What to do if your old dog won't eat

What to do if Your Old Dog Won’t Eat

What to do if your old dog won't eat

I know from experience what it’s like to feel so desperate when your old dog won’t eat, you’re willing to do and try anything!

Red, the love of my life, sadly got her wings on May 18 of this year (2018). I adopted her when she was around 8 so we think she passed at around 17 years of age. She was obese when we adopted her, bless her, so trying to get her to eat was never a problem. I always said she was like a vacuum cleaner because there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t inhale. When I say inhale I mean that literally, which is why she could never eat dry food because she wouldn’t chew just swallow.

The last few months of her life getting her to eat became a real challenge. I believe having been on various medications for so long played a part in her developing a fragile system, then kidney issues and chronic pancreatitis made it even more difficult. Those two health challenges significantly shortened the list of what she was allowed to eat, so when she wasn’t feeling well I was always a nervous wreck because I didn’t have a lot of tools in my tool box to work with.

What made it even more difficult was – some of the foods that are okay for kidney issues are not okay for pancreatitis and vice versa. When the only thing she would eat was chicken I had to give it to her, knowing full well it wouldn’t have been good for her kidneys. What could I do, she was basically screwed either way, so my vet and I decided at that point it was just important she ate.

What to do if Your Old Dog Won't Eat

Why isn’t your dog eating?

I read a lot about people who have dogs that won’t eat and they’re constantly looking for things to try… as they should be doing. However, the first thing you have to do is figure out why your dog isn’t eating, or eating as well as he or she used to.

See your vet immediately

If you don’t yet know the reason, the best advice I can offer is to see your vet. My second best piece of advice is to NOT accept a diagnosis of “your dog is old.” Old age does not mean your dog stops eating. Perhaps it has made him a bit fussier, or his meals are too big to eat all at once and you should feed him 3, 4 or even 5 small meals a day, but not wanting to eat? I don’t buy it.

There are lots of reasons why your dog may be less interested in eating and I’ve already mentioned the two Red was dealing with – pancreatitis and kidney disease, both of which can cause nausea. A third thing that came into play was dementia, which made it hard for her to find or know what to do with her food, even though her face was in the bowl. Sometimes as hungry as they may be, they just can’t seem to eat.

I have a diagnosis now what?

Of course that will depend on the diagnosis and whether or not there is a treatment to cure or manage the condition. Perhaps your dog will still be fussy and not as interested, what then?

What can I do if my old dog won't eat

Your dog has to eat

That’s a given because let’s be frank, bad things happen when your dog is starving.

My list of Red friendly food

  • Boiled chicken breast (freeze the water in ice cube trays and defrost to pour over food)
  • Boiled broccoli
  • Boiled squash
  • Whole grain rice
  • Quinoa
  • Raw or cooked carrot
  • Raw apple
  • Cod
  • Skyr
  • Low fat cottage cheese
  • Cut her canned Prescription k/d into pieces and baked them


What I do when my old dog won't eat anything

How I got her to eat

A few years ago I started elevating her bowls which I found was more comfortable for her. You could buy raised feeders or get creative on your own. Red was very little so putting her water bowl on an overturned casserole dish on the floor gave her enough height, but not too much so she had to reach. I held her food bowl for her, again because the height was more convenient.

I discovered warming up her food in the microwave for a few seconds helped a lot, it seems the smells made it more appetizing.

There were many times in the last few months where I had to hand feed her, more because of the dementia. Heartbreaking to watch so if your dog is suffering from dementia I urge you to put her on a treatment plan.  

Helpful and even brilliant tips for getting your old dog to eat

I did write about this topic in a previous article called “How to Get an Old Dog to Eat” , and in that post is a very lengthy list of possible food choices.  

Since it was published I have started a FB group called Senior Dog Care Club, filled with incredible members who have some fabulous advice. They very kindly offered to share their tips and tricks for when their old dog won’t eat, and now I’m sharing them with you. The more things we have to try, the better we can care for our senior pups.

Important note!!

Be sure to check with your vet before adding something you aren’t sure of, because what one dog is allowed the other may not be. For example, Red wasn’t allowed coconut oil because of her pancreatitis, or peanut butter because the salt content wasn’t good for her heart.

The List

Add coconut oil

Cheese topping or scrambled eggs mixed in

Cooked oatmeal

Peanut butter

Buy a semi-soft food that is firm enough that you have to slice it up. The amount needed per day is measured out on the package. I slice it all up for the day and feed her throughout the day. Never too much at one time so she absorbs the food better and no risk of getting sick. I have to sit next to her, open up her mouth put in the food and she eats it up. At the end of the day i make her a fresh burger and she will take most of it but this is just gravy on top, she already has the nutrition she needs, the burger keeps her happy but she needs the dog food also. She will eat cheese so I get some high quality Cheddar and give her a couple of those a day too, very high in calories and she likes it

Bacon grease, bone broth, canned liver mixed with dry food, meat scraps.

Scrambled eggs with cheese


Good quality tinned cat food/ sardines/ sprinkle a little grated cheese over dinner, also heating it up increases the scent and gets their noses sniffing

Homemade chicken and rice

Freeze dried meal toppers

Cbd oil

Entyce from the vet

I take frozen veggies, mine likes carrots. Cook them then purée it in a blender. Use a little water to thin it out. I put about two tablespoons on her food daily.

Diced ham and rice, warmed up in the microwave… added to their food in small amounts.

Don’t hover over them, constantly cajoling them and bribing them with “goodies”. IOW: Give them their personal space

I admit – this can be a struggle! Depending on the type of food, warming it up can help. Sometimes I need to hand-feed. Other times, as I am hand-feeding, I will gently push the food towards their mouth and let it brush against their lips. That will cause them to lick their lips and usually/eventually interest them in eating. Other times, if it is food that is in a plate or bowl, I will add a few tiny pieces of a favorite human food to their meal. Right now a few tiny crumbs/pieces of pizza crust does the trick. Sometimes, they might just eat the crust from their bowl, but 90% of the time, they end up eating everything (both their food and the pizza crust).

