My Dog is Weak and Lethargic

Weakness and lethargy are both symptoms that prompt immediate action by most veterinarians. If your dog is looking weak and/or lethargic, you need to go through an immediate exam to determine whether an urgent trip to your vet is needed or if just a few readily available household items might solve the problem.

What to Look For

This isn't a physical exam. Instead, quickly run through this mental checklist to verify that:

  • Your dog has eaten recently, but not to excess.
  • Your dog has had enough to drink, but not too much.
  • Your dog has not recently been running herself ragged for more than an hour straight.
  • Your dog has not recently suffered any blunt trauma to any part of her body, especially her head.
  • Your dog has not recently had access to any toxins or chemicals.
  • Your dog has not been suffering from any recent illness.
  • Your dog has no history of anemia or blood loss.
  • Your dog is not currently taking any medications. (If she is, be sure to have the medication and the dosage handy.)

What to Do

Now, quickly ask yourself the following questions:

Did your mental checklist turn up any inconsistencies? If so, track them down and try to determine whether they could be the source of your dog's weakness. Follow the appropriate course of action, if it seems reasonable, at home. If not, see your veterinarian.

If your mental checklist does not fill you in on your dog's condition, try performing the examination outlined in “My Dog Is Stiff” [not available online] for clues as to which direction to follow to arrive at a diagnosis.