Dog Losing Weight: How To Keep Your Dog In Shape

Have you noticed your dog losing weight? It’s normal for dogs, just like humans, to fluctuate a few pounds here and there. 

But if you’ve noticed that weight loss is a consistent thing, and not something that you’re trying to encourage, it’s important to take it seriously. In some cases, unplanned weight loss can indicate a larger health issue. 

At WINPRO Pet, we believe that every dog is special and perfect in their own way. Keeping your dog looking and feeling their best by helping keep them in shape can make sure that their lives are happy and comfortable for as long as possible. 

Here are some tips to help you, and your dog, get started.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Losing Weight?

If you’ve noticed that your dog has lost weight, it’s enough that you should schedule a visit to your veterinarian. Weight loss is considered to be abnormal when it exceeds 10% of your pet’s body weight. 

For example, if you have a lab that normally weighs 60 pounds, it would be abnormal for them if they suddenly lost 6 pounds. Weight loss for a 6 pound chihuahua would be abnormal if it hit just over half a pound. 

Body Condition Scoring

A good way to help decide whether your pet is at a “healthy” weight, without a scale or way of measuring them, is to take a look at the body condition scoring chart

While it’s always best to look at things from a weight-based perspective, these guidelines were created so that any owner can evaluate their pet without a scale.

This chart is rated from one to nine, with one being under ideal and nine being over ideal. The goal is for most dogs to rate a four or a five, where you can easily feel their ribs, they have a visible “waist” when viewed from above, and their stomachs “tuck” up. 

If you’ve noticed your dog losing weight and they are under a four on the body condition scale, where you can see their bones from a distance, specifically their ribs and hip bones, that is definitely something to get looked at.

Possible Reasons For Your Dog Losing Weight

If you’ve noticed your dog losing weight, you may be wondering what could be causing it. Here are just a few of the possibilities, each of which warrants a trip to your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. 

Parasites

Although parasites are not as common as they used to be (thanks mostly to proper, early deworming as puppies), it can still potentially be a cause of weight loss in your dog. 

One of the main types of parasites that can lead to weight loss are whipworms, which your pet can get from contaminated water or dirt. This is mostly seen in dogs who tend to eat their own (or other dogs’) feces.

If you’re noticing not only weight loss, but also any of the following signs, make a vet visit as soon as possible:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or soft stool
  • Gas
  • Decreased appetite

Your vet will more than likely request a stool sample, so be prepared to bring one with you.

Kidney Issues

Kidney problems can lead to a slow loss of weight, which is often a lot less noticeable than your dog losing weight quickly. Unfortunately, when dogs have kidney issues related to weight loss, it usually indicates that they’ve been dealing with the condition for a while. 

If your dog has developed changes in the amount and frequency that they’re urinating, especially partnered with weight loss, loss of appetite, and vomiting, it’s an indication that a vet visit is needed as soon as possible.

Heart Disease

Heart disease can be silent, but if you are aware of the subtle signs, it can help you catch it sooner and hopefully make your dog’s prognosis greater than finding it in its advanced state. 

Early heart disease can actually show up as weight gain (due to fluid buildup), but a loss of appetite associated with weight loss can show that it has started to advance. If your dog is eating their normal amount of food and still losing weight, check with your vet. 

Cancer

Although this is the worst case scenario, unexplained and sudden weight loss may be caused by different types of cancer that can occur in your dog. Dogs of all ages can develop cancer, but it is most often found in older dogs or purebred dogs with a known genetic susceptibility. 

Forms of cancer like osteosarcoma (bone cancer), hemangiosarcoma (blood vessel cancer), and lymphoma (immune system cancer) are most common. As this can be life threatening, early diagnosis and treatment is essential.

Metabolic Issues

There is a wide range of metabolic issues that dogs can experience, from diabetes to thyroid conditions and Addison’s Disease. Most of them consider weight loss a symptom, but each needs specific testing to diagnose. 

GI Problems

If your dog losing weight is also accompanied by a change in their stool, your dog may be dealing with a GI problem. 

GI issues in dogs are accompanied by slower weight loss, as they tend to impact how much of the nutrients from their food are absorbed over time. These issues can continue to occur, leading to very significant weight loss to the point where your dog can become malnourished, so they should always be taken seriously. 

Dental Disease

Dogs, just like people, can have problems with their teeth. However, unlike humans, dogs don’t regularly brush or see a dentist. That can lead to dental disease, which can make their mouths hurt enough that they experience a loss of appetite (especially with harder kibbles). 

Over time, if left untreated, the bacteria involved can also impact other parts of your dog like their liver, kidneys, and heart. If you’ve noticed your dog seems less interested in eating, or there is a new odor coming from their mouths, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. 

How You Can Keep Your Dog In Shape

Just like with people, getting and staying in shape can be a difficult balance. 

The best way to keep your dog in shape is to focus on their nutrition. You’ll not only want to make sure that they’re eating the right amount of food, you’ll also want to make sure that their food is made for their particular lifestyle and size. 

It’s normal for dogs to slow down as they age. Just like humans, dogs can develop arthritis and just naturally lose their pep and energy, preferring to spend more time sleeping than running around. However, if that is partnered with weight loss, you may need to change up their diet to support them better. 

To Wrap Up

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight requires vigilance. If you’ve noticed your dog losing weight, your first stop should always be your veterinarian’s office. They can help you diagnose or rule out any of the above conditions, and give you advice on how you can help manage them. 

Focusing on your dog’s nutrition, with the help of the advice from WINPRO Pet, can help you be as prepared as possible for all the ups and downs that dog ownership can throw at you. 

 

Sources:

Abnormal Weight Loss in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)

Body Condition Score Chart | World Small Animal Veterinary Association (wsava.org)

Whipworms in Small Animals - Digestive System | Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com)