Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (2023)

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (1)

There are a lot of people who can bear witness to their dogs walking in circles before they die. It can be perplexing and confusing for owners, leaving them questioning the cause of this phenomenon. So, why do dogs walk in circles before they die?

The widespread misconception is that dogs circle in search of a cozy spot to lay down and pass away. We don’t think this myth is totally true. Your dog is more likely to be uncomfortable or distressed.

Keep reading below for more information.

Before you scroll down to a more in-depth answer of this guide, check out these other dog-related guides from our team at We Love Doodles:Why Do Dogs Wink?andWhy Do Dogs Like Period Blood?.

Table of Contents

Do Dogs Circle Before They Pass Away?

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (2)

In contrast to popular belief, dogs don’t always wander in circles or cry before they pass away. They will occasionally just lie down and close their eyes. Sometimes they will leave as though nothing is wrong.

Don’t become too connected to the notion that this is something that will definitely happen because you can never be positive about whether your dog is due to die at any given time.

This probably has to do with the fact that we treat our dogs more like living things than as amusement-seeking devices. Because we adore them so much, whenever we notice our dog acting oddly, especially as they become older, we try to interpret their behavior.

Why Your Dog Is Walking in Circles

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (3)

There are a number of reasons why dogs do tend to wander in circles. Although some dogs may be observed doing it just before they pass away, there isn’t any substantial scientific support for it. Here are some well-known reasons regarding why they do it, though.

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Anxiety or Discomfort

Is your dog experiencing a lot of stress because of anything in the environment? Or could there be anything bothering it on its body that is lodged there? A quick inspection like this can sometimes address the problem and prevent your dog from acting in this way.

Be attentive towards anything that may make it panic and start spinning in circles, such as loud noises (thunder, construction), unfamiliar items, or people.


Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (4)

One of two things may be happening when your dog circles about after a long walk: either they’re looking for a snack to eat or they’re attempting to find their favorite toy. Dogs must develop alternative means of expressing their wants because they are unable to notify humans when they are hungry.

Dogs may sometimes circle an object, which normally satisfies their appetite, in order to do this. You should give your dog some food if they turn around their dish.

Infected Ears

Our dogs frequently exhibit aberrant behavior when they have ear issues, and it can be challenging to tell whether your dog’s outer, middle, or inner ear is possibly infected or hurt.

When the situation becomes worse, your dog may start to often lose its equilibrium and begin to bark and shake its head. It could also begin to brush its head against things, a habit that is frequently linked to ear infections.

Pain and Injury

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (5)

In addition to highly evident wounds, it’s also likely that your dog is in moderate or severe discomfort. Your dog may start limping, compulsively licking its paw, or whimpering. It’s quite possible that it has a head injury that went undiscovered and is now exhibiting symptoms through its strange behavior.

Cushing’s Disease

When a dog has Cushing’s Disease, its adrenal glands overproduce the steroid hormone cortisol. An adrenal tumor or inflammation of the pituitary gland, located near the center of the brain, that produces hormones that control growth and development, blood glucose levels, and other processes, may be the reason.

Dogs with Cushing’s Disease may circle around since they have problems staying stationary owing to their weak muscles and unsteady balance brought on by high blood pressure.


Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (6)

Neosporosis is a potentially deadly illness that is transmitted by parasites that are present in some raw foods and in the feces of infected animals. This illness, which can paralyze dogs and impair their muscles, can also be spread from dog to dog by the intake of infected food or drinks. Dogs with neosporosis frequently move in circles and have a tendency to drop their heads to one side.

Meningitis (Inflammation of the Brain)

Meningitis or inflammatory brain disease are some terms for brain inflammation that you might be familiar with. Circling behavior, along with convulsions and behavioral changes, is one of the key indicators of necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), a kind of brain inflammation. It will take an MRI and the examination of a brain sample to identify this disorder, which can be fairly challenging.

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Brain Cancer

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (7)

Loss of balance is one of the signs of a brain tumor in dogs, so it is natural to observe one going in circles. Other signs include trembling, head tilting, convulsions, and diminished mental clarity.

Dog Distemper

Another sickness that can cause collapses and circling in place is canine distemper. It is caused by a virus and frequently starts off as a lung or respiratory condition. Neurological deterioration, paralysis, muscle spasms, and a tendency to roam are common symptoms in the final stages.

