Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. It is hard to answer without seeing what is going on. They may or may not be related to one another. However whenever there is unplanned weight loss, your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

Whether appearing on the abdomen, tail, or the back of your dog, black spots on the fur and skin of your pooch are usually an indication of hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation results from an increase in natural pigments referred to as melanin.
Black skin disease is a condition that typically progresses slowly. If you notice a thinning of your dog`s hair or obvious hair loss, you will need to contact your veterinarian for an assessment. Signs of black skin disease include: Gradual loss of hair`s color and lushness.
It`s not just regular dirt—it`s actual flea feces, a mix of blood meal and flea waste. Finding these little black specks on your pet`s skin means you must get your pet on flea medication as soon as possible to get rid of this pesky problem.
Black spots usually appear on the abdomen, tail, or the back of your dog, black spots on the fur and skin of your pooch are usually an indication of hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation results from an increase in natural pigments called melanin.
Cushing`s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a serious health condition in dogs that occurs when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol (cortisone) in the animal`s body. Excess cortisol can put a dog at risk of several serious conditions and illnesses, from kidney damage to diabetes, and can be life-threatening.
Mites are tiny spider-like creatures that can typically only be seen with a microscope, but sometimes they may be visible as tiny orange, black or white dots moving on your dog`s skin.
Article Talk. The Dalmatian is a breed of dog, which has a white coat marked with black or brown-coloured spots. Originating as a hunting dog, it was also used as a carriage dog in its early days.
One of the most common vitamin deficiencies that can cause hair loss in dogs is a lack of biotin. Biotin is a water soluble vitamin that helps to keep the skin and coat healthy. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include dry skin, dull coat, and hair loss.
Treatment of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

If hyperpigmentation is primary there is no cure. However, when caught early enough the signs can be managed with shampoos and steroid ointments. Other medications can be used as signs increase or get worse.

The 5 most common causes of bald spots on dogs include allergies, Cushing`s disease, pressure sores, genetics, and infection or infestation.
Fleas, mites, and ticks can cause irritation, exposing your dog to bacteria, yeast, and fungal infections. Demodex mites, walking dandruff, flea allergy dermatitis, and sarcoptic mange (caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite) can all cause rashes on your dog`s skin, including her belly and groin area.
Hypoadrenocorticism is an uncommon disease in dogs, and it is caused by a deficiency of essential hormones that are made by the adrenal glands. Also known as Addison`s disease, the clinical signs may appear as vague signs of illness that come and go.
Although it may surprise you, dogs can develop Crohn`s Disease just like their human counterparts.
The signs of a demodex infection are hair loss, crusting or scaling of the skin, especially around the eyes, mouth and paws, and sometimes red lumps (papules), pimples (pustules) and deep draining sores.
In localized cases, it shows up as patches of hair loss and red, scaling skin. In generalized cases, the entire body may be covered with redness, infections, scaling, swelling, and crusts. Often the dog loses most, if not all, hair.
Is it contagious? Yes. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious to other dogs and humans. Since the mite may be found in areas where infected dogs or foxes frequent, keep your dog away from these areas to help prevent infection.
Ticking and Roan

Ticking is flecks or spots of colour on white areas. It can occur on any white area on a dog, so long as the white is “real” white ( i.e. so long as it`s caused by the white spotting series and not by a phaeomelanin intensity gene such as the I locus or urajiro).

spotted dog in British English

noun. 1. an informal name for a Dalmatian. 2. another name for spotted dick.

If something is good or looking good it is referred to as Spotty Dog: Q. How`s your new house coming along? or, How was your dinner tonight? A. Spotty Dog.
Vitamin D deficiency in dogs can cause heart failure, muscle aches, muscle weakness, bone pain, hair loss, fatigue, poor wound healing, and/or lethargy. The most significant signs of vitamin D deficiency in dogs are those of heart failure.
Hormonal conditions — like hypothyroidism, adrenal gland disorders or growth hormone disorders — can all cause a dog to lose hair. If your vet suspects an internal problem as cause for the hair loss, they may recommend laboratory testing and possibly X-rays or ultrasound imaging to determine the cause.
Hot spots are an itchy and painful problem for your dog and may become a recurring issue if the underlying condition is not addressed. Fortunately, with good management, your dog`s hot spot will resolve quickly and will not result in any permanent damage.
In mild cases, benzoyl peroxide alone may be sufficient to resolve canine acne; in more severe cases, long-term benzoyl peroxide may be used to decrease the likelihood of recurrence. “The most common treatment for canine acne is topical benzoyl peroxide.”

