How to fatten up an old dog
If you’ve noticed that your aging dog has been losing weight, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d be worried. What weight is healthy? What is normal? How can you help to keep them happy? Don’t stress, you’re not alone! Whatever your dog is going through is probably manageable and shouldn’t warrant too much concern. There are a lot of reasons why your dog might be dropping weight, so let’s take a look at what you need to know and how to go about correcting their weight problem.
How can you tell if your old dog is underweight?
Two simple yet effective ways to determine whether or not your canine companion is underweight is by checking their ribs and their spine. Ideally you want a balanced amount of fat on your dog. If the ribs or spine can’t be felt properly then your dogs is most likely overweight, but if they are sticking out very discernably then they are underweight. You also want to be able to see a lean waist that pulls in beyond the ribs, but not so much that the ribs are distinctly coming through. This will vary of course as different breeds come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
Why do older dogs lose weight/become fussy eaters?
It’s quite common for older dogs to lose weight and become picky about what they eat; some of the underlying causes of this are more crucial than others. There’s a strong possibility that as your dog gets older, he or she will become much more comfortable to laze around for the better part of the day instead of chasing after birds and barking at the people walking past the gate. This will lead to a drop in the amount of muscle they have on them overall.
Another not-too-serious condition responsible for your aging canine’s weight loss could be dehydration. As they get older it’s easier for them to lose fluids in general which may cause a decline in their weight. In addition to ensuring that your dog has access to clean water each day, you can introduce foods with higher water content into their diet, such as the wet canned dog foods or you can mix a bit of warm water into their pellets which will also make it easier to chew.
A remarkable sense of smell is one of the most impressive abilities a dog possesses, but this will begin to weaken as they get older which can result in them having a reduced interest in their food.
Dental health can also play a big role in your dog’s appetite. If they have sore teeth or diseased gums, eating can be a painful experience and they’ll be less inclined to get stuck in at dinner time like they normally would.
Why is sudden weight loss serious and what should you do about it?
Unfortunately there are other more concerning issues that could be the reason behind your pooch’s weight loss. If they have diabetes, glucose conversion wouldn’t occur as it should which means protein and fat becomes the more reliable source of energy for them.
Liver, kidney, or heart disease could also be a factor in your dog’s sudden weight reduction. If their organs are not functioning properly then the body can’t do its job as it’s supposed to, and maintaining a healthy weight can become increasingly difficult.
If you’ve got your dog on medication, weight loss could also be an unwanted side effect as some drugs can supress their appetite or make them constipated. Something you need to take into account is that the seasons also affect the amount of calories your dog needs, as does their breed and the level of exercise they’re exposed to.
A small amount of weight loss over time is natural and you shouldn’t worry too much about it. However, if your dog has lost 10 percent of their bodyweight or more in a short space of time then it is highly possible that there’s a more serious problem at hand. Omega 3 fatty acids should restore your furry friend’s desire to eat and it should also raise their energy levels.
If you’ve seen any significant changes in their behaviour, the first thing you should do is consult a veterinarian. After discussing your dog’s symptoms and lifestyle changes with the vet, you should have a clearer understanding on what the problem might be. There are a vast range of potential causes and talking with an expert is always the best move, particularly when a dog is getting into their senior years (7 years or older).
How does commercial dog food made for older dogs differ from standard commercial dog food and why is this important?
If you’re like me then I’m sure you’ve wondered if there’s an actual difference in the dog food made for older dogs or if it’s simply a marketing tactic. When comparing one brand’s regular dog food with their senior dog food line, the difference is slight but it could make a big change in your dog’s functionality and general well-being. The addition of pea fibre, flaxseed, and glucosamine hydrochloride is supposed to aid with digestion, lessen inflammation, and improve how well their joints work.
Much like delivering the right nutrients to a growing pup, old dogs need the right nutrients to support their changing condition too. Maintaining a healthy cognitive ability is probably one of the most important aspects of supplying your senior canine with the appropriate food, which in this case means higher concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids.
A lot of people think of dogs as carnivores but this is not accurate. They are actually omnivores, which means that they can benefit a great deal from having fruits and veggies included in their diet. Many plant foods are packed with antioxidants which help to fight against the deterioration of the brain’s functionality. You also want to avoid feeding your dog highly processed foods. If possible, you should include foods in their most natural state into your dog’s diet for the best results.
The size of your dog speaks directly to the amount of calories they require. Obviously smaller dog require less food, although they tend to have much faster metabolisms so they’ll need to eat more often. Of course on the opposite side of the scale, larger dogs generally do better with a slightly higher caloric intake.
Tips for making dinner-time more fun
Whether you’re trying to introduce a new food or just trying to get your dog to eat more in general, you may want to try practicing some alternative methods at feeding time that will make things more interesting.
One option is to change the method of delivery. Putting pellets into a plastic bottle with holes cut into it so they come out in a unusual way can make it a more exciting experience, or simply changing the type of bowl they use can make your dog feel like they’re getting something special. Treat dispensers can bring a different element to dinner time as well that will keep your dog sharp and make them feel independent.
You can also alter the consistency of your doggy’s food by mushing it up and freezing it or by mixing it up, drying it, and cutting it into bite-sized cubes. There are puzzle toys specifically designed as well that will make meal time more exciting while simultaneously stimulating their brain activity at the same time.
Seeing as canines are known for their ability to smell, putting their natural hunting skills to use can become a thrilling activity for them. You can set up a game where you hide bits of food in certain spots around the house or garden and set your pooch loose so they can track them down.
What are some high calorie treats (human food) that you can feed your dog?
There is some people food that you can give your hounds which will help them to put on a few extra pounds. Oatmeal cookies and hotdogs are common snacks that are easily available and which most dogs should be happy to munch on, especially if it’s coming from their owner’s hands. However, some dogs begin to associate their owners with the boring food they’re used to or perhaps even nasty tasting medicine on occasion, so getting a friend or family member to give your dog a treat is another option to get more food in them.
Peanut butter, blueberries, bananas, cucumbers, green beans, and watermelon are other human munchies that should be okay for your dog to eat as well. Be sure though not to feed them anything that contains chocolate or xylitol as they are known toxins for dogs.
Always do thorough research before going ahead with any major changes in the way you approach your dog’s health. There is a lot of helpful information online that can assist you but there’s also a lot of outdated info and misinformation that can potentially cause more harm than good. Be sure to go over everything with a trusted veterinarian before making any final decisions.