Older dogs are more special than you may believe. They act differently to all kinds of things all the time. One of the massive changes you will notice is a lack of appetite. An older dog not eating but acting normal is actually common and it affects most if not all senior pets. Below we will see why this happens and what you should do when it happens. Sadly, it will happen at some point.
He Eats Less Due to Old Age
This is the most common reason on our list and the one that will affect your dog one way or another. An older dog not eating but acting normal happens due to several changes in his body. First of all, your pet is not as active as he was before. A simple walk is a marathon now. With age, his metabolism will slow down. He will have a hard time digesting the food and using it properly.
All of this means that he will have more calories in his system than before. He doesn’t have to eat because he is not hungry (simple explanation). Older dogs sleep more than younger dogs. Once again, we can see that this has a huge impact on calories. He can’t use those calories hence he will not eat.
All of this is normal and it affects humans as well. You probably know that your grandparent is less active than you are and he eats less than you. We don’t know when precisely this reason will present itself. That depends on the breed, age, health and so much more.
Here things become more complicated. Your pet is at a higher risk of a health problem due to age. A lot of health problems can cause your pet to eat less or not to eat at all. Once this happens, he will refuse to eat but he can act normally because the issue is still at an early stage or it is not severe so he will change his behavior completely.
Simple health issues that are not that dangerous are depression, cognitive dysfunction, poor sense of taste or smell, constipation, and more. There are more severe health issues here as well. These include kidney disease, cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and Addison’s Disease.
One thing we can reveal here is that older dogs who have more severe health issues will have some of the common symptoms. These include:
- Weight loss or even gain
- Excessive thirst
A dog may have all of these or not have any of these symptoms. He will act normally at first but soon after that, he will change his behavior. Regardless of which health issue he has (minor or severe) you must take him to a vet. He is sick and he needs proper treatment. We can see treatments for all these health issues and most of them are very effective. As always, the sooner you start with a treatment, the more effective it will be.
Broken Tooth or Other Dental Problems
Dental problems are very common in senior dogs. These come in all variations. A broken tooth, cavity, gingivitis and so much more can affect your pet and can prevent him from eating. The explanation is simple, as you can assume. Every single time your pet eats, he will be in massive pain. As such, he will refuse to eat. Humans react in the same way when they have a toothache.
The first thing you need to do is to take him to a vet. He can extract the tooth or he can prescribe a treatment. Either way, your pet will feel much better and he will restore his appetite.
Many dog owners are worried about the anesthesia. They believe that this type of drug is very dangerous for dogs. This was the case many years ago. Today, the anesthesia is safe and there will be no issues or complications. Countless dogs have this procedure and all of them don’t have any complications.
The reasons above are the most common and they affect most older dogs. But, there are some reasons which are common as well and can help you understand why your pet refuses to eat.
In a nutshell, all dogs refuse to eat when they are sad, depressed, anxious, when the temperature is high or when they are in pain. Dogs who don’t have physical activity will refuse to eat as well. All of these can happen as a symptom of something more severe or as a one-time problem caused by anything.
Is Your Pet Losing Weight?
Here we have an interesting and important matter to discuss. If a dog refuses to eat but his weight remains constant, this is not a very severe issue. If your pet refuses to eat and he is losing weight, this is a more severe problem.
Dogs who want to eat all the time but they are still losing weight may have health problems such as diabetes. Thyroid problems can affect weight and increase or decrease it significantly. Your pet needs help.
Another thing here is to look at the past. If your pet always enjoyed eating on a regular basis and now, he refuses to eat, you may have a more severe problem. If he always has been a picky eater and he is not eating now, the issue is probably less severe.
Don’t forget that puppies eat a lot. They eat more than adult dogs. Senior dogs eat less than adult dogs. This is something you can always use to notice when your pet refuses to eat or he eats less than before.
The Final Word
An older dog not eating but acting normal is sadly, very common. In most cases it is harmless and it is something you need to accept. But, there are situations when your pet refuses to eat because he is sick or in pain. The best thing to do is to take him to a vet and rule out all severe issues and problems.