Skip to Content

Help! My Senior Dog Won’t Eat

Jack Russell Terrier laying next to a food bowl on hardwood floors refusing to eat.

Do you have an elderly dog who refuses to eat? Although it’s normal for senior dogs to lose their appetite, it’s critical to discover why dogs reduce their food consumption. Keep reading to know the reasons because of which your senior dog won’t eat and learn how to counter them.

Why is My Senior Dog Not Eating?

Your 15-year-old dog may quit eating for a variety of reasons. Before you do anything, try to determine whether they have stopped eating or have a diminished appetite. That is less concerning if your dog isn’t eating as much as it used to but is still maintaining its weight and health. However, if they refuse to eat, this is a more significant issue.

Dogs’ appetites change as they become older, much like ours. However, you should keep an eye on them to see if they’re becoming pickier or have lost interest in eating altogether. Here are some possible causes for your senior dog’s lack of appetite.


Jack Russell Terrier outdoors wearing a  camouflage vest and trying to poop.

It is necessary to check the hydration status of your furry friend. Dehydration can lead to unrest and loss of appetite. Due to a lack of water, they get constipation. In this way, a dog becomes unable to eat anything.

Loss of Smell and Taste

In old age, the dog may lose a sense of smell and taste, which may be the cause of why is the senior dog not eating anything. These no longer have a sense of smell or taste. Food does not appeal.

Pain in Joints

Black Labrador Retriever with a grey face laying on a dog bed in a livingroom setting

Their food bowls may be at an inconvenient height, and they are difficult to reach. Look for an elevated dog feeder with sealed food storage if they can’t bend down anymore.

Lack of Exercise

Good metabolism needs regular exercise. But when the senior dogs do not feel like it and don’t get as much exercise as they used to, they lessen the diet. That can also be the reason for your senior dog’s weight loss. A sedentary body requires fewer calories.

Oral Problems

Person's fingers holding open a dogs lips to reveal bad dog teeth

Allergies or dental issues can make it difficult for your senior dog to eat. This is because chewing triggers pain or discomfort. Hence, your pooch avoids eating any food.

Poor Digestion

In old age, the digestive system may not work as it used to do. That can cause your senior dog’s weight loss that the digestive system is no longer functioning appropriately.

Slower Metabolism

Senior dog laying outdoors in grass, smiling.

Older dogs have less energy than younger canines and they are less active around the house, garden, and park. They also have slower metabolisms and will require fewer calories to stay alive. As a result, they are less hungry.

Their decreased appetite is a natural response to this alteration in their bodies. Therefore, it’s nothing to worry about as long as your senior dog is not showing a significant weight loss.

Medical Condition

They suffer from an illness such as heart disease, renal disease, Addison’s disease, or cancer. Other systems may be shutting down, making eating, drinking, peeing, and other activities more difficult.

Emotional Response

Senior woman with white hair hugging a beagle.

Old dogs, like older people, might be a bit set in their ways. Change does not always make them happy. Shifting houses, bringing new people or dogs into the home, trying meals, or changing your routine are can all cause your dog to go off their food.

Low Level of Sugar

If your dog’s blood sugar is low, he or she is likely to lose appetite. That leads their levels to plummet even low, making them even less likely to eat. You’ll have a big problem before you realize it.

What to Do if My Senior Dog Won’t Eat?

Jack Russell Terrier with head laying on table next to full food bowl.

The following are some ways to make your older pooch eat (and stay healthy).

Make the Food Appealing

Senior dogs’ senses aren’t always as acute as they once were. If a dog’s food doesn’t taste (or smell) as good as it used to, the dog will not eat it.

So your mission is to make his food as appealing as possible. You may accomplish this by putting a little something extra in his bowl. However, if you can avoid it, you should avoid consuming more empty calories.

Heat the Meal

Brindle colored Boston terrier with paws on counter next to cooktop.

Try cooking the whole meal a little if his kibble blends with gravy or canned food. If you’re providing dry food, soak the kibble for 10 minutes in warm water (or, better yet, broth) before giving it to your dog. This activity can solve the problem by serving as a senior dog appetite stimulant.

Bring Some Variety in Your Dog’s Food

Change what you put in your dog’s food at least three times a week. Your aging dog may have lost his appetite, but his brain cells are still intact. They will most likely strive to win even more delectable meals by refusing to eat a combo for more than a couple of days.

Try Small Meals

Golden retreiver laying on floor, eating from bowl.

A large meal may be too much for your senior dog to handle. Smaller quantities may be precisely what the doctor ordered. Adult dogs typically only eat once per day, while elderly dogs benefit from two (or three) smaller meals.

Every dog is different, and you are the expert on your dog. If you believe that offering him six meals a day is the best method, go ahead and do it.

Minimize the Treats Between Meals

If your dog’s appetite is already modest, half a dozen dog treats may be enough to satisfy him. That indicates that he does not believe he has enough capacity in his stomach for his ‘appropriate’ and healthy diet.

Even if you are tempted to give more lavish treats to that sad old face, you must control yourself. You should also try to make (and feed) healthy treats (that have some nutritional value) instead of just empty calories.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.