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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

As our dogs age, we typically worry about them gaining weight, but some senior canines may experience weight loss. Our vets at Bloom Plaza Animal Hospital provide insights on the topic and when to seek medical attention for your senior dog's weight loss.

Older Dog's Weight

It's common for dogs to gain weight as they age, but some may experience weight loss instead. Are you wondering why your dog is losing weight? There are two possible reasons for this: it may be a symptom of an underlying condition, or it could be due to changes in their dietary needs as they age.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dog That Are a Problem

Eight common underlying issues in elderly dogs may lead to weight loss as a symptom. These issues include liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. It is important to have your dog diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian for each of these issues. In addition to weight loss, most of these underlying causes may also present with other symptoms.

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 cannot identify any underlying reason for your dog's weight loss, it could be beneficial to alter their diet. It would be wise to confer with your veterinarian regarding your dog's current dietary intake, including the levels of protein, fat, and fiber they are consuming.

In conclusion

If your senior dog is losing a significant amount of weight rapidly go to your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you are concerned about your dog's weight in general, bring it up with your veterinarian at your senior dog's 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 San Jose vets right away to schedule an appointment for your dog.

Now Welcoming New Patients

Bloom Plaza Animal Hospital is now welcoming new cat and dog patients! Our professional and talented vets are dedicated to the health of San Jose's companion animals. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend. 

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