Lethargy in Dogs of All Ages
Dogs of any age can become lethargic with any sickness, such as an infection or injury. Low thyroid levels can cause of lethargy in dogs; this is especially common in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Dobermans, Dachshunds, and Boxers.
Recognizing that your dog is lethargic early on and getting your dog treated by the vet before their symptoms get worse can really make a difference. This can help your dog get back to normal as soon as possible.
Young puppies can suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can cause profound lethargy. This is most common in pups less than 4 months of age and in toy breeds. Their livers do not have the reserves to increase blood sugar, especially if they aren’t eating well.
Sometimes they don’t eat well if they are adjusting to their new home or if they have eaten something that they shouldn’t, which throws off their normal appetite.
Senior dogs are more often affected by arthritis and other joint conditions that cause pain. Dogs tend to hide their pain until they can’t take it any longer, so if your dog is not eager to get up and do the things they normally do, you should really pay attention to this and get them some help.
Seniors are also more prone to having internal problems with their organs, such as tumors or heart problems. This causes a real lack of energy that may be the first symptom you see.
Is It Normal for a Dog to Be Lethargic?
If you have a good explanation for your dog to be tired, then that may be the case.
If you have taken a very long walk or had a large amount of exercise (especially in the heat), then your dog may sleep for hours afterward. If your dog has been at day care or a boarding kennel, they may be really excited and on alert most of the time there and then come home and just crash.
If there is no unusual activity or exertion that would cause your pet to sleep more or be acting more tired than usual, then you may be dealing with lethargy and your dog may need veterinary attention.
Just like humans, dogs need more sleep when they are very young or very old. Young puppies are like babies and spend most of their time eating and sleeping. However, puppies are also relatively easy to rouse, and a difficult-to-wake puppy may mean something else is going on. For example, if you have difficulty waking your puppy, you may be dealing with a case of low blood sugar.
Senior dogs also need more time napping and get tired more easily after walks and playing. They also may not hear as well, so they might not wake up as easily when you come in. Once they are roused, though, they should be awake and ready to engage if they are truly just tired and not lethargic.
Is Your Dog Presenting with Additional Symptoms?
There are several common causes of lethargy. As it is associated with such a wide variety of ailments, it’s important to understand whether your dog is a little “under the weather” or in need of a visit to the vet.
To help determine the severity of your dog’s problem, let’s look at the common problems/symptoms that come along with a lethargic dog:
Take note of all of your dog’s symptoms to help determine the severity of the problem. Your lethargic dog may or may not need immediate medical attention.
A lethargic dog can point to such a wide variety of problems that you won’t be able to tell what your dog is suffering from based on a single symptom. It’s important to understand the most common causes of lethargy to help determine what your dog may be experiencing.
Your lethargic dog may have simply ingested something that doesn’t agree with them or be suffering from something far more serious.
If your dog presents their symptoms suddenly, they may be due to:
However, if it starts as mild lethargy and progressively gets worse, they may be experiencing a more chronic problem:
Dogs can also become lethargic due to mental/emotional disorders. If you have an otherwise healthy lethargic dog, look for signs of:
Be sure you’re aware of your dog’s current mental or emotional state when determining the cause of their lethargy. A lethargic dog may just be a dog that’s missing something in its life. A bored, lonely, depressed, or old dog may simply be slowing down due to outside influences.
Older dogs may be slowing down as a part of the aging process. With old age comes the potential for a decreased appetite, energy, excitement, and even the chance of developing arthritis. Older dogs need special care in their own right, so be sure to speak with your vet to see how you can help your dog transition into old age.
Also, if your dog is not eating enough food, or eating a low-quality food that doesn’t deliver the proper nutrients necessary to thrive, they may be prone to lethargy. If you have questions about your dog’s nutritional needs or the quality of the food you’re serving, your vet will likely be happy to help you pick out the right food (and amount) for your dog.
Why Your Dog Is Lethargic And What To Do
Lethargy and weakness — these are vague but common symptoms of illness in dogs. And many things, some of them quite serious, can make your dog weak or lethargic. Heres information about the most common conditions, how they are treated, and when your dog should see a vet.
Things that can make your dog lethargic and weak can range from infection and disease to pain and medication. And because weakness and lethargy can indicate anything from a chronic condition to a life-threatening illness, you should always talk to your vet when you notice either symptom.