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Older Dog Losing Weight: When to Worry and What to Do?

Senior dogs can lose weight instead of gaining it, which can be a source of concern for pet owners. Our vets in Clearlake can advise and help you if you notice this happening to your dog.

Older Dog's Weight

It's generally thought that dogs tend to put on weight as they age. However, some dogs can actually lose weight. If you're wondering why your dog is losing weight, there are two possible reasons. Firstly, it may be a symptom of an underlying health problem or disease. Secondly, it may be due to changes in your dog's dietary requirements as he ages.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs That Are a Problem

Eight common conditions can lead to weight loss in older dogs. These include liver and gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Having your dog examined by a veterinarian to determine the underlying problem is vital. In most cases, these problems manifest themselves through symptoms other than weight loss.

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 Weight Loss

If your vet finds no underlying cause for the weight loss, it may be time to change your dog's diet. Consult your veterinarian about your dog's current diet and the amount of protein, fat, and fiber he is consuming.

In conclusion

If you notice that your senior dog is losing weight rapidly, it's best to take him to the vet immediately. If you have any general concerns about your dog's weight, bring them up at your veterinarian's semi-annual check-up.

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, please contact our vets in Clearlake immediately to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.

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

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