Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die: The Sad Truth (2023)

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Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die: The Sad Truth (1)There’s an old wives’ tale that claims dogs walk in circles before they die. While this may not be true in every case, there is some scientific evidence to support the theory.

Dogs are known to be highly intuitive creatures, and it’s believed that they can sense when their time is coming to an end.

Why do dogs walk in circles before they die? In this blog post, we’ll explore the possible reasons behind this odd behavior and what it might mean for your dog.

Table Of Contents

  • Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die?
  • Other Reasons Dogs Could Walk Around in Circles?
  • What Do Dogs Do When They Know They’re Dying?
  • What to Do if Your Dog Is Walking in Circles
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Conclusion

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die?

Have you ever wondered why dogs walk in circles before they die? It’s a mystery that has baffled dog owners for centuries. There are a few theories out there, but the most likely explanation is that it’s a vestigial behavior from their wild ancestors.

When dogs in the wild are sick or injured, they will often leave the pack and wander off into the forest to die. This is done so that the pack doesn’t have to take care of them and so that the other animals don’t have to see them suffer. As they’re walking, they will often circle around to disorient predators before lying down to die.

So, when your dog starts walking in circles, it’s probably because they’re feeling sick or injured and are trying to tell you that they need help. If you think your dog is sick or injured, take them to the vet immediately.

Other Reasons Dogs Could Walk Around in Circles?

There are a few other potential reasons your dog might be walking in circles.

One possibility is that your dog is trying to create a nest. This is especially common in female dogs who are about to give birth. If your dog is pregnant, you should take her to the vet to make sure everything is progressing normally.

Another possibility is that your dog is suffering from an ear infection. Dogs with ear infections often walk in circles because they’re trying to relieve the pain. If you think your dog might have an ear infection, take her to the vet for an examination.

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A third possibility is that your dog is dizzy or disoriented. This can be caused by various health conditions, including vestibular disease, middle ear infections, and certain types of poisoning. If your dog is walking in circles and seems to be dizzy or unsteady, take her to the vet right away.

Finally, some dogs simply walk in circles because they enjoy it. If your dog seems to be walking in circles for no particular reason, it’s probably just a quirk of her personality.

What Do Dogs Do When They Know They’re Dying?

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die: The Sad Truth (2)No one knows for sure what goes on in a dog’s head when they know they’re dying, but there are some behaviors that suggest they understand what’s happening.

When a dog is dying, they will often display certain behaviors that are indicative of their impending death. Some of these behaviors include:

  1. Seeking out solitude: A dying dog will often seek out a quiet place to lie down, away from the hustle and bustle of the household.
  2. Decreased appetite: A dying dog may lose their appetite and stop eating altogether.
  3. Acting lethargic: A dog who is dying may be less active than usual and seem to have little energy.
  4. Panting: Dogs may pant excessively when they are dying, as their bodies are trying to regulate their temperature.
  5. Increased thirst: A dying dog may drink more water than usual, as their body is trying to hydrate itself.
  6. Vomiting: A dog may vomit as their body is shutting down.
  7. Diarrhea: Diarrhea may also occur as the body is shutting down.
  8. Confusion: A dog may appear confused or disoriented as they are nearing the end of their life.
  9. Crying or whimpering: A dog may cry or whimper as they are experiencing pain or discomfort.
  10. Trying to say goodbye: A dog may try to say goodbye to their owner by licking their face or pawing at them.

Of course, every dog is different, and they’ll all react differently to the knowledge that they’re dying. But the one constant is that they’ll want to be with their humans as much as possible.

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So if your dog is acting differently and you suspect they might be nearing the end of their life, spend as much time with them as you can. They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll be glad you did.

What to Do if Your Dog Is Walking in Circles

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die: The Sad Truth (3)If your dog is walking in circles, it’s important to figure out why they’re doing it. It could be a sign of a medical problem, and if so, you’ll need to take them to the vet.

It could also be a behavioral issue, in which case you’ll need to work on some training.

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There are a few things you can do to figure out why your dog is walking in circles.

  • First, observe when they’re doing it. Are they doing it when they’re excited, nervous, or in a specific location? This can help you narrow down the reason.
  • Next, check for any medical problems. If your dog is older, they may be suffering from dementia or another cognitive issue. If they’re younger, it could be a sign of something like an inner ear infection. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to take them to the vet to rule out any medical problems.
  • If there are no medical issues, then it’s likely a behavioral issue. One common reason dogs walk in circles is because they’re trying to get your attention. They may be bored, anxious, or just want some attention. If this is the case, you’ll need to work on training. You can try things like teaching them to sit or stay, or providing them with toys or puzzle feeders to keep them occupied.

Whatever the reason for your dog’s circling, it’s important to figure out what it is so you can address the problem. With a little patience and some training, you can help your dog stop walking in circles.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my senior dog walking in circles?

One possible reason why your senior dog is walking in circles could be because they are disoriented or confused. They may also be experiencing some pain or discomfort which is causing them to walk in circles. If your senior dog is suddenly walking in circles, it is important to take them to the vet to rule out any possible health problems.

What would cause my dog to walk in circles?