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. How do I determine how much my overweight pet should weigh?
ANSWER : A. There are many tools to determine overweight and obesity levels in pets. A new tool, morphometric measurements and body fat index, are available to accurately determine a pet’s ideal weight; this will allow an accurate determination of the amount of food a pet should receive to achieve weight loss. Feeding the correct amount will lead to greater weight loss success.

There are many weight loss food options to help pets reach their ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help make a ideal weight recommendation. Here are some tips to help your dog lose weight in a healthy and safe way:

1. Diet: Providing a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to your pet’s overall health. Finding the right food for your dog can be a challenging process. For those overweight animals many commercial dog companies offer weight loss diets, but it is important to evaluate food labels for adequate nutritional content.

You want to ensure you are not missing other essential vitamin or mineral content. Volume of food is also important and the amount of food that works for one breed of dog may not be the same for another breed of dog. Portion control as opposed to free-choice feeding can help your dog to drop a few unnecessary pounds.

There are also prescription weight loss foods designed by veterinary nutritionists, such as Hill’s r/d (http://bit.ly/1AoENSd). Some pet owners find that home cooking is the best option for helping to provide a well-balanced and realistic diet plan. There are websites such as balanceit.com that offers recipes to fit your dog’s specific needs. Consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to find the appropriate diet is a great way to help your dog be as healthy as possible.

2. Exercise: Another great tactic for weight loss for your dog is exercise. Whether this is through running, walking or playing with a favorite toy all of these are wonderful types of exercise to help keep your dog at a lean and healthy weight.

For those pet owners with busy schedules utilizing professional dog walking services or playtime through dog daycare services is another option. It has been shown that those pet owners that exercise regularly with their pets generally live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Physical therapy: As animals age pet owners offer encounter their favorite canine having more difficulty walking and have a dwindling desire to play with toys. Physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to help older and arthritic animals gain more mobility and lose weight. Hydrotherapy has been proven to have several therapeutic effects on the body including, muscle strengthening, relief of swelling, decreased joint pain, less stiffness in limbs, improved circulation, weight loss, and increased tissue healing to name a few. For more information on the benefits of hydrotherapy:
http://bit.ly/1w1qqoy

4. Veterinary visit and blood work: Weight gain can also be related to underlying health concerns such as hypothyroidism or other endocrine disorders. Scheduling a veterinary evaluation and routine blood work can be another important component in increasing the longevity of your dog’s life. Conditions such as hypothyroidism that predispose dogs to gain weight can be treated with a daily medication to improve hormonal balance. If feel that your dog is unnecessarily overweight there can be an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.

5. Healthy treats: Pet owners love the chance to reward their favorite canine companion with treats and most dogs jump at the chance to consume these delicious products. The problem is many treats, which can include commercial dog treats or table scrapes can add many unnecessary calories to your dog’s daily intake. Reading labels and making note of the calories in these treats is an important component of understanding your dog’s overall health. Treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories. There are healthier treats that can be offered to your pet to keep calories lower yet provide a fuller sensation. A pet owner can add steamed or pureed vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or sweet potato to add more fiber and thus a fuller feeling for your dog.

Q. Which common foods are poisonous to pets?
ANSWER : A. That’s a great question. As responsible pet owners we need to be aware of food items that can be harmful to our canine or feline companions. Here are some of the most common foods proven to cause illness in our animals at home:

Chocolate: A favorite and irresistible treat amongst most humans, chocolate is considered toxic to dogs. In very small amounts it is usually not a huge issue, but with larger volumes and with darker chocolates pet owners should be concerned. Chocolate contains methylxanthine theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Chocolate ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, issues with normal heartbeats, seizures, and in some severe cases, death. It is best to keep your favorite chocolate treats in a good hiding spot and out of reach of your dog or cat.

