others. Lymphoma, for example, is a very aggressive cancer that spreads quickly. Mast cell tumors can also be aggressive, but they are often slow-growing. Osteosarcoma is another aggressive type of cancer, but it usually only affects one bone.

Skin tumors are also common in dogs, but they are often benign (non-cancerous). However, even benign tumors can cause problems if they grow large enough to interfere with your dog’s ability to eat, drink, or breathe. Have them checked out by your local veterinarian if you notice any lumps or bumps on your dog’s skin.

What Other Diseases Could Cause Loss of Appetite?

There are other diseases that could cause a loss of appetite in old dogs. Let’s talk about some of them.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common health problem in older dogs. It occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter toxins from the blood effectively. This can lead to a build-up of toxins in the body, including ammonia, which can cause a loss of appetite.

There are various treatments available for dogs with kidney problems, depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, medication can be used to manage the disease and help the dog feel more comfortable.

In other cases, special diets may be necessary to support the kidneys and help them function properly. In severe cases, dialysis or surgery may be required.

It is important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a right treatment plan for your dog. With proper treatment, many dogs with kidney issues can enjoy a good quality of life for months or even years.

Liver Disease

Liver disease is a common ailment in dogs, especially older ones. There are many possible reasons why a dog’s liver might not be functioning properly. For example, if your elderly dog has suddenly refused his food, it could be due to problems with his liver.

Some common symptoms of liver dysfunction in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. If your dog is showing any of these signs, it’s important to take them to the vet right away. Liver issues can be fatal if left untreated, so it’s important to catch them early.

There are many different treatments for liver problems in dogs, depending on the underlying cause. If your dog has liver disease, the vet will likely recommend a special diet and/or medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Many people wonder if they can give their dog milk thistle for liver disease. Milk thistle is a herb that has been used for centuries to treat liver problems in humans and animals. The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is thought to protect the liver from damage.

The key word here is “protect.” If the liver is already damaged, milk thistle won’t fix it. Therefore, you should consider the use of milk thistle as a preventative measure – it is never a cure.

Sadly, milk thistle won’t even buy your dog time if the issue is liver cancer. A dog with liver cancer is already living under a death sentence, and the kindest thing you can do is have him put to sleep.

Heart Disease

This could be another reason why your dog has very little appetite. Unfortunately, it is one of the leading causes of death in dogs and refers to a variety of conditions that affect the heart muscle, valves, or arteries. Many of these conditions are hereditary, but they can also be caused by obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems.

Symptoms of heart problems in dogs include coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, and an increased heart rate. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

There are several treatment options available for dogs with heart trouble, but the most important thing you can do is to keep your dog’s weight under control and make sure he gets plenty of exercise. If your dog is diagnosed with heart disease, your veterinarian will work with you to create a best treatment plan for your pet.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can also be a reason for your dog’s loss of appetite. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest conditions to treat. Your vet can prescribe medication to correct the issue.

Could there be other reasons why my dog refuses food?

If your dog’s eating habits have changed, don’t assume the worst. Unfortunately, pet parents tend to do that!

Your dog may have one or more of the issues we’ve talked about, or he may have none at all. Most senior dogs tend to eat a bit less than they did when they were younger. It’s just because they need less calories.

There are other reasons why senior dogs show less interest in their dog food. These are common reasons for all dogs, not just older dogs. Here they are:

Too Many Dog Treats

It’s hard to resist those soulful brown eyes, isn’t it? If your furry friend is refusing his food, it might simply be because you’ve been stuffing him full of too many treats.

Too Much Human Food

Dogs do best on commercial dog foods. However, what humans eat may not be good for dogs, and some foods can actually make your dog sick. For more on this topic, click here.

If you’re feeding your dog things that he’s not really meant to eat, he may refuse food that is actually good for him.

Dirty Food Bowl

I’m often amazed at how infrequently people clean out their dog’s bowl. You wouldn’t want to eat off of a dirty plate, would you? And yet some people clean their toilets more often than they clean the dog bowl. It’s bad enough when feeding dry dog food, but it’s horrible if you’re using canned food!

I know dogs aren’t usually all that fussy, but some will reject disgusting food bowls, so keep them clean. Run the bowl through the dishwasher, or just get to work with some liquid soap in the sink. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, though, if you want to have your dog eating food that he actually enjoys!

So if my dog won’t eat, I shouldn’t panic?

No. If your dog won’t eat, it’s not necessarily a reason to rush him to the vet. If he’s not drinking water, that’s more serious than if the dog isn’t eating.

If your dog doesn’t want to drink water, it could be a sign that something is wrong. But, first, take your dog to the vet to rule out any medical reasons for why they might not be drinking water.

If there are no medical reasons, make sure that you’re providing your dog with fresh, clean water and that they have easy access to it. If your dog is still not drinking water, consider adding some chicken broth or low-sodium beef broth to their water to make it more appealing.

Lastly, make sure you’re not overfeeding your dog, as this can lead to them drinking less water. If you’re concerned about your dog’s lack of water intake, consult with your vet.

People Also Ask

I hope that I’ve offered some help when it comes to determining why your older dog’s appetite isn’t what it used to be. I know, though, that you might have other questions, so let’s look at some commonly asked.

Why Is My Dog Losing Weight?

If your dog is losing weight and doesn’t seem to be eating, it’s important to take them to the vet. There could be several reasons for their weight loss, including cancer, thyroid problems, kidney or liver issues, infection, or parasites.

Any of these conditions can cause a decrease in appetite and weight loss. If your dog is showing these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet so that they can rule out any medical conditions.

Once again, if your dog is refusing food, don’t automatically assume the worst. There could be a number of reasons why they’re not eating. However, if you’re concerned about your dog’s health, it’s always best to consult with your vet.

