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Do Dogs Circle Before Dying? (You Might Wanna Know This)

So, you’ve heard that dogs walk in circles before they die and you’re a bit concerned, right?

First off, let’s put your mind at ease: This isn’t a widely-accepted fact. But, circling behavior can be associated a handful of health issues, so you’ll want to read through these below.

The behavior of dogs circling before laying down is often more related to instinctual behaviors than to any grim prediction.

dog circling

Dogs & Circling

Circling is a common canine behavior that many dogs exhibit for various reasons, such as preparing for sleep or even just being playful.

However, sudden changes in behavior, including circling, should always be discussed with your veterinarian.

If your dog is older or has a known illness, then yes, changes in behavior can indicate that something might be off, but it’s not necessarily a sign that your pooch is nearing the end of their life.

Keep an eye on your fur baby and consult your vet if you’re worried, but know that circling is generally not a death omen.

If anything, it’s usually just a sign that your dog is about to plop down for a good snooze.

Where Did This Myth Come From?

To be honest, no one really knows how this idea got started.

But one reason could be that people often look for signs to explain the unexplainable, especially when it comes to the sensitive topic of death.

Circling before lying down is an age-old behavior that many dogs exhibit, and it’s thought to originate from the time when dogs were wild animals.

Circling helped them flatten the grass and chase away any creepy-crawlies before settling down.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and other esteemed pet health organizations haven’t put out any information suggesting that circling is a sign a dog is going to die.

So this myth likely comes from a place of misunderstanding canine behavior.

Interesting: Is Chalk Toxic to Dogs

What Does Circling Really Mean?

So if circling doesn’t mean the end is near, what does it mean?

Circling before laying down is generally considered a natural instinct. Before the age of comfy dog beds and central heating, dogs had to make their own sleeping spots.

They would circle to flatten the ground and make it more comfortable. It’s a behavior that has been passed down from their ancestors.

There can be other reasons too. Circling can be a way for a dog to claim a space as their own.

If your dog is circling before laying down, it’s likely because they’re just trying to get comfy, or maybe even mark their territory in a non-destructive way.

Read more: My Dog Gorged on Food… What To Do Next

When to Be Concerned

Alright, while circling before lying down is generally normal, when should you actually be concerned?

If you notice any abrupt changes in your dog’s behavior or other symptoms like loss of appetite, lethargy, or difficulty walking, then it’s time to consult your vet.

According to PetMD, circling could be indicative of a medical issue like dementia if it’s excessive and accompanied by other behavioral changes.

Health Concerns Linked to Excessive Circling in Dogs

Hey there! So you’re worried about your fur baby’s circling behavior and wondering if it’s something more serious?

Good on you for being a vigilant dog parent. While circling is often a normal canine quirk, excessive or sudden-onset circling can sometimes be a cause for concern.

Here’s a breakdown of some health issues that could be associated with this behavior.

Ear Infections

Yup, you read that right. If your dog is circling excessively, it might be that they have an ear infection.

Dogs with ear infections often shake their heads, scratch their ears, or even circle to one side—the same side where the ear infection is.

According to the American Kennel Club, this behavior can indicate discomfort and should be checked out.

A quick trip to the vet for an examination and possibly some antibiotics can usually clear this right up. Remember, ear infections can be painful, so the sooner you address it, the better.

Neurological Issues

If you’ve ruled out ear infections and your dog is still circling, it might be a neurological problem.

Conditions like Canine Vestibular Disease or even a brain tumor can cause excessive circling. These are severe medical conditions that require immediate veterinary attention.

Tests like MRIs or CT scans could be necessary to diagnose the issue accurately. The sooner you catch this, the better the chance your pup has for successful treatment.

According to VCA Hospitals, signs of neurological problems can vary but often include loss of coordination and changes in behavior—circling included.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)

Think of this as the canine version of Alzheimer’s disease. Older dogs sometimes exhibit circling behavior as part of the symptoms related to Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

This condition affects a dog’s memory, learning, perception, and awareness.

PetMD suggests looking out for signs like disorientation, disrupted sleep patterns, and house soiling in addition to circling.

There’s no cure for CDS, but medications and lifestyle changes can manage the symptoms.

Other Medical Conditions

Sometimes, circling is a symptom of other underlying issues like liver disease or even poisoning. In these cases, circling is often accompanied by other signs like lethargy, vomiting, or loss of appetite.

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if they appear suddenly, seek veterinary care immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial for your dog’s well-being.

But these are issues to be addressed and treated, rather than ominous signs of impending doom.

Wrapping It Up

Look, our dogs are family, and it’s natural to worry about them.

But circling before lying down is generally just an instinctual behavior and not a grim prophecy.

Always consult your vet if you’re concerned about any sudden changes in behavior, but don’t lose sleep thinking your dog’s natural actions are anything more sinister.

Keep loving your pup, keep an eye out for signs of real distress, and here’s to many more tail-wagging, happy days ahead!


The advice given in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice in any context. Before making any decisions that may affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here

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