I’ve had success with chicken, hamburger and ground turkey. Canned cat food; something smelly. Sometimes I had to pull out the big guns: steak. Warming it up helps.

Things that have worked for my dog – feed pieces of dog food by hand, call it treats/ Put dog food on a plate, leave unattended on kitchen table

One thing she has never turned down is a baked potato with butter. When desperate carbs can be a great friend.

I have found rolling her food in my hands and giving her a bit at a time helps. She likes when I drop it in piles on the floor for her. Sometimes she prefers to stand and eat from the bowl. I have to gauge her mood a bit. Definitely try rolling the kibble in your hands though. It can really help.

Boiled chicken tenderloins and cut it up, add some noodles, water or bone broth, add a bit of dry dog food, mix well serve warm and moist. You could try lean ground beef. My Lily eat this every day. If she’s having tummy issues I just give her the chicken with the noodles sometimes I’ll add peas and carrots and always moisten and warm food.

Dr Becker’s Bites Appetite Flakes

Cheese. Cheese always works

Feeding them some of their food in the park. A change of scenery might help.

Unflavored and unsweetened yogurt. Cottage cheese sometimes. Plate instead of regular dog dish sometimes helps. Mozzarella. Unseasoned smoked meat and broth made from the bones. Strong scent can make a difference. Cook or pretend to cook food that goes in a meal. Pretend to eat what you want them to eat. Allow them to not eat some meals. Try a different schedule. Walk before meal and allow them to fully wake before trying to feed.

Sprinkle a little of a fav treat (like turkey) on top of and throughout the food. Diversify. Rotate the type of meals each day.

Organic ground turkey that I mix with an organic golden paste recipe and mixed organic veggies cooked and put in blender (broccoli cauliflower and carrots). She has been scarfing it down and has picked up in energy!

Ground turkey burgers 5grams twice a day, wet at night,  hand feed kibble measure out if she won’t. I put it in bowl warm water soup kibble yummy but she is fussy had to stop after twelve years of eating everything. WE did hard but she’s ok just try sometimes just eating with or at the same time so not alone as much

Making a big deal eating out of matching bowls

Rotisserie chicken or chicken soup

I’ll add mashed up sweet potatoes, pumpkin and broccoli. Our Eskies love their broccoli. They’ll eat it soft, and also like to eat the stalk cold like a bone!

I put my baby’s dry food in a blender. I turned into dust. I add a little wet dog food. Not a lot because she strains when she poops

Mix a little pumpkin or sweet potatoes in with food and anything else safe. Rotate rotate so they don’t get bored

Baby food

Cottage cheese

What do you do when your dog won't eat

So there you have it…lot’s of things that have helped other senior dog parents when their old dog won’t eat.

What have you tried that worked? Sharing helps others so please leave your comment below.

Check out my Facebook page, Caring For a Senior Dog for stories, quotes and interesting articles about senior dogs. 


**I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.**



**There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running. **




Natural Instinct raw food for senior dogs

Feeding Raw to Older Dogs


feeding raw to older dogs

Dogs and cats have evolved to eat meat and bone. The structure of their jaws, their teeth and their digestive system have not changed at all since the days that they would hunt and scavenge for their food, which is why it makes sense to continue to feed them raw meat and bone, just as nature intended.

Natural Instinct is a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (“BARF”) for dogs and cats providing a balanced nutritional and delicious diet. Their products are all made in Surrey using human grade ingredients. They work hard to provide as safe a product as possible, which is a process that starts on the farm with the selection of healthy animals and involves the all important deep freezing process. Recipes are made using 100% British meats and the freshest fruit and vegetables (for dogs only) and are free from artificial additives, colours, preservatives, fillers or grains.

What are the benefits of feeding your dog Raw Ingredients?

Despite the many years of domestication and the evolutionary changes that have occurred as a result of this, the domestic dog is still designed to process and benefit from a raw meat and bone based diet. The dog’s dentistry for Natural Instinct raw food for senior dogsexample is designed for nipping, tearing and crushing/macerating meat and bone and has no side to side grinding ability that is needed for plant fibres. The gut is short and the stomach small with strong acid which is adapted to high meat and bone based diets and not for the breakdown and fermentation of high starch and plant fibre based diets. Even though the domesticated dog largely uses humans to supply their food, they have never learnt to cook and never get excited about a field of corn… other than when a rabbit is running through it!

What are the health benefits of feeding raw dog food to an older dog?

The health benefits of feeding high quality balanced raw dog food are the same for an older dog as they are for a young or middle-aged dog.  Well-formulated raw dog food is the biologically appropriate food for dogs with no processing, no artificial preservatives or colourants and no hidden ingredients. 

With increased heath issues relating to the human diet such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes people are now taking more care about their own diets and are eating “cleaner”.

Pets are such an important part of the family and owners are following the principles for their own diets for their pets – feeding as nature intended, free from artificial additives, colours, preservatives and fillers.

The benefits of feeding a raw diet are endless and include:

  • A shiny coat
  • Fresher breath
  • Healthy skin
  • Healthy digestion and bowels
  • Strong bones, teeth and joints
  • Stools reduced and easier to clean up
  • More resilient immune system
  • Dense muscle structure
  • Lots of energy


We receive numerous testimonials from customers saying how uncomfortable skin, coat, teeth and joint conditions have been resolved following a transition to Natural Instinct. Problems relating to digestion, breath and aggressive behaviour have also shown improvement. Increased health and vitality, as well as an alleviation of IBS and colitis have also been named.

Why is it important to change a dog’s diet as they get older?

