Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Weight Loss In Older Dogs: When To Worry

Senior dogs may experience weight loss instead of weight gain, which can be a concern for pet owners. Our veterinarians in New York can provide guidance and support if you notice this happening to your dog.

Older Dog's Weight

It's commonly believed that as dogs get older, they tend to gain weight. However, some dogs may experience weight loss instead. If you're wondering why your dog is losing weight, there are two possible reasons. Firstly, it could be a symptom of an underlying health condition or illness. Alternatively, it may be due to your dog's changing dietary needs as they age.

Cause of Weight Loss In Senior Dogs That Are a Problem

There are eight common issues that can cause weight loss in elderly dogs. These include liver/gallbladder disease, dehydration, dental problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. It is important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to determine the underlying issue. In most cases, these issues will also present with other symptoms in addition to weight loss.

The best thing you can do for your senior dog that is losing weight is to observe them for the other symptoms so you can inform the vet so they can diagnose your dog quicker. The symptoms that can present with each condition are as follows.

Liver/gallbladder disease

      • Lethargy
      • Increased thirst
      • Vomiting/diarrhea
      • Fever
      • Pain 
      • Pale or yellow gums
      • Yellowing of skin/eyes


      • Dry gums 
      • Lethargy 
      • Sunken eyes
      • Loss of skin elasticity
      • Less urination
      • Dark urine

Dental Issues

      • Excessive drooling
      • Difficulty eating/chewing
      • Bad breath
      • Swollen or bleeding gums

Kidney disease

      • Increased thirst
      • Excessive urination (may contain blood)
      • Vomiting
      • Loss of appetite
      • Pale gums
      • Lethargy

Heart disease

      • A chronic cough
      • Tires easily
      • Exercise intolerance
      • Excessive panting
      • Irregular heartbeat
      • Restlessness


      • Excessive thirst
      • Excessive urination
      • Increased appetite
      • Lethargy
      • Repeated urinary tract infections


      • Lethargy
      • Unusual bleeding
      • Lumps, bumps, or swelling
      • Distended abdomen
      • Limping or lameness
      • Unusual urination – frequency or amount


      • Wobbling
      • Lameness
      • Scuffing the toes
      • Incontinence

What to Do If No Underlying Medical Issues are Causing the Weight Loss

If your vet can't find any underlying cause for the weight loss, it might be time to change your dog's diet. Consult with your veterinarian about their current diet and the amount of protein, fat, and fiber they are getting.

In conclusion

If you notice your senior dog losing weight rapidly, it is important to take them to the veterinarian immediately. For general concerns about your dog's weight, bring it up during their bi-annual routine exam with the veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you notice that your senior dog is losing weight, please contact our vets in New York immediately to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.

New Patients Welcome

Rivergate Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New York companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (212) 213-9885