Animals with distemper may have nasal discharge and move awkwardly. Additional signs include aggression, sluggishness, wandering, and severe thirst.

Due to the fluids generated during coughing and sneezing, this illness is most frequently caught by dogs who come into contact with other dogs. Many physicians suggest starting vaccinations early since pups are particularly susceptible to this disease. Even though there is no treatment for the condition, a dog may eventually make a full recovery with the right medical care.

Canine Dementia

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (8)

More precisely termed canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), it is not uncommon for dogs with vestibular system issues to walk in circles. Senior dogs are commonly affected, losing their bearings, and spinning in circles. Common danger signs include confusion, impaired awareness, aimlessness, and maybe the inability to recognize its owner following the circular activity.

There is still no established reason for this ailment, nor do we know which dogs are most seriously afflicted. However, dogs who follow a healthy diet and lifestyle that involves frequent brain stimulation may be able to avoid exhibiting these symptoms as they age.


A dog that circles around could be experiencing a stroke, which impairs balance and can make your dog regularly trip and fall. A stroke can be caused by blood clots, renal illness, high blood pressure, brain injury, and migrating worms; however, these are quite uncommon in dogs.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (9)

OCD is a disorder that makes your dog constantly repeat specific behaviors out of compulsive habits. Similar to human OCD, it is characterized by repetitive behaviors and is brought on by stress or worry, such as separation anxiety, as well as boredom and irritation.

From tail-chasing to spinning or pacing back and forth on a mat, obsessive behavior can take many different forms. Even some dogs will exhibit recurrent chewing or licking behaviors.


There are several ataxia disorders, and each one presents with a unique collection of signs and symptoms.

Vestibular ataxia, the most common kind that makes your dog walk in circles, may harm the inner ear or the brainstem. Once more, underlying issues might include tumors, ear or skull injury, inner or middle ear infections, etc.

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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (10)

SLE is a form of autoimmune disease that can cause arthritis, muscle weakness, and a wide variety of other problems, such as fever and kidney failure. It may also affect the entire body and cause arthritis. The condition can resemble many different illnesses, making diagnoses difficult. A blood test is frequently performed by veterinarians to check for the disease.

Paralysis, a limp, and an unexpected inability to walk straight are some of the early signs of SLE. Sunlight exposure typically makes the condition worse. Breeds of dogs, including the collie, beagle, and German shepherd, are more likely to have this illness.

Cognitive Dysfunction

The ability of an older dog’s brain to properly process the outside environment may decline. Maybe the dog doesn’t know where it is, or maybe they find themselves in a different world. Confusion and pacing, often in circles, are a couple of signs.


Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (11)

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) buildup inside the brain frequently causes the condition known as hydrocephalus, which is an enlargement of the brain. It can be acquired or congenitally present in some breeds, such as toy breeds (existing at birth).

Dogs with hydrocephalus may exhibit circle-walking, various symptoms of forebrain dysfunction, wide-set eyes, a domed head, and trouble swallowing and drinking.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Circling Around?

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (12)

If your dog is circling without exhibiting any other unusual behavior, it’s probably nothing to worry about. However, if this behavior continues, you must certainly take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. Circling habits often have something to do with a dog’s brain, and if proper care is not given promptly, they can become deadly.

You can start by identifying probable reasons, such as alterations in the surroundings, water that has been trapped after swimming, or simply the desire to urinate. Beyond that, take note of any odd behaviors, such as severe head shaking, vomiting, appetite loss, and limping.

These are all indicators that your dog needs expert assistance. Until then, you may help prevent these problems from occurring by giving your dog nutritious food, frequent exercise, and by making sure they visit the vet once a year.

When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Circling?

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (13)

Even after you’ve allowed your dog some space to settle down, if he continues to circle excessively, it may indicate a health problem such as a brain tumor or other illness of the brain. There’s no need to be alarmed if this happens occasionally; just make sure he receives loads of exercise and chewable to keep him from becoming bored and walking in circles once again.

Your dog may be exhibiting symptoms such as slow walking or seeming wobbly on their feet on top of circling in one part of the house. These might be indications that something is wrong with them.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do dogs act when they are near death?

