The primary reason your dog keeps stretching the simple fact that they feel like stretching. Your dog could also be tired or need more exercise. There’s a chance your dog could be injured, but you would see other apparent signs of pain along with the stretching.
As dog owners, we always keep an eagle’s eye on how our furry friends are doing. We can notice even the smallest changes.
You may have noticed that your dog is stretching more than usual. Why is this?
There are a few potential reasons for your dog to get their stretch on. There is usually no need to be worried if you notice your dog stretching more than normal, but if you see your dog dealing with other issues, stretching can indicate something else is going on.
Here are the top reasons your dog might be stretching more than normal.
Staying in Shape
Your dog’s stretching habits often correlate to the amount of activity that they are getting. If they are not getting enough activity, they may stretch more.
Conversely, your dog will stretch before starting their exercise. We stretch before doing something strenuous to loosen up and get our muscles ready. Similarly, your dog stretches for the same reasons.
Let’s look at some of the physical reasons your dog likes to stretch.
Your dog may stretch because they are ready to run around. If your dog is in a playful mood, they will often stretch before starting a game of chase or play-wrestling.
This is no cause for alarm. Your dog is simply making sure its body is ready to be active. If they feel a bout of the zoomies coming on, your dog will want to stretch out their legs to prepare for racing around.
Animals in the wild that are about to chase down prey often stretch to stay limber enough to catch up with their quarry.
On the other hand, a lack of exercise can also cause your dog to stretch. They may feel cooped up.
If your dog feels the need to move more, they will often stretch out their bodies as a way to get some activity.
Similar to running, your dog may be getting ready to play with you or other dogs.
If your dog knows it is time for them to play with someone else, they will stretch. Playtime can be a physically taxing event, as any owner who has tried to keep up with their dog may tell you.
Stretching keeps the muscles active, creating blood flow. Stretching also serves as a physical signal to other dogs that your pup is ready for a little game.
Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for. One way that dogs will speak to each other is through body language.
If your dog is feeling defensive, its hackles will go up. But if they are feeling another emotion, they will often stretch to communicate with other dogs.
Stretching is a very clear physical symbol to other dogs that your pup may be ready to tussle or even mate.
Acknowledgment of Others
The classic yoga stretch of “downward dog” is inspired by how dogs often stretch. They stick their butts in the air while lowering the front half of their body down to the ground, pushing their front paws forward.
This stretch has multiple meanings, but often it is simply a way for your dog to acknowledge you.
This is a form of greeting, and, when accompanied by other relaxed and friendly actions, shows that your dog values you as part of their pack.
If this is the case, your dog will often wag or make eye contact with a relaxed face and ears.
Warning to Others
Stretching may be your dog’s precursor to a fight. When your dog is getting ready to tussle, they may stretch out their body as a warning sign or to activate their muscles.
Just like playtime, fighting requires a lot of exertion, so your dog will prepare itself. This kind of stretching will come with other warning signs.
Your dog may growl, bare its teeth, put up its hackles, or make other signs that it is ready to fight.
Don’t get in your dog’s face if they warn you they are prepared to fight. You do not want them to feel cornered or challenged. You can try backing off from your dog and showing that you are not a threat.
Stretching could also be your dog’s way of expressing its desire to mate with another dog.
Like all other physical activity, mating needs the body to be loose and ready for effort. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, they will often stretch around other dogs they are romantically interested in.
In most cases, stretching is not a sign of medical problems.
That being said, stretching can accompany other symptoms if your dog has some kind of issue with its health.
If you believe that their stretching could be a sign of something deeper going on, we strongly encourage you to take them to the veterinarian for a checkup.
Your dog may stretch out its body to express discomfort. If they are dealing with some kind of digestive issue, stretching could be a way for them to temporarily relieve some pain or discomfort going on in their stomach.
Larger dogs may suffer from an issue like bloat. Bloat occurs when your dog’s stomach expands and twists on itself.
This is a severe medical condition that requires immediate attention. If you are worried your dog may have bloat, take them to the vet immediately.
Keep in mind that stretching itself is not a sign of bloat. Your dog will have other symptoms, such as nausea, excessive drool, and distension in their abdominal region.
Perhaps the most severe condition that will cause a dog to stretch is pancreatitis. Like bloat, pancreatitis is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
When a dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed, they may need immediate surgery to correct the issue.
Dogs often stretch when afflicted with pancreatitis, as it slightly relieves the pressure on their organs.
Pancreatitis will also cause diarrhea, followed by dehydration, and eventually shock. Also, look for vomiting, as this can be an early symptom of pancreatitis.
Again, stretching is not the symptom that will occur when your dog has pancreatitis, but you may notice it before the other symptoms.
As stretching helps bring more air into the chest, it can also indicate a larger issue with breathing.
These issues are usually accompanied by wet coughs and mucus. If you notice stretching accompanied by these symptoms, it is time to go to the vet.
If you notice a lack of energy and blood pressure changes (that may change the color of mucus membranes), this could even be a sign of congestive heart failure.
Always take your dog to the vet if you are concerned that something more serious could be going on.
Stretch It Out
Dogs will stretch for any reason. Odds are, you will see your pup stretching before walks, playtime, or just to tell you they appreciate you.
In most cases, stretching is not something to worry about. Dogs will stretch to prepare their bodies for a multitude of activities or to send a message.
However, if you notice that your dog’s stretching is just one symptom of many, you need to have a professional take a look at your dog.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.