As dogs’ age they may be subject to more wear and tear issues such as arthritis and the geriatric animal is more likely to have less efficient organs such as the kidney, liver and immune system, so the food needs to be adapted to these potential changes. Many of these things lead to a reduction in the level of exercise and activity, which also changes the dogs’ calorie requirement. It is very individual just as it is in humans and this is where routine health checks in old age to check organ function can be a great help in assessing the dietary needs of your dog.

Natural Instinct offer a Senior recipe for Dogs

Natural Instinct’s Senior recipe is made using human grade chicken and bone, together with the freshest apples, carrots and butternut squash, spinach, sea kelp and Scottish salmon oil, the Senior recipe is suitable for dogs who feel their age or have joint and mobility issues as it contains additional supplements. The addition of Vitamin C helps support the immune system and the added Glucosamine and Chondroitin help aid aging and stiff joints. Chondroitin is a natural substance found in a dog’s cartilage and, when paired with glucosamine, has an even more beneficial effect on a dog’s joints.

How should older dog owners transition their dog to a raw diet?

Firstly owners of older dogs need to fully assess the health status of their dog and know any individual requirements e.g. an older dog prone to pancreatitis will need lower fat formulations, arthritic dogs will need higher glucosamine content and will need particular attention paid to not becoming overweight due to their reduced activity levels so may need less than the average feeding rate. Our advice for those who do wish to convert is to slowly transition over a 2-week period and support the dog with probiotic during this period (Natural Instinct offer a Zoolac Probiotic Paste). The body needs time to adjust to a completely different diet and this may take longer in older animals – slow is best to allow adjustment to take place and prevent constipation or diarrhoea during the switch over period. In geriatric animals or very sick animals it may not be appropriate to convert them from a processed to a raw diet if they are currently stabilised on the diet that they are on. 


For more information visit their website www.naturalinstinct.com and https://www.naturalinstinct.com/senior-dog-food



I have no association with Natural Instinct, financial or otherwise. I approached them to write this article, as it is a diet I am interested in including more information about on this website.

Nutrition and your senior dog

Nutrition and Your Senior Dog


Nutrition and your senior dog

It’s easy to assume that the changes older dogs experience are inevitable. While hard to believe, most dogs are considered “senior” around age seven, and around this time, may slow down, sleep more, play less and otherwise show signs of age. But older dogs that get exercise, mental stimulation and specially-formulated nutrition can avoid some of the physical and cognitive changes that can come along with age such as decreased lean muscle mass, reduced mobility, reduced metabolism and changes in mental sharpness. Along with these changes, a senior dog’s nutritional needs change. This is why it’s important to feed your senior dog a food formulated specifically to meet his nutritional needs.

I’ve worked at Nestle Purina for close to 28 years, and as Director of Nutrition Research, I am part of a team of 500 researchers in R&D developing pet food innovations. We’ve been studying aging in pets for more than a Nutrition and your senior dogdecade, and the PetCare Research team that I work with has been dedicated to uncovering the latest advancements in canine cognitive health to keep pets’ brains sharper, longer. As researchers, we asked, “what if nutrition could positively impact a dog’s cognitive health?” And we made a remarkable discovery: it can.

Maybe you’ve noticed that your dog is interacting with you less. Or has lower engagement in daily activities. These are just some of the signs your dog may be aging. And like you, we wondered why. There is a reason your dog may be experiencing these age-related changes. A senior dog study found that around age 7, the glucose metabolism in a dog’s brain begins to change – affecting things like memory, attention, learning or decision making.

Our team of Purina scientists discovered that nutrition can positively impact a dog’s cognitive health and developed a breakthrough nutrition innovation – BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ – to support cognitive health in dogs ages seven and older.

BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas contain enhanced botanical oils called MCTs, which have been shown to promote alertness and mental sharpness in dogs seven and older. MCTs provide an additional source of energy for the brain cells to naturally nourish their minds and help them think more like they did when they were younger. When added to the daily diet of dogs seven and older, formulas that contain enhanced botanical oils promoted memory, attention and trainability.

Feeding your senior dog Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ as a daily diet, you may notice differences in the way your dog interacts with you, their interest in play and their ability to adapt and cope with change.

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the difference that this food is making for owners and their senior dogs – it’s really changing their lives. We’ve heard such positive feedback and stories from owners about the impact of BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas on their dog and how it has changed their relationship.

Success story

Ray and Jan, owners of Lady, told us that Lady used to be the queen of playing soccer – any time, any place, she was always ready for a game, eager to run up and down the stairs and catch the ball as fast as she could. But, as Lady got older, things started to change. She started to slow down. She just wasn’t as interested in playing – and she didn’t seem excited about the things she used to love.

Ray and Jan agreed to give BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ a try, and when we checked back in 30 days later, they couldn’t stop talking about the incredible difference they saw.  Lady was once again interested in learning new things, had a bright look in her eyes, and, maybe most importantly, was excited to play soccer again.

If Lady’s story sounds familiar, consult your veterinarian to discuss if a change to your senior dog’s diet could be in order and see how BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ can help. With the right care, attention and nutrition, you and your dog can make the most of all of your years together.



Janet Jackson Director of Nutrition Research Purina

Janet is the Vice President & Director of the Nestle Research Center (NRC) at Nestle Purina PetCare.  She joined Purina in 1990 after receiving her PhD in Animal Nutrition from the University of Illinois. Her team is responsible for developing nutritional innovations for Purina products by continuing to build knowledge to enhance the overall health of our pets so they can live long, healthy, happy lives. Janet grew up on a farm in North Central Illinois and has had cats and dogs as long as she can remember.  Janet and her husband currently enjoy the company of three cats: Callie, Lucy, and most recently, King Tut.


everything you need to know about bone broth for dogs

Everything You Need to Know About Bone Broth For Dogs

everything you need to know about bone broth for dogs
credit: Jennifer Lee Allen

Have you heard the talk about bone broth for dogs? I feel like it’s been popping up everywhere lately, yet it’s been around forever. I must admit I didn’t know much about it, having never researched it as a possible nutrition source for any of my dogs. Why? I have no idea and it’s as simple as that!!