When your dog is near death, they have a lack of appetite, weight loss, lack of energy, incontinence, poor coordination, confusion, change in temperament, or irregular breathing.

What does it mean when a dog starts walking in circles?

Sometimes dog’s walk in circles before laying down. If your dog is repetitely walking in circles, this may be a sign of neurological issues. Common neurological issues in dogs include forebrain dysfunction, seizures, or neosporosis. We highly recommend that you see a veterinarian if your dog is repetitively walking in circles.

Why does my senior dog keep walking in circles?

Senior dogs may be experience a phenomenon known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Other reasons in vestibular diseases, seizures, pain, or anxiety. We highly recommend that you see a vet if your senior dog is repetitively walking in circles.

Conclusion For “Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die”

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die? (And What Does It Mean?) (2023) - We Love Doodles (14)

Your dog’s walking in circles before they died likely had to do with the discomfort they were experiencing. This discomfort may have been brought on by any one of the conditions we have discussed in this article.

If you find this guide, “Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die,” helpful, you can check out these other dog-related content from our team at We Love Doodles:

  • Why Do Dogs Like Sticks?
  • Why Do Dogs Sleep at the Foot of the Bed? 6 Reasons!
  • Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?

You can learn more about dogs signs that he is dying by watching “10 Critical Signs that Indicates Your Dog is Dying” down below:

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Why do dogs circle before they die? ›

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die. Dogs often try to find a comfortable spot to pass on alone. Even though it may seem hurtful for dog parents, this is completely normal behavior. If you've talked to your vet and the end of your dog's senior life is near, you may find your dog circling a lot.

What does it mean when your dog walks in circles? ›

Unfortunately, a dog walking in circles (circling) is almost always a sign of forebrain dysfunction. Typical signs of forebrain dysfunction in dogs include: Circling – Your dog walks around its environment in a circle, unable to follow a straight path or turn in another direction.

How do dogs act right before they die? ›

The last few days before your dog passes you may notice: extreme weight loss, a distant look in their eyes, a lack of interest in anything, restlessness or unusual stillness, a change in the way that your dog smells, and a changed temperament.

How do dogs react before they die? ›

Days before passing

Your dog may seem distant and uninterested in what's going on around them. They may become more restless than usual or stiller. You might also notice a change in your dog's odor.

Why has my old dog gone blind and walks in circles? ›

If your dog is walking in circles, please see your vet right away. In senior dogs, circling is often due to canine vestibular disease or canine cognitive dysfunction (a.k.a dementia or Doggie Alzheimer's). My dog Cricket had canine cognitive dysfunction and showed many of the typical symptoms of that condition.

Are dogs scared before they die? ›

Animals know when they are dying. They are not afraid of death, at least not in the sense that we people are. Nearing death, they come to a place of acceptance and try to communicate that to us.

What happens to a dog immediately after death? ›

Your pet's body is usually picked up by the crematorium and brought to the facility in their own transport. Pick-up timing will vary, depending on the arrangement that your practice has with the crematorium. Don't be afraid to ask if you would like to know.

What do dogs do when they sense death? ›

You can also expect a ton of barking, howling, and vocalizations, an attempt by your dog to get your attention about what they know. Watch for lots of following around, extra attention, and melancholy behavior from your doggo, too. Here are a few signs your dog might be giving you if they're sensing death: Barking.

Do dogs know when they are close to dying? ›

6) Seeking Comfort

Some dogs will know their time is approaching and will look to their people for comfort. Saying goodbye to your dog with love and grace means staying with your dog during these final hours, and reassuring them with gentle stroking and a soft voice.

Can dogs sense death before it happens? ›

In fact, some dogs are specifically trained as Hospice Dogs to sit with and comfort those are dying. Do dogs understand what they're doing and why they're doing it? Probably not. However, due to their acute senses, dogs are able to pick up on the sounds and smells that are associated with oncoming death.

Do dogs know when there is a death? ›

By Samford Pet Resort

Although dogs don't experience the range of emotions that humans do, they can still perceive when something isn't quite right. They are very much aware of when their family is in mourning, even though they may not know that someone has died.

Where do dogs go when they know they're dying? ›

Typically, a dying dog will lie in one place without moving around very much. This place may be a quiet corner of your home or somewhere secluded, and it may not be a spot where they usually lie. Your dog might not even have enough energy to lift their head.


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