- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Help with getting elderly dog to eat?

March 18th, 2011, 04:12 PM
Hello everyone.

I inherited my Mom's dog after she passed away last week. He is almost 16yrs old. He is terribly thin, he is almost blind and paritally deaf. He had not been eating much since my Mom died last week, but I have had some luck with frequent small meals. I took him to the vet ($400 later) and he is now on Metcam for his arthritis/back pain, we are treating a hotspot on his back with antibiotics (oral and topical) and the vet suggested supplementing with glucosamine (Sasha's blend) and fatty acid supplements....PHEW! She gave me some medi-cal gastrointestinal food (dry and canned) to help him gain weight, but he isn't too fond of that. I was feeding him Blue Buffalo (elderly) which he likes with canned mixed in. What other things can I use to increase his interest? I gave him a small amount ground beef with his food (microwaved and grease rinsed off) and the vet suggested cooked chicken. I have given my golden retriever pumpkin and cottage cheese in the past with her kibble which she likes. Any other suggestions to make his food appetizing and won't be too tough on his stomach? He really needs to gain weight! He did eat 3 small meals today though! I know he is grieving but with his new medication he seems better today.:thumbs up
Thanks, Ruthann

March 18th, 2011, 05:47 PM
My sincere condolences about your mom. What an amazing person you are to take care of her beloved dog..probaby a little one that she cherished so.

I cannot give you advice, but I wanted to acknowledge you here at pets.
There are some amazing dog people here that will help you with some great advice.
Bless your heart.:grouphug:

March 18th, 2011, 06:17 PM
The OP inherited her Mum's Dog Benmax.

I know in the past some of the members on here have had success with Satin Balls when they have needed to put weight on a dog....I'm not sure of the recipe, I'll look for it......hopefully someone will be along that can be of more assistance.

March 18th, 2011, 06:19 PM
At 16 I would just let him eat whatever he wants as long as it won't cause him any medical issues (nothing from the no-no's for dogs list) Some dogs really appreciate some human or fresh food. Maybe something like sardines (in water), or cooked meats will entice him? He also may require small meals throughout the day instead of large main meals if you can manage it.

Floppy Dog
March 18th, 2011, 06:20 PM
My condolances on the passing of your mom:cry: I don't have much to offer in the way of feeding advice except maybe to warm up the food a bit so that it is more aromatic, but I do have some by way of making your mom's dog feel more comfortable in your home. Try to keep all of the dogs bedding and toys, food bowls, etc. Also, if you can, find something that has your mom's smell on it, pillows from her bed, for example, and put it with the dogs bedding. Your mom's scent will fade over time, of course, but it will be a familiar thing for her dog in the short term. Don't be surprised if your mom's dog misses your mom for a very long time. When I was a teenager, our Cocker Spaniel kept looking for my grandfather for over a year after his death before she finally gave up trying to find him at my grandmother's apartment.

You certainly have my sincerest admiration for taking on your mom's senior dog while you are still dealing with your own emotions.:angel2:

March 18th, 2011, 06:25 PM
I found this recipe for Satin Balls....maybe you could give it a try.

satin balls :

5 pounds of ground beef (lean) raw
5 cups of oats
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup of molasses (melasse)
6 eggs
1 can of pumpkin puree (not the pie filing , the pure one)
500 mg of cottage cheese

you don't cook them , everything has to be raw.

March 18th, 2011, 06:32 PM
The OP inherited her Mum's Dog Benmax.

I know in the past some of the members on here have had success with Satin Balls when they have needed to put weight on a dog....I'm not sure of the recipe, I'll look for it......hopefully someone will be along that can be of more assistance.

Oh lordy...too much wine tonight.
SCM ..I pm'd you..sorry.:o

Thanks for the correction Chirs.
:thumbs up

March 18th, 2011, 06:42 PM
Kudos to you for taking in your mom's pet. My Corky was my mom's little dog too. I hope you will experience the same feelings I have when I hold him and feel the closeness from my mom. It's probably all in my head but sometimes I feel she's right there and loving her little guy through my arms. Whatever, but it works for me and I know your mom rests easy knowing you're there for her little one.

March 18th, 2011, 07:37 PM
I'm so sorry about your mom, Ruthann :grouphug: Bless you for being an angel to her little boy!

Satin balls are great. Also look for some high-calorie treats. For instance, if he's tolerant of dairy, try some small bits of cheese as rewards with his pills. Cheese is pretty high calorie and every little bit will help. Add new foods and treats slowly, though--at 16 his tummy might be more sensitive to changes, especially if you're adding rich foods.

Best of luck with your new little addition!

March 18th, 2011, 07:46 PM
If you are trying to fatten him up, why not leave the grease on the beef? You could even drip it over his other foods to make them more appetizing.

March 18th, 2011, 09:10 PM
my condolences to you on the passing of your Mother. That is so very hard.
Regarding her dog; do you know what he was eating before?
I wouldn't want to change it drastically right away, and the frequent small meals sounds like a good plan.
Many dogs lose some appetite with Metacam, so I used to make something like scrambled eggs, or hamburger with rice to get the appetite going.
Best wishes.