So what’s changed? A few months ago I started a Facebook group called Senior Dog Care Club. It is a place where parents of senior dogs get together and ask for advice, share experiences, offer help and even just vent. Bone broth is something that’s talked quite a bit about as something very helpful for their dogs, so it only makes sense for me to write about it if it can help others. After all, that’s my entire goal not only with the group, but my Caring For a Senior Dog website as well.

So what is bone broth?

It is the liquid left over after simmering raw or cooked bones for several hours. Yep that’s it. It couldn’t be easier to make just throw some bones, water, and apple cider vinegar into a crock pot and let it simmer. Don’t worry there’s a recipe below.

What’s all the fuss about?

It’s been called an immune boosting super food, extremely nutritious, easily digestible, chock full of vitamins, minerals and a whole lot more.

Can’t I buy readymade beef or chicken stock? Surely it’s the same!

Nope I’m afraid not. Stock typically has added salt and onions, artificial flavours, and who knows what else your dog should be avoiding. You also don’t know if it is made with the meat and bones of animals fed antibiotics. Only Everything You Need to Know About Bone Broth For Dogsby buying the bones yourself can you know the quality of the product you will be producing. Also, the stock is cooked at high temperature for a short period of time, which cannot provide the same nutrition as a bone broth that uses only bones, vinegar and water and is slow cooked for several hours.

What is it not?

It is not a replacement for a nutritious balanced diet but a boost when needed, and a supplement that can be added to your dog’s regular diet.  

When is bone broth helpful?

  • Sick dogs
  • Recovering from illness or surgery
  • Gut irritation
  • Hospice animals who are refusing or can no longer eat
  • Picky eaters
  • Senior pets who aren’t eating as much as they should  
  • Excellent supplement for dogs of any age

How much to give and how often?

It varies depending on the circumstances. Some users give it to their dogs every day, some twice a day and others just as a boost when their appetite isn’t what it should be.

I always prefer to start small and see how things go, so one spoon on one meal would be right for me.  

Consult your vet

As amazing as the testimonials and experiences with bone broth are, I still say it’s a good idea to ask your vet if it’s suitable for your dog. I contacted my vet and he said it is absolutely not the right thing for my dog Red who

bone broth for dogs
credit: Dana Wabner

suffers from pancreatitis. I was sure that would be his response, but I wanted to confirm.


Great for joints

Bone broth is loaded with glucosamine, chondroitin, gelatine and hyaluronic acid – all joint protecting compounds.

Promotes a healthy gut

Have you heard of leaky gut? There’s a lot of talk about it in humans, but it’s an issue in dogs as well. What is it? Well, the lining of the intestines contains millions of tiny holes digested nutrients pass through. Factors like a

everything you should know about bone broth for dogs
credit Jennifer Lee Allen

poor diet, high stress and too much bacteria can make existing holes bigger or create new ones, and that’s what is known as leaky gut.

When things pass through the bigger holes that shouldn’t, the body sees them as foreign invaders and starts attacking them, causing allergies and food sensitivities. 

Bone broth is loaded with gelatine that plugs/narrows the holes, and the glycine soothes the inflamed gut.

Healthy way to moisten dry food

If your dog isn’t always enthusiastic about eating his kibble, adding some bone broth to moisten it may get him interested. It’s also an easy way to increase the nutrition content.

Nourish a sick dog

We all know how a sick dog can lose interest in eating or drinking, and that can be very dangerous, especially in a senior dog. Weight loss, especially if he’s already underweight, and the possibility of dehydration are very worrying consequences. Bone broth will not only provide much needed nutrients until he’s feeling better, it will keep him hydrated. 

Helps with poor/no appetite

Along the lines of what I just mentioned about nourishing a sick dog, if you’re dealing with a finicky eater or a dog who’s having trouble eating, adding some bone broth to his diet may spark some interest. Think about microwaving the food for a few seconds to release the smells, it helps my dog eat.   

Immune booster

Bone broth contains the vitamins and minerals used by the immune system to fight off infection.


The liver and kidneys can be quite overworked, having to process the pollutants and chemicals faced on a daily basis. The amino acid glycine found in bone broth, helps detox those organs.  

Fur, skin and nail growth

The benefits of bone broth are not restricted to the internal, but also help keep your dog’s fur, skin and nails in excellent condition.

Bone broth recipe

My research turned up so many different recipes, I stopped counting at 9. To be fair they were all pretty much the same with slight variations, so I combined them into this one recipe.  


Raw, fresh, frozen or cooked bones from the butcher or your own meals (chicken, turkey, beef, duck, goose). I did read about someone who uses a whole organic chicken, cuts the chicken off to give the dogs after it’s been simmering for a couple of hours, then leaves the carcass to simmer another 20 hours or so.

Raw apple cider vinegar/regular vinegar/lemon juice – it’s up to you but ACV is most often used.


Some of the extras people use:

  • Chicken feet, joints, and knuckles (joint bones have extra cartilage)
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Kelp
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Turmeric

Cooking method:

The most recommended way to make the broth is to use a crock pot because of the number of hours it needs to simmer. You can of course use a pot on the stove, but you couldn’t leave it there unattended so a crock pot is the safest.


Put all the bones into your crock-pot

Add enough water to cover the bones by about 2-3 inches

Add 2-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps pull all of the minerals and nutrients out of the bones and into the broth

Turn your crock pot on high for about an hour to get things started, then turn to low and let cook for 16-24 hours, but 24 hours is the time most people cook it for. Keep an eye on it in case more water is needed to cover the bones

Strain well because you only want the broth, the bones will be too soft and dangerous for your dog to eat

Let it cool

What it will look like:

When it comes out of the fridge you should see a hard layer of fat on top, so just remove it and throw it away. Underneath that layer the broth should have the consistency of jelly, but don’t worry if it doesn’t it just means you

didn’t add enough vinegar so add a little more next time. The bone broth will still be beneficial and packed full of goodness.


