Lethargy In Dogs

There’s a difference between dog lethargy and tiredness, and as dog owners, it’s important to recognize what lethargy in dogs is and what it means. This blog explores dog lethargy in-depth.

Sep 19, 2023·3 min read
Lethargy In Dogs

We’ve all experienced that lethargic feeling, right? That sluggish heaviness. That lack of motivation. The reluctance to engage with our day-to-day routine…  

But we also know it differs from feeling tired – it’s a mood shift, not just an energetic drain. So, does lethargy in dogs differ? What does dog lethargy mean in canine terms?…

Lethargy In Dogs 

Dog lethargy can indicate many different things in dogs, but it’s important to know what’s not normal for your dog first.  

For example, a slow-paced senior (aged 7+) Labrador with joint discomfort who likes to lie down a lot, perhaps would be considered by their owners as “normal”. But, if this behavior was happening in a usually spritely 3-year-old Springer Spaniel, then this may be a cause for concern for their pet parent.  

a brown and white Bulldog sleeps deeply on their front on a couch covered in a brown thrown



If your dog’s normal, everyday functioning seems off and they are also: 

  • Very tired 
  • Slow-paced  
  • Hiding out in their bed or crate 
  • Reluctant to play 
  • Disinterested in food 
  • Unresponsive to treats or fuss 

This may suggest their lethargy is a sign of them feeling under the weather, and they may require a once-over from their veterinarian.  

If your dog is simply tired, a treat or someone arriving home can usually still distract them from their fatigue. If they’re lethargic, these things won’t rouse them as much. Also, if they’re still not themselves after having slept, then this is also indicative that something’s not quite right.  

a black and white Boston Terrier sleeps deeply on a gray throw. A brown, blanket-like piece of material slightly obscures the camera’s view



Lethargy can point to so many different things health-wise in canines ranging from minor to major. Only a veterinarian will be able to determine what’s up with your pup, but causes for lethargy can include: 

  • Bodily discomfort 
  • Infection (viral or bacterial) 
  • The body’s response and processing of a recent vaccination shot 
  • Poor mental health (boredom or depression) 
  • Medicinal side effects 
  • Disease 

Dog Lethargy  

Dog lethargy is considered to be a very non-specific sign of a health problem, so any other signs your pup is showing can be useful for your vet to know.  

If your dog is showing no other signs of having a health issue, it may be worth waiting a few hours to see if the lethargy resolves itself. If they’ve been consistently lethargic for a 24-hour period, then you should absolutely contact your vet for advice.  


Author Maharaj, Nandini “Lethargy In Dogs: What You Need To Know” American Kennel Club, Dec 30. 2022 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/lethargy-in-dogs-what-you-need-to-know/  

Sarah MiltonS

Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
*In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022
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