Always Tired in Dogs

Why is my dog always tired?

What is Always Tired?

It’s easily noticeable when your dog seems less energetic than usual and sleeps more often than usual.  Your dog may even appear sad or depressed to you and does not want to play.  Signs your dog is more tired than normal should not be ignored.  Though psychological and emotional reasons, such as stress and anxiety, can contribute to a tired dog, excessive or sudden lethargy in your dog is usually a symptom of an underlying medical condition.  Several health-related conditions can cause tiredness in your dog including:

  • Infectious fever
  • Toxicity and poisoning
  • Systemic disease

Why Always Tired Occurs in Dogs

Determining the cause of your pet’s tiredness can difficult, and you will want to take precaution with fever as well as monitor your dog’s health and behavior.  Providing your veterinarian with your dog’s history, the onset of his tiredness, as well as accompanying conditions and behaviors will assist the vet in diagnosing the issue.  

Infectious Fever

The normal range for a dog’s body temperature is between 99.5 and 102.5F degrees (38.3 to 39.2C degrees).  If your dog appears tired, has an elevated heart rate, is shivering, or has a warm, dry nose, he may have a fever above the normal range.  Fevers can occur in dogs of any age but usually account for lethargy in younger dogs. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, such as Streptococcus, Canine Distemper, or Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) can cause high body temperatures in your dog.  It is important to treat the fever as well as the cause immediately as rising body temperatures can become fatal. 

Toxicity and Poisoning

Several household products, if ingested, can lead to toxicity in your dog and he may appear tired.  A lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also accompany poisoning.  Typical products that can cause harm are mulch, fertilizer, and insecticides.  Immediate medical care is required if you know or believe your dog has ingested any non-food product such as these.

Systemic Disease

Systemic diseases, such as diabetes, cancers, heart, or kidney diseases may affect dogs of any age but are more common in older dogs.  The systemic disease often slows your pet down, and he will appear sluggish, uninterested, or otherwise tired.  Other symptoms will also appear depending on the type of disease.

What to do if your Dog is Always Tired

Sudden onset of tiredness, especially when accompanied by other severe symptoms, such as fever, difficult breathing, coughing, or vomiting require immediate medical attention. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination including taking your dog’s temperature.  Your vet will also ask you questions regarding your dog’s medical history and when you first noticed his tiredness.  Be sure to note any behavior change or when fatigue strikes your dog.  For example, note if your dog gets excessively tired after exercise or if the onset is unrelated to his physical activity.  

Many different infectious agents can cause disease and fever in your dog, so your veterinarian will order blood tests, a fecal evaluation, and a urinalysis to determine the cause of infection.  Additional blood work or other panels may be ordered to determine diagnosis if a specific systemic disease is suspected.  Many times, your veterinarian will order X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRIs to diagnose and develop a treatment plan for a dog suffering from a systemic disease.

If you know or suspect your dog is suffering from toxic ingestion, bring the substance with you to the clinic. Your veterinarian will first stabilize your dog if he is suffering from other symptoms, such as seizures.  Once stable, your vet will ask you when you know or believe your dog ingested the substance.  If caught early enough, the vet will induce vomiting or perform a gastric lavage, commonly known as a stomach pump.  Active charcoal will also be given to help by absorbing the remaining toxins in the system. Intravenous fluid therapy may be performed if your dog has lost too many fluids or to help process and flush the toxins.

Prevention of Always Tired

A clean, safe home will also help prevent your dog from accidentally ingesting a toxic substance.  Many of our household products, from cleaning supplies to lawn care can be toxic to your dog when ingested. Keeping these products out of reach when in storage and within sight while in use go a long way in preventing accidental poisoning.  

As your dog ages, he may develop systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart, or kidney disease.  While many diseases are not 100% preventable, regular visits to your veterinarian’s office will keep you informed of your dog’s health and on track for keeping him as healthy as can be.  Make sure your dog always has access to clean water and is fed and exercised regularly as he ages. Your vet can help you develop a diet that best suits your aging dog’s needs and will help reduce the effects of aging.

Cost of Always Tired

Treatment for a tired dog depends on the underlying cause of your dog’s lethargic behavior.  For example, tiredness due to Canine Distemper can cost around $1,800 whereas ingesting toxins can cost around $600.

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