If kept in the fridge it must be consumed within 3-4 days, frozen it can last up to one year. If you do freeze it pour into ice cube trays for easy to use portion sizes and for a treat on a hot day. What about freezing some in a Kong? That will keep your dog busy for a long time!!

bone broth for dogs made into molds
Credit: Sarah-Jane England

Sarah-Jane England, a member of a FB group I belong to, kindly allowed me to use this image. She adds powdered pig gelatin to the broth, spoons into molds and lets it set in the fridge. It takes about one hour then she freezes them in a bag and gives one a day to her dog. Each mold weighs 6 grams and either gives it whole or heats it a few seconds until it turns to liquid, then adds to his food. 

The flip side

I found more articles then I could count praising the benefits, but I wondered if I could find one that had another point of view. It’s not because I was being negative I was just wondering if it was all a bit too good to be true. After much digging I came across an article on the raw feeding community website called “No Bones About It: The Scoop on Bone Broth For Dogs.


Here are a few articles you may find interesting if you’d like to read more about it.

Bone Broth: The “Soul Food” Perfect for Sick Pets Who Won’t or Can’t Eat

Bone Broth For Dogs – What’s the Big Deal?

An Introductory Guide to Bone Broth For Dogs

Bone broth for dogs – conclusion

Well there you have it. A super simple recipe to make, but packed full of healing ingredients your dog will benefit tremendously from. Remember to check with your vet first though to discuss its suitability for your dog. Bring along the recipe in case he’s not familiar with it.


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.




What to Feed a Senior Dog

what to feed a senior dog

I know I say this a lot, but knowing what to feed a senior dog is so confusing!!

I could add it’s confusing no matter what age your dog is. For me it’s because of the amount of conflicting information out there. I finish reading about how good dry food is to help keep teeth clean, when the next article says it’s a myth, and by the way, dry food is nutritionally dead. And that’s just one tiny example!!

You’re not helping!!

Sorry about that, I tend to get on my soapbox a little bit when it comes to this topic. I know I’ve made so many mistakes in the past when it came to choosing food for my senior dogs.

Before I became slightly more “enlightened” (and I do mean slightly), I focused more on the brand than the type. Since I rely on my vet to help me do what’s best for my animals, I’ve listened when certain foods were recommended, yet at other times felt frustrated by their lack of knowledge in the field of nutrition, and questions went unanswered.

One vet I had, who was an amazing vet by the way, actually told me whatever I bought from the supermarket would be fine. He believed anything a pet food manufacturer churned out contained all the necessary nutrients.

I must say I was shocked!!

All my vets would stack a few main brands, and that’s what they would recommend. Only once I started learning about reading labels and understanding ingredients did things get really muddled.

Senior food for senior dogs

I believed that, so that’s what I fed my seniors. When Red’s heart murmur became louder than a murmur, my vet put her on a prescription heart diet. When her kidneys started playing up she was switched to a kidney diet. My what I used to feed my senior dogvet was convinced she was doing well as a result, yet there I was reading articles about how shockingly nutrient poor those diets were.

I did nothing when it came to changing her diet because, for awhile, Red was having all sorts of issues, and I was starting to panic it was the beginning of the end. Everything was being managed, but she was walking a bit of a tightrope. I wasn’t going to upset that precarious balance for anything.

Curious about alternative treatments

I’ve wanted to take Red to a holistic vet for quite some time, but I didn’t for a few reasons:

My vet does not have a holistic vet on staff

  • There were no holistic practices where we lived
  • Because of the “delicate balance” we call Red, I would have been too afraid to rock the boat and make any kind of change
  • I am a firm believer in continuity of care, and even if there had been a vet nearby, I would not have taken Red there for natural treatments, and my vet for the rest. Of course they could communicate, but that would be a big ask if the vets are extremely busy. I wouldn’t want a crucial piece of information to get lost between two practices

What’s going on now you ask?

Well, we’ve relocated for a few months, and since I needed a new vet anyway this was my chance to go holistic. Yes it’s a bit of a pain to get to distance wise, but it’s worth it. I won’t go into details since this post is, specifically, about nutrition so I’ll only discuss that facet of Red’s new treatment plan.

Our new vet was not at all happy about her being on a prescription diet. He’s a firm believer in healing with whole foods (that’s one important aspect), so after seeing Red’s blood test results he created a recipe for a whole foods, deciding what to feed a senior doghome cooked diet. At first I was feeling a bit resistant because I hate cooking, but since it’s for my sweetheart Red, I was willing to do it. When Dr Ortega said I could make big batches and freeze, I was more than delighted.

She now eats a mixture of boiled chicken, brown rice, quinoa, cooked broccoli, raw carrot, raw apple and olive oil. She’s loving the food, and hubby thinks she’s doing much better overall.

Obviously I’m so happy we’ve gotten to this stage, and I no longer have to be concerned about types and brands. So what are you going to do?

Some words of interest

In an article I came across recently entitled “Do You Know What Food is Best for Your Senior Pet?” there are some helpful pieces of advice, including words of warning that are important to hear. I hope you’ll find that post of interest.

Of course there are other posts on this site you will find informative as well, and I will list them at the end of this article.  

What to feed a senior dog – conclusion

Figuring out how to satisfy the nutritional needs of our senior dogs can be a bit of a minefield, so I always advise researching the various types (not brands) first. It will give you a good understanding of your options, so you can make the best decision for your dog.

Yes you will find lots of conflicting information but that’s okay. Take note of where the advice is coming from, speak to your vet, speak to a holistic vet if you’re interested, then make the decision that seems right to you.

I hope you have found this post on what to feed a senior dog helpful, and if you’d like to share what you feed your dog, let us know in the comment section below or my Facebook page.

What to Feed Your Dog

Should Every Old Dog Eat Senior Dog Food?

