Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? Everything You Need to Know

why do dogs walk in circles before they die

Dogs exhibit all kinds of weird behavior. There’s eating cat poop, following you wherever you go, and the slightly awkward one of humping stuffed toys – to name a few.

But one such behavior many pup parents are worried about is circling, especially in the final moments of a dog’s life.

So, why do dogs walk in circles before they die? Is it common? Is all circling behavior indicative of your dog’s health?

In this blog, we’re going to go through all the reasons why some dogs walk around in circles before they die, as well as other times they may behave like this and what you can do to comfort them if needed.

Do All Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die?

Many dog owners with a senior dog worry that circling behavior means their beloved pooch is in their last moments of life. But it’s important to note that not all dying dogs circle and not all dogs walking in circles are dying.

There can be lots of different reasons why pups walk in circles and doing it before they die is actually quite uncommon.

old hound dog

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (Well, Some Dogs)

Some pups walk around in circles in their final moments and there are a couple of reasons why they might be doing it.

Reason #1: They’re Making Themselves Comfortable

One of the main reasons why dogs walk around in circles before they die is because they’re making themselves comfortable. To fully understand this, we need to go back to when dogs were a little wilder.

In the wild, dogs walked in circles before sleeping to loosen up hard ground and ensure they have a comfortable and safe environment to sleep in.

A dying dog, especially one that is maybe suffering, may try to make where they’re sleeping that bit more comfortable.

Always make sure your pooch has somewhere comfortable to sleep, including a dog bed for outdoors. Even if you do provide them with the fluffiest, snuggliest, and perfect-sized bed, they may still walk around in circles due to instinct.

Reason #2: Medical Condition Such As Pain

Another common cause for dogs walking in circles is that they’re suffering from a medical condition. One such condition is vestibular disease.

Vestibular disease can make dogs feel dizzy, lose orientation, and disturb their balance. A dog walking in circles could be confused and feel dizzy. It’s important to observe your dog’s behavior and notice when it changes so that you can contact a vet when necessary.

Other conditions such as arthritis or inflammation can cause a dog to walk around in circles in an attempt to get comfortable. Whilst circling can be normal behavior for dogs, you should take them to the vet for a check-up if there’s any change in their behavior as they may be developing a condition.

Other physical medical conditions could cause your dog to walk in circles. These include a brain tumor, inner ear problems, a head injury, and cancers.

It’s best practice to take your pooch for regular vet check-ups to catch any possible problems early on so you can ensure they receive the right treatment.

Reason #3: Confusion or Anxiety

Medication and age can affect dogs differently. Sometimes, as their brain slowly begins to shut down, they can easily get confused or change their normal behavior patterns.

They may start to react differently to new stimuli or walk around in circles. Anxiety from new things around them or new feelings can also be a cause of why your dog starts walking in circles.

Try to reassure them and take them to the vet if you’re worried.

Reason #4: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

As is the case with humans, dogs can be affected by a decrease in cognitive function. This is often called canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome or ‘doggy dementia’.

This can change your pup’s behavior and how they interact with you too. It can be a very difficult and upsetting thing for pup parents to deal with. The most important thing is to comfort your doggo and seek medical advice from your vet.

Reason #5: Stroke

Stokes can be another reason why your pet dog walks in circles. Your pup will tend to walk left or right depending on which part of the brain has been affected by the stroke.

If you notice your dog suddenly walking in circles, accompanied by rapid pupil movement, ragged breathing, blindness, or collapsing, seek immediate veterinary treatment.

Reason #6: Agitation

Towards the end of their life, many dogs walk in circles out of agitation. They may exhibit other agitated behaviors, such as pacing, restlessness, increase in aggression, and irritability.

It’s not a particularly common reason why dogs circle before they die, but it’s important you’re still aware of it.

old pup

Other Signs Your Pup May Be Close to The End

It’s a terrible thing for any pup parent to go through, but knowing the common signs that your dog is coming to the end of its life can help to make them as comfortable as possible. Apart from walking in circles, you should keep an eye out for:

  • Incontinence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression/lack of interest
  • Anger and anxiety
  • Digestive troubles (diarrhea and vomiting)
  • Excessive sleeping

If you notice anything different or unusual about your dog’s behavior or mood, make sure you contact your vet. Catching things early on means your pooch will get the best treatment possible.

Conclusion: So, Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die?

Whilst relatively uncommon, dogs can start walking in circles before they die. There are several reasons why they do this, including medical issues, psychological issues, and comfort.

If you know that your pooch is sick and in the final moments of their life, try to do all you can to reassure and comfort them.

Whenever you notice a big difference in your dog’s behavior, it’s worth running it by a vet. It may be nothing, or you may be able to catch something early on that can be treated.