What are some food options for an older dog that refuses to eat?


As dogs age, their appetite and dietary needs may change. It can be concerning for pet owners when their older dog refuses to eat or shows a lack of interest in food. This can be caused by a variety of reasons such as dental issues, illness, medication, or a change in routine. However, there are several food options that can help entice an older dog to eat and ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Check with the Vet

Before trying any new food options, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. A thorough examination can help determine if there’s a medical reason for your dog’s refusal to eat. Additionally, your vet may recommend specific foods or supplements that are appropriate for your dog’s age, health condition, and dietary needs.

Assess the Situation

If your vet has ruled out any medical issues, it’s important to assess the situation and identify what might be causing your dog’s lack of appetite. Some older dogs may prefer softer foods, while others may need a change in protein or flavor. Pay attention to your dog’s eating habits and preferences to help determine the best food options.

Offer Soft, Moist Food

Many older dogs may have dental issues, making it difficult to eat hard kibble or treats. Switching to soft, moist food can make it easier for them to chew and swallow. You can try canned food, homemade meals, or adding water to dry food to create a softer texture.

Try a Different Protein

Changing the protein source in your dog’s food can also help entice them to eat. For example, if your dog typically eats chicken, try offering them beef or fish instead. It’s important to gradually introduce new proteins to avoid digestive upset.

Add Some Flavor

Adding flavor to your dog’s food can help increase their appetite. You can try adding low-sodium broth, shredded cheese, or a small amount of canned tuna to their food. However, be careful not to add too much as it may upset their stomach.

Experiment with Texture

Some dogs may prefer different textures, such as chunky or smooth. Experiment with different textures to see what your dog prefers. You can try mashing up their food or adding small pieces of meat or vegetables.

Consider Supplements

If your dog is not getting enough nutrition from their food, supplements may be necessary. Your vet may recommend supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, or probiotics to help improve your dog’s overall health.

Don’t Overdo Treats

While treats can be a great way to entice your dog to eat, it’s important not to overdo it. Too many treats can lead to weight gain and upset stomachs. Use treats sparingly and as a supplement to their regular meals.

Try Homemade Meals

If your dog is particularly picky, you may want to try making homemade meals. This can give you more control over the ingredients and texture of their food. However, it’s important to consult with your vet to ensure the meals are nutritionally balanced and appropriate for your dog’s dietary needs.

Don’t Give Up Too Soon

It can take time to find the right food options for your older dog. Be patient and persistent in trying different foods and techniques. It’s also important to monitor your dog’s weight and overall health to ensure they are getting proper nutrition.


Finding food options for an older dog that refuses to eat can be a challenge, but it’s important to ensure they receive proper nutrition. Soft, moist food, different protein sources, added flavor, and supplements can all help entice your dog to eat. Additionally, paying attention to your dog’s preferences and consulting with your vet can help ensure they remain healthy and happy.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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