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Food

Prescription Diet Dog Food: The Lifesaver We’re Led to Believe?

Types of Dog Food: Which is Best?




Supplements for dogs a whole foods approach

Supplements for Dogs: A Whole Foods Approach

Supplements for dogs a whole foods approach

In a perfect world, we would not need supplements.  That said, this is not a perfect world.  Far from it.  No corner of the globe, however remote, escapes the far-reaching side effects of today’s society:  air and water pollution; topsoil erosion and soil depletion; radiation; exposures to toxic chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, immunizations and medications; and, with all due respect to those who deny its existence, climate change.

Even if we have state-of-the-art air purifiers and top-drawer water filtration systems, unless we live in our very own biosphere, never receive vaccinations or take pharmaceuticals, grow all our own produce, and raise and butcher our own animals, we will most likely have to resort to supplementation in order to combat the ravaging effects of the modern age, and to meet our nutrient requirements.  And as we age, this becomes even more important.

The same is true for our dogs.  No matter what we feed our canine companions, I would wager my beloved home on the fact that, if we were to send samples of our dogs’ suppers out for laboratory analysis, we would be surprised at best, and horrified at worst, to learn how many nutritional gaps would be found.

As guardians of older dogs in particular, it is up to us to ensure these animals are getting enough critical nutrients to prevent, and in some cases, minimize the effects of, age-related issues like inflammation (such as gastrointestinal conditions or arthritis) and oxidative stress. 

As I am first and foremost a holistic nutritionist, I believe in the concepts of Fix It With Food First and Food as Medicine.  If we approach supplemental support for these conditions from a holistic perspective, we may be able to avoid, or at least reduce the need for, NSAIDs, steroids and pain medications, and drugs like Adequan and Anipryl, which come with both high price tags and serious health risks.

Back to Basics

Let’s take a closer look at three, all natural, easy-to-find, affordable, and most importantly, safe whole food supplements that you just might already have in your kitchen cupboard.

Bone broth

First on the list is bone broth.  Ridiculously popular with Paleo and GAPS diet devotees, bone broth has been enjoyed by myriad “primitive” societies for centuries, albeit without the stoneware slow cookers and mason jars.

All you need to brew a great batch of this rejuvenating superfood is a large stockpot, filtered water, raw apple cider vinegar, and, you guessed it, bones (though feel free to get creative and toss in some carrots, celery, parsley or even mushrooms).  It’s best to select cartilaginous bones such as beef knuckle bones, chicken feet, or even that turkey carcass from last Saturday’s soiree in order to yield plenty of collagen, glucosamine and other gut- and joint-supporting nutrients. 

The key to good bone broth is to take it slowly.  Start a batch early in the morning, and let the apple cider vinegar work its magic as the hours pass, even overnight, as the acetic acid extracts the minerals from the bones.  It’s best to cook the broth for 24 hours or more on the lowest possible heat setting, stirring occasionally, and then allow to cool before you remove and discard the cooked bones; and then refrigerate, de-fat, and finally strain, the remaining contents of the pot.

I fasten a piece of fine cheesecloth over open mason jars for one last strain when I am ready to pour the final product, then I simply pop the sealed jars in the fridge, where the broth keeps for as many as five days — though it never lasts that long!    (If this seems like too much work, you can always purchase ready-made or instant, powdered bone broth.  Just be sure it isn’t made with onions, as onions are toxic to dogs.)

Alpha-lipoic acid

Next on the list is the antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid.  This powerhouse nutrient is found in every body cell, and works hard to convert glucose to usable energy. 

Antioxidants fight free radical damage, which occurs as a by-product of cellular metabolism.  This damage contributes to oxidation (think about what happens to metal when it is exposed to the elements – a sort of rusting process occurs that, over time, degrades and ages the metal), hence the need for something that attempts to combat this: an “anti-oxidant.”

Some holistic veterinarians call alpha-lipoic acid the Fountain of Youth because it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier in order to assist in prolonging sound mental and emotional states of dogs well into old age.  Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks?  Take that, canine cognitive disorder!

There are many ALA supplements on the market, but why not feed your dog his ALA?  It is found in abundance in foods including beef heart and liver, broccoli and spinach.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Finally, don’t forget about omega 3 fatty acids.  Many people feed their dogs commercial dog food that contains fish oil.  I do not support this, for these reasons:  even the best fish oil is very fragile, and starts to turn rancid when exposed to heat and/or air, and even when frozen; and most of the fish oil that is used in commercial pet food is not suitable for human consumption, and has been chemically treated, often times with dangerous solvents. 

A better option would be to feed your dog a fish oil-free commercial or home-prepared fresh food diet, and add human-grade (small bodied) fish oil, or phytoplankton to his meals just before serving.  This way, your dog will benefit from the stable, inflammation-fighting, brain-building fats he was designed to eat.

Hippocrates had the right idea when he advised: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  After all, some say he lived to be over 85 years old, during a time when the average life expectancy was 40 years!  Just food for thought.


This post was kindly written by Dr, Reema Sayegh. She holds doctoral degrees in Holistic Nutrition and Naturopathy, and has over 20 years experience in the field of integrative medicine and holistic health.  After she rescued a nine-year-old Great Dane mix named Zeus in 2004, Dr. Reema was inspired to “shift gears” and has since become a Reiki master teacher, certified holistic pet consultant, published author, public speaker, and animal welfare advocate.  She works in tandem with veterinarians and their clients to provide companion animals adjunct natural wellness modalities, and, when indicated, specialty geriatric and hospice care.  Dr. Reema resides in California with her husband and the love of their lives: a spirited canine teacher, healer, and gigantic, fun-loving goofball named Dakota.  She can be reached at drreema4pets@yahoo.com.

types of dog food

Types of Dog Food: Which is Best?

types of dog food

When looking for the best types of dog food it seems like we focus on the brand, rather than the type.

By types I’m referring to dry, canned, dehydrated, raw… and that’s what this post is all about.

