What’s Lethargy in Dogs?

Dogs have an inherent enthusiasm. They love walks, playing fetch, and/or various other outdoor activities. Dogs are always happy to hang out in an outdoor space surrounded by nature as it keeps their genetic demand of physical activities up along with maintaining a good health. Some outdoor activities that demand a lot of physical strength can also make them tired. Is it lethargy? Some rest after a strenuous day cannot be considered lethargy. However, if an otherwise active dog suddenly prefers to rest over any other of his favourite things, it surely rings a bell in the pet parents’ minds. Though such lethargic behaviour may be caused by many factors, big and small, a prolonged lethargy indicates a problem. Lethargy is a common sign of tiredness in many cases but if it is prolonged and not diagnosed in the early stages, it can also be the reason for major life-threatening diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypoglycemia and much more.

What Causes Lethargy in Dogs?

Different dog breeds have different temperament and different activity levels. Its quite tricky to find common denominators that can make dogs lethargic because it is a vague indication of any illness. Mentioned below are general reasons or causes that are associated with a dog’s languid phase:


A simple infection to serious conditions like Distemper, any kind of viral or bacterial infection can make a dog dull. Parvovirus is a serious viral infection that is spread through an infected dog’s feces. Its symptoms include dairrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. It is treated with strong antibiotics and extended medical support. Kennel Cough is a highly contagious disease that can be distinguished by the honking cough sounds. Additionally, dogs may contract heartworm disease and show the symptoms of weakness and lethargy.

Chronic Diseases

Many chronic illnesses impact the energy levels of dogs. In fact, many of these illnesses show almost the same symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose the underlying problem. Lethargy is one common sign for many such illnesses. A dog having diabetes often becomes lethargic, gets excessively thirsty, avoids food, and loses weight. Alternatively, dogs having low blood sugar will also look tired and weak.

Jaundice and other liver conditions in dogs are identified by yellowish tint in their eyes and/or gums. Other symptoms include bloating, appetite loss, and lethargy, among others. Growing lethargy in dogs, in combination with reduced stamina for exercise indicates heart ailments.

Other causes of lethargy in dogs

  • Lack of Iron in blood cells
  • Bites of parasites
  • Dehydration
  • Heatstroke
  • Early stages of the diabetic condition
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Unhygienic routine
  • Old age 
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Poisoning or other trauma

Different breeds of dogs may develop different types of allergies, ranging from nominal to life-threatening. However, certain allergies can cause lethargy in them, as it is one of the reasons of disorientation of temper/behaviour in dogs. The major reason most dogs have various allergies is their age and immunity; older dogs have weaker immunity, making them more vulnerable to various food and surroundings. A sick dog will more often than not will appear lethargic.

What are the Symptoms of Lethargy in Dogs?

With different characteristics, different dog breeds exhibit different symptoms of lethargy. Below are few symptoms out of many, which should not be ignored:

  • Exhaustion
  • Lost Appetite
  • If the dog is not behaving its usual self
  • If the dog is languid after consuming any food or drink
  • Shivering and shaking
  • Disorientated
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chronic problems
  • Immune system disorders
  • Glaucoma

How to Treat Lethargy in Dogs?

Consultation for the treatment should be given by veterinarian doctors if lethargy in the dog is seen. However, there are few treatments, which are recommended if the lethargic conditions are not too serious.

  • Adequate mental and physical rest
  • Change of surroundings
  • Change of diet
  • Certain prescribed medication

Prevention of Lethargy in Dogs:

Nutrition plays a similar role of importance in Dogs as it does for us. Proper nutritious food helps dogs to become physically healthy and active. A balanced diet with the appropriate amount of protein, fibre, good carbohydrates and fats is mandatory for Dog’s healthy lifestyle. Veterinary doctors do not recommend highly processed foods for your pets. 

It is highly recommended to add adequate exercise like longs walks or any physical exercise, which keeps them active and far away from obesity. Pet parents must be aware of the ingredients of the dog foods and must refrain from giving them anything that can harm their health.