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​Why is your Dog Being Lethargic?

​Why is your Dog Being Lethargic?

Oct 25, 2023

A sudden lethargy in your dog could indicate numerous health problems. If your dog is acting like it, the only way you can diagnose and provide treatment to your dog is through a vet.

In this blog, we will see how you can differentiate your dog’s tiredness from lethargy, the causes of lethargy, and when you should seek the vet for your dog.

Lethargy in Dogs

Lethargy in a dog can be defined as a lack of energy or enthusiasm and unwillingness on your dog’s part to undertake any physical activity. It is important for you to know if your dog is truly lethargic or just tired.

It may be difficult for you to really make a distinction but nobody knows your dog better than you and this is why you can help your dog’s vet to administer better care and treatment.

Difference between Lethargic and Just Tired Dog

A lethargic dog would show signs of uncommon inactivity and a lack of interest in waking up or going out to play. There could be varying levels of lethargy, but it can commonly range from moving slowly to having no interest in walking out or playing. However, a tired dog can be just asleep and can be easily woken up by arousal through a walking sound or a deliberate push.

Is Lethargy in your Dog Normal?

If you have taken your dog out for a long stroll or for exerting exercises, it could happen that it sleeps out of tiredness when you come back home. It can also happen that your dog is highly excited and energetic in daycare but a bit lazy at home. However, if there has been no unusual activity or exertion by your dog that induces sleep in them or makes them more tired than on normal days, then your dog is experiencing lethargy, and it is time that you see a vet.

Dogs also need more sleep when they are very young or very old, just as it happens with humans. A young puppy would need sleep but at the same time, a young puppy is easy to wake up through mild arousal. However, if that isn't the case, it may be a sign of lethargy. One of the most common issues of lethargy in puppies is low blood sugar.

Similarly, older dogs get tired more often and need more time napping after they walk and play. They could also develop hearing problems with age and may not wake up easily. However, if they don't wake up even after persistent arousal, it could mean lethargy has set in.

Lethargy can happen in Dogs of all Ages

Lethargy can also be caused by an infection or injury. You have to recognize the cause of lethargy as early as possible and visit your vet to get your dog treated before the symptoms become even worse. Here are some of the causes lethargy can set in young puppies and older dogs:

  1. In young puppies, lethargy can be caused by low blood sugar. It is the most common cause in puppies less than 4 months of age. The low sugar can be caused by the inability of their livers to accumulate reserves. However, if the puppy is new to the house or has eaten something that it shouldn't, its appetite can be affected too and that's also when general laziness can creep in.
  2. Just like older people, older dogs are also vulnerable to arthritis and joint problems that could cause them pain. However, older dogs have this innate quality of not expressing their pain until it becomes unbearable. You should observe if your dog is growing uncomfortable and get some help accordingly. These growing problems as your dog ages can also affect your dog’s heart and other organs which could cause a loss in activity and that's something you should be attentive and considerate about.

When should you actually seek out a Vet for your Dog?

It's better to be safe than sorry, so if your dog is feeling drowsy and lethargic, it's best to schedule an appointment with the vet.

Below are the issues that you should check out before you seek a vet for your dog-

  1. Abdominal Bloating
  2. Digestive System Problems
  3. Neurological Disorder
  4. Dehydration

Other Symptoms

There are also other symptoms that accompany lethargy in dogs. Some of the common symptoms are-

1. Vomiting

If your dog is drooling, it could mean they are nauseous or they ingested something toxic or something they shouldn't have. If you observe that kind of behaviour in your dog, it has to be the environment or weather that is not suiting the dog, or look where it went so you can figure out what it has possibly ingested.

If it has swallowed some toxin that may have upset its stomach, it is probable that something has got stuck in its throat. If the drooling goes on to aggressive vomiting, you should seek out a vet for your dog.

2. Aversion to Eating

When your dog is reluctant to eat, it may be possible that the dog is pestered by some internal medical issues. It is so bothersome for the dog that it stops eating and is unwilling to do any activity. This is something serious and shouldn't be ignored. You should seek a vet in that case to have the cause of the discomfort diagnosed.

3. Persistent Trembling

There could be some cases where your dog is in extreme pain and trembling. This could be a case of some organ of your dog being affected and that could cause distress in your dog. It is highly possible that it stays undiagnosed on your part because the cause of the pain can even be inflamed back spine or gastro problems.

4. Aggressive Panting or Labour Breathing

This symptom is something that should be taken seriously. Panting and labour breathing can be differentiated by the fact that panting happens after the usual exertion which is natural. However, labour breathing would make the dog move its muscles up and down rapidly.

Treatment of Lethargic Dogs by Vets

When you take your dog to the vet, the first course of action that they would take is to check hydration levels, gum colour, abdomen, or spine.

After the cause of the pain is identified, the vet then goes on to have diagnostic tests run such as bloodwork and x-rays. These diagnostic results will then be used to figure out what is going on within and to evaluate the dog’s vitals. In other cases, the tests' value lies in the information they provide by ruling out potential causes of concern.

Once the diagnosis is out, the vet may prescribe medication for pain, some revitalising fluids in case of dehydration, or antibiotics to treat the infection. It is important that you take early measures when your dog shows signs of lethargy before it worsens and you have to rush to an emergency vet. 

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