Fatigued in Dogs

Why is my dog fatigued?

What is Fatigued?

There may be those times in your dog’s life that he shows periods of inactivity and seems to be feeling fatigued. He may be the type of breed that is less active than other breeds; there are several breeds that are considered “couch potatoes”.  This may be considered typical for a dog of these types. However, if a dog does not typically act inactive and seems abnormally fatigued, then a veterinary visit may be in his future.

A dog who is fatigued may be letting you know that he is unwell or in pain. He may be tired or in a certain amount of discomfort due to aging, illness, or another condition.  He may still want to go on his afternoon or evening walk, but may show signs of wanting shorter walks, or may be sleeping more often. It will be very important to find help from a professional in differentiating your dog’s pain between illness and actual aging. Either way, if a dog is being less active or energetic than normal, it may be time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to find out the reason for the fatigue.

Reasons why a dog may be fatigued include:

  • Illness
  • Depression
  • Infectious disease
  • Anemia
  • Medication
  • Aging
  • Breed type

Why Fatigued Occurs in Dogs

Fatigue in dogs can occur for many reasons. Once you take your dog to the veterinarian, it will be clearer as to what is causing him to lack energy and seem extra tired. Reasons may include:


Most illnesses can cause fatigue in your dog. When your dog is not feeling well due to being sick, he may show signs of lethargy and will want to sleep more than normal. Only a veterinarian can diagnose your dog’s illness, so you should make an appointment to see what specifically is causing his tiredness. Mild gastrointestinal upset is a good example of an illness that may not be obvious to you, but that can cause lethargy.


Some dogs, like humans, can become sad. Dogs that suffer from depression lack energy and just don’t feel like romping and playing as much. Your dog may have become depressed due to the loss of an owner or other pet in the home, a change in their routine or diet, or a change in their living situation.

Infectious Disease

There are several different types of infectious disease, such as influenza, parvovirus, and distemper that can cause your dog to be lethargic. Your dog may show signs of fatigue due to these or other types of diseases.


Anemia can cause extreme fatigue in pets. The decrease in healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood can make dogs very tired. Anemia is not an illness, but a symptom caused by illness. Parasites, such as fleas and ticks, for example, can cause anemia due to the fact that they drink blood.


If your dog is taking medication for allergies or other condition, a side effect of that medication could be tiredness. This, however, may be temporary as the dog becomes adapted to the medication or once he stops the medication altogether.


Aging happens to every animal, just as humans. As dogs become older, they decrease their activity. Their body simply cannot stay active and energetic forever, and they may start taking longer naps and wanting to take shorter walks.

Breed Type

There are certain breeds known as “couch potato” breeds. These breeds are just known to be inactive or can be very happy and healthy on a little exercise each day. Breeds such as the Basset Hound, Pug, Chow Chow, and even the Greyhound are considered breeds that are happy when they are resting.

What to do if your Dog is Fatigued

If your dog seems more fatigued than normal or not energetic at all, your veterinarian will want to further assess the situation. He may begin by asking questions about your dog’s overall health and history.  He may want to know when he started behaving as though fatigued and whether he is showing other new symptoms in addition to the changes you have seen. Your medical professional may check the medications your dog is currently taking, as some medications have side effects, such as lethargy or inactivity. 

He may begin with a complete physical examination which includes blood work, a urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. These tests may show if your dog has abnormal function of the organs or any underlying illnesses. Once the test results come back, the veterinarian will move forward with any new tests that he feels need to be conducted. He may decide to run tests to check for endocrine disorders, metabolic conditions or infectious disease. 

Imaging tests, or radiographs, of your pet’s back or hind area may prove to be useful. The vet may choose to try CT scans and pulmonary examinations, especially to check your companion’s heart and lung health. He may also conduct other imaging tests on his legs or muscles to see what could be causing his fatigue.

Prevention of Fatigued

It is difficult to prevent fatigue due to the natural aging process, but there are ways to help your dog live a more energetic life. Many dog owners believe in daily exercise, a nutritious diet, and even specific supplements added to their dog’s diet in order to extend his life of activity. A dog with good muscle tone and a healthy heart can continue to exercise and take part in walks or active play.

Keeping your dog healthy and being proactive in their health by visiting the veterinarian regularly can prevent many illnesses and underlying diseases from beginning. If they are not prevented, your veterinarian will still be able to diagnose them early on when they receive regular check-ups.

Cost of Fatigued

The cost to treat an infectious disease such as parvovirus is approximately $5500, and the expense to diagnose and treat anemia in dogs averages around $1400, depending on the severity of the condition when discovered.

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.