The weight of your dog will vary over the years throughout its lifetime. Age, breed, health conditions, and whether or not the dog is neutered all play a role in weight. However, if you notice your dog unexpectedly experiencing sudden signs of losing weight, this could indicate a serious problem. While not all abrupt weight loss has a chronic condition as its culprit, speaking to your veterinarian is in order as soon as you can get an appointment. The vet will help you work out your dog’s problem and arrange for an effective treatment plan. This visit will help answer the question: why is my dog losing weight? Unexplained weight loss in dogs may be worrying but there are many factors you should know while you wait for your appointment.
Healthy Weight Ranges
You can find charts to guide you toward your dog’s ideal weight according to breed online. However, you can make a cursory examination yourself to determine if your dog’s weight is ideal. On a regular basis, run your hands along your dog’s ribcage. Is it easy to feel the ribs? Does a significant layer of fat lie over the ribs? Look down at your dog from a height. Is a definite waistline visible? Or does the dog’s waist area blend with the hips? Examine your dog, taking a side view this time. Once again, is a waistline visible? On the contrary, is it a straight line back from the chest to the hind legs?
Questions to Ask When Your Dog is Losing Weight
When sudden weight loss strikes your dog, do not panic. Consider some questions to help your veterinarian ascertain the source of the problem. Has there been a change to your dog’s drinking habits, appetite, diet, feces, urination, mobility, breathing, or behavior? How long ago did you notice the presence of unexplained weight loss? Is it possible your dog got into any toxins? Also make note of any medications you use on your dog for flea, heartworm, and intestinal worm prevention and control.
When to Worry About Your Dog’s Sudden Weight Loss
If your dog has lost more than a tenth of its normal body weight, this event is considered clinically significant. An example would be a healthy large dog weighing seventy pounds, the standard for its breed. If this dog lost more than seven pounds, the loss would be significant in a clinical sense. Many causes can be at the root of less significant weight loss. Changes in activity level, diet, stress levels, environment, or the addition of new tenants or pets can lead to weight loss that is seldom significant or permanent.
When a Dog is Losing Weight While Still Eating
A healthy appetite that persists while your dog is losing weight can have many causes. Your dog may grow slimmer for a number of reasons, but it is never normal if you have not placed your dog on a deliberate diet. Your veterinarian can help determine the cause of the weight loss and explain the treatment options available.
Diseases do not cause all cases of canine weight loss. Changing up your dog’s food is among the most common causes of this problem. Even if you maintain the same kibble brand, the manufacturer may make changes that impact your dog’s weight. If an adjustment to the recipe offers up tenth fewer calories than the previous formula, your dog will start to show signs of losing weight if you dish up the same old amount.
Intestinal parasites used to be a much more common cause of losing weight, but they remain a viable risk. Most dog owners make use of monthly treatments against heartworms and intestinal parasites, but some do not, and even those who do can find their dogs infected with other types of parasites. Many treatments, for example, cannot kill whipworms. Intestinal parasites are problematic because they consume what your dog eats, depriving your pup of those required nutrients. Other symptoms caused by these tiny pests include diarrhea, increased gas, swelling of the abdomen, dehydration, and vomiting. Fortunately, fecal exams make the diagnosis of intestinal parasites easy. A broad-spectrum dewormer can remedy the problem.
These disorders hamper your dog’s body’s capacity for breaking food down into nutrients. Unfortunately, this results in those essential nutrients passing through your dog’s digestive system, leaving nothing to be absorbed by your dog’s body. Dogs with maldigestion disorders display healthy appetites while they lose weight continually. Other symptoms include loose yellow stool, diarrhea, and gas. Your veterinarian will need to run tests and perform a complete physical examination. Stool and blood samples will help the vet check for digestive enzymes.
A malady often found in older dogs, particularly females, diabetes causes dogs to lose weight in a rapid fashion. Their bodies simply lack the energy from glucose, rather seeking to convert protein or fat into energy. An older dog that experiences sudden signs of losing weight while drinking water in excessive amounts should see the veterinarian. Diabetic dogs tend to lose weight quickly; this may be followed by a loss of muscle mass. Common symptoms also include urinating excessively, an increase in appetite, recurrent or chronic urinary infections, and cloudy eyes. A blood glucose test and urinalysis will determine if your dog has diabetes, so these symptoms should lead you to an immediate veterinary appointment. A confirmed diagnosis leads to treatment plans including insulin shots along with a specially formulated diet.