Grapes and raisins: Dogs should not consume grapes and raisins because of the risk of acute kidney failure. Most dogs experiencing grape or raisin toxicity will begin to have vomiting and/or diarrhea within 6-12 hours of ingestion. Other abnormal clinical signs include lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, and tremors. Kidney failure develops within 24-72 hours of the initial ingestion. There are some dogs that do not experience these devastating side effects. It is best to contact your veterinarian or veterinary emergency facility if you believe your pet has ingested grapes or raisins.

Garlic and onions: We often forget that our meals contain these two popular ingredients and will allow our furry companions a few bites or licks. Onion and garlic both can cause a type of poisoning that results in damage to red blood cells, making them more likely to rupture. They can also cause stomach upset and mouth irritation. Look for pale gums, increased breathing or drooling or any vomiting or diarrhea.

Bread dough: Unbaked bread dough is considered poisonous to our pets. The bread dough, when ingested, expands in the stomach because of the warm and moist environment. This can lead to a bloated or even twisted stomach. In addition yeast is often added to our baking products to help get bread to rise, and when this yeast is fermented it produces both carbon dioxide and alcohol. The alcohol produced can be absorbed into the bloodstream and causes dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Common clinical signs include vomiting or retching, distension of the stomach, weakness and collapse.

Macadamia nuts: Ingestion of these nuts are not proven to be fatal in dogs but can cause them to experience uncomfortable clinical sings, including fever, joint stiffness, vomiting, tremors and difficulty walking, especially in their hind legs. Often your pet will start to feel better after about 48 hours, but supportive veterinary care (such as pain medication) may help ease their discomfort.

Xylitol: The most common ingredient used in sugar-free gum is xylitol, which is a non-caloric sweetener. It is also found in some oral rinses, toothpastes and vitamins. Xylitol and dogs do not mix – it can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugars levels. Dogs will often display signs of disorientation, black tarry stool, tremors and seizures. If severe enough some dogs have developed liver failure. Keep your gum away from your canine companion.

Avocados: Avocados are not actually poisonous to dogs or cats but as many veterinarians can tell you the avocado pits can cause a foreign body obstruction. Avocados contain persin, which is actually toxic to the majority of pet birds. The abnormal clinical signs associated with avocado ingestion in birds include, respiratory distress, inability to perch, liver and kidney failure and sudden death.

Go forth and enjoy your favorite foods, but keep in mind which foods you should avoid sharing with your furry family members. Whenever in doubt, contact your veterinarian for healthy and safe food suggestions.

Q. My pet shows weight loss and has a hard time walking, like he has lost strength in his legs and has no control to maintain balance. What’s wrong?
ANSWER : A. Loss of balance or inability to control the limbs can be caused by a wide range of problems and is usually cause for concern. Damage to the nerves or muscles can cause loss of balance, as well as neurological disease or some illnesses. Having your vet perform a complete examination is needed to determine the exact cause.

Weight loss can refer to the actual loss of fat and weight on your dog, or may also be due to the loss of muscle tone in the body. If there is a problem with one of the limbs, it may be that the weight loss you are seeing is actually loss of muscle in that area. Weight loss can again be caused by a wide range of problems from neurologic disease, illness, parasites or disease. Making an appointment with your vet is best.

Q. Whenever I take my dog on walks he always barks at people and others dogs in my neighborhood. What should I do to resolve the problem
ANSWER : A. The very first thing to do is to make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good, happy dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to, don’t touch, or even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat. To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. Yelling at him is the equivalent of barking with him.

Get your dog accustomed to whatever causes him to bark. Start with whatever makes him bark at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. Oddly, the first step is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.” Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

As in all training, always end training on a good note, even if it is just for obeying something very simple, like the ‘sit’ command. If you dog regresses in training, go back to the last thing he did successfully and reinforce that before moving on again. Keep sessions short, 15-20 minutes max, and do this several times a day.

Q. My dog keep hacking like a cough or something in her throat, what can I do?
ANSWER : A. Hacking and coughing can be caused by a number of things ranging from foreign bodies such as twigs stuck in the mouth or throat, to infections or illnesses such as Bordetella or Kennel cough, common in dogs that frequent kennels, dog daycare or dog parks. In older dogs, heart and lung issues can also be indicated by a cough that does not go away.

If you think there may be a foreign object stuck in your dog’s throat, you can sweep a finger gently through the back of the mouth or throat if your dog will let you. If something feels stuck and is not easily moved by the finger, it is best to contact your vet to have the object safely removed. This usually requires sedation so that your dog does not become panicked or move, causing the object to become further stuck or cut the throat.

