Weight loss in dogs is not a normal condition, has several potential underlying causes, and most all of them are will not be good.
In fact, this condition can be so serious that it may take the life of your dog.
It is much more than just losing weight; it can also cause a loss of both body condition as well as body mass.
It can also cause your dog to develop a very poor hair coat and may lead to one of the most disgusting and dangerous conditions your dog will face.
This is a situation where you dog starts to eat their own stool.
It may be caused by a behavioral problem, but it can also be caused by weight loss.
Dogs will turn to eating their own stools when they are on the brink of starving to death, and in this cases, they may be.
Weight loss in dogs may be just a physical condition that is the result of a negative caloric balance or the result of an underlying condition.
It may also be the result of a very sinister life threatening disease.
Whatever the cause is, there is always one thing in common; it is not normal and you should take it very seriously.
What makes weight loss so difficult for most owners to understand is that it can take on three different forms in regards to your dog’s appetite.
Your dog’s appetite may be absolutely normal, it may suddenly decrease to the point of being anorexic, or it may actually increase which makes no sense at all.
All three should be treated seriously, as each one can have a different set of underlying causes.
Weight loss in dogs will always start with the first concern, which is your dog’s food supply.
As most owners will attest to, weight gain and keeping your dog as fit as you can is a battle for most of your dog’s adult life.
If your dog does start to lose weight, the first thing to examine is their food.
If you have recently switched food and it was with the intent of slimming down your dog, there may be nothing at all wrong.
However, if it is not the intent, you should immediately inspect the quality of the food.
It may not have enough calories to provide for your dog’s nutritional needs, or it may be such a bad quality that your dog simply does not like it.
There is also the chance that it may be spoiled or it is simply too old.
Commercial dog food that is past the expiration date, if the date is accurate, will rapidly lose the nutrients that are needed by your dog, and the result is they will start to lose weight.
The quality or the quantity of food may be the answer, but in most cases, it is not.
The next set of potential causes of weight loss in dogs will be from some type of a malabsorptive disorder, which is a condition that causes poor intestinal absorption in your dog.
There are several potential causes but the leading cause is IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
This is a situation where there is an accumulation of inflammatory cells on your dog’s intestinal walls and there is still to this date, no known actual cause.
It can cause severe diarrhea in dogs that will rapidly lead to a weight loss.
The next type of malabsorptive disorder is known as intestinal parasitism, which is most common in young dogs or dogs that are kept in shelters, kennels, or any type an unsanitary condition.
It may involve round worm, hook worm, or whip worm infestation and if not treated, will not only cause weight loss, but several other health issues.
Chronic infections of your dog’s bowel such as fugal and bacterial overgrowth can also cause malabsorptive disorders.
Other causes include gastrointestinal obstructions that prevent proper absorption of nutrients.
The next potential cause of weight loss in dogs is from maldigestive disorders where there is an inadequate breakdown or processing of your dog’s food by their system.
The most common cause is EPI, which is also referred to as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.
This is a situation where your dog’s pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to properly break the food down, and as a result, the nutrients are lost.
Your dog may also have developed a lack of bile salts due to a liver or gall balder disease, another maldigestion disorder.
These are perhaps the most dangerous cause of weight loss in dogs, as they can cause the heart, liver or kidney to malfunction.
Diabetes mellitus is the most common underlying cause as it decreases your dog’s ability to properly utilize sugar or glucose from their diet.
Addisons disease may also be the cause and it results in your dog’s system not producing enough adrenal hormones.
Hyperthyroidism causes an increase in your dog’s metabolism and can also cause weight loss to slowly occur.
Nutrient Loss By The Body
The next potential underlying cause of weight loss in dogs is a by a disease known as PLE, or Protein Losing Enteropathy.
This is a very serious situation as well, and is best described as an almost complete loss of proteins by your dog through their gastrointestinal tract.
However, there is another condition that is not as well known as PLE, where protein is lost through the kidneys, and is called protein losing nephropathies.
If your dog has any type of skin lesions or any type of a burn that has occurred, these can also cause a loss of protein and a rapid weight loss.
Weight loss can also by the result of some type of neuromuscular disease that may include disorders of the central nervous system that will not allow your dog to eat properly.
These forms are generally associated with the brain or spinal columns.
However, it may also be the result of a partial paralysis of your dog’s esophagus or a disorder that prevents your dog from properly picking up or swallowing their food.
Burning Excessive Calories
Weight loss may also be the result of any type of an increase in physical activity that is not properly balanced with increased calorie intake.
But contrary to a lot of misconception, this is not the biggest cause of excessive calorie burning.
If your dog is an outside dog and they are exposed to excessive durations of cold weather, they will burn through calories.
Pregnancies as well as nursing will also burn excessive calories, as well as a fever. But the most sinister cause of an excessive calorie burning in your dog is combating cancer.
Weight loss in dogs is not a normal occurrence and should always be treated very seriously.
It may be something very simple such as poor food quality or not enough food, but the chances are very high that it is something much more sinister.