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Is your cat or dog not eating?: Causes of loss of appetite in older pets



Pets are like family members who need our attention and care, especially as they age. As pets grow older, it is essential to be attentive to any changes in their behaviour or diet. One significant change to watch out for is loss of appetite, a common issue among older pets. Is your cat or dog not eating? Read on to potentially find out why.


Causes and Common Signs

There can be several reasons why older pets lose their appetite such as dental issues, chronic illnesses, infections, dementia and depression caused by changes in the environment. Your cat not eating could be a real indicator that they are experiencing dental issues as it is so difficult to clean cat teeth. Dog teeth cleaning can be aided with dental chews. Loss of appetite can also result from a cat or dog ear infection. Common signs your pet has lost its appetite include avoiding or refusing to eat its regular meal, reduced interest in food, unexpected weight loss, or diarrhoea. Always consult with your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.


Prevention and Treatment

Preventing loss of appetite in older pets can be achieved by providing them with a healthy and balanced diet. Keep their meal schedule consistent, feed them in a calm environment, and make sure they have access to clean water at all times.


If your pet has already lost its appetite, there are treatments that a veterinarian can recommend depending on the cause. For example, if it is caused by dental issues, the vet may suggest dental cleaning or extractions. If caused by an illness or infection, the vet may prescribe medication.

Alternative Feeding Methods

If your older pet is still struggling to eat despite veterinary treatments, then alternative feeding methods might be required. Hand feeding and/or syringe feeding may be necessary in such cases. The veterinarian might recommend specific food types that your pet may find more appealing. We would recommend a complete manufactured diet but if you are doing home-cooked food, make sure it is well-cooked. UK Pet Food is a good source for looking for well-balanced food for your pet.


You can also try stimulating your pet's appetite by warming their food or using food toppers such as grated cheese or chicken broth, or topping their food with their favourite dog treat or cat treat. You can use a dog puzzle feeder, play hide and seek with food or even teach some new tricks with food as the reward. This will make mealtimes more interesting for your pet. Raising the food and water bowl to allow easier access to food may help with arthritic pets too.

Loss of appetite in older pets is a common issue that requires immediate attention. As pet owners, we need to be vigilant and take notice of any changes in our pet’s behaviour or diet. Always consult with your veterinarian if you notice any signs of loss of appetite in your pet. By taking precautionary measures such as providing healthy and balanced food, and a comfortable living environment, and regular vet check-ups, we can extend our pet’s life and keep them healthy into their senior years.


We would recommend you make an appointment with your local vet clinic, but if you think it might be time to consider hospice care, call us on 0800 049 59 44.


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