Most owners know that an older dog who has turned into a pudgy pooch may be ill, or, at the very least, may have a shorter lifespan than his thinner counterpart. However, owners whose senior dogs appear to have lost weight for no discernible reason need to be concerned, too.
If the weight loss is visually apparent, it is time to contact the veterinarian. Weight loss often reflects an underlying disease process, not aging itself. Minor fluctuations in weight are to be expected with variation in feeding and activity level, but if there has not been a lifestyle change or the weight loss is progressive, a thorough physical exam and lab testing should be pursued.
Amount the conditions as most common causes of weight loss in dogs are:
• Kidney Disease This condition, also known as renal
failure, occurs when the kidneys’ filtering system
breaks down, causing toxic wastes to accumulate in the
bloodstream. In addition to weight loss, symptoms
include a noticeable increase in water consumption
and urination, appetite loss and occasional vomiting.
Diagnosis is confirmed with a blood chemistry panel
and urinalysis. Treatment, which is directed at slowing
the loss of kidney function, includes intravenous or
subcutaneous fluids along with a low-phosphorus, highquality low-protein diet. Additionally, phosphate binders, antacids, anti-emetics (anti-nausea medicine)
and blood pressure medications may be prescribed.
• Cardiac Disease Heart disease occurs when one or
both sides of the heart fail to pump blood properly.
Symptoms include general weakness, tiring easily,
coughing, breathing heavily, swelling in the legs or
abdomen, increased heart rate, week pulse and a
bluish color to the gums. The diagnosis is confirmed
with a physical examination and diagnostic imaging of
the heart and chest. Treatments include diuretics to
remove excess fluid, ACE inhibitors to relax the blood.