Symptoms Wisconsin Pet Owners Need to Know > Lethargy - Dogs

Lethargy - Dogs

Symptoms Care

Lethargy - Dogs


Why is My Dog Lethargic?

Dog Lethargic Not EatingLethargy is not just regular sleepiness—it’s often a sign your pet is not feeling well. They might lack the energy to eat, play, walk, or come when you call. A lethargic dog may seem exhausted, confused, and disoriented on top of being tired. Canine lethargy may be a sign of heartworm disease, kennel cough, heart or liver problems, diabetes, or tumors.

Lethargy can be hard for dog owners to spot since it’s not uncommon for dogs to sleep 10 or more hours a day and relax around the house. One or two missed meals could be nothing; dogs sometimes don’t feel like eating if they are too hot. If your dog is sluggish for more than a day or two, contact your vet at Animal Wellness Center.

Common Causes of Dog Lethargy

  • Infection
  • Dog lethargy can be caused by any kind of infection, such as kennel cough, distemper, and parvovirus.
  • Metabolic disease
  • Heart conditions, liver diseases, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and other metabolic and organic diseases can make your dog sluggish.
  • Medications

A variety of dog medications, including flea or worm medicines, cause lethargy as a side effect. Lethargy can also be a sign your dog is having a bad reaction to the medication.

Poisoning from Toxic Substances

Household products like lawn care supplies and cleaning chemicals are obviously harmful to both dogs and humans if ingested. However, there are some things humans can eat that dogs should not, including garlic, onions, leeks, and Ibuprofen.


Hookworms, heartworms, fleas, and ticks can directly or indirectly cause dog lethargy.


Your dog may feel fearful or anxious because of a major change in his or her life, such as:

  • Being recently adopted
  • New surroundings
  • Loud noises (fireworks, smoke alarms, etc.)
  • Death of a family member or another pet
  • Family member moving out


Just like many humans, dogs can become lethargic on a hot summer day.

Other Conditions Causing Dog Lethargy

Almost anything that makes your dog uncomfortable or not feel well can cause lethargy, including:

  • Cancer/tumors
  • Pain
  • Trauma
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anemia
  • Obesity/excess weight
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of electrolytes
  • Hormonal changes/disorders
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Urinary tract disorders
  • Immune system problems
  • Skin or eye diseases
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Snake bite

Reasons for Dog Lethargy WisconsinHow to Care for a Lethargic Dog

If your dog has been lethargic for more than a day or two, or you’ve observed other symptoms, contact your vet at Animal Wellness Center. In the meantime, here’s what you can do at home:

  1. Let them rest – an uninterrupted nap may help them recover
  2. Take their temperature – a fever can indicate an infection
  3. Monitor the symptoms – the more symptoms you notice, the easier our diagnosis will be

We use the latest veterinary technology to quickly and accurately diagnose your pet when they are unwell. The faster we determine the source of your pup’s lethargy, the faster treatment can begin.

Contact Animal Wellness Center for your dog’s lethargy.