They may be able to provide you with some tips on how to get your dog eating again, or they may need to run some tests to rule out any medical conditions. Either way, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

What Can I Do About Dog Refuse?

Okay, let’s consider pronunciation first. I know that what you’re talking about here is not that your dog is “REfusing” food. Instead, you’re saying that he eats “REFuse.” In other words, poo.

First of all, don’t assume that your dog is just dirty (although that is a possibility). Sometimes, dogs eat feces because of an imbalance of probiotics in the gut. So instead, add a bit of plain yogurt to his diet. If that doesn’t get the job done, then you have a behavioral issue that you’ll need to work on.

Is Dry Kibble Better Than Soft Food for My Dog?

Dry kibble is almost always better because it works to help keep your dog’s teeth clean. It’s also okay to leave dry kibble out for your dog to eat. Wet food will deteriorate more quickly.

It’s always best to keep your dog’s routine the same, so continue to feed your older dog dry food unless you’ve perceived dental issues that could lead to loss of appetite.

If My Dog Stops Eating Completely, Should I Worry?

As your dog enters his senior years, you may notice a change in his eating habits. He may eat less overall or start skipping meals altogether. While this can be worrisome, it’s important to remember that there are many reasons why old dogs don’t want to eat.

One reason is that their metabolism slows down as they age, so they don’t need to eat as much. Another reason may be that they have trouble digesting food as efficiently as they used to, so they don’t get the same nutrients from their food. Additionally, many seniors have dental problems that make eating painful or simply lose their appetite with age.

If your senior dog stops eating, it’s important to talk to your vet to rule out any underlying health problems. However, in many cases, a change in diet or some simple accommodations can help your dog enjoy his meals again.

If your dog has stopped eating completely, that’s definitely a cause for concern. See your vet.

Can I Give My Dog a Boiled Chicken Breast?

Yes. Chicken is very good for dogs, and there’s no reason not to give your dog chicken. If you’re boiling the breast, make sure to remove all the bones. Raw chicken bones aren’t likely to cause harm, but cooked bones splinter easily and can harm your dog.

How Can I Choose the Right Veterinarian?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a veterinarian for your senior dog. First, you want to make sure that the vet has experience with senior dogs. You also want to find a vet who is comfortable discussing end-of-life care with you. Finally, you’ll want to choose a vet who is convenient for you in terms of location and hours. With these factors in mind, you should be able to find a great vet for your old dog.

Be sure to ask around before choosing a vet for your old dog, or for that matter, for younger dogs as well. Most vets care very much about the animals they treat, but if someone tells you that they’d never use a particular vet, take that under advisement.

Next, make sure to visit the animal hospital so you can see how your dog is likely to be treated. Have they welcomed you warmly and showed you around? How are they treating the animals that are already there? Do you get the impression that they love seeing people’s pets, or is it just an “assembly line” kind of thing? If it’s just “get ’em in and get ’em out,” you should probably look for another vet.

How Do I Deal With a Dog’s Loss?

The loss of a dog is always difficult, but it can be especially hard on people who have senior dogs. You’ve had that wonderful creature for a long time, and you know that a dog’s life is not usually going to be as long as yours.

If you’re having trouble coping with the loss of your best friend, here are a few things that might help.

First, try to stay busy. It’s natural to want to spend all day grieving, but keeping yourself occupied will quickly help the time pass.

Do you have hobbies that you enjoy? Sure, maybe assembling a jigsaw puzzle or crocheting a doily won’t compensate in any way for the loss of your dog, but it will divert your mind for a bit.

Second, reach out to your friends and family members. They might not be able to relate to what you’re going through, but they’ll want to help however they can. Unless they’re jerks, and you will encounter a few people who will tell you, “It was only a dog,” or “You can get another dog.”

Ignore them.

Finally, consider getting another dog. This is a big decision, and it’s not right for everyone, but if you’re lonely without your dog, another furry friend might be just what you need.


You may have other questions about aging dogs, loss of appetite, and how to deal with these issues. But, again, Google is your friend, and there are a lot of sites out there that will provide you with a wealth of information about the loss of appetite in dogs.

I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your senior pup and his decreased appetite. As a good pet parent, you know your senior dog. You probably have a pretty good handle on what to look for when your dog’s appetite changes.

Loss of appetite isn’t always a red flag, but it is something that you need to watch out for in older dogs. Simply stated, older dogs often don’t eat as much as younger dogs. Of course, that’s not always a reason for concern, but it can be.

As our dogs age, they frequently become less hungry. Sometimes that’s due to diseases or disorders. Other times, it’s just that they aren’t all that hungry because they’re using fewer calories. If your dog’s food intake is less than it used to be, you don’t necessarily have to worry. However, if he doesn’t want food anymore, you probably do have to worry.

You know your senior dog. You have loved him all his life, so if your senior dog is disinterested in food, you probably already have a pretty good handle on his behavior. In addition, you know when you need to see your dog’s vet to rule out serious medical conditions.

If your sweet girl or boy is off food entirely, I think you should see your veterinarian immediately. On the other hand, if it’s just a matter of an older dog slowing down and needing fewer calories, don’t worry. An older dog will almost always eat less than a younger dog.

So don’t obsess. Just think about the reasons why your old dog stopped eating and go from there. Your vet can help you find a solution and provide pain medications if the issue is due to discomfort from problems with the teeth, arthritis, or other issues.

Just love your dog. Get him the best care possible, and help him enjoy his senior years along with you. That’s really all you have to do.



Related Content:

5 Reasons Why Free Feeding May Not Be Right for Your Dog
Help! My Dog Won’t Eat (Video)
Your Dog is Not a Human, So Don’t Feed Him Like One!