Dog Lethargy Symptoms

Dog lethargy can be caused by many different conditions or illnesses. Some symptoms might include anemia, heart or respiratory conditions, inflammation or infection, dehydration, or hormonal changes.

Lethargy is a side effect that commonly occurs whenever a dog is feeling ill or its body is not working properly. Lethargy is simply defined as exhaustion or lack of energy, and is usually accompanied by other symptoms, some noticeable and others that may manifest in different ways. If a dog is feeling lethargic, it may be an indication of something more serious. Careful observation may lead to evidence of additional symptoms helpful for pinpointing a possible diagnosis.

Overview of Dog Lethargy

Dog lethargy will usually manifest physically, leading to excessive sleep, lack of energy and delayed responses to visual and auditory activity. For example, you may find your dog sleeping when you arrive at the door, as opposed to the excited greeting you may normally receive when you arrive home. Additionally, when you call your dog's name, he may not move at all, or arise from sleep much more slowly than you expect. You may have trouble enticing your dog to eat at mealtime, and treats might not even be of interest. The dog will appear to be exhausted, may seem confused or disoriented, and may even avoid proper hygiene or normal housetraining habits.

Causes of Dog Lethargy

There are many conditions that lead to dog lethargy as a general and non-specific symptom. Before becoming alarmed, it's important that you observe the dog's behavior and check for any other symptoms that may be present. A symptom of lethargy may be of minor concern and can resolve itself within a day. Loss of energy or exhaustion that persists longer or is accompanied by severe diarrhea, dehydration, fever, tremors or difficulty breathing may indicate the need for medical assistance.

Following is a list of conditions and illnesses that may produce lethargy as a symptom:

  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • Heart or respiratory conditions
  • Inflammation or infection
  • Drugs or medication
  • Dehydration, reduction in electrolytes
  • Hormonal changes or disorders
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Urinary tract disorders
  • Cancer
  • Immune system problems
  • Skin or eye diseases
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Physical trauma

Determining the Cause

If you have noticed your pet experiencing dog lethargy, the first thing you'll want to do is observe additional abnormalities in behavior and check for other symptoms. Assessment of other changes can help to pinpoint the cause for this condition, and if the dog's energy does not pick up within a period of 24 hours, you'll want to seek further testing. If other symptoms are not present or a possible diagnosis cannot be suggested, a number of simple tests can be used to check for systematic ailments or abnormalities.

This testing may include:

Additional and more advanced testing may include cardiac ultrasound, bacterial cultures, biopsy, MRI, CT scan, behavioral assessment or complete neurological examination. Dog lethargy is not treated directly, but rather treatment options will be pointed toward the underlying condition that's causing lethargy as a symptom.