Ultrasound Is Next Step for Skinny Pug

A dog who loses 25 percent of his body weight without dieting is sick.

Q. I have a 9-year-old Pug who has lost weight over the past year. He has lost his appetite and when he does eat he often vomit shortly after. The only thing that he really eats is soft dog treats. He moans a lot and stretches often. I took him to the vet, had everything checked, and they found nothing. They gave me a vitamin for him to take daily, but that doesn’t seem to be helping. He now weighs 21 pounds, down from about 30 or 35. He has also lost a lot of his energy and willingness to play.
A. Your pug has lost close to 25 percent of his weight in one year. This is the equivalent of a 160 pound human losing about 40 pounds. This kind of body mass loss in a middle age or older pet should always be a concern that warrants veterinary attention. Once blood tests are done to rule out any kind of disease that can cause weight loss such as diabetes or kidney failure, abdominal X-rays should be done to look for abnormalities in the stomach, intestines, or other organs.

Assuming your veterinarian has done that, you should ask about getting an abdominal ultrasound for your Pug. Ultrasound is a very sensitive but noninvasive way to take a close look at your dog’s abdominal organs to make sure they appear normal. One of the primary concerns with unexplained weight loss is a tumor because tumors tend to change dogs’ metabolism so that excess calories are burned as the tumor grows. Although cancer can carry a poor prognosis, many types of cancer in dogs are treatable.

I am worried because he is vomiting, and also apparently has lost a lot of his usual spunk. Please talk to your veterinarian about an ultrasound. In the meantime, I would offer your dog more of the dog treats that he likes. Once a dog starts losing significant weight, it becomes more important for him to eat whatever he wants to stop the downward spiral.

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Dogs · Health and Care