This blog is sponsored by the folks at Weruva, who Salute Seniors.

Senior Dog? Picky Eater? Give Him a Menu Upgrade!

As dogs get older, they can develop food issues, which can lead to physical problems. It can also be really stressful for us if our dogs don’t want to eat. All dogs need to eat the highest quality diet you can afford—and as they get older, one that is easy on their digestive system. A dog’s appetite can decrease and his interest in food can decline as he enters his senior years. Some of this may have to do with a change in metabolism—things slow down in the body. Also, old dogs are often less active than they used to be so they aren’t burning as many calories, which would stimulate their desire to take in more fuel.

An older dog’s sense of smell and taste can change, which reduces pleasure in eating. We don’t know this for sure, but we do know that peoples’ sense of taste and smell become blunted as they age and they often lose interest in eating, which can become a health hazard. It can be a possible explanation for older dogs losing interest in food, too.

Senior dogs can also get finicky about eating. One day they decide they don’t like the food you’ve been feeding them and they refuse it. Now what do you do? I have had food aversion/disinterest/refusal problems with my dog, Maisie, who is eight (just over the “senior dog” borderline) but she suffers from Addison’s disease, which means stimulating her appetite is an ongoing challenge.

Our problem with a dog not wanting to eat

For many of us, this triggers anxiety that our dog is “going to starve” and we start to go off in the weeds to entice them to eat. First we sprinkle cheese on their food—which might work for a while, then it doesn’t. If you’re like me, you then switch to a different kind of cheese thinking the problem is Swiss versus cheddar. It isn’t!  When cheese-changing doesn’t convince them to eat their dinner, you start putting some shredded chicken in with their dog food. That works for a while, until you realize the dog is mostly trying to pick the chicken out from the rest of the food. Putting human food enticements into your dog’s bowl to get them to eat their own food takes you down a slippery slope: it doesn’t take long before all you’re feeding is a rotisserie chicken with cheese meal to your dog—and feeling relieved she is eating it. (Many people with small dogs of any age wind up doing this, too.)

The problem with this solution to your dog’s inappetance problem is that you wind up feeding an unbalanced meal that does not have the correct amount of vitamins, minerals and fats which are essential to a dog’s overall health. Older dogs have even more need of eating smaller amounts of high quality ingredients—but supplying all the essential nutrients that will keep them healthy.

Variety Packs of Weruva to the Rescue

I found a perfect solution to making sure a dog will eat the food you’ve chosen as his diet: buy variety packs of Weruva dog food and use a spoonful as a tasty addition on top of the regular meal. You can also get some cans and pouches of Weruva cat food, which has stronger flavors and odors to appeal to cats, but it can also serve as a stimulant to an older dog’s appetite. Picky Eater - Weruva As long as the basic diet is a dog food formulated for seniors or “all life stages,” then what you’re doing is increasing high quality protein by adding some of the human-grade Weruva, using different textures and flavors to make every meal a surprise. If you are concerned with weight gain, you can reduce the amount of the usual food somewhat to compensate for the added calories of the Weruva. If you have a small senior dog, he will do best by switching completely to Weruva and offering a different formula at every meal from the many dog foods they make from Baron’s Batch Variety Pack of grain-free canned dog food.

As dogs get older, their world narrows down: one of the remaining reliable pleasures is their meal time. Make every meal a celebration and surprise by stocking your pantry with some of the dozens of recipes of Weruva.

Note: If your dog has any medical condition—kidneys, Cushings, diabetes, Addison’s, seizure disorder, etc —check first with your veterinarian about adding the human-quality, high-protein ingredients in Weruva foods to his dish. 

—Tracie Hotchner

(Have a comment? Share it on Facebook.)

Weruva is a sponsor on Radio Pet Lady Network, by our invitation.