What happens if a dog loses weight too fast? A Step-by-Step Guide

What is a healthy weight range for your dog?

There are some useful charts available that are a helpful guide to know the ideal weight for your pet. Click here to view the ideal bodyweight range for your dog by breed.

Please note: there can be significant variation between genetic lines within each breed and it can be difficult to predict the ideal weight of a cross-bred dog due to the presence of 2 or more breeds in its lineage.

The easiest way to assess your dog’s ideal weight is to follow a few simple steps:

  • Regularly run your hands over your dog’s ribs. Can you feel their ribs easily or is there a significant layer of fat over the ribs?
  • Observe your dog from above. Can you see a definite waist line or does it blend in to the hips?
  • Observe your dog from the side. Can you see a waist line or is there a straight line from the chest to the back legs?
  • Weigh your dog at least twice a year (your veterinary clinic will be more than happy for you to use their scales, and we can then record your dog’s weight at the same time)
  • All of the above aspects are jointly used to determine a ‘body condition score’ (see below diagram). Your veterinary team will be able to advise you on the ideal weight for your dog once the condition score is assessed. As indicated below, the ideal condition score is a 3.

    My dog is losing weight and I don’t understand why?

    Weight loss in dogs may be associated with many normal and abnormal conditions.

    Weight loss is considered to be clinically significant when it exceeds 10% of the normal body weight and when it is not associated with fluid loss or dehydration. For example, a healthy Golden Retriever weighing a breed-normal seventy pounds would have to lose over seven pounds before the weight loss would be considered clinically significant. Changes in diet, environment, or stress levels, including the addition of new pets, may lead to weight loss that is rarely permanent or significant.

    What to Do If Your Dog Is Losing Weight Fast

    Unexplained weight loss in a dog, when its not part of a plan developed with your veterinarian to help your dog lose weight, is serious.

    “I aim for 1 to 2 percent of a dogs body weight per week for a weight loss plan,” Prantil says. Anything more is cause for concern.

    To properly diagnose your dogs weight loss, a veterinarian will need to get your dogs medical history and do a complete physical exam. The vet may also need to conduct further testing to figure out what the issue is.

    Finch says you should closely watch for other signs along with weight loss, such as lack of energy, decreased appetite, excessive drinking or urination, decreased mobility or pain, vomiting, head shaking, and anything else out of the ordinary, which would warrant at least a call to the vet and usually a visit.

    Watch What Happens When This Dog Loses 100 Pounds! | The Dodo Comeback Kids

    While it’s not uncommon for dogs to lose a few pounds once in a while, any sudden and unexplained weight loss is a huge red flag for all dog owners. If your dog is losing weight but eating, a visit to your veterinarian is in order.

    Like people, dogs can lose weight for many reasons. Rapid weight loss can be a sign of serious underlying health conditions. But it may also be that your dog is more active and burning more calories than before.

    Weight loss that exceeds more than 10% of your dog’s normal body weight is a cause for serious concern and warrants a trip to your veterinarian.

    Anything less than 10% isn’t considered clinically significant, but you should keep a close eye on your pooch and monitor their weight.

    DISCLAIMER: We are not veterinarians. If you’re dog is suffering from any health issues please contact your veterinarian.

    If your dog continues to lose weight for no apparent reason, schedule an appointment with your vet.

    It’s extremely stressful to watch as your dog’s weight melts off before your eyes for no apparent reason!

    Obesity is a big problem for many dogs, but being emaciated is just as serious and shouldn’t be overlooked.

    Keep on reading to find out the most common causes for sudden weight loss in dogs and what you can do about it.