What to Know About Lethargy in Dogs

lethargic beagle dog lying on a couch

If you’ve noticed a lack of activity in your dog that isn’t normal, it may cause you to worry. Lethargy can be a symptom of many different things but should be taken seriously. Here’s what you know about lethargy in dogs:

What is Lethargy in Dogs?

Lethargy is a condition when your dog is less active or animated than usual. You may notice they are sleeping more or have less energy than normal. It’s one of the symptoms you should never ignore in your dog because it can be a non-specific symptom. It’s not a diagnosis but rather an indicator of something else. It’s important to check with your vet if you notice lethargy in your dog.

What Does Lethargy Look Like in Dogs?

There are a few different ways lethargy looks in dogs. These include not wanting to go for walks, your dog won’t eat, reluctance to play, excessive sleep, and staying in their crate or on their bed. You may also see signs your dog is in pain.

It’s important to consider some factors before jumping to conclusions. If your dog is older and typically moves slower or had a good amount of physical activity the day before or earlier in the day, less energy is to be expected. But if your senior dog is typically active and all of a sudden is showing signs of lethargy, you should ask your veterinarian.

If your young and active dog is all of a sudden moving slowly or sleeping more than usual, it can be a sign of something else. It’s important to be aware of your dog’s baseline of energy and if it dips below that unexpectedly out of the blue, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian.

What Causes Lethargy in Dogs?

There can be a few different causes of lethargy in dogs. Some are rather innocuous, like a bad night of sleep or excessive activity. Simply letting them rest should help.

But other causes can be more serious. These causes can include pain, disease, viral or bacterial infections, hyperkeratosis caused by zinc deficiencies, side effects of medication or vaccines, or even your dog’s mental state.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Lethargy?

If your dog is lethargic but isn’t showing any signs of illness or pain, your vet might suggest letting them rest for a few hours and see if there’s any change. But if there’s no improvement after a day, they probably will have you bring your dog in for an evaluation.

However, if the lethargy is accompanied by pain, vomiting, or confusion, it’s best to have your dog seen as soon as possible. It can be a sign of something much bigger and it’s best to have your dog seen earlier than later. The sooner your vet can diagnose your dog, the quicker you can get treatment.

This is an overview of what to know about lethargy in dogs. Remember that lethargy isn’t in itself a diagnosis. If their activity level is below the baseline, keep an eye on them and if it persists, talk to your vet. They’ll be able to evaluate and help get your dog back to their happy, active self!