There are several reasons dogs stare at the ceiling. Although many will claim it’s disorientation, that’s the least likely scenario. The most likely explanation is that your dog is hearing something. Dogs have much better hearing than humans. When the house is “settling”, you might not hear it, but your dog can!
After a long day at work, you come home, change into your comfortable clothes, and turn on the television to help you unwind.
That’s when you notice something odd. Your dog is over in a corner, staring at the ceiling. An hour goes by and he still hasn’t moved or stopped staring at the space above his head.
What is the explanation for this strange behavior? This guide will cover both medical and non-medical reasons that could cause your dog to stare at the ceiling.
What You'll Learn
Non-Health Reasons (Most Likely)
An Odd Quirk
Your dog staring at the ceiling could be an odd quirk. There’s not always a rhyme or reason to the behavior of dogs.
If you’ve had your dog since he was a puppy and you’ve found him staring at the ceiling at different parts of the day, it’s likely nothing more than an odd quirk that your buddy picked up at a young age.
They Hear a Noise
Dogs can hear noises that humans can’t. What’s behind those walls may not be visible to the human eye but are visible to your dog’s ears. There may be critters crawling behind your walls. Squirrels, mice, and insects are just a few of examples. Your dog may also hear the house settling. You may not hear the cracking noise in the ceiling, but your dog does!
Health Concerns (Possible, But Unlikely)
Some health issues could cause a dog to stare at the ceiling. Although there’s a good chance this behavior is because of one of the two reasons mentioned above, there’s still the possibility of a health concern.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
If your dog does not seem to be moving from his spot and remains there for hours at a time, it could mean something more serious is happening.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a dog version of Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, this disease is becoming more and more common in dogs.
This disease largely affects senior dogs, causing a decline in their cognitive functions. According to Purina, CDS results in irreversible degeneration of the brain.
CDS affects about 14% of dogs eight years and older and as many as 28% of dogs between 11 and 12.
CDS is often under-diagnosed by veterinarians, but there are symptoms that, as an owner, you should watch out for.
The best way to remember the symptoms is the acronym DISH:
Disorientation refers to how a dog interacts with his or her environment. Walking around aimlessly and staring at walls is a common sign of disorientation. If you see your dog staring at a wall, this might be a strong possibility as to why.
The remaining symptoms – interactions, sleep, and house-training – all have to do with how your dog interacts with people, changes to their sleep habits, and breaking of learned house-training rules.
Typically, a dog suffering from CDS may only exhibit one or two symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. The best thing you can do for your dog is to seek help from your veterinarian. Once diagnosed, they can provide you with resources on how to best manage the disease.
Not only can your veterinarian offer you resources, but they can also prescribe medications to help your pup sleep and manage their anxiety.
They may also recommend activities that will help stimulate your dog’s mind, like playtime and consistent exercise. They may also recommend implementing an antioxidant-rich diet. Examples of foods rich in antioxidants include fish, berries, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
The second “health related” reason your dog may be staring at the ceiling is that they’re having a seizure.
This type of seizure is called a partial seizure or focal seizure. It isn’t as jarring as the more violent seizures that result in convulsions. It’s more of a mild seizure.
Several things can cause a partial seizure, including cancer or epilepsy, which is why you may catch your dog staring off into space or at a ceiling.
Signs that your dog is having a seizure are brief seconds of unconsciousness, a blank stare, and their eyes rotating upward.
If you notice abnormal behavior in addition to your dog staring, call your vet ASAP, especially if your dog is exhibiting symptoms of CDS or a seizure.
Your veterinarian will perform an assessment to determine what’s causing the staring. From there, they can prescribe medication to help alleviate the symptoms.
Monitor Your Dog
In most cases, you have nothing to worry about. Your dog is likely staring at the ceiling because of an odd quirk or because they hear a noise. However, there is the possibility of a health concern.
Be sure to monitor our dog’s behavior. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, get in contact with your vet ASAP.
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