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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Our primary focus often revolves around preventing our beloved dogs from gaining excess weight. However, a different concern arises as our furry companions transition into their golden years. Our Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic vets discuss weight loss in a senior dog and when you should be concerned.

Older Dog's Weight

While it's commonly observed that many dogs tend to gain weight as they grow older, some dogs might experience weight loss. You might be wondering about the reasons behind your dog's weight loss. This question generally falls into two categories: it could indicate an underlying health condition, signaling a broader problem, or it might be attributed to changes in your dog's dietary needs due to the aging process.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs That Are a Problem

Elderly dogs often experience weight loss, which can be a result of several underlying issues. These common issues include problems with the liver or gallbladder, dehydration, dental troubles, kidney disease, heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. It's crucial to have your veterinarian diagnose and address each of these problems. In many cases, these issues are accompanied by additional symptoms, helping to identify their root cause.

For your senior dog going through weight loss, carefully monitoring them for any other signs of concern is the best approach. By recognizing and sharing these additional symptoms with your vet, you can aid in a faster and more accurate diagnosis.

Let's take a look at the symptoms associated with each of these conditions:

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 an underlying reason for your dog's weight loss, it could be beneficial to consider altering your dog's diet. Take the opportunity to discuss your dog's current diet composition, including protein, fat, and fiber content, with your vet. This conversation can provide valuable insights into potential dietary adjustments that might help address the weight loss issue.

In conclusion

If you notice your older dog shedding a substantial amount of weight quickly, it's crucial to promptly consult your veterinarian. To address any worries about your senior dog's weight overall, make sure to discuss it during your dog's bi-annual routine check-up with the veterinarian.

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 losing weight, contact our Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic vets right away to schedule an appointment for your dog.

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Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients including dogs, cats and large animals. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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