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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

As our dogs age, we usually worry about them gaining weight, but some senior dogs tend to lose weight. Our vets at North Providence will tackle the weight loss issue in senior dogs and provide guidance on when to become concerned.

Older Dog's Weight

Although many dogs tend to gain weight as they age, some dogs may actually begin to lose weight instead. If you're wondering why your dog is losing weight, there are two possible explanations. It could be a symptom of an underlying condition, indicating a larger health issue, or simply due to changes in your dog's diet requirements as they age.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs That Are a Problem

Eight common issues could 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. It is important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to diagnose and address these issues. It is usually the case that weight loss is accompanied by other symptoms related to the root cause.

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 is unable to identify any underlying reasons for your dog's weight loss, it may be necessary to alter their diet. Discuss their current diet and the quantities of protein, fat, and fiber they are consuming with your veterinarian.

In conclusion

If your senior dog is losing a significant amount of 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.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you notice that your senior dog is losing weight, it is important to contact the vets at North Providence immediately to schedule an appointment.

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

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