March 18th, 2011, 09:38 PM
Sincere condolences on the loss of your mom, Ruthan, such a sad time for you. Cyber hugs from us.
Listen to your vet. I always opt for chicken to help fatten mine, because it is bland, also excellent for putting weight on if you let them have some chicken skin as well. I boil it for a short time, remove ALL bones from it, then if I think a dog is having trouble chewing, I will soak their dry feed in this boiling broth from the chicken, and let it soak till it is cool enough all the way through for the dog to safely eat it. The occassional piece of roasted lamb flap also helps. Little and often is good, and I must say you've had some excellent suggestions from other posters.

March 19th, 2011, 12:54 AM
I'm really sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. I am sure that your taking such good care of her dog is a comfort to her.

I would recommend canned quail eggs (non-spiced!)--
something like this:

They are basically tiny little boiled eggs, the size of the tip of your thumb down to your thumb knuckle.

Almost every dog, no matter how stubborn or finicky, goes absolutely gaga over canned quail eggs, even if they don't like scrambled eggs. I have yet to figure out why, but my "hospice" dogs (I adopt only elderly dogs) seem to come down to eating canned quail egg yolks as their last food, so apparently they are quite good.

BTW quail eggs also work as "pill pockets" so we always have them around the house-- you can hide anything in them. You'll need to break them at least in half so they don't choke on them.

Another thing you might try is raw milk-- that is, non-pasteurized milk. If you are in Canada, then that is impossible (unavailable anywhere in Canada I think), but if you are in the US, you might have access to it, depending on the laws of your home state.

I have an 18.5 yr old Chihuahua with cancer who occasionally eats but often doesn't, and we are keeping her weight up with raw milk. It's expensive but she spent the first 18 years of her life half starved (I got her from a breeder who went bankrupt) so she's allowed to have a little luxury in her life.

Never use regular milk as it will cause diarrhea in most dogs, as they are lactose intolerant. Only non-pasteurized milk has the lactase intact to makes the lactose digestible. My guys choose raw milk over food any day, even after fasting when you would expect them to go straight for the food dish.

All that said, the opinions about raw milk are very fiercely divided, so you'll definitely want to do some reading up first to see if it is a good choice for your family.

March 19th, 2011, 05:57 AM
Thank you for your well wishes. I have a question about the satin balls. If he isn't used to raw meat, will that upset his stomach? I will have to look for the quail eggs and I definitely think I could get him to eat some cheese. I do live in Canada, so I'd have to give it some thought on if I could get any unpasteurized milk. Giving his pills is a problem as he really dislikes that, but it is only his antibiotics. Luckily everything else is a powder or liquid so we are managing pretty well. I know he is feeling better. Yesterday we walked to my daughters friends house - a couple of blocks and I don't think he could have before we started his Metcam. I think maybe it has taken his pain away - also allowing him to eat more. He was definitely more awake last night. He paces a lot and does laps around my main floor. I've had to block the stairs, as I was very worried he would fall. Max was my mother's baby (and my father's also who passed away in 2003). We will keep him as long as he has some quality of life. My children would also be devestated if anything happened to him. We are finally getting some warmer temperatures here so he has been enjoying being outside in the yard with my golden retriever.
Thanks for all the terrific advice!:)

March 19th, 2011, 06:05 AM
rjan, so sorry to hear about your mother :( :grouphug:. Yes, I do believe animals do go through a grieving process.

March 19th, 2011, 01:54 PM
The previous suggestion of quail eggs is a good one.
Many of the farmers markets have sellers with them, or you could try asking at health food stores.
Fresh quail eggs are delicious, a few years back I raised some quail, such cute birds.
And if you want to get some non-pasteurized milk, you can probably get a connection from somebody at a farmers market.
Note: In Ontario it is illegal to sell it, so some farmers will give away extra milk or trade it.

March 19th, 2011, 02:09 PM
I have a question about the satin balls. If he isn't used to raw meat, will that upset his stomach?

It shouldn't hurt his stomach at all. The bigger problem is simply getting him to realize that raw food is in fact FOOD. The processed stuff has so many additives and chemicals and the smell is so strong that an older dog might have trouble even figuring out that real food is in fact food.

Four weeks of REAL food (raw or cooked... raw is better but cooked will also be a huge step over store-bought) is likely to give your dog a lot more energy and spunk, so don't give up. I adopt older/end-of-life dogs and everyone is amazed at how long they live. Nutrition really is everything.

Most every dog loves cottage cheese but your dog might not know what it is at first. I have had to smear some into my dogs' mouths to force them to taste it. Once they do, they're hooked, so it's just lack of experience with these foods more than anything else. So don't give up.

