While we are normally concerned with our dogs becoming overweight, as they become older senior dogs some canines start to lose weight. Here, Our Ruckersville vets discuss weight loss in a senior dog and when you should be concerned.

Old Dog Losing Weight and Muscle Mass

While it is true that a significant number of dogs have a tendency to become more chunky as they get older, there are also senior dogs that begin to lose weight. You might be wondering, "Why is my dog losing weight?" when you find yourself in this situation. This answer can fall into one of two categories: 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. Both of these possibilities are possible.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs That Are a Problem

The following are eight issues that are frequently the underlying cause of weight loss in senior dogs, which is a symptom of the condition. Diseases of the liver and gallbladder, excessive dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis are the conditions that fall into this category. Your veterinarian is the one who should diagnose and treat each and every one of these problems. When it comes to weight loss, the majority of these underlying causes will manifest themselves with additional symptoms.

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
      • 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 Do If No Underlying Medical Issues are Causing the Weight Loss

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. They should be able to help you find out what to feed an old dog that is losing weight but still eating.

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 senior dog is losing weight, contact our Ruckersville vets right away to schedule an appointment for your dog.