My search for a new dog food

We relocated a couple of weeks ago and we’ll be in our new adopted country for at least 3 months. I brought some of Jack’s food with us because I knew it wasn’t available here, but I’m almost out. Since I have to find a new brand, I figured it was the perfect time to re-evaluate the type of food I’ve been feeding him as well.  

I don’t feed my dogs (or cats) the popular supermarket brands, simply because I’m not happy with the quality – I know I can do better for them. After all, proper nutrition is the basis for good health is it not!

When we first adopted Jack I noticed how much he scratched. There were no fleas or any obvious skin issues, so I put him on a grain free diet and not long after I noticed a big change – no scratching. I feed him a quality organic canned diet (at least I believe it is quality due to its’ short ingredient list consisting of nothing but meat and vegetables).

On the one hand I’d like to add a bit of dry food for the crunch and variety, but there is a lot of talk about the lack of nutrients in dry food, and no benefit to teeth, as was/still is a long held popular belief.  

I’ve read many reports and spoken to several people, who have noticed massive positive changes in dogs that have been switched over to a raw diet. For some reason I’m on the fence about it, I can’t seem to put my finger on why so I won’t be considering it for Jack’s new diet, at least not now.

An expert’s view

While researching my options I came across a very helpful resource written by Dr. Karen Becker, an integrative wellness veterinarian. I’m planning on introducing a more holistic approach to my dogs’ care, so I find Dr. Becker’s writings very informative.

The article I’m referring to is called “From Best to Worst – My NEW Rankings of 13 Pet Foods” and it is this article that helped me decide to try a dehydrated food for Jack.

She explains the various types of foods available, and although I’m talking about dogs simply because they are the focus of my website, the information will be helpful for other pets as well. I also appreciated her understanding cost is a factor for many of us, and mentions that when discussing options.

Types of dog food – conclusion

Choosing nutrition for your pet is a big decision, and can literally affect their health and wellbeing. Start with deciding on the type of food you are interested in, then you’ll be ready to research brands.

I will be adding more nutrition information to help you make the best choices for your dog, so check back often.







prescription diet dog food

Prescription Diet Dog Food: The Lifesaver We’re Led to Believe?

prescription diet dog food

Whenever I talk about dog nutrition, I can’t help but add how confusing it all is. However there are some things I know for sure, and I say “for sure” because it’s based on my experiences.

The vets I have seen, whether I liked them or not, did not have the understanding of nutrition I expected. As a matter of fact I was shocked at some of the things they believed, and how little they seemed to know. One vet who I absolutely loved and trusted, believed that a popular supermarket dog food brand was good quality. I was truly stunned.

Another vet I went to for years had several plaques hanging in her waiting room, each in the name of a member of staff, congratulating them on becoming nutrition consultants. Sounds promising doesn’t it? Don’t get too excited, all that means is that the pet food manufacturer that sponsored the course told them how great their food was, and now they can recommend it to us.

Prescription diets

For those of you who haven’t been to my site before, I share my life with the love of my life, a senior dog named Red. She is about 15 years old, but that’s just an estimate.

Red has been on Hills Prescription Diets for years. First she was on h/d for her heart, and a couple of years ago my vet switched her to k/d for her kidneys.

Let me start by saying I know the ingredients are crap. Let me also say that the vet we use is amazing. He has taken incredible care of her these past couple of years, and as far as I’m concerned is irreplaceable. What does concern/confuse me is his absolute belief that low protein is essential for kidney disease, and the many articles I’ve read that state the opposite.

The truth is her kidney issues are under control and (touch wood), all is fine. Her test results are great and my vet attributes that to her k/d diet.

Then I found this!!!

Yesterday I came across this article Busted: Dogs Naturally Calls Bull$hit On Prescription Diet Dog Food.” It is on the Dogs Naturally Magazine website and was written by Dana Scott, Editor in Chief. In light of Red’s reliance on a prescription diet, I couldn’t help but read it. 

I could relate to a lot of what was written, and found it incredibly informative and yes, scary and concerning too! It makes me want to get her off that food more than ever, yet I’m afraid of upsetting her fragile balance.

I’ve always felt I do the very best I can for Red, but reading this article (which has just reinforced so much of what I’ve known) makes me want to rush her to the nearest holistic vet. For the past year or so I’ve wanted to take her to one, but there was no one anywhere near where we lived.

We have just relocated to Spain for a few months, and I discovered there is an integrative practice about an hour away. I will be getting a car in a couple of weeks, so I should be able to make it happen.

Anyway it’s a great read and if you, or someone you know has a pet on a prescription diet, or is about to go on one, give this article some attention and see what you think.

I’d love to hear your experience with prescription diets. Is or was your dog on one? Did you switch? If yes, why, to what food and do you see better results? Please share in the comment section below, or on my Facebook page.

the ultimate guide to choosing the right dog food

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Food

the ultimate guide to choosing the right dog food

I have no trouble admitting the confusion I feel when it comes to choosing the right dog food. Canned, dry, raw, freeze dried, grain free, organic, natural, puppy, adult or senior. Not to mention the rather lengthy list of ingredients that too often don’t even sound like food!! It’s a minefield full of conflicting information, most of which makes sense until you find the next article that makes sense.

Of course I’m very interested in nutrition as it relates to senior dogs, but I recently came across this incredibly informative article that I simply had to share with all of you.

Although it is not senior dog specific (as a matter of fact it isn’t dog specific either) it’s a fascinating read, and really is the ultimate guide to helping you choose the best food for your pet.  

The article “Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Pet Food” can be found online on Dogs Naturally Magazine, and was written by Dana Scott editor in chief.

I hope you enjoy it and learn as much as I did. I’d love to hear what you feed your senior dog and how you came to choose that particular brand/type of food. Share your thoughts in the comment section below or on my Facebook page.


the importance of proper senior dog nutrition

Senior Dog Food: Does It Satisfy Their Nutritional Needs?

senior dog nutrition

Welcome to this guest post about Senior Dog Nutrition. 

