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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

As dogs grow older, their owners tend to notice certain changes in them. Some of these changes are normal, but others can be concerning, like sudden weight loss. Our Oakwood veterinarians discuss weight loss in older dogs and when you should be concerned.

When Your Older Dog is Losing Weight

Weight gain is more frequently observed in older dogs than weight loss, though this is not always the case. When your senior dog experiences sudden or gradual weight loss, it may be a cause for concern. Typically, there are two primary reasons for this weight loss as your dog enters their golden years.

  1. Your dog has an underlying health condition, and weight loss is a symptom of it.
  2. Your dog requires a new diet at their age.

When is Weight Loss in Older Dogs a Concern?

If an older dog experiences weight loss, it's likely due to an underlying health condition. These conditions may include liver or gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Your veterinarian should diagnose and treat each of these issues. In addition to weight loss, most of these conditions come with other symptoms.

If your senior dog is losing weight excessively, it is important to take note of their symptoms and bring them to a veterinarian in Oakwood for examination. Some conditions that can cause weight loss in pets and their common symptoms include:

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 Happens When There Is No Diagnosis

If your dog is losing weight and your veterinarian hasn't diagnosed any medical conditions, it's worth inquiring about their current diet. Ask your vet about the protein, fat, and fiber levels in their meals. They may recommend a new diet or meal plan to help your pup regain a healthy weight.

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 your senior dog is noticeably losing weight, contact our Oakwood vets right away to schedule an examination.

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

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