Pet lethargy definition

Lethargy is basically a decrease in activity and energy. It is a symptom of an underlying imbalance or health concern so it is essential to find the cause. If a dog is sick, injured, or depressed, lethargy is typically the first symptom you will see. Because there are so many illnesses that can cause lethargy, it can be difficult to find the cause, especially in the absence of other symptoms. We must pay close attention and note any other unusual behavior or symptoms if our dog suddenly becomes sluggish or unenthusiastic.

How it affects pets:

A dog that is lethargic may tire easily, they may be reluctant to play, walk, eat or drink, or do the things they usually enjoy. They may not pee or poo as much in normal places yet may have accidents in unusual places such as the house or bed. They may sleep a lot and seem to have lost general interest and enthusiasm. A pet may suddenly show a marked decrease in energy level or interest in normal activities or they may slow down gradually over time.


Some possible causes of lethargy in dogs include: Infections (including heartworm), diabetes, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, Lyme disease, pancreatitis, liver or heart problems, tumors, leukemia, pain, chronic or acute diarrhea, anemia, poisoning, obesity, malnutrition, lack of stimulation, mental distress, dehydration, heatstroke, reactions to vaccines as well as medications, and, of course, poor nutrition.

What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?

“You are what you eat”. Our canine companions also need and deserve a balanced diet full of vital nutrients, energy, and optimal nutrition. A dog eating a poor quality or unbalanced diet can have nutritional deficiencies that can cause lethargy. A diet of high-quality whole foods provides optimal nutrition for us as well as for our four-legged friends.

Dr. Martin Goldstein, DVM, advises his clients that a healthy change in their pet’s diet can provide relief from a variety of symptoms. “Soon, symptoms you’ve grown all too accustomed to –or tried in vain to dispel with antibiotics – may improve dramatically. Everything from skin irritations and dull, matted fur to bad breath and digestive problems to lethargy and lack of appetite can be alleviated.”

Other modalities to consider:

B Vitamins are important for energy production. Good sources of B vitamins include meat, milk, veggies, and fruits. Nutritional yeast and blue-green algae are also good sources.

If your lethargic dog is also showing signs of poor digestion or malnutrition, a digestive enzyme supplement may be in order. This will help to improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Siberian Ginseng, used for years as an herbal tonic for humans and may be safely used with pets, too, according to Mary and Gregory Tilford of Animal Essentials.

Diets that meet some of the parameters vets suggest for pet lethargy:

Any of our human-grade whole food recipes may be of help. Which you choose will depend on your pet’s individual underlying health concern. Please first consult with your veterinarian to determine a cause for your dog’s symptoms and then feel free to contact us for help with choosing a food best suited to your dog’s individual needs.


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