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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Owners will almost always notice changes in their dogs when they reach their senior years. Some of these changes are normal, but others can be concerning, like sudden weight loss. Here, our Denver veterinarians discuss weight loss in older dogs and when you should to be concerned.

When Your Older Dog is Losing Weight

It is more common to see weight gain in older dogs than weight loss, but this isn't always the case. It can be a cause for concern when your senior dog suddenly or gradually loses weight. In general, there are two main causes for this weight loss as your dog enters their golden years"

  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.

The best thing you can do for your senior dog if they are losing excess weight is to make note of all their symptoms and bring them to their vet in Denver in order to have them examined. Here are some of the issues that may affect your pet causing weight loss as well as the common symptoms for each of these conditions:

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 veterinarian does not have a medical diagnosis for your dog's weight loss, ask them about your dog's current diet and the amount of protein, fat, and fiber they are getting. Your vet may be able to suggest a new diet/meal plan to get your pup back on track to 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 Denver vets right away to schedule an examination.

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Downtown Animal Care Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Denver companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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