Lethargy in dogs: Why Is Your  Dog Lethargic?


If your dog slows down, seems sleepy, or refuses to play the way it used to, possibilities are that they’re not just lazy. Pets that are lethargic or exhibit symptoms of exercise intolerance may have a severe underlying disorder. In fact, this may be caused by a medical illness such as heart failure. If your dog is lethargic or is just less involved than normal, it is important to pay attention to these signals.

What are the signs/symptoms/causes of a lethargic dog?

The symptoms of a lethargic dog are self-evident: the dog lacks its usual stamina, spends more time in bed, rests or sleeps, does not want to go on normal walks, does not want to engage with people as normal, and usually acts in a lazy, sleepy way.

There is a long list of potential reasons for a lethargic dog, from moderate gastroenteritis to viral illnesses to heart disease to cancer. There is no use in speculating at an early stage. Lethargy is best used as a general indication that a dog is feeling sick, which needs careful continuous supervision by its owner.

Recommended: Canine Ehrlichia Rapid Test in dog

Causes of lethargy in a dog Include:

  • Heart disease
  • Canine diabetes
  • Heartworm
  • Parvovirus
  • Dog flu
  • Ingesting a toxic substance 

How To Help A Lethargic Dog:

When your dog is lethargic, make it as comfortable as possible. Be sure your lethargic dog sleeps in the climate-controlled parts of your home — warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and dry. Often, lethargic dogs get a change of appetite, in that case,   the dog must have access to water and to maintain daily meal schedules.

If the dog stops consuming its usual diet, consider that could be more appealing (e.g. ground turkey and rice).  If your dog refuses to eat, you should not push your dog to feed, and that this may lead to more severe medical problems.

When Should I take My Lethargic Dog to the Vet?

Lethargy may be a secondary symptom of simple stomach distress, or it may be a sign of life-threatening illness. A sick dog is always exhausted as their body fights off the infection and a visit to the vet is often necessary.

When lethargy occurs with sudden weight loss, bloody diarrhea, or if it persists longer than a day or two, the veterinarian should test the dog to check that there are no abnormalities. Puppies are most likely to be affected by diseases and signs. A puppy who does not want to feed or drink, or who suffers from vomiting and diarrhea, requires a medical check-up! The body of a smaller dog will dehydrate faster than the body of a big dog.