Tips for Helping Your Old Dog Gain Weight and Stay Healthy

Is your old dog losing weight? Find out why it happens and how to help your senior dog stay healthy and comfortable with this informative guide.

Tips for Helping Your Old Dog Gain Weight and Stay Healthy
Is your old dog losing weight? Learn how to keep senior dogs healthy.

Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

Weight loss is something you may notice in your older dog. This is a normal part of aging. But it might also indicate a serious health problem. Of course, we want our pets to have a happy and comfortable life. So let me show you how to determine if your dog’s body condition is normal or not. We’ll explore the reasons why senior dogs lose weight, and what you can do to help them gain weight and stay healthy.

Is It Normal for an Old Dog to Lose Weight?

It is normal for a dog’s weight to change over time. Factors like diet, exercise, the environment, and stress can affect how animals eat and burn calories. Of course, these changes are usually minor and temporary.

Veterinary standards suggest that when a dog has lost 10% or more of their normal weight, it's likely something to worry about. If this is the case in your dog, you'll need to identify the underlying health problem and seek medical treatment for it.

You can find out if your dog's weight loss is significant by taking him to the vet for a weigh-in and check-up.

Reasons for Weight Loss in Senior Dogs

There are various reasons for senior dogs to lose weight. Factors such as underlying health conditions, dental issues, decreased appetite, metabolic changes, or malabsorption can all contribute to weight loss in older dogs. These are the most common factors:

1. A Problem With Their Food

Dogs eat less when they dislike their food. A change in diet may be to blame, or perhaps a large bag of food goes to waste before your dog finishes it. Feeding too few calories or giving your dog low-quality dog food can also cause weight loss.

2. Stress

A dog that’s anxious or stressed may find it difficult to relax and eat because they feel always need to be on alert. There are many things that can lead to this, including routine changes, moving to a new house, or losing a family member.

3. Exercise

Dogs who exercise more but consume fewer calories lose weight. Exercise is very beneficial for dogs, but they need adequate nutrition. You might need to give your pet more food or switch to higher-calorie foods if they are acting more energetically than usual.

4. The Environment

Dogs need extra energy to stay warm in the cold. Conversely, hot temperatures can reduce a dog’s appetite. In an extreme climate, you may need to adjust their food accordingly. For example, you could increase their calorie intake in the winter and reduce it during the summertime.

5. Dental Disease and Other Oral Problems

Any problem that makes chewing and swallowing painful or difficult will discourage a dog from eating. Dental disease is common in older dogs and can cause foul breath, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and infections. Other oral problems include tumors, ulcers, or foreign objects stuck in the mouth.

6. Intestinal Worms and Other Parasites

Parasites can cause weight loss in their host animals by consuming their nutrition. Intestinal worms are the most prevalent parasites responsible for this in dogs. Signs of their presence include bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and malnutrition. Other parasites that may trigger problems include fleas, ticks, mites, and lice.

7. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease can cause weight loss in older dogs by affecting their ability to filter waste products and retain water and electrolytes. This can lead to dehydration, loss of appetite, vomiting, and increased urination. Kidney disease can also cause anemia and muscle wasting in some animals.

8. Cancer

Cancer cells use energy to grow and divide, and this means energy is not available to the animal, so they often lose weight. Cancer can also directly affect a dog’s digestive system and appetite: this is more common in senior dogs than in younger ones.

How to Prevent or Reverse Weight Loss in Old Dogs

Any suspected health problem should be addressed with your vet. However, if your dog is losing weight because of non-medical reasons or normal aging, you can help them by adjusting their diet:

1. Feed High-Quality Food for Seniors

Your older dog needs more protein and calories than younger dogs. Why? Because protein helps them maintain muscle mass and calories give them energy. Look for foods with at least 30% protein and 400 kcal per cup. This is a very effective way to boost your pet's health and activity levels.

2. Give Your Dog Frequent and Small Meals

Do you want to stimulate your dog’s appetite and prevent them from feeling too full or bloated? Consider frequent and small meals. You might also consider warming up their food or adding some water or broth. This will make it more palatable and easier to digest. They'll have a better chance to gain weight at a healthy pace.

3. Add Supplements and Treats to Your Dog’s Diet

You can boost your dog’s protein and fat intake by mixing cooked eggs, lean meat, fish oil, or cottage cheese into their food. These are healthy supplements that can benefit your dog’s health. You could also give them fruits, vegetables, or plain yogurt as snacks. They are tasty and nutritious treats that your pup will love. You should avoid foods high in salt, sugar, or artificial ingredients, as these can be harmful to health.

4. Monitor Your Dog’s Weight and Body Condition

It’s important to keep track of your dog’s overall physical health. This is easy to do: simply use a scale to measure their weight and a body condition score chart to assess their muscle and fat levels. Ideally, you should be able to feel their ribs (but not see them). They should have a visible waistline when viewed from above. This will help you confirm that your dog is fit and healthy.

5. Talk to Your Vet About Your Dog’s Weight

If your dog’s weight loss persists or worsens, you should talk to your vet. They may need to run some tests to rule out any medical causes or prescribe some medications or supplements to help your dog regain some weight as he further ages. Your vet will advise the most appropriate course of action for your pet's specific situation.

Checklist: Help Your Old Dog Gain Weight and Stay Healthy

Help your old dog stay healthy and comfortable by providing quality food, exercise, and vet care.

Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

When older dogs lose weight, it is not always an undesirable thing. But sometimes it can be a sign of a serious health problem. If your senior dog is looking thinner, check with your vet to find out the cause and the right course of action. You can help by feeding them high-quality food rich in protein and calories, more frequently and in smaller portions. Add some healthy supplements or treats to their diet, and monitor their weight and body condition regularly. By doing these things, you can help your old friend stay healthy for as long as possible.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)