What Are the Causes of Listlessness in Dogs?

When you are worried that your dog is not as active as she should be, you may need to watch for a variety of symptoms to diagnose her problem. Listlessness can be caused by anything from kennel cough, which is relatively benign, to rabies, which is extremely dangerous.

  1. Significance

    • Possible causes of listlessness, according to DogChannel.com, are infectious diseases, endocrine disorders, non-infectious or acquired diseases, trauma, tumors, parasites (and parasite-borne diseases), nutritional or metabolic disorders, drug reaction, congenital or inherited disorders, toxicity and several other miscellaneous conditions. On the other hand, your dog may simply be depressed. Watch to see if you can notice any other symptoms such as fever, change in personality, obvious pain, diarrhea or vomiting.


    • If your dog has just had a recent heat cycle, she could be pregnant. Watch for a lack of appetite and a swollen vulva to diagnose pregnancy. She may also exhibit mood changes such as becoming more distant and grumpy or becoming more needy and affectionate. You may be able to hear heartbeats if you have a stethoscope.


    • Parasites are a common cause of listlessness in dogs. Heartworm, a very serious parasite, can be deadly and has already progressed significantly by the time your dog shows symptoms. Other symptoms of heartworm are coughing, difficulty breathing, wearing out quickly and a distended abdomen. Lyme disease is another serious condition caused by the tick parasite. If your dog has suffered a tick bite, has a fever and is in too much pain to move, she may have Lyme disease.


    • Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal disorder your dog may develop, according to PetWellBeing.com, and the first symptom of it is listlessness. Hypothyroidism affects your dog's entire body and common symptoms are your dog appearing mentally dull as well as having a dull coat. She will also lose hair in patches, especially on her tail.

    Bladder Infection

    • Listlessness is also a primary sign of bladder infection in dogs. As the bladder infection worsens, your dog will also begin to have frequent urination--maybe even having accidents in the house, she will appear to be in pain when urinating, there may be blood visible in her urine and she may stop often to pee on walks, but will not actually urinate.


    • Seek the advice of a veterinarian if you suspect your dog is ill. Symptoms that merit an emergency visit to your veterinarian, according to ProfessorsHouse.com, are labored breathing, unconsciousness, bloody diarrhea or vomiting blood, difficulty or inability to urinate, abdominal swelling, convulsions, uncontrolled bleeding or a thick mucus drainage from the rectum (symptomatic of a bowel obstruction). Fever and dehydration should be taken seriously as well as they may indicate an infection.

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  • Photo Credit Photograph by em connell mccarty

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