Sudden Weight Loss in Dogs and Cats: Why You Need to Worry!

sudden weight loss in cats and dogs

Should you be concerned if your dog or cat has experienced a sudden weight loss? The answer is yes! If your pet has lost more than 10 percent of its body weight, you need to be concerned, very concerned.

Lately, there has been a great deal of focus concerning obesity in dogs and cats. In fact, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “approximately 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs were overweight or obese in 2015.”*  Understandably, there is reason for alarm since obesity can cause serious health issues in pets such as joint problems, heart disease, and diabetes to name a few. However, a sudden weight loss in a pet is usually overlooked. It shouldn’t.

Sudden Weight Loss in Pets: Why you need to worry! – Sudden weight loss in pets could stem from something as innocuous as a change in diet or it could be the harbinger of a life-threatening disease such as diabetes or cancer. Other medical conditions that could prompt your pet to lose weight drastically are liver disease, periodontal disease, thyroid condition in cats, kidney failure, an obstruction in its digestive system, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in cats.

What should a pet parent do? If your dog or cat has lost 10 percent of its body weight, take it to a veterinarian right away! Especially if the weight loss has occurred in a short amount time. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough check-up. Once the results are in, your pet’s doctor will be able determine the cause and recommend a treatment. Something else to keep in mind is that a sudden weight loss might not be medical. It might be caused by other factors.

Pets, like humans, are creatures of habit. Drastic changes in their diet, environment or living arrangements could cause a dog or cat to go on a hunger strike.

Changes in a Pet’s Diet – This is usually a reason why most pets won’t eat. Cats in particular will refuse to eat if there is a drastic change in their diet. If you plan on changing your pet’s food, do so in a gradual manner. This way they will be able to transition from one type of food to another.

Changes in Your Pet’s Environment – whether it’s moving into a new house or apartment, moving the food bowl to another room, or transitioning an indoors pet to the outdoors, all of these are stressors that can cause your four-legged friend to reject food. Again, attempt to make the change gradually, if possible.

Changes in Your Pet’s Living Arrangement – the addition of a new puppy, kitten or even a human baby can create jealousy in an older pet which might cause it to stop eating. Have your older pet share in the joy of bringing someone new into the home. Also, be sure to spend an equal amount of time with the first pet so it doesn’t feel neglected.

Dog calming or cat calming supplements, treats or collars might help a pet who is having to deal with a change in its environment or living arrangements.

In summary, rapid weight loss is a symptom that your dog or cat may be suffering from an undiagnosed disease. If your pet has lost more than 10 percent of it body weight within a short amount of time, take it to a veterinarian right away.

Cancer, diabetes, liver disease, periodontal disease, kidney failure in cats, and a host of other diseases have been known to cause a rapid weight loss in pets. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a diagnoses and treatment plan. In addition, changes in diet, the environment, or a change in living arrangements (such as an addition to the family) can cause your pet to refuse to eat.

Monitor your pet’s food consumption regularly, and be aware of what your pet should be weighing based on its age, size, and breed to ensure your pet has a long, healthy and happy life.

*Source: The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Confirms a Rise of Obese Pets in 2015, sparking the need for industry change. (March 16, 2016)  Accessed on April 14, 2016.

Has your pet experienced a rapid weight loss?

If yes, please let us know how you dealt with it in the comments section.

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