One other thing-- one of the best books on dog nutrition out there (whose name I can't remember & can't look up either, because I bugged out of Tokyo and don't have access to my bookshelf :( ) insists that you needn't worry about fat on meats in the way that humans are told to worry about fats. For humans, the big concern is cholesterol, but dogs don't have to worry about high cholesterol. For dogs, the reason to slice off/drain fat is calories. In your case, then, nothing to worry about.

I personally also worry about hormones/toxins (which collect in the fat), so maybe better to research that a bit if you are consciously giving the fatty bits as well. Most anything from New Zealand (famously, lamb) is grass-fed and hormone free, although few farms bother to go get certified as such. Personally I avoid US beef because of hormone use, although perhaps US farms are using less these days? No idea....

Chicken skin is great for fattening up dogs too, as other people said. A general rule of thumb is that if you are aiming for more calories, for every two chicken breasts, remove one skin and keep one on. Grind 'em up good in the food processor and you're good to go. I have one dog who won't do beef at all-- only does lamb and chicken-- so play with the recipe a bit.

Sorry to turn the "fattening up" question into a "raw food" direction, but the stuff on the BARF/raw food boards is really great and worth a read, if you haven't checked that out yet. Lots of the people posting in those threads have incredible experience with this and you can learn all sorts of great stuff there.

March 19th, 2011, 03:11 PM
If you are trying to fatten him up, why not leave the grease on the beef? You could even drip it over his other foods to make them more appetizing.

I would not do this on a regular basis as it could lead to pancreatitis.

rjan, if Max doesn't like the raw satin balls you can bake them as well. :)

I am sorry to hear of your mother's passing :candle: :grouphug: ....Max very likely was grieving as well and it would have affected his appetite. I'm sure with the excellent care you are giving him he will rebound quickly. :thumbs up

March 22nd, 2011, 05:02 AM
I have bought everything to make the satin balls. I will let you know how it turns out! On Saturday I will head to the farmers market to see what I can get!:thumbs up I think I will also resort back to making some basic "dog stew" for both my dogs - homemade stock, lean meats, vegies, barley etc. I used to do this for my last golden retriever when he became elderly. We also have a holistic dog food place where the owner is extremely knowledgeable. I think I will go talk to him as well. Again, thanks for all the advice!:D

March 22nd, 2011, 02:12 PM
I hope Max likes the satin balls. :fingerscr

I just noticed that you've been here almost 3 yr and I don't recall ever seeing pics of your pets .....I hope you have some to share with us. :goodvibes:

March 22nd, 2011, 10:06 PM
My condolences on the passing of your mom, and many kudos for caring for her beloved pet!

I don't know if it was just my dog, but my guy could NOT gain weight on raw.

You could try adding salmon oil to his food, my dogs love the smell of it, and that would be some extra calories. The pumpkin and plain yogurt would be good too. I agree that at his age, feed him whatever will get him to eat, as long as it's not something dangerous.

That is great to hear that the metacam is helping him feel more comfortable and he is enjoying some walks!

For his grief and anxiety (pacing the house at night) you could try some rescue remedy or there is probably a bach flower remedy specifically for grieving.

March 23rd, 2011, 06:03 PM
So sorry to hear of your Mom's passing rjan67 :( I have had several dogs who have definitely grieved at the loss of their owner or their dog companion. I have adopted 3 senior dogs and a 2 year old GR when they lost their owner. All of them searched my house for varying lengths of time but the seniors seemed to look for months before they finally settled in. I expect Max is going to look for your Mom for quite awhile especially because he knows you and your children.

I did not have success with a raw diet for any of them because their systems were so used to the dog food they'd had all their lives. I opted for a home made diet containing cooked meat and eased them onto it slowly so their digestive systems didn't get upset. I also warmed their food so it wasn't cold after storage in the fridge. Good luck with Max, you sound like you are doing the right things for him :thumbs up

March 24th, 2011, 05:44 AM
Well, I did have some luck with the satin balls. He would not touch them raw, but ate them when they were cooked. He has liked ground beef and chicken with his kibble and really likes the canned Blue Buffalo food. He is settling in, he didn't pace as much last night and has even wagged his tail a few times! I will try the salmon oil as well. My other problem is that every time I try to feed Max anything extra, my golden Sadie is right there too!:dog:She as at a good weight, so I need to watch her!

I did join 3 years ago, I think right after I got Sadie when she was a pup....which is the picture of my son with her in my avatar. I'm not sure what happened to me. She is about 70lbs heavier now and would not fit in his arms, although she loves to try!:) I also have a ragdoll cat named Jasper. :cat:

March 24th, 2011, 06:15 AM
Well, welcome back! Good to hear he is settling in and hopefully with all that good home cooking he'll be right as rain in no time.

I have the same problem with Bridie (the four-legged hoover) and Ceili (the wasp-waist supermodel). I admittedly am a softie so what I usually end up doing is throwing a tablespoon full of whatever I'm cooking for Ceili on Bridie's kibble so that she thinks she is getting a special meal too. :rolleyes:

Sounds like you are doing all the right things!