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The Case of the Missing Pounds: What Causes a Dog to Lose Weight?

A dog losing weight is usually normal. But a dog losing weight rapidly and suddenly is another story. It could signify something serious and dangerous, which you must address immediately.

The key to addressing your dog's sudden weight loss is first to find the cause of it. Why are they losing weight? Is it healthy or unhealthy? If not, what should you do to make it better?

Here are the most common causes of a dog's weight loss and tips for dealing with or preventing it from recurring.

Sudden or Rapid Weight Loss in Dogs: Why Are They Losing Weight?

It is not unusual for dogs to lose weight suddenly or rapidly. However, it's understandable that this is very concerning for many pet parents, particularly first-time owners. After all, it might indicate an underlying health condition that requires utmost attention.

Here are the six common causes of rapid and sudden weight loss in dogs:

They are Picky Eaters

Did you switch your dog's food? One of the most common causes why our furry friends lose weight is changes in their diet. Even the slightest change in the amount, type, formula, or ingredients of the food may cause your dog to eat less. Not all of them can adjust well to these turnarounds and might become picky eaters.

Also, this problem includes the tap water you use to moisten the dog's meals. If you move to a new place, the dog will definitely catch the changes in its taste. This can put them off from eating, leading to weight loss.

They Lack Protection From Parasites

Does your pet receive monthly protection against intestinal parasites like heartworms, hookworms, and Giardia? That's great because parasites can cause severe weight loss. Also, parasites can trigger vomiting, increased gas, soft stool, and diarrhea in your dog.

Sometimes, it's not enough to shield your furry friend against parasitic causes of losing weight. Some parasites, such as whipworms, are immune to most products. Your dog can contract them by ingesting eggs directly from contaminated soil or water.

They Suffer From Oral Pain

Your dog losing weight could be caused by oral problems. For example, a gum problem can cause difficulty chewing and swallowing kibble. It eventually leads to weight loss, but worse things can happen if you don't address these issues right away.

Oral bacteria might spread throughout the dog's body, making them feel generally unwell and at risk for heart problems, liver disease, and kidney infections. Dental issues need immediate attention or prevention with regular teeth brushing and cleanings.

They are Feeling Stressed and Anxious

Dogs feel stressed and anxious too. And, just like humans, these feelings can trigger issues with the digestive system, starting with eating less. Because of their excellent perception abilities, dogs notice even the most minor changes in their environment. These changes often bother them.

Adding a new pet or moving into a new house are popular examples of stressors causing dogs to lose weight. But aside from a decreased appetite, stress in dogs may develop into a chronic case, weakening their immune system and increasing the risk of infections.

They are Experiencing Gastrointestinal or Metabolic Disorders

If your dog vomits or suffers from diarrhea constantly, they will most likely develop a decreased appetite. This will lead to losing weight over time. Other gastrointestinal disorders, such as maldigestion or malabsorption, may weaken their intestines as they fail to absorb and break down nutrients.

Another possible cause of unexplained weight loss in dogs is a metabolic problem. Your dog may suffer from disorders like Addison's disease or diabetes mellitus. These disorders are quite complex, so advanced diagnosis is required to address them.

They Have a Heart Disease, Kidney Problem, or Cancer

Unexplained weight loss can signify something more serious, such as kidney disease, heart problems, or cancer. If your furry friend drinks or urinates a lot and is losing weight, this may be a sign of kidney disease. Unlike other cases, this condition doesn't make them lose pounds immediately. That doesn't mean it's not equally (or more) dangerous, though!

It's the same with heart disease. Your dog won't lose pounds right away due to fluid accumulation. Weight loss is also associated with various types of cancer, like osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and lymphoma. The tumor causes pain, discomfort, decreased appetite, painful swallowing, shortness of breath, bad odor, behavioral changes, and other symptoms.

How to Take Care of Your Dog's Weight

A change in your dog's weight can make or break the quality of its life. Knowing the nutrients they need and other ways to maintain a healthy weight is essential. Here are some fantastic tips!

