Lethargy or Weakness in Dogs


Dogs make extremely playful and active pets. You cannot simply ignore their puppy eyes or wagging tail when they want you to throw the ball or give them yummy treats.  But sometimes they may not feel as active. They do not get up and start jumping when it’s walk or playtime. They may also have a loss of appetite and lack of interest in any sort of physical activity. This is referred to as lethargy in dogs. It is a common sign that something is troubling your dog which needs your attention and care.

In this article, we are discussing common causes, symptoms, and tips on how to treat lethargy or weakness in dogs.


Listed below are some symptoms which need immediate response and treatment:

  • Trauma or open wounds
  • Trouble in breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Seizure attacks
  • Excreting white saliva
  • Whining or shaking due to pain


Commonly, the stool can be a good way to find out if something is wrong with your dog’s health. Some indicators which should worry you are listed below:

  • Worms noted
  • Diarrhea
  • Strain during excretion
  • Blood

Causes of lethargy in dogs

1. Hot weather

Sometimes sweating and humid hot weather can cause dogs to be inactive and uninterested in physical activities. In such weather, it is imperative to take care of proper hydration and the right kind of food items to keep the level of necessary nutrients intact.

2. An infection or disease

Another common cause of lethargy in dogs is a bacterial or viral infection. Parasites, chronic kidney conditions, or a weak metabolism can be reasons for the inactive behavior. Some severe diseases which require immediate action are Parvovirus, Distemper, or Heartworm disease. Diabetes, cardiac issues, and liver problems are also responsible for weakness in dogs.

3. Recently prescribed medication

To know why your dog is not active, you might need to take a look at its recent vaccinations and medical prescriptions. Study the implications and side effects. The lethargy can be a result of such medications that did not suit the dog’s metabolism and consumed the energy from its body. If such is the case, it is best to consult the vet who prescribed the medicine or vaccine and ask them for the next course of action.

4. Lack of appetite/Ingestion of something poisonous

Dogs tend to swallow or chew anything which smells tempting. It can even be from the garbage, an insect, a bug, or just something not suitable for them. This causes loss of appetite due to the pain or any other sensation that they might be feeling. The loss of appetite makes them weak and eventually causes tiredness and lethargic behavior. Eating chocolates or fruits can make dogs sick and inactive. Moreover, poisoned, expired or spoiled food can also cause digestion and metabolism problems.

5. Mental condition

Just like humans, dogs also feel stress, fear, and anxiety. There can be certain instances when your dog might feel one of these emotions which can make them cuddle up in the corner and not want to participate in playing, walking, or doing normal routine activities.

6. Food Allergies

Common signs of food allergies in dogs include ear infections, itchy skin, fur loss with bald spots, redness or inflammation on the body, watery eyes, and constant need to chew and lick paws. The food which is considered toxic for dogs include grapes, soy, wheat, chocolates, raisins or currants, or even proteins from eggs or meat. Allergies cause nutritional deficiencies and can make dogs less responsive and lethargic.

Treatment at home

For low to mild symptoms, there are some tips and techniques which you can use to treat the tiredness and lethargy in your dog at home. Start by confining the pet in a cozy enclosed place. It can be a crate or a secured bed. Place it in an easily observable area where you can easily keep an eye on your dog.

Do not insist on your dog to play or go out for a walk with you. Let it rest and rest the tiredness away. Moreover, take temperature and monitor the fever. If the symptoms are mild, do not panic but on the appearance of severity, head to your vet.

When to see a vet and what to expect from them

If you notice a loss of appetite, pain, or unusual whines in your dog, taking it to a vet is the best option. You should expect the following actions from the vet:

You will be asked for the medical history of your dog – all the necessary records of prescriptions, past illnesses, allergies, and usual behavior.

Then the vet shall examine the dog physically and take down all the required readings. In many cases, some lab tests will be prescribed which is totally normal. They help in a better understanding of the issue. Lab tests also help the vet in diagnosing the particular types of infections, bacteria, or endocrine diseases. For serious cases, X-Rays, ECGs, or ultrasounds may also be performed to make an accurate diagnosis.

The medications and correct treatment procedures will depend upon the severity of the illness.

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