Weight loss refers to unintended loss of body weight. Pet owners should be concerned when their pet starts losing weight after years of maintain the same weight. Sudden or gradual weight loss is a sign that something is not well with your pet. Here are the things to look out for when your pet is losing weight:
Proper nutrition for your pets is an essential component of their health and should be well managed throughout their life. Poor diet is where the food is deficient of macro and micro elements, for example, Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc etc, vitamin-D and proteins.
Your pet starts losing weight when these nutritional needs are not met on a regular basis. Apart from weight loss, other symptoms of poor diet include stunted growth, frequent infections, rickets, allergies, fur loss and behavioural problems.
Diet related behavioural issues in pets may include nervousness where the dog is overly submissive or aggression with no apparent provocation.
Weight loss in your per can be caused by decreased or insufficient food intake due to the systemic or dental diseases. Systemic disease might be from bacterial, viral or protozoal origin. Systemic disease will cause poor or no appetite leading to acute or chronic weight loss in your pet.
Kidney or gastrointestinal diseases will cause wasting of muscles and loss of proteins resulting to weight loss.
Diabetes seen mostly in cats will cause weight loss despite the cat having a ravenous appetite.
Uncommon disease, like hyperthyroidism seen in cats, where they are active and have good appetite, but they still lose weight.
Dental problems, especially seen with the geriatric patients will have pain or difficulties in eating. Bad breath, red gums and tooth discolouration are signs that your pet has dental problems.
Cancer, certainly causes weight loss, this is especially seen in pets that are not in restricted diet. Other signs that might indicate that your pet may be having cancer are poor appetite, wounds that never heal, bumps and lumps, difficulties in urinating and defecating, lack of energy, coughing and changes in behaviour.
Serious health issues or even death may occur if worm infestation is left untreated. Worms can either be round, tape or hook-worms will cause loss of appetite, diarrhoea, lethargy, coughing and loss of weight. Inconsistent deworming schedule or poor choice of dewormers will contribute to increased worm burden in your pet.
Dogs and cats may start losing weight when they are stressed. Cats are easily stressed by small things like having a new person at home, loud or noisy environment and a dirty litter box.
Dogs get stressed from loud environment like fireworks, anxiety after being separated from their owner and social anxiety, where the dog was not socialised when they were young and go through a lot of stress when they are exposed to people or other dogs.
The Andys Veterinary Hospital.
Ngong Road, Nairobi.