If your dog is showing other symptoms of illness in addition to the cough such as runny nose or eyes, fever, lethargy or changes in appetite, it may indicate a viral or bacterial illness such as kennel cough. These are usually treated with a cough medication in severe cases, plus rest and treatment of any additional symptoms until the condition improves. In bacterial causes, antibiotics may also be given to help your dog feel better.

If your dog has a constant cough that does not go away, or has had changes in ability to exercise, breathing, or appears to have swelling around the chest or abdomen, in may indicate a lung or heart issue. Your vet can thoroughly examine your dog for any signs of heart or lung problems and can then offer care as needed depending on the cause.

Q. Rescued a dog almost two weeks ago, and now that her kennel cough is gone her personality shines!! No previous training, how should I start?
ANSWER : A. POST FOUR:

After your dog is familiar with the behavior you lured from scratch, and taught to your dog, you can start to use the “no-reward marker” I talked about. What you do is ask the dog to perform the behavior, and if the dog does not perform the behavior, you simply say your no-reward marker (choose one: eh-eh, hey, uh-oh, oops) show them the treat, put it behind your back, and BRIEFLY ignore your dog. Just turn your back for a second or two, before turning back to your dog and saying, “let’s try that again.” When you’re ready to start over with your dog, make sure you move around. If you are repeating the same cue while in the same position, while your dog is in the same position, you are likely to receive the same results. The more you move around, and start fresh, the better your chances are of having your dog listen to your cue the second time around. BIG rewards when they dog it successfully! Lots of praise and treats.

My no-reward marker is “hey.” When my dog does something wrong I say, “hey” and she immediately understands that she needs to offer a different behavior. This is clear to her. I don’t have to say it in a mean way, I simply say, “hey” in a normal tone of voice and she understands what the word means.

Once you’ve built up that connection and communication with your new dog, you can work on all kinds of fun behaviors! I personally enjoy the more zen-like behaviors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruy9UMcuGh8

I like to teach my dog fun tricks that offer her a “job” to do of sorts like object retrieval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4iertZSva8

(object retrieval training completed; what it looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx0Dml28FGY)

Scent-games are fun too! Very confidence building. Hide a REALLY smelly treat in a box, and place that box in a line of boxes. Let your dog go in the room while saying something like “search!” or “find it!” and watch them hunt for that smelly treat! Lots of rewards when they find it!

Q. My dog licks his feet and legs and they are turning brown. He is a white dog. Can you help?
ANSWER : A. Licking the feet and legs can be caused by a number of things in dogs including allergies, illness or even stress behaviors. Allergies are the most common in dogs, with yeast infections coming in second. Allergies can cause the area to become red and itching, making your dog want to lick and chew on them. Over time, the area may become stained from saliva, especially in lighter or white-coated dogs. Yeast infections are also common between the toes, and may cause a smelly “corn chip” smell to appear near your dog’s feet. Again, dogs will attempt to lick and chew to relieve the itch. Keeping the feet clean and dry can help relieve both allergies and infections and pet wipes or a baby wipe of all paws when your dog comes in from outdoors may also help. Keeping your dog from licking the space with either dog booties or an Elizabethan collar is also good as it will prevent secondary infection and staining of the paws and legs. If your dog is determined to keep licking and keeping the feet clean and dry do not help, then your vet can help by providing a medication to treat any infection or provide relief of allergies.

Q. Why does my dog keep licking her butt alot? We can’t take her to the vet. But, after the bath, she seem fine and not lick her butt alot.
ANSWER : A. I would ask the vet (or groomer who gives the bath) if they are expressing your dog’s anal glands during the bath. This is a very common thing for them to do and it would explain why your dog is so comfortable after a bath. It would also explain why your dog licks her bum so often! Dog’s have these bothersome glands that are located right next to their anus called anal glands. These glands fill up every week or two with fluid (in some cases, very thick fluid) and many dogs have a hard time expressing this fluid on their own. This causes them a great deal of discomfort and in turn causes them to lick their bum! Some dogs will even scoot their bum on the carpet in an effort to empty the glands. Your vet (or your groomer in this case) can help you and your dog out by emptying these glands out on a regular basis and keeping your dog comfortable.