This week my elderly dog stopped eating. I’ll admit it was frightening. I tried to tell myself that one day of appetite loss is not big deal. Just like people, dogs have their off days.
Then again, our dog is at least 13 1/2 years old. (See the important update at the bottom of this article. Our dog is now 16 and suffered a more serious bout of appetite loss a couple of years ago.)
We’re not really sure just what month he was born, because we adopted him from a shelter. But we now the very youngest he could possibly be. So we celebrate his birthday on March 1. The fact that he reached this latest milestone strikes us as miraculous, considering what he’s been through.
Loss of appetite is often a very bad sign when a dog is elderly. (Our pup has already exceeded his average lifespan by a couple of years. So we’re trying to brace ourselves for the day when he’s no longer around. This almost came sooner because of his appetite loss.)
When Senior Dogs Stop Eating
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Our dog has suffered appetite loss twice. The first time, I tried not to panic, I did some Internet research. I hoped it wasn’t serious. One good sign is that he was happy when I put his leash on. He bounded outside, happy to take his walk.
I’m not an animal healthcare authority. So I can’t give you medical advice. If you’re worried about your dog, and notice he or she develops an aversion to food, please call your vet. You’ll want to call immediately after noticing a change in eating patterns. Oftentimes, dogs and cats don’t let on how sick they are until the illness is far advanced.
As a dog Mom, with no formal medical training, all I can do is share some tips and tricks on getting old dogs to eat.
I also urge you to find a good veterinarian homeopath. These professionals have remedies to specifically address appetite loss.
Tips for When Dogs Stop Eating
- Exercise Your Dog. Gentle exercise often stimulates a dog’s appetite. I didn’t want my dog to exert himself if was sick. But it certainly didn’t seem as if he was.
- Try Offensive-Smelling Dog Food. Our dog stopped eating his pleasant-smelling grain-free kibble. This was distressing, because we bought this to help address some blood sugar issues. Even a little bacon fat dribbled on the kibble didn’t do the trick. So I found some really offensive-smelling kibble and put it in his bowl. He wolfed it down. If you think your dog would like some fishy smelling dog treats, here’s where to find them.
- Mix People Food With His Kibble. Our dog did eat his grain-free kibble when it was mixed with bits of grilled Thai-style chicken. It was mixed in so thoroughly that our dog was unable to pick out the pieces. So he just ate everything.
- Offer Your Dog Different Foods. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. The objective is to get your dog to ea something, even if it’s not a perfectly healthy meal. Going without food creates nausea, which can create a vicious cycle. You want to break this cycle before it starts.
- Homeopathic Remedies. Of course, if the problem continued, we’d have to call the vet. However, before doing that, we would have contacted our homeopath. There are specific remedies that can help with loss of appetite in animals, which can be a sign of a serious illness. Better to nip it in the bud, as homeopathy can often bring about healing, despite the fact mainstream science discounts this form of medicine.
When Old Dogs Stop Eating
Work with your vet if appetite loss continues. It could signal a more serious problem. Our dog has fortunately recovered, and his eating has returned to normal. (But this happened again. See the rest of the story below.)
A few months shy of his 14th birthday, our dog stopped eating altogether. It was safe to say he had an aversion to food. Fortunately, I was able to work with a wonderful homeopath.
She and I together came up with the right combination of homeopathic remedies. The last one chosen was a winner. Our dog’s appetite returned with a vengeance. It hasn’t gone away and he’s now 16. I don’t think he would have survived if it wasn’t for homeopathy and our wonderful homeopath. That’s why I urge all dog owners to find a good veterinarian homeopath.
You can read more about our dog’s story below, and why we’re so thankful we didn’t just put him down because we thought it “was time.”