Old Dog Not Eating But Drinking Water

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By connorshehan October 10th, 2019

So your dog isn’t eating? Maybe it happened suddenly or it’s been gradual. Either way, it can be frightening. If you have an older dog, it’s not uncommon for them to experience changes that can deplete their appetites. When your senior dog has stopped eating their food, it’s often quite scary. You don’t want your dog to become malnourished but you don’t know why they aren’t eating their food. If they’re drinking water, it’s usually a good indication that they’re not refusing their food in protest. 

Don’t panic! Below we’re discussing possible scenarios in which your dog might be refusing his or her meals (but still drinking water) and some solutions for the underlying issue. 

Why Is Your Old Dog Drinking Water, But Not Eating?

There are many reasons why an older dog would continue drinking water, but stop eating. Here are some possible reasons: 

1. Weakened Teeth

As dogs get older, their teeth weaken. It becomes harder for your dog to chew its food. As a note, visible signs are not always apparent and it usually comes down to a simple refusal to eat.  Routine dental care is of utmost importance. Scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian or simply swapping out their food for something softer and more manageable could help you determine if this is the case. 

Old Dog Not Eating But Drinking Water

2. Stress

If you’re a dog owner, you likely already know that they are creatures of habit. They thrive with routine and can almost always pinpoint exact times of day when certain events happen to like food or walks. However, if they’ve recently been thrown off their daily routines, it could cause your pup to stress out. Stress often leads to a lack of appetite, hence the reason for their full bowl. 

Other various scenarios of stress begin if you move to a new home. The best way to reduce your dog’s stress levels is to leave them in an environment they are most comfortable with. If you’re making a move, try to fix up a special space for them that includes their favorite bed, toys, and blankets. Familiar smells and surroundings do wonders for our fur friends. 

3. Same boring food

As we stated, dogs are habitual animals, but they sometimes like a changeup to their everyday food. If your dog is simply refusing the food he/she has been eating for the last decade, then why not try something new? 

While we don’t advise adding human food to their existing plate, there are alternatives if you’re hesitant about throwing out a fifty-pound bag of kibble. Try Mixables dog toppers. They come in a variety of flavors and you can simply add them atop their ordinary meals to transform them into something new and delectable. 

4. Serious illness

Lastly, a dog not eating could be a sign of wear and tear and everything that accompanies that sentiment. Unfortunately, old age brings about different illnesses, some serious some acute.

The less serious problems include digestive issues that leave your dog uncomfortable. There are special dog foods for sensitive stomachs. 

However, if your dog continues to drink water, but simply refuses food, it could be a sign of more serious chronic health concerns. Among these includes kidney dysfunctions and even failure. By drinking water, your dog intuitively tries to fight the discomfort of build-up happening internally. For both scenarios, we recommend you consult with your veterinarian. 

concerns for older dog not eating

How Can You Get Your Old Dog To Start Eating?

To get your old dog eating again, there are a few things that you can do. Each solution is tailored to a specific cause, but if you don’t know the cause, then it’s best to take your dog to the vet.

Take Your Dog To The Vet:

If your dog isn’t eating, and you can’t tell what’s wrong, then you must take them to the vet. While at the vet’s office, you’ll be able to learn the exact reasons why your dog isn’t eating, and how you can fix that.

Take Your Dog To A Veterinary Dentist:

If your dog is dealing with problems related to their teeth, then you must take them to a veterinary dentist. To determine if your dog is, in fact, having problems with their teeth, you should take them to the vet, where they’ll be able to determine that.

When you take your dog to the veterinary dentist, they’ll perform the dental procedures that are necessary. Most of the time, these procedures consist of things like brushing the teeth, removing teeth that have rotted, and removing bacteria and abscesses.

Give Your Dog Some New Food:

As mentioned earlier, some dogs get tired of their food as they get older. When that happens, you need to either purchase some new dog food or find a way to spruce up their current dog food.

How to Get an Old Dog to Eat

If you don’t want to purchase new dog food, you can always add a dog food topper to the food. Dog food topper is wet dog food that adds flavor to your dog’s regular food, as well as vitamins and nutrients that aren’t always found in their regular kibble. While it’s designed for all dogs, Mixables dog food toppers soft and flavorful varieties are a wonderful choice for senior pups. 

Comfort Your Dog And Observe

If your dog is okay with drinking water, but still refuses food keep an eye on it for a couple of days. Sometimes with an upset stomach, the problem will resolve itself. If for some reason it doesn’t, it’s important to consider taking them to an animal hospital. Veterinarians can help determine if it may be the cause of urinary tract infection, diabetes, or kidney issues. 


With Mixables, the healthy wet dog food, you can reward your pooches with the best of both worlds: health and a wealth of flavor.