There are a few different things that could cause your dog to walk in circles. One possibility is that they are trying to relieve some sort of itch or irritation. Another possibility is that they are experiencing some sort of health issue, such as an ear infection. If your dog is walking in circles and you can’t figure out why it is best to take them to the vet to rule out any possible health problems.

How do I stop my dog from walking in circles?

If your dog is walking in circles due to an itch or irritation, you can try to stop them by giving them a bath or applying a topical cream. If your dog is walking in circles because of a health issue, you will need to take them to the vet for treatment.

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What are the signs of your dog dying?

There are a few different signs that your dog may be dying. They may stop eating or drinking, they may become very lethargic, and they may start walking in circles. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it is important to take them to the vet right away.

Why do dogs walk in circles before they sit?

One possible reason why dogs walk in circles before they sit is that they are trying to find the perfect spot. They may also be circling to create a nest of sorts before they settle down.

Why do dogs walk around in circles before they pee?

Dogs may walk around in circles before they pee in order to find the perfect spot. They may also be trying to mark their territory by walking in circles.

Why do dogs walk around in circles before they poop?

Dogs may walk around in circles before they poop for the same reasons as to why they walk around in circles before they pee. They may be trying to find the perfect spot or they may be trying to mark their territory.

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Is it true that dogs only walk in circles when they are about to die?

No, this is not necessarily true. Dogs may walk in circles for other reasons, such as if they are trying to orient themselves in a new environment or if they are disoriented and confused.

Why would a dog walk in circles if it has a neurological disorder?

One theory is that the dog is trying to compensate for the loss of coordination by walking in wider and wider circles.

What other signs should I look for if I think my dog is dying?

Some other signs that your dog may be dying include lethargy, loss of appetite, and difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take your dog to the vet right away.

What should I do if my dog starts walking in circles?

If your dog starts walking in circles, it is important to take him to the vet right away to rule out any possible medical causes.

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There are many theories as to why dogs walk in circles before they die, but the sad truth is that we may never know for sure.

What we do know is that it is a natural part of the dying process for dogs, and it is likely that they are trying to orient themselves in their final moments.

If your dog begins walking in circles, it is important to provide them with comfort and love and to let them know that they are not alone.


What does a dog do right before it dies? ›

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.

What does it mean when a dog starts walking 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 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.

Do dogs go crazy before they die? ›

Dogs can show a variety of behavioral changes when they are dying. The exact changes will vary from dog to dog, but the key is that they are changes. Some dogs will become restless, wandering the house and seeming unable to settle or get comfortable. Others will be abnormally still and may even be unresponsive.

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.

Do dogs know they are dying? ›

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.

What are the final stages of dementia in dogs? ›

Pacing, anxiousness, movement that doesn't seem purposeful, disorientation. Staring for long periods of time, getting lost in corners, standing on the wrong side of a door waiting for it to open, unable to figure out the next step, acting dazed, seeming to be lost in familiar places.

What does it mean when animals walk in a circle? ›

In the case of the animals exhibiting this circular behavior, it is possible that they are reacting to some kind of stressor in their environment. For example, horses may be reacting to changes in their surroundings, such as the presence of a predator or the introduction of a new group of animals.

Why do dogs go around in circles before they poop? ›

Dr. Bekoff says dogs may circle in attempts to get good footing or to be sure they can see who's around when they're in the act, which is a somewhat compromised position. Circling could also be linked to the dog's attempt to spread their scent, says Dr.

Does a dog cry when they die? ›

Do dogs cry before they die? Your dog may or may not cry before passing away, and it all depends on the circumstances surrounding their passing. For instance, if the cause of death is severe injuries or excruciating pain, your dog may cry out in agony before passing away.

How do you comfort a dying dog? ›

Surround her with her favorite things, like a warm blanket or special squeaky toy. Since pressure sores can develop in pets with limited mobility, it's also essential to provide a warm sleeping spot with plenty of cushioning.

Do dogs want to be near you when they are dying? ›

Dogs exhibit a number of common signs that signify the end is near, including things like lethargy, reduced appetite, and seeking more human comfort than usual. You'll want to be especially compassionate to your dog during this time, and work with your vet to ensure he remains comfortable as possible.

Does my dying dog know I love him? ›

"Yes, your dog knows how much you love him! Dogs and humans have a very special relationship, where dogs have actually hijacked the human oxytocin bonding pathway that is normally reserved for our babies.

What happens to a dog after it dies? ›

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.

Do dogs know we love them? ›

Yes, your dog knows how much you love him! Dogs and humans have a very special relationship, where dogs have hijacked the human oxytocin bonding pathway normally reserved for our babies. When you stare at your dog, both your oxytocin levels go up, the same as when you pet them and play with them.

How do you say goodbye to your dog? ›

Give them all the things they enjoy most – their favourite toys, their favourite food. You know what will make your pet feel most at ease in the time that remains. If you become tearful, ask a family member, friend or other trusted person to take care of your pet so you can leave the room and have a cry.

How long does a dog's brain stay active after death? ›

At the onset of clinical death, consciousness is lost within several seconds, and in dogs, measurable brain activity has been measured to stop within 20 to 40 seconds. Irregular gasping may occur during this early time period, and is sometimes mistaken by rescuers as a sign that CPR is not necessary.

