Weight loss in cats and dogs

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Phone: 07-5715003 

SmartVets Animal Hospital

511 Cameron Road, Tauranga, (Between 10th &11th Ave)

If your pet’s weight is more than its ideal weight, the additional weight can put your pet at a higher risk of developing several life threatening conditions such as diabetes heart disease, high blood pressure or arthritis.  Nevertheless a significant (more than 10 percent of body weight) and sudden decrease in weight is not healthy either. Such dramatic weight loss with no apparent reason is often a sign of illness. Unhealthy weight loss in pets is often characterised by low energy levels, lethargy and lower resistance to infections.

What causes weight loss in your pet?

Less concerning reasons of occasional and small weight loss in pets might include change in diets, aging process or new environment (home, greater access to outdoor, and increased physical activity etc.). Obvious symptoms such as poor appetite, diarrhoea or vomiting can also lead to weight loss. On the other hand, rapid and persistent weight loss in pets which could be a sign of more serious conditions my result due to several other reasons. Some of them are: 

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Dental disease
  • Organ failure (kidney, liver or heart)
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Chronic blood loss
  • Gastrointestinal obstructions

What should I do if my pet is losing weight rapidly?

You may notice weight loss in your pet just based on physical appearance or when you weigh your pet.  If you cannot explain the weight loss based on the obvious clinical signs such as diarrhoea or vomiting nor is it related to change in diet or life style, it is essential to get your pet checked by your vet.  

What will you vet do when you visit him/her with your pet which is losing weight?

The vet will first try to determine the underlying cause of the weight loss. There might be several steps involved in determining such cause including, but not limited to getting a history and assessment of physical conditions. History and initial assessment information will help the vet to make a decision regarding the choice of further diagnostic tests. Some examples of diagnostic tests your vet might recommend are faecal examination, x-ray, blood test, hormone test, ultrasound, endoscopy, biopsy or urinalysis.  Definitive treatment can start after the fundamental cause of weight loss is diagnosed.