Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight loss in dogs isn't the most common concern but when it comes to older pups, it can become a challenge for pet owners to help them maintain a healthy body weight. Our Tumwater vets explain. 

How Dogs Weight Changes As They Age

While it is far more common for dogs to gain weight as they get older, some do start to lose weight as well. The question though, is why they are losing weight and how to stop it. There are two categories that this answer can take either there is an underlying condition and it is a symptom of a larger issue or your dog’s aging process requires a different balance in their diet.

Causes of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs

There are actually eight issues that commonly cause weight loss in elderly dogs These issues are liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental issues, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Each one of these issues needs to be diagnosed and addressed by your vet. Most of these root causes will present with other symptoms that accompany weight loss.

The best thing you can do for your senior dog that is losing weight is to observe them for the other symptoms so you can inform the vet so they can diagnose your dog quicker. The symptoms that can present with each condition are as follows.

Liver/gallbladder disease

      • Lethargy
      • Fever
      • Vomiting/diarrhea
      • Increased thirst
      • Pain 
      • Pale or yellow gums
      • Yellowing of skin/eyes


      • Dry gums 
      • Lethargy 
      • Less frequent urination
      • Loss of skin elasticity
      • Sunken eyes
      • Dark urine

Dental Issues

      • Bad breath
      • Excessive drooling
      • Difficulty eating/chewing
      • Swollen or bleeding gums

Kidney disease

      • Vomiting
      • Excessive urination (may contain blood)
      • Increased thirst
      • Loss of appetite
      • Pale gums
      • Lethargy

Heart disease

      • Excessive panting
      • A chronic cough
      • Exercise intolerance
      • Tires easily
      • Irregular heartbeat
      • Restlessness


      • Increased appetite
      • Excessive thirst
      • Lethargy
      • Excessive urination
      • Repeated urinary tract infections


      • Lethargy
      • Limping or lameness
      • Lumps, bumps, or swelling
      • Distended abdomen
      • Unusual bleeding
      • Unusual urination – frequency or amount


      • Wobbling
      • Lameness
      • Scuffing the toes
      • Incontinence

Unexplained Weight Loss In Older Dogs

If your vet can’t find any underlying cause for the weight loss it might be time to change your dog's diet. Consult with your veterinarian about their current diet and the amount of protein, fat, and fiber they are getting.

In conclusion

If your senior dog is losing a significant amount of weight rapidly go to your veterinarian as soon as possible. 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 your dog is getting older and struggling to keep weight on, it's time to contact our Tumwater vets to book an examination to determine the cause.

Healthy Dog at Beach in Tumwater

New Patients Welcome

Tumwater Veterinary Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Tumwater companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(360) 754-6008 Contact