Dog Lethargy: Causes and Treatments

Dogs are well-known for being high-energy in most cases.  There are a few breeds that are really low energy, but in most dogs, lethargy can be a sign of poor health. If you have noticed that your dog is suddenly not acting very energetic, you might be worried.

There are various reasons that your dog might not be as energetic as they were before, and some of them might be related to health issues. Paying attention to dog lethargy can be important when considering their overall health and well-being. If you want to know more about dog lethargy and the causes and treatments for it, you need to keep reading.

dog lethargy

What is Lethargy in Dogs?

When a dog is lethargic, they might sleep a lot, seem hard to rouse and be pretty disinterested in food. Dogs that are this way might also not want to go for a walk, go outside to play, or might even be disinterested in the company of other animals or people in the home. Dogs that are not responsive to stimuli in their daily environment are usually considered to be lethargic.


There are many reasons that your dog might be lethargic, and many of them relate to their health.

The main ones are listed below:

  • Anemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Heart conditions
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney problems
  • Oral health problems
  • Food allergies
  • Parasitic infections
  • IBS
  • Canine diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Injuries

These major systems that can be impacted by various different health conditions can be tied directly to lethargy. Some of these conditions can be treated, while others are much more difficult to attend to. Other conditions on this list can be attended to with some medications and alterations to diet in most cases.

Knowing which condition is leading to your dog’s lethargy can be critical in treating it, so a visit to the veterinarian is always a good idea. Your dog might also be lethargic just because of issues with their teeth or food allergies, so you really do need to make sure to visit the vet to rule out more serious conditions and find out the reason for your dog’s sudden lack of energy.

Possible Treatments Methods

Once you know the reason behind your dog’s lethargy, you will be offered treatment protocols for your dog’s well-being. These treatment options can vary wildly depending upon the diagnosis of the lethargic behavior.

Diet Changes

If a food allergy has caused your dog’s lethargy, switching to an allergy-friendly food can alleviate the symptoms that your dog is experiencing. If your dog is getting more lethargic as they age, sometimes a change of diet or some supportive care for aging joints might make all the difference in their energy level. Your dog might slow down some as they age, but you do need to be sure that you are not neglecting things like arthritic pain that is causing your dog to want to be more sedentary.


Organ issues such as kidney problems and liver problems might be harder to attend to other than through diet changes and some supportive medications. Your vet can advise about the reasons for the organ problem, and if there are root causes that can be resolved, your dog might make a full recovery. Otherwise, this might be a condition related to aging which can only be managed.

Dental Treatment

In the case that your dog’s teeth are the reason for their lethargy, your dog will be given a thorough dental cleaning and might have teeth pulled. Dogs with dental issues might just not be eating enough and be suffering from a lack of energy due to painful dental conditions.

Dog Lethargy Can be Related to Many Different Health Conditions

Making sure that your dog’s lethargy is not related to a variety of different health conditions is important. You will want to be sure that you take your lethargic dog to the vet to be sure that you can find out if they have a health problem that is causing their lack of energy. Knowing the reason for your dog’s lack of energy can be important in order to provide treatment. Dogs can suffer from various health concerns that range in severity, and you will have a much better time helping them feel better if you know why they are not feeling energetic.

If your dog is a low-energy breed already, you might be less concerned about a small increase in lethargy, but you should still never rule out some underlying condition that is causing this symptom. This condition is not normal in any breed of dog, so you should always be certain that you take this symptom seriously if you notice your dog showing evidence of it. For more information, contact Emergency Veterinary Care Centers by calling one of our locations. Our compassionate team members will be there to help answer any questions and find the best treatment method for your dog.

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