Why Is Your Dog Losing Weight?

Your dog losing weight can be caused by several things. Weight loss in dogs is a condition that occurs when caloric balance goes negative. This generally happens when your pet uses nutrients faster than he consumes them.

Weight loss can be a serious condition in dogs, especially when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal weight. The causes of weight loss in dogs vary greatly. Some a minor causes, while other causes can be extremely serious and should be treated immediately. There are many diseases and conditions that can cause loss of appetite in animals, as well. Read on to learn more about weight loss in dogs.

Symptoms of Weight Loss in Dogs

Weight loss can show the following signs and symptoms in dogs:

  • Loss of body condition
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Overall weight loss
  • Poor coat of hair
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Eating stool (Coprophagia)

Causes of Weight Loss in Dogs

There are various different possible causes for weight loss in dogs, including the following:

  • Changes in dietary habits
  • Anorexia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Poor absorption of nutrients
  • Poor digestion
  • Metabolic problems
  • Loss of nutrients
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Excessive burning of calories
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stress
  • Tumors in the body
  • Parasites, including hookworms, whipworms and roundworms

If your dog is losing weight, he should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Establishing the cause of the weight loss is important in treating your dog's condition, and if it is a serious illness your pet has, early detection is the key to recovery in most cases.

Diagnosing Weight Loss in Dogs

A veterinarian will need to evaluate your dog to see what the underlying cause of the weight loss is. Your veterinarian will review your dog's former weight and size. Once your pet has been documented to have weight loss, a veterinarian will perform a complete bodily examination and go through medical history. There may be additional diagnostic tests performed in order to determine the underlying cause of the weight loss. These tests may include the following:

  • Examination of the stool
  • Complete blood count
  • Urine testing
  • Biochemical profiling
  • Chest X-rays
  • Abdominal X-rays

Dog Weight Loss Treatment

There are various treatments for weight loss in dogs, and your veterinarian will need to establish the underlying cause in order to determine the best treatment. Treatments for weight loss may include the following:

  • Force-feeding
  • Stimulants for appetite
  • Change to an appropriate, high-quality diet
  • An increase in calories during meals
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements for malnourished patients
  • Parenteral nutrition, if the dog cannot eat food orally
  • Stress-free environment during meal time
  • Exercise regimes

Home Care for Weight Loss in Dogs

In order to care for your pet properly, pet owners should make sure to completely follow all instructions from veterinarians. This may mean administering prescribed diets and meals, as well as medication if the treatment calls for it. Pet owners will need to document their pet's size and weight periodically. You should always contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes in body weight. Always remember that your pet's weight is an important part of his overall health, in addition to his consumption of a healthy, well-balanced meal.