Dog Lethargy in Ukiah, CA: Causes and Treatments

Owning a dog is filled with joy, fun, and companionship, and we all want our best friends to be happy, healthy, and full of life. But sometimes, our canine companions may not be as energetic as usual, and just like us, there may be some days where they might feel under the weather. Many dog owners may wonder why their dogs may act tired, sluggish, or just plain tired, and there are several possible causes. However, if your normally active dog appears abnormally lethargic or tired, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

The term dog lethargy means tired, sluggish, weak, and a lethargic dog just doesn’t feel like going for a walk, or might not want to play with her favorite, toy, may want to sleep, more and may not even want to eat. You know your dog best, and if you suspect that your fur-baby isn’t right it could be due to several reasons ranging from infection or disease to pain or medications.

Dog Lethargy in Ukiah, CA

Reasons Your Dog May Experience Lethargy in Ukiah, CA

Many things can cause your dog to feel weak and lethargic, including the following.

1. Infection

Any kind of infection, including viruses such as kennel cough, parvovirus, distemper, or heartworm disease can make your dog lethargic.

  • Kennel cough. This is an upper respiratory disease that is caused by various viruses and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. The most common symptom is a dry, duck-like honking cough. Dogs with kennel cough can become lethargic, and run a fever. If you suspect that your dog may have kennel cough, contact your veterinarian. This is a very contagious condition that can spread quickly to other dogs. Treatments for kennel cough include cough suppressants, antibiotics, and in some cases bronchodilators.
  • Parvovirus. This virus typically affects puppies and young unvaccinated dogs, is highly contagious, and it attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, and lethargy. There is no cure for parvovirus, but a vaccine is available. Treatment for parvovirus involves hospitalization, supportive care with fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medication.
  • Distemper. is another virus that affects puppies and younger unvaccinated dogs, and symptoms include lethargy, fever, lethargy, mucus-like discharge from the nose and eyes, and coughing. This is a very contagious virus and can cause serious cause neurological problems. There is no cure for distemper, but a vaccine is readily available. Veterinary treatment for distemper includes hospitalization on IV fluids, antibiotics, and in some cases anticonvulsants.
  • Heartworm disease. This disease is caused by heartworm parasites that are transmitted via mosquito bites and can cause symptoms of lethargy, depression, weakness, exercise intolerance, and fever. If left untreated, heartworm disease can cause heart failure and death. Heartworm disease can be prevented with oral or injectable medicines, and treatment requires a series of injections, medications, and at least six months of strict cage rest.

2. Metabolic Disease

Certain metabolic diseases can cause lethargy in dogs as well.

  • Heart Disease. Lethargy and exercise intolerance can indicate early signs of congestive heart failure (CHF) and as the disease progresses, other symptoms develop such as coughing, lethargy, and rapid breathing. Veterinary treatment varies on the severity of the condition and may include heart medications and diuretics.
  • Hypoglycemia. Young puppies and toy breeds can suffer from hypoglycemia, which can cause weakness and lethargy. Treatment involves IV fluids, dextrose, and changes in diet.
  • Diabetes. Dogs who struggle with diabetes can become lethargic, in addition to drinking and urinating excessively. Treatment involves insulin injections and diet changes.
  • Renal Disease. Renal, or kidney disease, can also cause lethargy because the kidneys cannot efficiently produce the hormone erythropoietin (which is responsible for forming red blood cells). This in turn causes anemia, which can cause lethargy, weakness, and loss of appetite.
  • Liver Disease. Dogs who are having liver issues are often lethargic as well and may exhibit depression, loss of appetite, jaundice, and abdominal bloating. Treatment involves medication, diet changes, or even surgery.
  • Hypothyroidism. This is a metabolic disease where the thyroid no longer produces thyroid hormones and can cause lethargy, weight gain, and dull hair coat. Treatment involves bloodwork diagnostics and oral or transdermal medications.

3. Medications

Medications (prescribed and accidentally ingested) can also cause lethargy.

  • Veterinary Medications. Some prescribed medications such as opioids or pain medications can cause lethargy in dogs. If your dog is on any of these medications, talk to your veterinarian about the side-effects.
  • Toxin ingestion. Many human medications such as ibuprofen are very toxic for pets and can lead to lethargy, weakness, and even death. It’s always best to keep human medications out of reach of pets. If you think that your dog has accidentally ingested a human medication, contact your veterinarian immediately, or call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

4. Cancer

Although most prevalent in older dogs, certain cancers can cause lethargy in dogs, ranging from tumors, and blood cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia. Diagnosis involves running diagnostic tests such as blood work, radiographs, and ultrasound, and depending on cancer, treatment may vary from surgery to chemotherapy.

5. Pain

Pain can also cause lethargy in dogs, just as in people, and signs may also include lack of appetite, stiffness, and reluctance to move, If you suspect that your dog is in pain, contact your veterinarian. Treatment may include pain medications and anti-inflammatories.

6. Anemia

Anemia, whether caused by renal disease, tick-borne diseases, or other causes, can cause weakness, tiredness, and lethargy in dogs. Treatment varies depending on the cause of the anemia.

7. Poisoning

Certain poisons and toxins can cause lethargy in dogs, and these are a medical emergency. If your dog gets into the garage or shed and ingests chemicals such as antifreeze, or ingests lawn supplies or fertilizers, these are highly toxic and can cause seizures and eventual death. Treatment depends on the nature of the poison and most often includes hospitalization, supportive care, medications, and other measures.

8. New Environment

Sometimes being in a new environment, or moving to a new house, can cause your dog to be lethargic, or act a bit tired. Moving or being in a new place can be a stressful event for a dog, and if you have any concerns, contact your veterinarian.

9. Loss of a Loved One

Many owners report that the loss of a loved one, either a person or another pet, can cause a dog to appear depressed and lethargic. This can sometimes last for a few days or, depending on how close the animal was to the deceased, can create a long-term behavior change.

Talk to a Vet if Your Dog is Lethargic in Ukiah, CA

If you suspect that your dog has become suddenly lethargic, call our animal hospital in Ukiah, CA at (707) 462-8833. It is important to rule out any life-threatening causes.

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About Mendocino Animal Hospital

At Mendocino Animal Hospital, we believe in fostering the human-animal bond with excellent veterinary medicine. Our full-service veterinary practice operates in Ukiah, CA with a team of skilled veterinarians and a passionate, talented support staff who make you feel like a part of the family.

As an AAHA-accredited animal hospital, every service and aspect of our practice meets AAHA’s Standards of Excellence. No matter what your pet comes in for, they’ll receive only the best in care, compassion, and service.