Control Their Food Intake

Feed your dog the same amount of food daily. This should be based on their current weight and nutritional requirements. If necessary, consult your vet to help create a controlled feeding regimen for your furry pal. Consistent feeding prevents your dog from avoiding their food, which can cause them to lose weight rapidly.

It is best if you don't spoil them with treats. Overindulging them with treats may lead to stomach issues and obesity in the long run. Limit their treats to 10% or less of their daily calorie intake. Also, choose healthier and low-calorie treats like blueberries.

Choose High-Calorie Foods

If your dog is underweight, they need more food with high calories. This helps them gain weight faster compared to less and low-calorie meals. Pick foods that are high in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Fat has more calories per gram and is more satisfying for dogs, so it's generally a better option for increasing calories in their diet.

Keep Track of Your Dog's Weight

Constantly monitor your furry friend's weight to see where they need to improve. Know their ideal weight to assess their health better. There are different ways to do this, from putting them on a household scale, checking their body condition score, using puppy growth charts, or visiting your vet (for bigger dogs.)

Make Your Feeding Style Adventurous

They say people eat with their eyes first; we believe it also applies to dogs! Dogs used to pursue and fight for food in the wild. This prompts pet owners to try different feeding methods, but it's difficult to achieve in a domestic setting. Food is quickly served in a bowl, so your dog might get bored easily. Make your feeding style adventurous to keep your dog's mind stimulated.

Use a food puzzle or maze. It hides the food and challenges your furry friend to solve the puzzle to find their treats. Mealtime is so much for dogs when it also hones their minds. Otherwise, they'd get bored, and it may even cause obesity problems.

Switch Occasionally

While a consistent amount of food is essential, it doesn't mean you can't alternate your dog's intake. It's okay to switch their meals from time to time! One reason is when your dog is more active in a particular season. Increase their meals during that time, especially because active dogs need more food.

Another reason is that some dogs need a little variety more than others. Try switching from dry to wet food and vice versa. Add a new topping or remove certain toppings like chicken or beef. That said, this shouldn't be a priority because it can cause stomach issues or encourage your dog to get unnecessarily picky.

Inject Supplements Into Your Dog's Food

Nutritional supplements help your dog gain weight and muscle mass faster, so consider adding some to their diet. Products such as probiotic supplements, fish oil, or raw honey contain specific health benefits. Don’t forget to discuss this with your vet and determine the supplements that work best for your furry friend.

Never Skip Outdoor Activities

Maintaining your dog's weight isn't only about food. It's also about exercise, so take them out regularly.  Schedule adequate playtime for your furry friend to help them burn unnecessary calories (and also yours). This way, they won't get bored and spend time eating until they're overweight.

Lift the Weight Off Your and Your Dog's Shoulders With Proper Weight Management

Rapid and sudden weight loss in dogs may or may not be a cause of concern. It's tough to determine at first, but there are various ways to get hints. First, it's important to monitor their eating habits. Are they eating less? Are they getting thinner? Are there other symptoms you find odd? If so, confirm their condition with a weighing test.

There are multiple possible reasons for unexplained weight loss in dogs. It could be changes in their diet or exposure to parasites. Perhaps it's a more serious underlying illness like kidney disease, heart issues, or cancer. Before things get worse, take your pet to the vet and get the needed help.

If you're just getting more information and seeking prevention, know the many ways to maintain a healthy weight for your dog. Create a healthy diet for them, always monitor weight changes, add fun and variety during mealtimes, and practice regular exercise.

Perfect Petzzz: Worry-Free Alternatives

For aspiring pet parents, weight management can be intimidating. The last thing a pet owner wants is their beloved furry pal suffering from unwanted, abnormal weight loss. Why not consider a worry-free alternative if you're still not confident about raising a pet? 

That's where Perfect Petzzz comes in! We offer lifelike cats and dogs that only need sleep and cuddles from their pet parents. No need to worry about weight loss concerns and other things! 
If you’re interested in trying, check out our collections today.

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