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Fatigue in dogs


We humans can get inordinately jealous of the way our dogs can sleep anywhere, anytime but it’s perfectly normal for your dog to spend lots of his time napping when there’s nothing interesting going on. However, if your dog’s tired all the time and seems to have lost his enthusiasm for life it’s known as fatigue or lethargy and that can be a bit of a worry.

What is fatigue in dogs?

Fatigue is a symptom that your pooch isn’t feeling himself rather than an ailment in itself, and it’s important to find out what’s causing it as although it might be something quite minor and easily treatable it could be something more serious too. Don’t stress out too, perhaps your pooch is just tired after a walk or play session and will wake up in the morning full of the joys of spring but if the fatigue persists you should consult your vet.

So, if you’re sat there thinking my dog seems sad and tired all the time and wondering why he isn’t rushing to greet you at the door with his tail wagging read on to discover the common symptoms and causes of why he could be.

What causes fatigue in dogs?

A tired dog that also shows less or no interest in activities they usually enjoy such as going for a walk or a game of tug and seems listless is probably suffering from fatigue.

It could just be the long hot dog days of summer to blame, just like us, dogs tend to feel more lethargic because of the heat but there are lots of other reasons it might be.

If your dog is a senior he might just be living life at a slower pace and have lost a bit of his playfulness, older dogs often start to suffer from joint pain too and they can be very good at hiding it initially so it’s a good idea to take him to the vet for a check-up.

Dogs with joint pain also tend to stop enjoying their walks so much or become exercise intolerant which causes them to pile on the pounds. In fact, obesity is one of the most common reasons that you might start to notice your dog’s tired all the time, whatever their age it’s important to constantly assess your dog’s diet and activity to avoid this.

Older dogs often become overweight without us noticing as they tend to move less while still being treated to the same quantity of food. Let’s face it, not many pooches will let on that they are being fed too much!

Sometimes it’s what your dog is eating rather than the quantity that’s to blame. Most of us pick up a bag of complete dog food assuming that it contains everything to keep our pets happy and healthy, but sadly that’s not always the case. Some commercially produced dog foods contain a disproportionate amount of fillers, like wheat and are too high in fat and too low in protein which can cause your dog to lack energy, just like we would if we ate like that.

If your dog is vomiting and or has diarrhoea as well as seeming fatigued it could well be down to him eating something toxic or a bin raiding expedition. Common toxins for dogs include chocolate, garlic, onions and grapes as well as chemicals of course. If you suspect your dog has ingested something he shouldn’t ring your vet and ask for advice as soon as possible.

Dehydration could also be the culprit, especially in summer. Although in mild cases you might be able to rectify this just by encouraging your dog to drink it can actually be very serious indeed and need urgent medical attention.

A parasite infection is a common reason that you might be asking ‘why is my dog so tired and lethargic’ if your pooch is young or a puppy. Keeping up with your dog’s worming and vaccination program can definitely help to avoid unnecessary health scares so try to remember to keep them up to date.

Dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression and this can cause them to just want to sleep all day and take no pleasure in life. Never be afraid to approach your vet if you are worried about your pooches’ mental health.

There are some benign causes of why your pooch might seem tired and lethargic, maybe your dog is in heat or perhaps he is in the middle of a course of antibiotics which can make a dog tired. However, there are some more serious conditions it could be too such as pancreatitis, anaemia, liver disease, anal gland problems, cancer, heart conditions, parvovirus, dental issues or infection. The only way to find out for sure what’s causing your dog’s constant tiredness is a trip to the vet, and the sooner you go, the sooner you’ll know.

Signs and symptoms of fatigue in dogs

Although it’s normal for dogs to sleep a lot a healthy dog is usually wide awake and raring to go if he thinks there’s a walk or food in the offing! If your dog is still slumped in his bed looking tired and deflated when there are things going on around him he usually enjoys, it’s probably going to be the first inkling you get that he’s not feeling himself.

There are some other symptoms that can accompany fatigue too, your dog might seem irritable or even appear depressed, often dogs lose their appetite and can act out of character in other ways too such as ignoring you when you return home instead of bouncing around in excitement waiting for their cuddles. Their favourite toys might not elicit any interest either and your dog might be reluctant to go for their walks or even to move at all.

Your dog might be vomiting, have diarrhoea or seem short of breath or your pooch might appear very restless or seem weak and disorientated or be shaking. Sadly your dog can’t speak to you so there’s no way he can tell you what the problem is but because fatigue can often be an indicator of an underlying condition it’s important to take a note of all your dog’s symptoms to pass onto your vet.

How to treat fatigue in dogs?

Sometimes dogs bounce back to their normal selves after 24 hours rest and relaxation, especially if their fatigue is down to a passing mild bug or exhaustion after an extremely active day.

If your dog still seems tired and fatigued for more than a day though it really is best to take your pet to the vet, take him sooner of course if you are worried or he has multiple symptoms. The treatment he receives will depend on his diagnosis, it might be something that requires a single treatment such as a parasite infection or a chronic or more serious condition that demands longer-term or ongoing treatment.

Some conditions that cause fatigue might be helped by a change of diet, for instance, if your dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis or IBS or your vet suspects that inadequate nutrition is the cause of his tiredness transitioning him to an unprocessed, low-fat diet such as Pure could give him back his zest for life. Turkey Terrific and Chicken Dinner are ideal for pooches that have sensitive stomachs or dietary intolerances. The food is delicious and nutritious too, only containing natural, human-grade ingredients, so can tempt fussy senior dogs into regaining their appetite and it’s also perfect for those pooches that have a tendency to pile on the pounds or find eating dry food difficult due to dental problems.

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