Dogs are generally playful, energetic, happy, and full of curiosity. But, like us, their energy levels can also fluctuate from day to day depending on a number of factors, including fitness and health levels, diet, and even the level of stimulation they receive.
A lethargic dog is inactive, who appears tired or sleepy all the time. The dog shows little or no interest in things in general, and there is a delay in response to external stimuli (such as sound, touch, smell, or sight) around him.
Lethargy in dogs is a sign which suggests that the dog may not be well, either physically or mentally.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of reasons that can make a dog lethargic. Some such reasons may not be too serious – it may be that the dog is just feeling a bit “under the weather”.
But, other reasons may be more severe or even life-threatening if left untreated. In any case, lethargy is almost always one of the first signs that a dog shows if he is sick or injured.
If your dog has suddenly become lethargic, observe him carefully to see if you can identify any other sick dog symptoms. If lethargy persists, you should take him to the vet even if he does not show any other signs of illness.
Other Symptoms to Watch Out For
Health problems that make a dog lethargic almost always bring about other symptoms. If your dog is lethargic, watch out for the following symptoms as well:
- Appetite loss
- Gastrointestinal problems (such as vomiting, diarrhea)
- Respiratory problems (such as panting, difficulty breathing)
- Signs of pain (e.g. drooling, reluctant to be touched)
- Behavioral changes (e.g. aggression, depression, hiding)
Health Problems that Make a Dog Lethargic
Sudden onset of lethargy may suggest that your dog is suffering from an acute health problem, such as:
Eating something disagreeable to the dog, such as some medications or poisonous substances, can also make your dog lethargic shortly after ingesting such substances.
On the other hand, if your dog is progressively becoming lethargic and the condition seems to be getting worse over time, he may be suffering from some form of chronic disease, such as:
- Chronic infection or inflammation (e.g. bladder infection, kidney infection)
- Heart problems (e.g. congestive heart failure)
- Parasites (e.g. worms – whipworms, heartworms, etc.)
- Infectious diseases (e.g. leptospirosis, distemper, parvovirus, etc.)
- Hormonal or metabolic disorders (e.g. Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, etc.)
- Blood disorders (e.g. anemia)
- Disorders that cause pain (e.g. arthritis, periodontal problems, ear infections)
Other Reasons that Can Make a Dog Lethargic
A dog may also become lethargic due to reasons other than physical problems. For example:
- Depression: A depressed dog is a lethargic dog! The dog is usually mopey, has no pep, and sleeps most of the time. Depression in dogs can be caused by a change in the dog’s environment or chemical imbalance (same as clinical depression in people).
- Boredom: A dog may become lethargic simply because of boredom and a lack of stimulation in his daily life. Dogs who are kept inside the house, or are left alone most of the time with little or no quality time with their human parents will naturally feel bored which can lead to lethargy.
- Old Age: Older dogs commonly experience declining energy levels as part of the natural aging process. As a result, they are usually slower and have lost some of their pep. They may also be lethargic because of more aches and pains in their bodies!
- Malnutrition: Dogs who are fed a poor-quality diet simply do not have the energy and strength to stay active and peppy. Malnutrition can result in weight loss and lethargy in dogs.
Age and Lethargy in Dogs
Generally speaking, if you have a puppy or younger dog, and the dog has suddenly become lethargic and weak, the following causes are more likely:
- Infectious disease, such as parvovirus, bacterial infections
- Parasites, such as heartworm, hookworms, flea or tick infestation
On the other hand, if you have an older dog that is becoming lethargic over a period of time, it is likely that the dog has some form of chronic disease, such as:
- Degenerative joint issues (e.g. osteoarthritis)
- Heart problem
- Periodontal problem
Treatment for Lethargic Dogs
Since lethargy is a symptom, treatment of lethargy in dogs depends on the underlying cause.
The first step is to get to the vet for a proper diagnosis. Once the underlying cause is identified and addressed, the symptom of lethargy will disappear.
If your dog seems to be less energetic and peppy than before but is otherwise healthy, you may want to consider giving him the supplement SPARK to restore his healthy energy levels and vitality.
This herbal formula contains a combination of therapeutic herbs and superfoods (e.g. algae, spirulina, chlorella, etc.) which have energy-supporting properties, and a positive effect on systemic health.
The supplement is particularly useful for dogs that appear sluggish, bored, listless or disinterested in life.
There are also things that you can do at home to help prevent your dog from becoming lethargic.
- Make sure that you feed your dog a high-quality diet so that he has all the nutrients necessary for his body.
- Spend quality time with your dog (e.g. playing his favorite games, taking long walks) every day.
- Make sure that he has regular exercise.
- Have regular checks for the presence of intestinal parasites such as worms.
- Avoid exposing your dog to toxins, chemicals and food additives as much as possible.