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Pet experiences generalized weakness and it is often the symptom of a serious medical condition. There are many medical conditions that can lead to weakness in cats and dogs including parvovirus, feline leukemia virus, anemia, hypoglycemia and blood loss due to traumas or injuries. However, other conditions that can lead to weakness in dogs and cats include heartworm disease, intestinal parasites, heart disease and distemper.

How to Recognize

Weakness is a common symptom in pets that can indicate a large variety of health conditions. Many conditions that cause weakness can be quite serious. As such, it is important for you to learn all about the symptom, its possible causes and what types of treatments may be required should your pet become ill. Weakness is characterized by lethargic behavior and the inability to stand or walk for long periods of time. Depending on the condition, weakness can also involve the head making it difficult for the animal to hold its head up. This symptom can affect one limb, several limbs or the entire body. Additionally, weakness can be chronic or exercise-induced.

Causes of Weakness

There are many things that can cause your dog or cat to experience weakness. However, some of the most common causes are low blood sugar levels, loss of blood, vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition, joint degeneration, dehydration, lack of oxygen and excessive pain, among others.


Since weakness can be a symptom of a vast array of health issues, your veterinarian will need to perform several different tests on your pet to determine the exact cause. You will also need to provide the vet with a complete medical history of your pet and describe your pet's behavior and activities for the past several days. The vet will then perform some or all of the following diagnostic tests and procedures: Thorough Physical Exam, Fecal Exam, Urinalysis, Complete Blood Count, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Abdominal and/or Chest X-rays, Blood Chemistry Panel and Biopsy (in the case of masses).

Similar Symptoms

It is important to note that there are some symptoms that resemble weakness but have nothing to do with weakness. For example, a wobbly gait does not necessarily mean that the animal is weak. Other symptoms that resemble weakness but are not associated with weakness include an uneven gait, trembling or shaking, and falling or tipping over.

Possible Conditions

Just as there are many things that can cause weakness in pets, there is a large number of conditions that can result in this symptom as well. Some of these issues are quite minor and require a minimum of treatment. However, some of them are serious and can be life-threatening. While the list of these conditions is very extensive, some of the most common issues are as follows: Hypoglycemia, Injuries, Cancer, Parvovirus/Coranavirus, Feline Leukemia Virus, Internal or External Parasites, Heartworm Infections, Arthritis, Poisoning, Heat Stroke, Malnutrition and Diabetes.

Treatment for Weakness

The treatments that will be required for weakness depends on your vets diagnosis. In some cases, a minimum of treatments may be required. On the other hand, for serious conditions, your pet may need intensive treatment and may even need to be hospitalized. Depending on the diagnosis, treatments may include some of the following medications and procedures: IV Fluid Therapy, Electrolyte Replacement Therapy, Flea/Tick Treatments, De-wormers, Heartworm Medications, Antibiotics, Surgery, Special Diets and/or Supplements, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Insulin, Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy and Activated Charcoal. Weakness is a rather vague symptom that can indicate a large variety of physical ailments in dogs and cats. While many of these ailments are minor, some of them are serious conditions that require immediate veterinary attention. As such, if your pet is displaying weakness, it is recommended to see your vet right away.

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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