If you are a dog owner, then you are probably familiar with some of the behaviors a dog exhibits. One behavior that is common, is for a dog to circle their bed a time or two, maybe more, before they finally settle down and lay down. Some will sigh when they finally get comfortable, but others may moan and groan, which, depending on the circumstances, could be a sign of something other than just trying to get comfortable for a nap or bedtime. Let’s take a closer look to see what to do if your dog is groaning when he lies down.
Because there is no technology available to definitely decipher what a dog’s language is truly telling us, experts can only go off of the experience they have with the knowledge they’ve learned so far, and the experience of owning a dog. One thing to keep in mind is that if your dog suddenly and out of the blue, begins to moan and groan out of the blue when they are lying down, then this might be something to be concerned about. Other than a sudden vocalization, there may not be any reason to worry or panic. Consider the different circumstances about the dog to help determine.
- Is the dog a puppy or full grown?
- Does he groan when he lies down to sleep?
- Does your dog typically moan while he sleeps?
Here are a few medical reasons why your dog might groan when lying down:
1. Osteoarthritis in his joints
2. Panosteitis/growing pains
3. Ascites/ fluid in the abdomen
Here is a definition of each of these conditions:
Older dogs, and large breeds of dogs are going to be the ones this most likely will effect. Hip dysplasia is a common medical condition among large breeds, like German Shepherds and it is the problem of an ill-fit between he ball and socket of the joints in the rear legs. This problem makes it hard for a dog to get up and down, no matter what the age of the dog is, but older, larger breeds tend to develop this problem above other breeds. Osteoarthritis or degenerative issues of the cartilage, which cushions the joints to make them flexible, can wear out, making it more painful for joints to move.
If your dog groans a lot while getting into the lying position in bed and seems to have problems lying down, this could be a sign that your dog is having joint issues. If this is the case, you will notice him having trouble standing back up from a nap, trouble climbing into the car or up stairs, and is not as active as he once was. You need to have him examined by his veterinarian to get treatment for his joint issues.
Panosteitis or puppy growing pains
This is similar to a child’s growing pains where you hear a growing child complain about pain in their legs. These are intermittent-type pains that come and go, but if you have a puppy who seems to grown and sigh when he lies down, chances are that he is going through some bone growth aches and pains. It happens when the growth of the bones are happening a lot more quickly than the puppy can adjust to and it can be uncomfortable for your dog. You may notice it happening for several weeks, then the groaning disappears, but can start up again a few weeks later. This can be an ongoing cycle for your dog until it reaches its full growth and maturity. You may even notice that he switches from leg-to-leg with the signs of pain when he groans, and can have tenderness in the upper forelegs, especially. Typical breeds that commonly experience this, include, Dobermans, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Rottweiler’s, German Shepherds, and Great Danes. Some breeders of these breeds will often recommend that you not run these breeds a lot until they are at least 18 months of age to give their bones enough time to fully develop.
If your dog tends to moan when in the lying down position, there is a common reason why this could be happening. Buildup of excess fluid in the abdomen is a fairly common problem among dogs, and it can be associated with a variety of physical and behavioral changes in a dog as they get older. While most dogs love to have their bellies rubbed as a way to get pleasure and feel good, if suddenly this activity causes your dog to wince in agony, it could be this buildup of fluid in his belly, or ascites, that is causing it.
Another tell-tell sign would be that their stomach starts to enlarge and looks heavier than normal, and it may cause vomiting or difficulty breathing. This is because the fluid is putting pressure on his internal organs, including the lungs and diaphragm. You should get your dog immediate medical attention if you notice any of these signs because this is a serious condition. Although it can happen at any age in a dog’s life, the older generation of dogs are the more common ones to see this condition in. If it occurs in a young dog, it may be related to a physical injury, but for older dogs, there may be internal bleeding due to kidney or liver problems, cancer growths on an organ, or congestive heart failure.
Here’s the bottom line
If you have always noticed your dog groaning when he’s lying down, chances are that it is just his way of getting comfortable, sighing, or releasing his cares and worries of the day. He’s settling into his sleeping position and it feels good to him. If it is not normal to hear your dog groan and suddenly he starts to make this sound, makes it often, or sounds like he’s in distress, it is always best to err on the side of caution and have him evaluated by his doctor. Whatever you do, do not try to diagnose the problem yourself or treat it with human pain medications, as this can be very dangerous and you can cause him more problems and maybe do him and his health significant harm.