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In this lesson, we'll be getting into the subject of lethargy in your pets, what specifically to look for, and what you should to do about it. At the end of the lesson, we'll provide you with a Word about the canine flu.

There are times when you may notice that your dog or cat is just acting a bit off. And while you may feel like something might be wrong, you just can't put your finger on it. Enter lethargy.

Pro Tip: The signs of lethargy can be quite vague, which means assessing for it in your pets may not be an easy thing to do. It's important to remember that you know your pet better than anyone, and if you think something is off, trust your gut instinct and investigate further.

What's the first thing you should do? Whomever just shouted, get your pet's vital signs, yes, that's correct. And well done! After getting those, look for any behavioral changes.

If your pet is eating and drinking and all of the vital signs are normal, it's OK to keep an eye on your pet's lethargy for a while, especially if there is a reason for her lethargy.

Normal Reasons for Your Pet's Lethargy

Any number of things can contribute to lethargy in your dog or cat, but there are a couple you can try to rule out immediately. The good news is that if the reason is related to one of these, you can probably rest a little easier.

  1. Has your dog just finished playing or exercising more than normal? Dogs are like kids; they'll play until they drop. If your dog just played fetch for three hours, she may just be a little worn out.
  2. Has there been a change in your pet's environment? Did you introduce any new pets into your homes, perhaps a new child, or a recent move into a new house or apartment? Is your mother-in-law visiting? That seems to throw everyone off a little.

If you've determined that your pet has a good reason for her lethargy and everything else with her seems normal and healthy, just keep an eye on it. However, if it persists more than a couple of days, you should probably investigate it further and consider making an appointment with your veterinarian.

When to See Your Vet

Because lethargy is such a vague sign or symptom to measure, and because it could be caused by any number of things or situations, there's not a lot you can do about it at home, other than take notes about your pet's recent vital signs and behaviors.

Warning: Do not give your pet any medications, even if it's all-natural kava kava or whatever. This could only complicate matters.

What you should do is simple. Take notes regarding:

  • How your pet is otherwise feeling?
  • How your pet is behaving?
  • What vital signs have you measured?
  • When did you take those vitals?
  • Is your pet still eating and drinking?

Any information that you think may help your vet better diagnose and treat your pet's lethargy should be collected, written down, and taken to the vet's office.

A Word About the Canine Flu

In the wake of another flu scare – the recent Coronavirus outbreak – we thought we'd take a look back at the canine flu.

The problem with the canine flu is that all dogs that are exposed to the virus become infected with it. Even though only 80 percent of those infected will show any symptoms, all of those infected can still transmit the disease.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms of Canine Flu

The initial symptom is typically kennel cough. Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious respiratory disease and formerly called canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is an upper respiratory infection affecting dogs.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Ocular discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Anorexia
  • Fever
  • Respiratory problems and signs of pneumonia in severe cases

If you'd like to read about the politics of the canine flu (isn't it always political?), you can read the entire article by pet expert extraordinaire, Cara Armour, right here: The Canine Flu. The article also addresses the age-old question: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?