What causes lethargy in dogs?


If you are thinking to yourself ‘my dog seems more tired than usual’ it’s natural to worry about what’s causing it. It could be something really simple, for instance, my oldest girl appears very lethargic and goes right off her food when she’s coming into season. Perhaps your pooch has had a change in his daily routine which has stressed him out, maybe he’s started attending an exciting new dog daycare centre – that can really tire a pup out!

If your dog is a senior he might just be slowing down, the ageing process affects our canine companions in much the same way as it does us, humans, they need more sleep and become less active meaning they need fewer calories hence losing some of their appetite. Some older pooches start to suffer from osteoarthritis, a painful condition which might be another reason that they don’t want to move about so much. Senior dogs are also more prone to obesity and that in itself can leave them feeling drained of energy, preferring to spend all their time snoozing in a sun puddle rather than going for a good sniff in the great outdoors.

One of the most common reasons for young dogs and puppies to lacklustre is a parasite infection, and this one is avoidable so be sure to keep up with your pups worming regime.

Poor nutrition can be a factor in dogs of any age, low quality, highly processed dog foods that contain a high proportion of fillers like wheat, don’t really contain the optimum amount of nutrients to keep your dog healthy and happy. Think about it, if you ate a diet of bread and butter with a just a smidgeon of protein, you’d be pretty tired and lack enthusiasm for life, wouldn’t you? The same goes for dogs!

Dehydration is one to really be aware of, especially in summer, if your dog isn’t drinking he will definitely lack energy, try to encourage him to take some water but if he won’t and when you pinch his skin it doesn’t spring back immediately it’s probably wise to talk with your vet.

Another food-related cause of your dog being very tired, usually along with other symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting might be down to him ingesting something that doesn’t agree with him such as rancid food or something that is toxic to dogs e.g. garlic, onions, chocolate or chemicals.

Just like us, dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression which can cause them to lose interest in things they normally enjoy, never feel silly to go to your vet and say ‘my dog seems sad and tired’ if you are worried about his mental health.

Lethargy can also be a symptom of many other conditions including anaemia, respiratory problems, pancreatitis, cancer, heart conditions, liver disease, anal gland problems, urinary tract infections, parvovirus, an infection or dental issues, so don’t hesitate to take your dog to visit the vet if he is acting out of character and lethargic for more than 24 hours, sooner if you are worried about his other symptoms.

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