Trying to put some weight on my old doggie

TL;DR - requesting suggestions to tempt my old doggie’s appetite.

Sweetie showed up at my house in the country 14 years ago. I don’t know how old she was then–definitely not a puppy. She could be as old as 16 or 17 now. My then-BF gave her that name because she IS the sweetest dog in the whole world. :dog:

Here is a recent-ish picture of her in one of the eight dog/cat beds I have scattered throughout the house. No animal here ever has to worry about a sudden Nap Attack with nowhere to fall down.

She has been losing weight (from high 40s to low 40s) and her back legs are losing strength, such that I’ve had to put carpets and runners all over the house because she can’t get up from the hardwood floor otherwise. She has had back and spinal issues ever since she joined my household back yonder. She has been getting treatments at the vet every other week for a couple of years… not going to go into those, as I don’t particularly want to open a discussion on that topic. She gets doggie ibuprofen every day and an occasional Tramodol at night.

I know she’s not going to live forever and my goal now is to keep her as happy and functional as possible in whatever time she has left, which may be as long as a couple of years. I went this route with her companion, the late great doggie Buddy (also known as The Budster and Dr. B), and I’m fine with it.

What I would like advice on is what to feed her to put some weight on her. About 10 days ago, she stopped eating the dry food I have always fed her, Taste of the Wild. I’m willing to feed her anything she wants, and it has been rotisserie chicken, a dab of canned pumpkin, a small amount of rice, Dreamcoat on her food (on the vet’s recommendation), a small amount of bone broth, a hard boiled egg (yard eggs from a friend), and nutritional yeast sprinkled over. The commercial dog food I’ve settled on is Natural Balance. The vet tech at the clinic said they have a high-calorie canned prescription food (AD?), and I guess I can get a can to see if she likes it. Interested in other commercial wet food suggestions.

BTW, she still produces perfect poop when I walk her every day. A good sign, I think.

Sweetie has never been a chow hound, unlike the aforementioned Buddy who ate like there was no tomorrow (even when there was no tomorrow, God bless him). I’ve been feeding her several times a day, any time she shows interest. I usually eat sitting at my coffee table in the living room, and I’ve started putting her food bowl on the floor next to me when I eat, and this has worked well. She’s the only living creature I’ve sat down to a meal with in several years…

I’d like advice on tempting food suggestions. When I put the food down in the morning after she gets up (and I don’t put out everything at once), she’ll go and have a few bites and then graze on it throughout the day. Until whatever dregs are left become so disgusting that I have to throw them out. If she eats all or most, I will replenish.

I thank you and Sweetie thanks you.

Our eldest dog Ella has never been food oriented. Offer her some steak and she’ll sniff at it and walk away. If you ask her to eat it she will, though.

She’s had several bouts of pancreatitis and frequent bouts of colitis. I have to be careful about what I feed her.

Currently she gets Merrick dry twice daily like the other two dogs. Between meals I’ve been giving her beef/bean burritos. I buy them from Dollar General, right in a bag for 3.99 IIRC. I microwave one for one minute and fifteen seconds, let it rest for 2 minutes, then cut it into bite sized pieces using scissors. She eats two a day, loves them.

She is SO adorable!! :heart:

More weight would just make her burden of moving greater, which may very well be the reason she is losing weight in the first place. I would just let nature run its course for as long as it is humane to do so. Treasure the time you have left together!!

Our puppies really go for the small tinned dog food from Aldi. They’re about 45 cents apiece and apparently contain crack cocaine. There are three flavors.

There is another line at Aldi—bigger cans, different stuff. They seemed to like it but it was a salmon variety, I think, and Mrs. L did not appreciate the smell. Perhaps your dog isn’t smelling very well and a stronger stimulus would help?

The pups also love Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and bananas. We mix that up and freeze in ramekins, which can be a nice treat on a hot day, but they’re also happy to lick the bowl. Our chocolate lab (RIP) loved boiled sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs. When she was sick, she loved the Hills Science Diet canned food.

Good luck!

Because we have hens, we usually have more eggs than we know what to do with. Every day I beat two eggs and cook them. I divide them among our three dogs and parrot.

I’m going to disagree here. Three years ago Ella had a severe bout with pancreatitis and euthanasia was being discussed. She was skeletal, painful to look at. I worked with her and she recovered.

I then worked at putting weight back on and building muscle. When she recently had a bout of vestibular disease she would have never made it had she not had a few pounds she was able to drop during her 3-4 day fast.

I’m not saying an obese dog should be obese, but body conditioning score of 5/9 is ideal.

Well, I’ve never owned a dog, so I’ll defer to your judgment.

