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Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

As dogs begin to age, many things change. One of the most frequently noticed is weight, and while weight gain may worry you, weight loss in older dogs is also a cause for concern. Our veterinarians in Santa Clarita discuss weight loss in senior dogs and why you should be concerned.

When Your Older Dog is Losing Weight

While it's more common for dogs to gain weight as they age, certain circumstances can lead to weight loss in your dog. This may lead you to worry about your beloved companion and wonder what's causing this weight loss. This question can arise in two ways: either there is an underlying condition, and it's a symptom of a more significant problem, or your dog's aging process requires a different balance in his diet.

When is Weight Loss in Older Dogs a Concern?

When older dogs lose weight, chances are it's due to an underlying health problem. These include liver and gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental and kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Each of these problems needs to be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian. Most of these root causes manifest in other symptoms accompanying weight loss.

The best thing you can do for your senior dog if he's losing weight is to write down all his symptoms and take them to your vet at Santa Clarita for examination. Here are some of the problems that can affect your pet and lead to weight loss, along with common symptoms for each condition:

Liver/gallbladder disease

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


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

Dental Issues

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

Kidney disease

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

Heart disease

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


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


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


      • Wobbling
      • Lameness
      • Scuffing the toes
      • Incontinence

What to Feed an Old Dog that is Losing Weight 

If your vet can't find an underlying health concern that could be causing your senior pup's weight loss, it's time to reconsider your dog's dietary needs. Speak to your vet about your dog's current diet and the amount of protein, fat, and fiber they are getting. Your vet can provide recommendations on what to feed an old dog that is losing weight. Dietary changes may even be as simple as changing how often or how much you feed your dog each day, or your vet might recommend a different food to help meet your senior dog's nutritional needs.

Veterinarians can also precisely calculate the number of calories your dog needs each day to stay healthy. This means that they can tell you exactly how much food to feed your dog at each meal and how often your pup should be fed to help them achieve a healthy weight.

Many reputable brands offer senior foods that are formulated to meet the precise needs of your aging pooch. Some of these foods can even help address age-related diseases such as arthritis and kidney disease.

Sudden Unexplained Weight Loss

If your senior dog is losing a lot of weight, consult your vet as soon as possible. If you're concerned about your dog's weight, talk to your vet during your dog's senior dog's routine check-up.

Note: This advice 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

If your senior dog is noticeably losing weight, contact our Santa Clarita vets right away to schedule an appointment for your dog. 

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Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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