Does your older dog sniff at the bowl and walk away instead of digging in? It’s important to keep an eye on how much they’re eating — especially if they’re a senior. For mature dogs, food that’s designed for them like IAMS™ Mature Adult or IAMS™ Mature Adult Large Breed is your best bet for making sure they’re getting the balanced meals they need. Loss of appetite may be nothing more than a bit less interest or a little picky eating, but it could be a sign something more serious is going on.
Why Is My Dog Not Eating?
It’s normal for age to prompt less interest in food, but when does lack of interest become a cause for concern?
If your dog has missed more than a day’s worth of meals, it’s time to call the vet. Skipping meals or ignoring the water bowl could be the first sign of something more serious. Pay attention to what’s “normal” for your dog and reach out to the vet if you sense something may be wrong. It’s always better to be on the safe side, even if nothing serious is going on.
As a general rule: If your pet hasn’t eaten in a day, make a visit to the vet.
“It’s important to give your dog enough calories because weight loss can be debilitating to senior pets,” says Wendy Brooks, D.V.M.
Dogs need the nutrition, energy and fiber their food provides — helping revive their interest in food is a great way to keep them eating well and feeling their best. If the vet doesn’t detect any major issues, it may just be a matter of making your dog’s meals a little more enticing.
Here are six ways to get your furry friend interested in having a nourishing meal.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Senior Dog to Eat More
1. Try Mixed Feeding
Many animals find wet food more palatable because they like the taste and texture, Brooks says. Why not experiment with a little mixed feeding? Try topping their favorite dry food with room-temperature wet food as an enticing treat!
2. Warm It Up
Dogs like a warm or room-temperature (not hot or cold) meal, so avoid serving day-old wet food from the refrigerator. If you choose to warm up a wet food in the microwave, make sure to test that it’s comfortably warm (not hot) before serving.
3. Try a Change
Dogs generally prefer consistency when it comes to their food, but if yours seems bored with their bowl, try adding in a new flavor to see if the smell grabs their interest. To avoid an upset stomach, introduce a new food slowly by mixing it with the old food in equal increments each day.
4. Stay Close
Common mature-dog health issues, such as arthritis or joint pain, can make it difficult for your dog to reach their bowls comfortably. Keep food accessible and a water bowl on all floors of the house.
5. Keep the Fresh Water Flowing
Did you know the smell of your dog’s water might be the reason they’re avoiding the bowl? Always provide a clean bowl with fresh water for your pup. Older pets are at a higher risk of dehydration, and getting enough water can aid in digestion.
6. Offer Praise
Does your dog know how happy it makes you to see them eating their food? If you see your dog eating, don’t keep them guessing — praise them and let them know they’re doing a good job! Knowing that eating their food makes you happy is a strong incentive to repeat the behavior.
Less interest in food is a normal sign of aging for dogs, but not eating for more than a day or avoiding drinking their water are both good reasons to call the vet. Whether your senior dog is slowing down or still a puppy at heart, they need the right nutrition. A little planning and strategizing with your vet about feeding your mature dog will help them look and feel their best!
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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