30 November, 2020

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Why Is My Dog Lethargic?

Why is My Dog Lethargic?

Why Is My Dog Lethargic?

Have you been noticing that your dog has lost interest in playing, eating, or going for a walk? This change in behavior may be worrisome, especially since these activities are the highlights of your pet’s day.

This dullness, drowsiness, and sluggishness may be lethargy. Most of the time, the weather is the primary cause of a dog’s lethargy. It may be very hot or very cold. Or it could just be that your dog is too tired after a long walk.

But lethargy may also be a symptom of something worse. According to a study, lethargy in dogs can increase mortality risk by more than 10 times (1) for certain diseases such as tumors. The most common illness signs in dogs are sudden tiredness, weakness, and lethargy.


Why Is My Dog Lethargic?

Lethargy in itself is a symptom of many dog ailments. The diseases and problems that can cause lethargy in dogs range from minor concerns that often go away by themselves, to more serious and sometimes critical issues requiring extensive medical care(2).

Whatever the reason behind your dog’s lethargy is, it’s important to know why they’re acting that way. But first, how can you tell if your dog is lethargic? Your dog may be lethargic if it is:

  • Excessively slow, groggy, and tired
  • Listless (lacking enthusiasm or energy
  • Doesn’t seem to show interest in normal activities
  • Reacts to stimulation very slowly or may not even react at all
  • Seem to act out of character

These are symptoms that your dog may be lethargic, but since lethargy can be caused by a wide variety of ailments, it’s also accompanied by general and common symptoms of other dog diseases such as:

  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Pain
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Restlessness
  • Respiratory issues
  • Behavioral changes
  • Disorientation
  • Shaking
  • General weakness

Take note of all of these symptoms so you’ll know what to tell the vet during the diagnosis to determine the problem’s severity.

Causes of Dog Lethargy

As previously mentioned, a lot of dog ailments can cause lethargic symptoms. Here are some of them.

  • Bloat
  • Anemia
  • Medication or drugs
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Electrolyte reduction or dehydration
  • Hormonal disorders or changes
  • Hypothermia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Skin diseases
  • Toxin exposure.

If the lethargic conditions started mild but are progressively getting worse, it may be caused by a more serious health issue such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Cancer
  • Heart conditions
  • Immune system issues

Other factors that may contribute to dog lethargy include:

  • Depression
  • Boredom
  • Old age
  • Malnutrition

How to Prevent Dog Lethargy

Although you can’t prevent dog lethargy, there are ways to minimize its occurrence.

  • Balanced diet. Each breed requires a particular diet, depending on your dog’s size and daily activities. You should ensure that you’re giving enough nourishment to your dog. A balanced diet can also prevent bloating and gastrointestinal problems
  • Supplement with vitamins and minerals. Sometimes, even a balanced diet may not be enough to provide all the necessary nutrients at the right levels. Giving your dog supplements with vitamins and minerals will fill that nutritional gap. 
  • Keep your dog hydrated. A dog may feel lethargic during the hot seasons. Excessive temperatures can raise their blood pressure and increase heart rate. Keeping your dog hydrated helps minimize and control a sudden rise in your dog’s temperature.
  • Hygiene. Always keep your dog clean and free from pests such as ticks and flea. Bathing regularly is a must to keep your dog’s fur and skin healthy. Proper hygiene can also prevent a lot of diseases. Use non-toxic and organic tick and flea removers.
  • Vary your dog’s activities. Taking your dog for a walk may get boring for them after some time, especially if you’re going through the same route and place. To keep your dog interested in physical activities, you should include other routines such as playing ball or Frisbee and going to different places like the beach or the park.
  • Visit the vet regularly. A regular visit to the vet may prevent small health problems from escalating if left unchecked. Some diseases that may cause dog lethargy can be treated faster if they’re detected early. A regular check-up will keep your dog in top shape.

Natural Home Remedies for Dog Lethargy

If your dog appears to be lethargic or suddenly becomes intolerant, and if these symptoms just surfaced suddenly, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

But what if it’s not possible to schedule an appointment immediately with the vet for some reason? What are the measures you should take to keep your dog comfortable for the time being?

Reducing fever. A temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher means your dog is running a fever. Never give your dog acetaminophen or aspirin as these are highly toxic for them. To lower their temperature, apply cool water behind their ears and around the paws using a soaked cloth or towel. Keep doing this until your dog’s temperature drops below 103 degrees. 

Relieving pain. Pain often comes with lethargy, especially if it’s caused by other underlying medical conditions. Vets will often recommend medications such as Previcox, Rimadyl, Metacam, and Deramaxx, but these medications may have side effects. Natural home remedies for dog pain include the administration of medications based on natural ingredients such as the Devil’s Claw, melatonin, Yucca, Comfrey, Frankincense, and CBD oil (3).

Improving appetite. A lethargic dog may suddenly lose interest in things that typically delight them like eating. You can stimulate your dog’s appetite using various methods. Adding herbs is an example. Putting in garlic, for example, can make your dog’s meal more aromatic and appetizing, not to mention more nutritious. Using essential oils such as ginger and peppermint through diffusion can also calm your dog. Some studies are also showing that CBD oil may be able to boost a dog’s appetite.

Relieving upset stomach. An upset stomach can make your dog lethargic. It can be caused by indigestion or other gastrointestinal problems. Keeping them hydrated may help relieve an upset stomach. You can also put your dog in a diet of low-fat meat and rice to help stabilize the digestive acids. CBD oil has also been proven to relieve gastrointestinal problems (4).


How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog?

The CBD dosage for dogs will depend on the following factors (5):

  1. CBD’s potency in the oil formulation
  2. The weight and size of the dog
  3. The ailment being treated

Some CBD oil manufacturers provide guidelines on the proper dosage but some do not. To be on the safe side, start with 0.2 mg CBD for every pound of your dog’s weight. If you have a dog that weighs 30 pounds, 6 mg of CBD should be used.

Using this guideline, you should determine how much CBD oil you need to give by checking how much CBD, in milligrams, is in a milliliter of CBD oil. 

CBD oil has many benefits – from improving your dog’s appetite to maybe even treating some forms of cancer. The side effects are also very minimal compared to synthetic drugs and medication. CBD oil can help relieve many of the symptoms that come with dog lethargy.