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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Most dog owners will notice changes in their pets as they grow older. Some of these changes are typical, but others, such as unexpected weight loss, can be worrisome. Our Walnut Creek veterinarians discuss weight loss in older dogs and when you should be concerned.

When Your Older Dog is Losing Weight

Weight gain is usually seen more often in older dogs than in weight loss. However, sometimes senior dogs can lose weight, which might be worrying. In general,  there are two main reasons for this weight loss as your dog gets older. 

  1. Your dog has an underlying health condition, and weight loss is a symptom of it.
  2. Your dog requires a new diet at their age.

When is Weight Loss in Older Dogs a Concern?

When weight loss occurs in older dogs, there is a good chance that it is caused by an underlying health condition. These issues include liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.

Each one of these issues needs to be diagnosed and addressed by your vet. Most of these root causes will present with other symptoms that accompany weight loss.

If your senior dog is losing weight, take note of their symptoms and visit your vet for examination. Here are some common health problems that can cause weight loo in pets and the usual signs for each of them. 

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 Happens When There Is No Diagnosis

If your vet can't figure ou why your dog is losing weight, inquire about what your dog is eating. Ask about the protein, fat, and fiber in their diet. Your vet might recommend a new meal plan to help your dog regain a healthy weight. 

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 noticeably losing weight, contact our Walnut Creek vets right away to schedule an examination.

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Ygnacio Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Walnut Creek companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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