Do you know the potential reasons your dog might be losing weight without trying? What if they also become very thirsty at the same time?
Four things about your dog’s symptoms that can make your life easier is the realization that:
- individual symptoms are mostly ambiguous and can have many different causes
- symptoms are not islands—where there is one, look for more
- consider specific circumstances; your dogs breed, age, and overall health
- gathering and consolidating all available information helps to narrow down the possibilities
Further reading: Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: The Big Picture
Weight loss and excessive thirst break-down
Potential issues that can lead to unexplained weight loss include:
- poor diet
- intestinal parasites
- GI disease
- dental disease
- Addison’s disease
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- heart disease
Further reading: Unexplained Weight Loss in Dogs: Why Is My Dog Losing Weight?
Health conditions which can be behind excessive thirst include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cushing’s Syndrome
- Addison’s disease
- liver or kidney disease
- uterine infection
- and other serious conditions
Further reading: Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drinking (Polydipsia)
Health conditions over-represented in Yorkshire Terriers include:
- eye problems
- liver issues (portosystemic shunt)
- heart disease
- bladder and kidney stones
- bleeding disorders
- tracheal collapse
- low blood sugar
Further information: Yorkshire Terrier Breed Information
Where do they overlap?
Chewie was a five-year-old Yorkshire Terrier. Chewie was a faithful companion and a source of joy and love to his mom. She was a tiny girl already, but then she started losing weight on top of that. Gradual weight loss takes a while to notice, but it became quite clear that Chewie was getting skinnier.
Then his mom noticed that Chewie also became unusually thirsty. After a few days of Chewie drinking much more than was normal for him. His mom researched the symptoms and learned that Chewie might be suffering from diabetes.
Concerned, Chewie’s mom made an appointment with their veterinarian. The diagnosis was straightforward. When the veterinarian analyzed Chewie’s blood, his blood sugar was nearly ten times what it should be. Chewie was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus—abnormally high blood glucose.
The problem can stem from the pancreas unable to produce sufficient insulin levels, or the insulin becomes ineffective in moving sugar from the blood where it ought to go.
Further reading: The Function of Insulin: What Does the Hormone Do In The Dog’s Body?
Diabetes treatment is relatively simple, but it can be demanding and tricky. Chewie needed to get two insulin injections every day for the rest of his life. Further, it is essential that the glucose levels don’t drop too low, which would cause the opposite problem—hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which blood sugar drops too low and it is a potentially life-threatening situation.
It is crucial to work out the proper amount of insulin and ensure that even the correct dose doesn’t draw out too much glucose. For example, if you give the injections before the meal, but then your dog doesn’t eat, their glucose could drop too low.
Chewie started on gradually increasing insulin levels while getting regular blood tests to determine what was the ideal amount for her. Successfully managing a diabetic dog can be quite finicky.
An example glitch
One time, when his mom was injecting Chewie, she felt that she might have empty the syringe into Chewie’s fur rather than under his skin. Afraid that Chewie’s glucose levels could get too high, she gave him another injection.
That, unfortunately, caused hypoglycemia in Chewie. he started staggering and unable to stand up and hold his weight. Realizing what happened, his mom quickly dripped some honey on Chewie’s gums and became well again. His mom learned that it is safer to give too little than too much.
Chewie, the Five-year-old Yorkshire Terrier
Unexplained Weight Loss in Dogs: Why Is My Dog Losing Weight?
Abnormal Weight Loss in Dogs