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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

As dogs age, we often worry about them gaining too much weight. However, some senior dogs may actually start to lose weight. Our veterinarians in Denver are here to discuss this issue and help you determine when it is a cause for concern.

Older Dog's Weight

It is commonly believed that dogs gain weight as they age, but some dogs may actually start losing weight. If you're wondering why your dog is losing weight, there are two possibilities: it could be a sign of an underlying health condition, or your dog's aging process may require a change in their diet to maintain a proper balance.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs That Are a Problem

There are eight common issues that can cause weight loss in elderly dogs. These issues include liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. It's important to have your dog checked by a veterinarian to diagnose and address these issues. Usually, these root causes come with other symptoms in addition to weight loss.

The best thing you can do for your senior dog that is losing weight is to observe them for the other symptoms so you can inform the vet so they can diagnose your dog quicker. The symptoms that can present with each condition are as follows.

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 has ruled out any underlying causes for your dog's weight loss, it may be necessary to switch their diet. It's important to discuss with your vet about their current diet and the levels of protein, fat, and fiber that they are receiving.

In conclusion

If your senior dog is experiencing rapid weight loss, it's important to take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If you're concerned about your dog's weight in general, be sure to discuss it with your veterinarian during their bi-annual routine exam.

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 Pets on Broadway Animal Hospital vets right away to schedule an appointment for your dog.

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