Why is My Puppy Lethargic?

Is your puppy lethargic or just sleepy? Like human babies, puppies need a lot of sleep to support their growing bodies and brain development. Some experts estimate that an average puppy will need at least fifteen hours of sleep. Some puppies may even require closer to twenty hours of sleep.

Lethargic puppy

When your puppy is awake, they should be energetic and playful. If your puppy is not ready to play when it wakes up, you should call your veterinarian. Sometimes a phone call is enough to reassure you that the puppy is alright. Other times a visit to the veterinarian’s office will be required.

Either way, a lethargic puppy should never be ignored.

Conditions that Can Cause a Puppy to be Lethargic

Lethargy is a symptom of a wide variety of diseases, infections, and conditions. Try thinking of lethargy in human terms as it relates to you. We often find ourselves lying around when we do not feel well. The cause could be anything from just being tired to having a cold or the flu. More severe conditions can also cause us to be lethargic.

However, as humans, we can tell someone if we are genuinely sick or just tired. Puppies get tired too, but they should not be constantly tired, especially after waking from a nap.

Some common causes of a lethargic puppy that require medical intervention include:

  • Anemia
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Fever
  • Malnutrition
  • Parvovirus
  • Pneumonia
  • Parasitic infestations
  • Medications
  • Obesity

Treating a Lethargic Puppy

If your puppy is lethargic, you should call your veterinarian immediately. It is critical to the puppy’s health to diagnose the underlying condition causing lethargy and intervene as medically necessary. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your puppy and likely order blood tests and perhaps fecal and urine samples.

Your veterinarian should also be interested in your puppy’s recent activity and any previous medical records. In some cases, more extensive tests are required. X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, and electrocardiograms are some of the tools that may be used to accurately diagnose a potentially serious health problem.

Could My Puppy’s Lethargy be Caused by Depression?

It is possible for dogs, and even puppies, to experience mental health problems, including depression. Common symptoms of depression in dogs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced water intake
  • Lost interest in walks or car rides.

Like other medical conditions involving your puppy, your veterinarian can help diagnose and treat depression.

Potential Causes of Dog Depression

Being conscious of changes in your puppy’s environment will help diagnose depression.

Losing/Being Away from Members of the Family

It is no secret that dogs are social, pack animals and count all family members in their pack. Losing a member of their pack, even for a short time, such as a vacation or summer camp, can be an enormous change in a puppy’s life. Additions to the pack change the pack’s social structure. Sometimes it is difficult for a puppy to adjust to this change.

Change in Seasons

Changes in the seasons can affect dogs as well. Dramatic changes in atmospheric pressure commonly found in areas experiencing hurricanes can lead to mood swings.

And the shortened daylight hours of winter can lead to seasonal affective disorder, much like humans experience.

How to Help with Your Dog’s Depression

Treating your puppy’s depression could simple. Getting more sunshine, making new friends at a dog park, or hiring a dog walker to exercise and socialize your puppy may be what they need.

Sometimes all that is required is a little more love and patience, especially if the cause is the loss of a pack member or master.

In other cases, an imbalance in brain chemistry may require prescription medication.

Is My Puppy Lethargic Because it is Obese?

There is no denying that roly-poly puppies are cute. But being overweight is unhealthy, especially for a puppy.

It is estimated that up to 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Most of those dogs are only a few pounds from their ideal weight. Dogs in this category will not likely suffer any complications associated with obesity.

The following signs may indicate your puppy is overweight or suffering from obesity:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Diminished endurance
  • Trouble getting up from sitting or lying down
  • Difficulty walking upstairs

Common Ideal Weights for Different Dog Sizes

Your puppy’s ideal weight depends in large part on its predominant breed. The most accurate preferred weight is available online by searching your puppy’s specific breed.

A general guideline for a dog by size is provided below:

  • Toy Breeds (Teacup Poodles, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians)– 3 to 12 pounds
  • Small Dogs (Shitzues, small terriers, cocker spaniels) – 12 to 30 pounds
  • Medium Dogs (Collies, small Labradors, Healers) – 30 to 55 pounds
  • Large Dogs (Most Labradors, Shephards, Doberman Pincers) – 55 to 80 pounds
  • Very Large Dogs (Rottweilers, Great Danes, Mastiffs) – 80 to 110 pounds

Puppies will generally be at the low end of this scale, and very young puppies will be hard to place here.

How to Tell if Your Puppy is at a Healthy Weight

Here are some simple tests to determine if your puppy is at a healthy weight in the comfort of your own home.

Check Their Bodies for Visible Bones

If you cannot see your puppy’s ribs, pelvic, and collar bones protruding against its skin, it is likely not underweight.

At a desirable weight, you should be able to feel your puppy’s ribs without being prominently visible. The waist should be distinct when viewed from above, and the abdomen slightly tucked when viewed from the side.

Overweight puppies will have a layer of fat over the ribs that makes them difficult to feel. There will likely be fatty bumps emerging around the ribs and tail, and the puppy will not have a distinct waist. In addition to their physical appearance, overweight puppies are often lethargic and avoid exercise.

So, Why is My Puppy Lethargic?

As discussed, there are many causes of lethargy in puppies. Some are life-threatening, but the majority are easily treated if they are diagnosed correctly. With proper diet, exercise, and socialization, your puppy should be happy and healthy with minimal veterinarian visits.

On the other hand, if you notice a change in your puppy’s behavior, do not hesitate to get medical advice as soon as possible. The sooner you can find out the root of what causing your puppy to be lethargic, the quicker you can help get them back to their normal, energized selves.

Recent Posts

Causes of dry cat skin
6 Causes of Dry Cat Skin
Cloudy eyes in dogs
Cloudy Eyes in Dogs: What Does it Mean?
Symptoms of kennel cough
What Are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?

About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.

Share This Post

Recent Posts

Causes of dry cat skin

6 Causes of Dry Cat Skin

Cloudy eyes in dogs

Cloudy Eyes in Dogs: What Does it Mean?

Symptoms of kennel cough

What Are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?

About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of three animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.