Cinnamon is getting up there too, and he also gets Merrick, the kind with the freeze dried extra tasty bits. IIRC “Red Plains Blend” or something like that. He never was really food driven, and as he’s gotten older, he now picks the extra tasty bits out and eats them, leaving the regular kibble in a delightful mess on the floor. I’ve started mixing in some canned food into the kibble so he’ll eat more.

Ella gets that also! When she and I eat together I sometimes reflect on the fact that her meal costs more than mine.

Oh, forgot the all important pic.

Satin Balls are a recipe that’s been around a long lime. I got the recipe years ago from someone doing rescue, and I’ve used it successfully on my aging/recovering dogs. I make it into meatballs (as shown in the picture, but not described in the recipe) and freeze them on a tray, then put them in ziplock bags. Also, instead of oatmeal, the recipe I have calls for crushed up “Total” cereal. Added vitamin boost, I guess.


Also, I make chicken and brown rice for my aging dogs. Get some cheap chicken leg quarters. Boil them with water and brown rice until the rice is cooked. After they’ve cooled, removed the meat from the bone and chop into small pieces and throw back in with the rice. If the mixture is too thin, add some oatmeal to give it a slurry-type texture. Ladle over kibble or feed alone.


Thank you so much, Doggie Lovers! I knew y’all would come through!

Several of y’all have mentioned Merrick. I’ll definitely try.

The vet is worried about her muscle loss, too. I just don’t want her to keep losing. Her spine is sticking up like a dinosaur skeleton in a natural history museum.

We don’t have Aldi’s here. Wish we did–I’ve heard great things about them. Your other suggestion is great.

Lying among her plunder and victims… ahhh…satisfaction.

I believe I caught Satin Balls’ act at a night club in New Orleans one time… :wink:

Seriously, great suggestion and great recipe!

I love you guys.

Done and in the freezer! (This is the freezer in my extra fridge in the garage. More room to spread out.)

I didn’t make balls, I made Satin Fingers (who I believe was Satin Balls’ preferred accompanist…). That way they’ll thaw easily. I only made one-fourth of @StGermain’s recipe and still came out with 60 fingers. The whole recipe would be appropriate to feed a dog sled team. I let Sweetie taste some of the mixture and she liked it. This will supplement her other food, not replace it.

I used Total AND oatmeal AND wheat germ, and a little nutritional yeast, too. And a couple of tablespoons of beef bone broth to loosen up the mixture. Then I let it sit out on the counter for about 40 minutes to so the grainy things could hydrate.


Report back! But I can’t imagine any dog not loving it.


Second the request for a review!

I put three “fingers” on top of the canned food I gave her a little while ago. She ate two and a half of them. I’ll have to keep an eye on that last bit. Since it’s raw, I can’t just leave it out indefinitely. She might go back later and finish it. She has her own dining rules and rhythms.

She’s a funny, shy dog. Always has been. When they show up at your house fully grown you don’t know what circumstances they have come from. When she first joined the tribe, my then-BF and I used to spend weekdays at his house in the city and come out to my house in the country on weekends. For a very long time, Sweetie would not get in the car or go near it. My BF had to pick her up and bodily carry her and she shook the whole time. Eventually she got okay with it. I guess when she learned we weren’t carting her off to the dog food factory (not as a customer either). I tell people that she is high strung just like her <ahem> owner. Since all of my animals have been rescues, my highest priority is for them to know that they are safe.

When I first put her food down she will look askance at it. Like I’m trying to poison her. Sometimes I will all but drag her by her harness to the food bowl, and then she’ll chow down just fine. “Oh, was this what you wanted to show me? Why didn’t you say so! It’s pretty darned good!” Or I’ll bring the food to her and she’ll eat.

Yeah, all she has to do is bark and I ask “how high?” as my feet leave the ground.

HA! I just checked, and she did go back and eat the last bit of that Satin Finger. Sly little scamp of a doggie! (I am besotted with her… :heartbeat: )

So glad ol’ Satin Balls worked out! I’ve always had dachshunds, so I’ve never had trouble with dogs eating…even at the very end.

My old dogs have been eating less and less, but they aren’t underweight. They’ve always been a bit pudgy, and Harley (14 yrs old, a 16 lb Chihuahua) was extremely overweight until I put him on a diet a few years ago. He lost 8 lbs over a year’s time, just by stopping free feeding of dry food.

Ernie (15 yrs old, a 15 lb Bichon) has stopped eating about one meal out of three. (I feed twice a day.) And last month he didn’t hardly eat anything for about a week. I was getting worried, and then I figured out why he had a bad tummy, after he brought a dead bird in the house. :astonished: (Not the first time!) I don’t know if he killed it or what, but he must have eaten some.

I hope your doggo enjoys the Satin fingers, and puts on some weight. I might make up a batch. We love our old pups! :blue_heart: