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My old dog is losing weight, what should I do?

While it's true that our Rainbow City vets spend a lot of time discussing the dangers of pets gaining too much weight, sudden weight loss in dogs is also a concern, particularly in older dogs. Today we discuss a few reasons why senior dogs lose weight, and what you can do.

Health & Your Older Dog's Weight

Although it's often the case that dogs put on extra pounds as they age, some dogs actually begin to lose weight as they reach their senior years. But why is your old dog losing weight? The possible reasons for weight loss in senior dogs fall into two categories either your pup has an underlying condition that is resulting in weight loss or your dog’s aging process naturally results in your dog slimming down.

When Weight Loss Is A Concern In Older Dogs

If your dog is losing weight due to a health concern, the issue is likely to be one of eight conditions: liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental issues, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Each one of these health concerns needs to be diagnosed and addressed by your vet as early as possible to avoid further unnecessary decline in your pup's overall health.

Besides weight loss, if your dog has an underlying health concern you are likely to notice other symptoms as well. Contact your vet to make an appointment, then monitor your senior dog carefully and watch for other symptoms so that you are able to provide your veterinarian with as many details as possible about your dog's condition. Below are a few of the symptoms commonly associated with different health 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

When There Are No Underlying Health Concerns

If your vet can’t find any underlying cause for your senior pup's weight loss it's time to reconsider your dog's dietary needs. Speak to your vet about your dog's current diet and the amount of protein, fat, and fiber they are getting. Your vet can provide recommendations on what to feed an old dog that is losing weight. Dietary changes may even be as simple as a changing how often or how much you feed your dog each day, or your vet might recommend a different food to help meet your senior dog's nutritional needs.

Sudden Unexplained Weight Loss

Sudden, notable weight loss is a serious cause for concern and shouldn't be ignored. If your dog has lost weight suddenly make an appointment with your vet right away to book an examination for your dog.

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 you're concerned that your senior dog is losing weight, we can help. Contact Central Valley Animal Hospital today to book an appointment for your elderly pooch.

New Patients Welcome

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

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Contact (256) 442-2542