Understanding rapid weight loss in dogs

Have you noticed your dog is losing weight at an alarming rate? While some weight loss in dogs can be attributed to increased activity or dietary changes, rapid and unexplained weight loss may signal an underlying health issue.

Identifying the red flags of rapid weight loss

A gradual change in your dog’s weight may not raise immediate concerns, especially if there are obvious reasons such as a deliberate change in diet or increased exercise. However, unexplained rapid weight loss should prompt a visit to your vet.

To help your vet to diagnose the cause of your dog’s weight loss, it’s important to take note of any unusual changes in your dog’s behaviour and physical condition. If you notice your dog experiencing rapid weight loss, consider the following questions when discussing your dog’s condition with your vet:

  1. Has there been a significant change in your dog’s appetite or drinking habits?
  2. Are there any other accompanying symptoms such as lethargy or digestive issues?

How to know if your dog is too thin

Recognising if your dog is too thin is essential for early intervention. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Visible ribs and spine: When your dog is at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel their ribs without seeing them. If their ribs are highly visible or easily felt, it may indicate that your dog is underweight.
  2. Prominent hip bones: Similarly, prominent hip bones may indicate that your dog is too thin.
  3. Decreased energy levels: A sudden lack of energy or increased fatigue can be a sign of weight loss in dogs. If your dog seems lethargic or less active, it is crucial to investigate further.
  4. Change in appetite: Loss of appetite or a sudden decrease in food intake can contribute to weight loss. If your dog is eating significantly less than usual, it is important to investigate further.

When is weight loss normal?

Weight loss in dogs is not always a cause for concern. Some situations where weight loss might be considered normal include:

  1. Ageing: As dogs age, they may naturally lose muscle mass and experience weight loss. However, this should be a gradual process, and sudden or excessive weight loss should still be addressed.
  2. Increased Physical Activity: If your dog has recently engaged in more exercise or increased their activity levels, some weight loss may be expected. However, it is important to monitor their overall health during this period.

Potential causes of rapid weight loss

Several factors can contribute to sudden weight loss in dogs, including:

  • Major organ diseases (heart, kidney, or liver)
  • Dietary changes
  • Parasitic infections
  • Dental issues
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor diet
  • Cancer

Concerned about your dog’s weight?

If you notice any unexplained changes in your dog’s weight, appetite, or behaviour, please get in touch. Early intervention and veterinary care are essential to address rapid weight loss and ensure your dog’s well-being.

You can make an appointment at our Gawler East small animal vet clinic by calling 08 8318 1801 or by booking online.