Lethargic Symptoms in a Dog

Is my dog lethargic?
Is my dog lethargic? (Image: dog image by Michal Tudek from Fotolia.com)

Lethargy generally is an underlying condition of a more serious medical problem. Lethargy causes a dog to appear sluggish and unusually tired, among other symptoms. There are a number of diseases that can cause canine lethargy such as blood disorders, adverse drug reactions, behavioral disorders as well as cancer. Pet Place recommends treatment should be sought when lethargy persists for more than 24 hours. A veterinarian needs to examine the dog, perform blood tests and possibly diagnostic tests to diagnosis what’s causing the lethargy. Once a diagnosis is made, a care plan is developed to help the dog overcome the condition.

Physical Changes

A dog suffering from lethargy is fatigued. He appears listlessness and lacks the desire to move about normally. Pet Place says the dog may seem weak. He may have trouble breathing and tremors are possible.

Digestive Tract Problems

It’s not uncommon for lethargic canines to lack an appetite. Foods he may enjoy no longer make him salivate. He may experience nausea, diarrhea and weight loss.

Behavioral Issues

You may notice a change in his behavior. Vet Info states he may not react to normal stimuli, such as a barking dog, the door bell ringing and the squeaking of a toy, and he may seem disinterested in activity. You may find him wanting to be alone and avoiding contact with people and other animals in the home. Pet Place warns the dog may act disoriented and confused.


In certain cases, a dog may have a fever. A fever usually is a sign of infection and may help indicate the cause of the lethargy.

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