Weight Loss in Dogs
Weight loss in dogs can be the result of a lot of possible health problems. from worm infestations to organ failure. This
page looks at the possible causes dog weight loss.
A dog losing weight, either suddenly or over a period of time, is a sign indicating that there is some underlying health problem. Significant weight loss of over 10
percent of the normal body weight is considered serious enough for veterinary intervention.
Weight loss in dogs usually occurs when the dog's body loses nutrients faster than it can consume them due to some physical health problems, which may or may not be caused by
a loss of appetite.
If your dog seems to be losing weight, measure his weight daily and keep a record of his weight over a period of one week or so. In the meantime, observe your dog and
watch out for other possible illness symptoms, in particular:
Make a note of any symptoms that accompany the weight loss - this will be very helpful for the vet in making a diagnosis.
There are many health problems that can cause a dog to lose weight. Below is a list of some possible causes.
- Chronic vomiting
- Chronic diarrhea
- Appetite loss
- Difficult swallowing
- Stool eating
- Weakness and lethargy
Weight Loss in Dogs - Problems with Digestive System
Very often, dog weight loss is caused by a problem in the gastrointestinal tract, in which case, the weight loss is often accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting. For
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- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: In serious cases of IBD
where the upper GI tract is inflamed, the dog will have diarrhea and
vomiting, as well as weight loss.
- Gastritis: Gastritis is the irritation and inflammation or infection of
the stomach lining. Chronic gastritis causes chronic vomiting and appetite loss, which results in weight loss.
- Stomach Ulcers: Dogs suffering from stomach ulcers also have chronic
vomiting, sometimes even with an empty stomach. Ulcers lead to appetite loss as well as weight loss in dogs.
- Gastric Outflow Obstruction: This is a condition in which the stomach contents cannot be emptied due to such problems as chronic gastritis,
gastric tumors, or foreign bodies in the GI tract. Dogs with a complete obstruction usually vomit immediately after eating, and will suffer from appetite loss, bloating,
belching, and weight loss.
- Problems with the Esophagus: Problems with the esophagus (e.g. megaesophagus, esophageal blockage by foreign body, esophageal tumors) lead to
difficulty eating and subsequent appetite and weight loss.
- Intestinal Parasites: Intestinal parasites such as hookworms,
roundworms, whipworms, and
giardia can also cause weight loss in dogs. These parasites are most common in puppies
and younger adults or in those boarded in crowded kennels.
Weight Loss in Dogs - Infectious Diseases
Infections caused by different microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses can wreak havoc in a dog's body and immune system. Some examples of infectious diseases that
cause dog weight loss include Lyme disease, blastomycosis, and
Weight Loss in Dogs - Hormonal Disorders
Weight loss can be a symptom of some hormonal disorders, such as:
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- Diabetes mellitus: Diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, is a result of insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas. The symptoms of
early stages in diabetes include drinking a lot of water and frequent urination,
appetite gain but weight loss.
- Addison's disease: This disease is characterized by an insufficient production of corticosteroids and mineralocorticoids, which regulate
important body functions. Dogs suffering from this disease have intermittent vomiting and diarrhea and gradual weight loss. They are lethargic and have weak muscles and
- Hyperthyroidism: This hormonal disease is the opposite of
hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by increased metabolism as a result of an over-production of the thyroid hormones. Because of increased metabolism, dogs
with hyperthyroidism lose weight over time. Fortunately, hyperthyroidism is rare in dogs.
Weight Loss in Dogs - Other Problems
Sometimes, a dog losing weight is as a result of an organ failure, such as kidney failure,
liver failure, and
Other problems that can lead to dog weight loss include situations in which excessive energy (calories) is needed for the body either to fight a chronic disease such as
cancer or some form of inflammation or infection, or to perform demanding physical activities.
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Dog Losing Weight - What To Do?
As you can see, there are a lot of possible causes of dog weight loss. If your dog is losing weight and/or is not eating, a thorough medical check-up is necessary to find
out the underlying cause.
Treatment involves identifying and dealing with the underlying cause. In the meantime, you can do your dog a great service if you switch his diet to a natural,
high-quality diet if you have not already done so. Adding supplements and vitamins to the diet helps significantly. If your dog is not eating, try to warm his food to
bring out the aroma or trying adding spices such as peppermint, fennel, ginger, alfalfa, and dill to his food.