I’m so pleased to introduce my guest author, Carlotta Cooper. She writes for Dog Food Guide, is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News, the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com Award winner for 2013. In addition, she’s written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.


Like many of you, I’ve lived with a lot of old dogs. Some of them I’ve had from the time they were puppies and others I’ve taken in as rescues. In all cases I’ve seen their nutritional needs change as they get older. The problem is that commercial dog foods, for the most part, don’t provide a aisles of commercial dog foodgood selection of foods for older dogs.

The first time I noticed this problem was with my old dog, Jasper. To this day I think Jasper may have loved me more than any dog I ever had – and the feeling was mutual. Jasper had been dumped by his owners at the pound and his breeder was lucky enough to get him back. He was very underweight and she had to nurse him back to health. He came to me when he was 18 months old but he had separation anxiety issues.

I fell in love with him at first sight. He was never more than a few feet away from me if he could help it. He had a good appetite but he was a nervous dog, as you might expect. As he got older, it became harder to keep weight on him. He was healthy, per the vet, but he wasn’t metabolizing food as efficiently as a younger dog would. I started looking at senior dog foods for him. That’s when I learned that most senior dog foods are no good for older dogs if they aren’t overweight.

If you check with AAFCO or the other powers that determine the proper nutrients for dogs, they say that there is no special guidance for senior dogs . There is growth and reproduction, maintenance, and all life stages for dog foods, but nothing for senior dogs. This is a pity because senior dogs do have some special requirements, per the 2006 pamphlet Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs 

Energy needs of older dogs

Because of decreased physical activity and slowed metabolism, older dogs need 20% fewer total calories than do middle-aged adult dogs. As dogs age, they tend to become overweight. It may take obese dogs longer for their blood glucose concentrations to return to normal. This disrupted carbohydrate metabolism can lead to diabetes.

This pamphlet was written by The National Research Council of the National Academies based on a report by the Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. These are the people that come up with the nutritional requirements for our pets. If you’ve ever had a skinny old dog, you know that he can’t survive based on that recommendation of feeding him 20 percent fewer calories than a middle-aged dog.

Most dog food manufacturers make the assumption that dogs that are past their prime adult years (1-7 years) are slowing down and gaining weight. So, they make “senior” dog food with nutritional needs of senior dogsfewer calories and, very often, with less protein. In fact, if you check their labels, some foods are even marketed as senior AND weight control foods. The idea is that being chubby is unhealthy for these older dogs.

Yes, being overweight is unhealthy for your dog and some of these dogs that are getting older can stand to lose a few pounds. However, there are many elderly dogs that are losing weight. They may be thin and have trouble holding onto their weight. Owners struggle to get them to eat. The older dog’s sense of smell and taste begins to dull as he ages so food is less tempting. There should be some senior dog foods designed for these dogs and it should not be a low calorie or low protein dog food.

The fact is that most older dogs need more protein than younger dogs, not less. (Mary Straus at Dogaware.com has excellent information on protein and older dogs. As dogs age, they metabolize protein less efficiently than before so they need more protein, not less, and the protein needs to come from better quality sources so it is easier to absorb. If they don’t get enough protein, they will start to break down their own muscle tissue which leads to their body wasting and other problems. Their immune system will start to fail. For many years people worried about giving old dogs too much protein because of possible kidney issues but unless your dog has a serious kidney health problem, there is no reason to avoid giving him more protein in his diet.

Ironically, cat nutritionists have known this fact for a long time. They recommend that aging cats get more protein and not less.

Their energy needs decrease until 11 years of age, then increase as the cat continues to age. Obesity is one of the main health problems of middle age (6-8 years of age) cats; it occurs less often by the age of ten, and greatly decreases after that.

Some studies have shown that senior cats do not digest, and thus absorb fat and protein, as well as younger cats. This means that older cats may need to consume fat and protein that is more digestible to get the same amount of energy. You’ll need to monitor the weight and body condition of your cat, and adjust his diet accordingly.

It seems pretty obvious that dogs are more like cats than many people have previously realized.

I have also had older dogs who were chubby. It’s true that some senior dogs do need some help staying slim. Being overweight puts more stress on their bones and joints and can worsen any the importance of proper senior dog nutritiontendency toward arthritis. If your older dog is overweight, you can try cutting back on his regular food rations (slightly) or try feeding a food that has a little less fat. Many of the super-premium dog foods popular today have a high percentage of fat. You can find some very good quality dog foods that have more modest fat levels.

If you choose a low-calorie or low-fat diet, your senior dog is probably going to be very unhappy with you – and feel hungry all the time. Just reducing the fat percentage in the food slightly will make a big difference in the long run.

If your senior dog is underweight, you can try switching to a food that has a slightly higher fat content. Again, you don’t have to make a drastic change but increasing the fat content slightly can make a positive difference to your dog’s weight. Extra fat in the diet can also make the food taste better and be more appealing to your underweight dog.

When choosing a good food for your older dog, be sure to figure the dry matter basis for the food. Experts recommend the protein percentage should be at least 25 percent, with moderate fat (12-18 percent). Remember that most dog foods that are sold as “senior/weight control” dog is this enough senior dog nutritionfoods are very high in carbohydrates. They are often low in protein and have fewer nutrients than foods with more protein.

When choosing a senior dog food, it’s better to look for one that has plenty of protein from good quality sources and sufficient fat for your dog. Even if your older dog needs to lose weight, a food with low-moderate fat (12-13 percent) can help him slowly shed a few pounds.

It’s also important to remember that your dog’s weight is often an indicator of his overall health. If he gains or loses weight quickly, it can be a sign of an underlying health problem. Take him to the vet as soon as you notice any unexpected changes in his weight or body condition. As your dog ages, you have to stay alert to what his body tells you about his health.