Many problems experience dental problems, particularly senior pups. Gum disease, gingivitis, and teeth that are infected or broken can cause extreme pain, making proper eating difficult for your dog. Dental problems can lead to improper chewing even if your dog does not eat less because of the pain. This can result in weight loss. The symptoms include bad breath, drooling in excessive amounts, gums that bleed or are swollen, and difficulty in chewing and eating. A dental exam may be called for. Keep in mind that when left undiagnosed and untreated, dental disease can lead to oral bacteria spreading through your dog’s body. This can impact the liver, kidneys, or heart. This goes to show how canine dental health is important.
Chronic Renal Failure
Two to five percent of all dogs experience chronic renal failure or kidney disease. In this serious problem, your dog’s kidneys cease effective function. They cannot perform metabolic or excretory functions correctly. This condition’s typical age of diagnosis is around six to seven years old. Older dogs tend to suffer from chronic renal failure. A dog’s weight loss is a key symptom, as are lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness.
Gastrointestinal disorders affect your dog’s intestines and stomach. Look out for chronic constipation or diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, and lethargy. Loss of appetite may follow as the digestion of food causes discomfort. With a lack of food consumption, weight loss becomes still more drastic.
When your dog is losing weight, it is a secondary sign of the condition megaesophagus. This prevents your dog, when it eats, from fully absorbing and digesting its food. The esophagus swells in dogs diagnosed with this condition. It becomes enlarged, malfunctioning as it can no longer transport ingested food effectively to the stomach.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
In this disorder, also known as EPI, your dog cannot properly digest its food because of a problem with the pancreas. The pancreas, when it functions properly, provides the digestive enzymes that support your dog’s digestive system. Without these enzymes, your dog does not receive the energy or nutrients it requires to function. Weight loss follows. Other characteristics of this disorder are chronic diarrhea along with an appetite that is ravenous. Your dog will eat much more if it is allowed to, seeking to receive the energy it is missing.
A dog with a malabsorption disorder has a body that does not properly absorb nutrients as it normally would in the intestinal tract. One of the more common disorders diagnosed in canines is inflammatory bowel disease. A dog that eats a lot but loses weight and vomits has a foul-smelling stool that is loose, or has diarrhea may suffer from inflammatory bowel syndrome. While its cause is not entirely understood, this condition leads to the intestines become inflamed. Your veterinarian may perform blood testing, a fecal examination, or ultrasound or X-ray of your dog’s intestines. While this disease has no cure, treatment consists of probiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and a specialized diet.
A common condition in dogs, liver disease is often simply a side effect of your dog aging. It can also be caused by genetics, an infection, particular plants or medications, and fatty food. Your dog’s eyes, gums, or tongue may be yellowish, it may show confusion, instability in its gait, increased thirst, or vomiting and diarrhea to indicate liver disease.
Anxiety and Stress
A dog’s appetite can be severely impacted by stress and anxiety. This can cause weight loss in dogs. Chronic stress may be caused by changes within your household or adding a new pet to the family. Even minor changes found in the surroundings can throw a dog’s well-being off-kilter. Chronic stress also weakens your dog’s immune system; this can lead to an increase in the risk of your dog developing infections.
Various cancers can result in unexplained, sudden weight loss in canines. Cancer tends to be more common among older dogs. Malignant forms of cancer can be life-threatening. This is important to note because weight loss is usually associated with malignant cancers lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. These tumors may cause weight loss because of the tumor placing metabolic demands on your dog’s body or because discomfort and pain lead to your dog eating less. Other cancers in dogs, like oral melanoma, can cause pain when your dog tries to eat and swallow.
Physical conditions that cause pain may lead to your dog’s lack of interest in food. A broken or abscessed tooth, mouth sores, or tongue lesions can all make chewing too painful for your dog to be inclined to eat dry kibble. Some ingredients found in your dog’s kibble may cause digestive issues that cause pain, as well. Cramps, bloating, and gas after eating cause discomfort, leading your dog to lose its appetite. A dog that has gotten into the trash may have a gut blockage that does not permit food to pass through its digestive system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my dog losing weight even though he is eating?
There are many conditions that can cause a dog to shed pounds even while it eats as much or more as it usually does. They include diabetes, parasites, and maldigestion.
Why is my dog so skinny all of a sudden?
Your dog may be experiencing any of a number of conditions, from simple pain to cancer or advanced heart disease. Take your dog to the veterinarian at the first opportunity for testing and a complete physical exam to learn why your dog is abruptly skinny.
What should I do if my dog is losing weight?
Unless your dog is on a diet, it should not lose weight in large amounts. Consider other aspects of your dog’s health, when you first noticed your dog’s weight loss and other symptoms that may present themselves. Use the answers to these questions to make an informed visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
What is rapid weight loss in dogs?
Rapid, significant weight loss in dogs consists of more than ten percent of their normal weight being lost in a short period of time. While small alterations in weight may occur regularly and without cause for worry, weight loss in this amount should be addressed by a veterinarian.