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Unexplained Weight Loss In Dogs

Does your dog’s backbone suddenly feel more prominent when you pet them? Are their ribs becoming more noticeable, even though they’re not on a weight loss diet? Unexplained weight loss in dogs is often a sign of a serious, though treatable, health condition.

Dog Is Eating And Losing Weight
If your dog licks their bowl clean, begs for more, and still seems to be losing weight, there are a few possible culprits.

Athletic dogs and growing puppies can have a fast metabolism and may need more food each day than the guidelines on the bag of food call for.

Diabetes is a common cause of weight loss in dogs despite an increased appetite. As the dog is unable to metabolize energy from glucose, their body begins to break down fat and muscle for energy, resulting in weight loss. Dogs with undiagnosed diabetes may also show signs of increased thirst and urination.

Parasites, specifically tapeworm and whipworm, live in the intestines and absorb nutrients from pre-digested food in the gut. Dogs with a heavy worm load may have a normal or increased appetite yet still lose weight. Worms are not always visible in the stool. Your veterinarian can check for worms with a fecal test.

Dog Is Not Eating And Losing Weight
Does your dog leave their food bowl untouched day after day, even though they’re losing weight?

Sometimes dogs go off their favorite food if the manufacturer has suddenly changed the recipe, or if storage issues have caused the food to go bad. Make sure your dog’s food bowl is clean, ensure that there are no humans or other pets intruding on their dining area, and try a fresh, newly opened bag of food.

Mixing their usual food with a canned formula, trying a raw or balanced cooked diet, or adding a tasty topper like bone broth can entice a naturally picky eater. If your dog is not normally picky but refuses to eat even tasty foods, a vet visit is in order to make sure your dog is not in pain or suffering from a health issue.

Unexplained weight loss with a lack of appetite is sometimes the first symptom of certain cancers, including stomach, esophagus and pancreatic cancer. Your vet can rule out more common causes of weight loss and inappetence before screening for cancer.

Chronic kidney disease can cause a lack of appetite and weight loss, along with increased thirst and urination. These symptoms are similar to those of other health conditions, so it’s important to see your vet as soon as you notice changes to get a diagnosis.

Chronic conditions like kidney disease and diabetes are best caught early and often have a good prognosis, easily managed with medication.