Recognizing signs of malnutrition in dogs early in the condition can help aid the canine in a faster recovery. According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, an animal is abused or neglected every 10 seconds. Malnourishment is one of the easiest signs of abuse to spot as the abuse becomes apparent in several ways. If you suspect that a pet is experiencing cruelty or malnourishment, it’s important to contact the police or local animal shelter immediately.
An animal that has become emaciated will appear very thin and may have protruding hip bones or ribs. The dog may walk with a limp and will typically act as it’s in pain or uncomfortable. While some dogs have an extremely high pain tolerance, the appearance can be a giveaway. Malnourishment can also be seen in the way that the body is hunched over or by the dog’s strut.
Loss of Skin Elasticity
When a dog becomes dehydrated, he will begin to lose skin elasticity. The pinching test can be done to test the skin elasticity of a dog. Pinch the skin located in the shoulder area. Hydrated skin should spring back quickly. If the skin is slow to return back to its position, this is a sign of dehydration. There are several causes of dehydration including a lost of fluids through urination, panting, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Malnourished animals will typically have a minimal amount of energy due to lack of a proper diet. The dog will be lethargic and will have a complete lack of energy. Nutrients are needed to supply energy, build strong bones, and strengthen muscles. When a dog is low on nutrients, the cause can be a general illness, lack of food, or a parasite.
Dogs suffering from malnutrition may experience hair loss. To obtain a healthy, glossy looking coat, a dog must maintain a diet full of essential vitamins and minerals. A loss of fur or an unhealthy coat can be caused from malnutrition due to parasites or and illness. Although dogs shed naturally, large chunks of hair should not be easily taken from a dog.
Teeth & Gums
Observe the dog’s teeth and gums for signs of malnourishment. The gums of a healthy dog should be slippery, sticky and pink. To test for dehydration, apply pressure to the dog’s gums until the area turns white. When the pressure on the gums is released, the area should immediately return to a pink color. When the color does not immediately turn back to a pink color, dehydration may be present.
Treating Signs of Abuse in Dogs
If your dog or a dog that you know is experiencing any of the above signs of malnourishment or dehydration, it’s important to seek help for the pet. Malnourishment and dehydration do not only occur in animals that are abused and neglected, but also with pet owners who are not aware of the symptoms that can occur after a general illness. If the underlying condition is not treated, additional health concerns may become present.