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In this lesson, we're going to cover weakness in your pets, including four conditions or situations that can trigger weakness. We'll also cover sudden collapse – a severe form of weakness – and what you should do if your pet suddenly collapses.

There are some illnesses in dogs and cats that can cause weakness. Signs and symptoms of weakness include when your pet is:

  • Not as active as normal
  • Not exercising as much or as long as normal
  • Not using her legs or using them less than normal
  • Holding her head lower than normal

If you notice any of these signs and symptom of weakness, take note of what's going on with your pet so you can tell your vet. Specifically, you'll want to note:

  • What is exactly going on with your pet or the signs you've noticed
  • How often you notice the signs of weakness
  • Her vital signs
  • Any behavioral changes

Common Triggers of Weakness in Pets

There are a few instances when pet weakness is more common or prevalent and these include:

  • In pregnant pets
  • In puppies and kittens
  • In diabetic pets
  • In pets with muscular or neurologic disorders
  • In pets with an underlying heart condition

Pregnant Pets

Pregnant pets, just like pregnant women, have more nutrient needs, such as a need for more electrolytes, like calcium. Make sure your pregnant pet is getting the nutrients she needs – an appropriate pet-pregnant diet and/or supplementation.

Pro Tip #1: To make sure your pregnant pet doesn't experience any unforeseen problems, discuss her pregnancy with your veterinarian in advance.

Puppies and Kittens

Puppies and kittens, especially in small breeds (like Yorkshire Terriers or chihuahuas), if they aren't eating regularly, they'll be more prone to developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Pro Tip #2: If you have reason to suspect low blood sugar in your pet, offer her some food or rub a little maple syrup on her gums. Take note of how she responds. If she improves, there's a good chance her problem was simply low blood sugar.

Diabetic Pets

With diabetic animals, you're normally more concerned with their blood sugar being too high. However, if your pet is being treated with insulin, there is a risk of her blood sugar dropping. You should always be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of weakness if you have a diabetic pet.

Pets with Muscular or Neurologic Disorders

Pets with muscular or neurologic disorders tend to experience a slower onset of weakness symptoms, followed by those symptoms becoming more progressive.

If you know that your pet has a muscular or neurologic disorder and you see signs of weakness, take note of her vital signs and any changes in behavior, plus those weakness symptoms, and alert your vet to what has been going on.

Underlying Heart Condition

One of the more concerning causes of weakness in dogs and cats is an underlying heart disorder. A heart disorder can be caused by any number of things, but there are a few signs to be aware of, including:

  • A much slower than normal heart rate
  • A much faster than normal heart rate
  • Pale pink or white gums

If you notice any of these signs of an underlying heart condition, try to keep your pet calm and transport her immediately to the veterinarian.

Sudden Collapse in Pets

Sudden collapse is a sever form of weakness. While it can be scary to have a pet that suddenly collapses, it's important to stay focused and calm and determine if your pet has lost consciousness.

If she has lost consciousness, immediately check for a pulse. If you cannot feel a pulse, begin CPR. (Which you will learn how to perform in a subsequent lesson.)

If you can feel a pulse or your pet is still conscious, or regains consciousness, take note of a few things so you can tell your vet, including:

  • What is her heart rate?
  • What is her respiratory rate?
  • What was she doing before she collapsed?
  • What did her collapse event look like?
  • How long did this collapse event last?
  • If she regained consciousness, what did she do after her collapse?

Pro Tip #3: Don't discount the importance of telling your vet as much information as possible. The more you can provide, the better he or she will be able to help your pet.