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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

While we are normally concerned with our dogs becoming overweight, as they become older senior dogs, some canines start to lose weight. In this blog, our Douglasville Veterinary Hospital vets discuss weight loss in a senior dog and when you should be concerned.

Older Dog's Weight

It is commonly believed that dogs tend to gain weight as they age. However, some dogs may experience weight loss instead. If you are wondering why your dog is losing weight, the answer can fall into two categories. It could either be a symptom of an underlying condition or a result of changes in their aging process, which may require a different diet.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dog That Are a Problem

There are eight common issues that can be the underlying cause of weight loss in elderly dogs. These include liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Having your vet diagnose and treat each of these issues is important. In most cases, these root problems will also have other accompanying symptoms.

The best thing you can do for your senior dog that is losing weight is to observe them for the other symptoms so you can inform the vet so they can diagnose your dog quicker. The symptoms that can present with each condition are as follows.

Liver/gallbladder disease

      • Lethargy
      • Increased thirst
      • Vomiting/diarrhea
      • Fever
      • Pain 
      • Pale or yellow gums
      • Yellowing of skin/eyes


      • Dry gums 
      • Lethargy 
      • Sunken eyes
      • Loss of skin elasticity
      • Less urination
      • Dark urine

Dental Issues

      • Excessive drooling
      • Difficulty eating/chewing
      • Bad breath
      • Swollen or bleeding gums

Kidney disease

      • Increased thirst
      • Excessive urination (may contain blood)
      • Vomiting
      • Loss of appetite
      • Pale gums
      • Lethargy

Heart disease

      • A chronic cough
      • Tires easily
      • Exercise intolerance
      • Excessive panting
      • Irregular heartbeat
      • Restlessness


      • Excessive thirst
      • Excessive urination
      • Increased appetite
      • Lethargy
      • Repeated urinary tract infections


      • Lethargy
      • Unusual bleeding
      • Lumps, bumps, or swelling
      • Distended abdomen
      • Limping or lameness
      • Unusual urination – frequency or amount


      • Wobbling
      • Lameness
      • Scuffing the toes
      • Incontinence

What to Do If No Underlying Medical Issues are Causing the Weight Loss

If your veterinarian cannot identify any underlying cause for your dog's weight loss, it may be necessary to alter their diet. It is advisable to discuss their current diet, including the protein, fat, and fiber content, with your veterinarian.

In conclusion

If your senior dog is losing significant weight rapidly, go to your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you are concerned about your dog's weight in general, bring it up with your veterinarian at your senior dog's bi-annual routine exam.

Consult with your veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and treatment. If you notice weight loss in your senior dog, schedule an appointment with our veterinarians at Douglasville today!

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Douglasville Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Douglasville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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