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Help! My Senior Dog Needs to Gain Weight

Brown dog with a graying face

It’s uncommon for a senior dog to lose a lot of weight all of a sudden. That is particularly true if your dog appears to be very underweight (such as through ribs and vertebrae showing as well as having visible hip bones). Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate what’s wrong, and it’s the owner’s responsibility to observe symptoms if the canine is not feeling well. Read on to know about the potential causes of weight loss and learn what you can do if your senior dog needs to gain weight.

Why is My Senior Dog Losing Weight?

We must pay attention when an elderly dog loses weight abruptly. The fact that you’re getting older isn’t a good enough cause to become weak. Hence, weight loss should be examined unless you have purposely raised your dog’s exercise levels or reduced their food.

Your dog should be examined by a veterinarian, who may recommend some tests to determine the underlying cause. Blood and urine testing are the most common methods used for this purpose. The following are some of the biggest causes of weight loss in senior dogs.


Black brown and tan dog laying down in grass

When dogs are worried, they tend to lose weight. If this is the case, you’ll need to figure out why your dog isn’t gaining weight and how to assist them to manage their stress. A change in their daily schedule and too much interaction can be responsible for this trouble. Likewise, anything they see or hear outdoors, such as construction noise, can cause your dog to get stressed. Punitive training methods also cause dogs to become agitated.


portrait of a Golden retriever looking down

Your dog’s weight loss or lack of appetite can be a sign or of several ailments. If these conditions are accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting or fever, veterinary visit becomes necessary. Although every ailment that causes canines to lose weight is not life-threatening, it is preferable to get them treated as soon as possible.

Lack of Food Intake

Grey dog eating from a ceramic food bowl

Some pups are finicky eaters, especially as they grow old. If that’s the case, maintaining a healthy weight of your senior dog becomes more challenging. You can try mixing some wet food into the regular meal of your pooch to entice them.

Dental Issues

Portrait of a Terrier mix

All older dogs experience dental issues at some point. Not only do they make the mouth smell, but these problems can also make eating difficult and uncomfortable. Your senior dog may look like eating, but he/she will only nibble on the food. In multi-pet households, dental issues are difficult to detect because other dogs will be consuming the majority of the food.

What to Do if My Senior Dog Needs to Gain Weight?

Portrait of a tan dog with black accents on its face

We must get the ‘simple’ things right, just as we must with dog of any age. Routine checkups and parasite prevention are just as crucial for senior dogs as for puppies. Many owners feel that only young dogs need to be dewormed, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The following are some simple tips to help your senior dog gain weight.

Feed a Balanced Diet

Yellow Lab laying on hard wood floors next to a stainless steel food bowl.

The first step towards weight gain is a nutritious and balanced diet that helps the senior dog gain weight. Ensure that your furry friend is on a high-quality senior dog food. Dog foods need to contain the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

The first ingredient should be meat because it gives your canine friend protein. Using the feeding guide on the back of the packet, feed for the weight your dog should have. Remember that the feeding guidelines won’t work for every dog, and you may need to give more than the suggested amount.

Ensure a Healthy Digestive System

Boxer laying in tall grass

Some older dogs can have difficulties digesting their food. Hence, they can’t get all the nutrients they require and will develop deficiencies. Add some prebiotics and probiotics can aid in the digestion of your dog’s meals. It made a significant difference in my dog’s life.

Request suggestions from your veterinarian or from other older dog owners you know. Consult your veterinarian to ensure that the brand you’re contemplating is healthy for your dog.

Try Hand Feeding

Woman hand feeding a beagle

This is another technique that has helped my elderly dog to eat more food. Although there is no concrete reason why this method works, it doesn’t matter as long as it works. It is a great exercise to bond with your dog, and several trainers recommend hand-feeding a puppy. When you hand feed your dog, he/she may feel more connected to you.

Consider Homemade Dog Food

Food bowl with cubed meat, carrots, peas, and potatoes on hard wood floors

Cooking your dog’s meals gives you more control over what goes into his food. You can monitor the nutritional composition of your pup’s meal and consult a canine nutritionist for suggestions. He/she will guide you to create nutritionally balanced diets and may suggest some useful supplements.

You can find unlimited recipes for dog food on the internet. However, you should only choose the ones that are nutritious and approved by your vet.

Use Supplements

Human hand giving a jack russell terrier a dietary suppliment

If your dog is a grazer and you’re concerned that their meals aren’t providing them with all they need, there’s no harm in supplementing their diet. That might come as a liquid, powder, or pill because supplements are mixed into meals. Choose a supplement with a combination of vitamins, minerals, joint-protecting substances, and probiotics designed exclusively for senior dogs.

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