Why is my dog weak, wobbly and loosing weight?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra,

What's wrong with my dog? My 3-year-old Shih Tzu started behaving strangely from her naturally energetic and physically active nature. The past 2 to 3 weeks she:1) Isn't active as she was
2) She can't jump up on the couch, bed, lap, etc.
3) She has a hard time getting up to stand. She in fact wobbles for a bit before she rises slowly
4) She is not interested in eating anything unless I give her something fantastic like warmed Braunschweiger (liverwurst)
5) She has lost weight and her backbone is prominent
6) She trembles when I hold her, something she's never done before.BUT when I take her out once or twice a day to walk her she becomes mobile and interested in the world around her and wags her tail. Also, something might be affecting her psychologically as there has been a change in my habit with her. I used to be home all the time, now I work 2 to 3 days a week and leave her and her mother in a 4 ft by 3 ft metal cage while I'm gone which is about 10 hours. Can you help me know what to do?

Mary Westbrook


Hi Mary– thanks for your email. You wrote that your 3-year-old Shih Tzu started having (what seems to me) some very significant and abnormal symptoms over the past 2 to 3 weeks. You wrote that she is less active, can't jump up, has a hard time standing, is wobbly, not eating well, and has lost weight.

MARY – DON'T EMAIL ME! TAKE HER TO YOUR VETERINRIAN. These are very abnormal signs and the fact that they have been going on for a few weeks is very bad.

Think of it in terms of a person. If you had a friend that couldn't get up or down from the sofa, when they did they were wobbly, didn't want to eat and lost so much weight you could see their back bone, – wouldn't you worry? They should be in the hospital!

Your dog may be wobbly due to weakness, which may be the same reason that she doesn't want to jump up and is less active. I'd worry that there is some underlying and significant disease such as kidney problems, liver disease, diabetes or another problem.

Mary – please go see your vet and have your dog checked!

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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