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A state of indifference or lack of emotions in a dog or cat is also known as apathy. Pets have the tendency to show signs of apathy when they are not feeling well. The cause of apathy can vary from infection, to traumas, to neurological damage. It is difficult to determine the cause on your own, that is why it is advised to consult the veterinarian to determine the cause of your pet's apathy.

How to Recognize

If your dog seems indifferent in his demeanor and shows a lack of interest in his routine and environment, he is probably not feeling well and should be seen by a veterinarian. Apathy in dogs is often the symptom of any of a number of underlying health conditions. Apathy in dogs is usually apparent. The dog may spend more time napping than usual, appear lethargic and lackluster, and he shows little to no enthusiasm for life’s activities that he normally enjoys. He may not come running to the food bowl or chow down eagerly. He may only lift his head or meander over to acknowledge your arrival home instead of offering the usual tackling welcome at the door. Your normally vivacious canine companion just seems off. This loss of zip can be seen in dogs of any age, gender and breed.

Causes of Apathy

There are numerous potential causes of apathy in dogs, including pain, fever and illness. Infections can lead to the symptom as the dog’s body tries to fight off the offending virus or bacteria. Depression may also be the cause of his droopy behavior. One trigger for depression can be grieving for a recently deceased family member or other pet with whom the dog was closely bonded. Some medications for dogs can also cause side effects of lethargy, and poisoning can lead to lethargy and weakness as well.


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your dog, and he will gather a history of the dog’s activities and household changes that preceded the symptom. He will take the dog's temperature to determine if a fever is the culprit. He will listen closely to your dog's heart, and he will evaluate your dog's joint mobility and range of motion. If nothing significant is found on the examination, he will run a complete blood cell count and chemistry panel to rule out a list of illnesses that can present with the droopy demeanor.

Similar Symptoms

The results of aging in the geriatric dog can mimic apathetic behavior, but the signs are merely the evidence of slowing down. Degenerative joint disease may dramatically curtail the dog's physical activity if he feels discomfort when walking, running, jumping or climbing stairs. If your dog stares at his food bowl without interest or walks away looking disappointed after two mouthfuls, this lack of enthusiasm may actually be a response to painful chewing due to dental disease.

Possible Conditions

The following are some infections that could potentially be causing your dog's woes: Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Heartworm disease, Leptospirosis, Kennel cough, and Lyme disease. The following metabolic and organ diseases may result in your dog’s symptoms: Hypoglycemia, Diabetes, Heart disease, Liver disease, and Hypothyroidism. Other medical conditions, including cancer or anemia, can also be a culprit.

Treatment for Apathy

Since apathy in dogs may be a symptom of a lengthy list of ailments, treatment will depend on the underlying cause. If a metabolic condition is diagnosed, then regulating the condition with diet or medication will be necessary. Mild infections may be treated with antibiotics. Certain medical conditions will require specific medications, and some illnesses may require hospitalization for supportive care and intravenous fluid therapy to restore the dog to his prior exuberance.

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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