Quiet and Sleepy in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 06/13/2017Updated: 01/13/2022
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Why is my dog quiet and sleepy?

What is Quiet and Sleepy?

Your once very active dog is now quiet and sleeping as much as the cat does. Even when you reach for his favorite tennis ball, he seems disinterested.   There are several reasons why your dog may be more quiet and sleepy than usual such as:

  • Age, which causes changes to his body
  • Infectious disease¬†
  • Parasites¬†
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heart disease
  • Emotional issues

A dog that is quiet, sleepy and overall feeling lethargic should be seen by a veterinarian.   Lethargy may be a symptom of an underlying disorder, which may be serious.

Why Quiet and Sleepy Occurs in Dogs


Your dog may seem quiet and sleepy simply because he is getting older. Dogs age more quickly than humans. Depending on the breed, a 6-year-old dog is equivalent to a person that is 40 or 50 year of age.  Getting older brings changes to the dog’s body.  Conditions such as dental issues, decreased lung capacity, hormonal changes, vision loss, hearing loss, weight gain and arthritis may be causing him to slow down.  In addition, some older dogs become more sensitive to heat or colder weather. 

 Infectious Disease

Infectious diseases such as the parvovirus, kennel cough or pneumonia may be causing your dog to feel tired and sick.  Canine parvovirus can affect all dogs but it is more common in unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than 6 months of age. Kennel cough is typically contracted in boarding kennels, shelters or daycare facilities. Bacterial pneumonia may be triggered by irritants and inhaled pollutants.  Bacterial pneumonia may be a secondary infection caused by a viral infection.


Internal and external parasites feed on a dog’s blood.  The loss of blood due to an infestation of hookworms, fleas or ticks will cause your dog to become anemic. Anemia (low red blood cells) will cause your dog to have loss of stamina. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body’s cells and tissues.  The lack of oxygen in the dog’s cells and tissues will cause him to feel quiet and sleepy.


Hypothyroidism is a common disease in dogs, which causes lethargy. Hypothyroidism occurs when there is a decrease in the production and secretion of the thyroid hormone. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism may include weight gain, excessive shedding, cold intolerance, slower heart beat and anemia.

Heart Disease

The weakening of the heart muscle can cause poor exercise tolerance. Your dog may be tiring quicker than usual due to heart disease. Other symptoms of heart disease may include elevated respiratory rate, pot belly, fainting and coughing.

Emotional Issues

Depression may be causing your dog to be quiet and sleepy.   The loss of another family member (human or pet) can cause your dog to grieve. Additional symptoms of mourning may include loss of appetite, loss of interest to play and your pet may even whine or howl.

What to do if your Dog is Quiet and Sleepy

If your dog seems to be always quiet and sleepy, he should be seen by a veterinarian.  The veterinarian will want to go over your dog’s medical history.  It is important to let him know any additional symptoms you have observed in your dog.   

The veterinarian will perform a physical exam and will assess your dog’s overall appearance.  The doctor may suggest running some diagnostic tests such as a complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, urinalysis, and fecal exam. If required for further information, x-rays and an electrocardiogram (EKG) may be ordered.

The treatment plan will depend on the diagnosis.  Older dogs may be put on a low caloric diet.  If your dog was diagnosed with arthritis he may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Infectious diseases might be treated with antibiotics.  If your companion was diagnosed with severe anemia, he may need a blood transfusion. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with thyroid hormone supplements. If the EKG showed abnormalities the patient may be referred to a canine cardiologist.

If your dog has severe depression, the veterinarian may prescribe an antidepressant medication.  Your pet will need a lot of reassurance, patience and love during his grieving.

Prevention of Quiet and Sleepy

Older dogs (over 6 years of age) should be seen by a veterinarian every 6 months.  The regular wellness visits can ensure your dog is in good health.  The visits will also help diagnose any health issues in the early stages.  Parasites can be prevented with regular deworming and flea and tick preventative programs.  Preventing a parasite infestation will also help prevent anemia.  Many infectious diseases can be prevented with yearly vaccinations.

Cost of Quiet and Sleepy

The cost of treatment will depend on the diagnosis.  Arthritis may have a treatment cost of $300.  The treatment of hookworms may average in expense at $350. Heart disease may cost up to $2500 to treat and hypothyroidism in dogs may amount to $1300 in medication and therapy.

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Quiet and Sleepy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





Twenty Two Months


0 found this helpful


0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Off Colour
How long should l wait to see a vet when the dog is off colour? He has eaten and has been drinking and has normal stools but he is definitely not himself.

Sept. 26, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. If he is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 18, 2020

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English Springer Spaniel



Seventeen Months


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Panting, Watery Nose, Quiet, Lump N Toungue
My dog is really quiet(not himself) he often has ear infections and is still having ongoing teatment. Weird lump on his toungue too.

July 27, 2020

Answered by Jessica N. DVM

1 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. With the combination of the lump and the lethargy being exhibited by your pup I do you think it would be a good idea to have him re-checked by your veterinarian. They will be able to take a look at the growth and figure out exactly what’s going on. They may recommend some blood work to help see what could be causing him to be feeling not like himself. I hope he feels better soon.

July 27, 2020

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