iStock_000010144870_SmallWith over half of the nation’s pet population being obese, many times weight loss in our dogs and cats can be a good thing. Sometimes, though, when a pet’s weight loss is sudden or unexplained, it can be a sign that something is wrong. This type of weight loss should never be ignored and is important to have checked out right away.

What To Do If Your Pet Has Lost Weight

If you are noticing that your pet is looking a little trimmer than usual, it is important to think about any changes that may be affecting his or her calorie intake and expenditure.

A change in your pet’s diet or activity level might easily explain weight loss. If this is the case, assess whether the weight loss was necessary or whether you need to make changes to allow for weight gain. If you are not sure, consult with your veterinarian.

If you are not sure what is causing your pet’s weight loss, think about whether you have noticed changes in your pet’s:

  • Appetite
  • Drinking habits
  • Potty habits (both defecation and urination)
  • Overall behavior
  • Activity level

Any concerns in these areas, or a weight loss that exceeds 10% of your pet’s body weight, warrants a visit to the veterinarian’s office.

Common Causes of Sudden Weight Loss in Pets

While not all pet weight loss is the result of a problem, if it is not easily explained by changes in diet or activity level, it should be investigated. Weight loss in pets can be caused by:

Reduced Calorie Intake – Pets that are not eating well may not be taking in enough calories. Problems such as severe dental disease might cause this.

Reduced Calorie Absorption – If the body cannot absorb the calories consumed, the pet’s body may not get adequate nutrition. Parasite infestation or problems with the bowel such as inflammatory bowel disease could lead to this.

Reduced Calorie Utilization – In some cases the body may not be able to efficiently utilize the calories it consumes. A good example of this would be diabetes.

Loss of Calories – If a pet is losing calories before they are able to be used, weight loss can occur. Any condition that causes vomiting or diarrhea, such as renal failure, can lead to this.

Increased Metabolism – Certain disease states may lead to an increased calorie requirement. Cancer and high thyroid hormone in cats are the most common examples of this.

There are many reasons that sudden weight loss in pets can occur. If there is any doubt as to whether the weight loss is normal or not, it is important to have your pet examined.

Your veterinarian may want to do some basic lab work in order to investigate the cause of your pet’s weight loss. Early detection is key to treating many problems successfully, so it is important to alert your veterinarian to any concerns and be sure that your pet routinely receives recommended wellness examinations.