Do dogs with dementia cry? ›

Vocalizations, including barking, whining, and crying for no apparent reason, are also common in dogs with senior dementia. This may be an indication of stress, fear, or anxiety due to confusion; they may also show aggression.

Are dogs scared when they have dementia? ›

They are scared and confused because they don't remember how to follow commands or they keep getting lost around the house. In addition to confusion-anxiety, some senior dogs with dementia may develop noise-based anxiety.

What does it mean when animals stare at you? ›

Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.

What is circling in animals? ›

Circling is a readily measurable behavior that is exhibited by many organisms and that may indicate that a lateral preference is present for carrying out other behavioral functions. In this respect, it is similar to handedness, the best known human index of lateral preference.

What is the circle of life animals? ›

The Circle of Life is an ideology based on the belief that every living thing exists as part of a delicate balance. It decrees that every animal ought to treat all others with respect and refrain from consuming more than their fair share, as every animal will eventually be consumed by an animal lesser than it.

Why do dogs go round and round before lying down? ›

Turning in circles before lying down is an act of self-preservation in that the dog may innately know that he needs to position himself in a certain way to ward off an attack in the wild.

Can dogs smell their owners from 11 miles away? ›

How far a dog smells depends on conditions such as wind and type of scent, but they have been reported to smell objects and people over 12 miles away. Dogs' olfactory systems work so well that they can be trained to pick up odors as little as a pictogram which is a trillionth of a gram.

Why do dogs watch you poop? ›

If your dog follows you into the bathroom, it's likely a result of their animal instinct and pack mentality. Canines who do this are referred to as “Velcro dogs,” due to their desire to be attached to your side. They may follow you around, even to the bathroom, to protect a part of their pack.

How painful is it when your dog dies? ›

In fact, sometimes that loss can feel as bad—or even worse—than the loss of a human friend or relative. That's not just anecdotal, either: Research has confirmed that for most people, the loss of a dog is comparable to the loss of a human loved one, in almost every way.

Can dogs feel after death? ›

Since they may not actually understand death as something permanent, sometimes a dog will wait patiently, believing that the deceased caregiver, will return. Still others believe that the dog may just be reacting to the grief exhibited by humans in the house as they deal with the death of a household member.

What to do if dog passes away at home? ›

If your pet dies at home, stay calm and follow the below do's and don'ts.
  1. DO make sure that the pet is deceased. Animals often sleep very still for long periods. ...
  2. DO contact your vet as soon as possible. ...
  3. DO place a towel under the tail and mouth of your pet. ...
  4. DO let other pets smell the deceased pet.

What happens when your dog dies at home? ›

The first person you should call is your vet. If they don't have the facilities to handle your dog's body as you wish they will be able to direct you to someone who does. If there is a Pet cemetery in your area, they are also usually able to make collections. At times you may have to transport the body yourself.

What happens when a dog dies naturally? ›

Their body will go completely limp. If still open, their eyes will have a blank stare. Their heart completely stops beating. As all tension leaves their muscles, they may release urine or defecate as the muscles that control these bodily functions completely relax.

How do you feel when a dog dies? ›

Feeling sad, shocked, or lonely is a normal reaction to the loss of a beloved pet. Exhibiting these feelings doesn't mean you are weak or your feelings are somehow misplaced. It just means that you're mourning the loss of an animal you loved, so you shouldn't feel ashamed.

What happens after a dog dies? ›

Once you're sure your dog has passed, the next step is to call your veterinarian's office. A vet's office will take your dog's body and either dispose of it for you or store it for you before you have a cremation or burial. They might also know of resources like a pet crematory or a mobile vet service.

Can dogs grieve themselves to death? ›

Veterinary medicine provides no proof that pets die of heart failure due to stress, but observations show that pets do go through behavioural changes and even death when they lose an owner or a companion, suggesting that perhaps there is something happening to them.

When should you put an old dog down? ›

Some common signs that it may be time to put your pup down include the inability or refusal to eat or drink, labored breathing, an inability to get up for potty times without help, urinary or fecal incontinence, and immobility. Essentially, this can come down to your dog's quality of life.

What to do if your dog dies in the middle of the night? ›

Contact Your Veterinarian

Alternatively, if it is during the middle of the night or a holiday, you can try to contact a 24 hour emergency office (if one exists nearby). They may also have a way of getting you in touch with someone who can pick up your pet's body (like a pet crematory or mobile vet service).

When a dog dies suddenly? ›

The top five causes of sudden unexpected death among 151 dogs were, in order, heart disease, toxicosis, gastrointestinal disease, trauma, and hemorrhage not associated with trauma.

Is dog death painful for dog? ›

Like a member of the family

It's no wonder dog owners miss them so much when they're gone. Psychologist Julie Axelrod has pointed out that the loss of a dog is so painful because owners aren't just losing the pet.

Will I cry when my dog dies? ›

Crying after the death of a pet is a normal and healthy way of grieving. When we experience the death of a pet, the impact is profound, and at times it can be overwhelming. Having to make decisions on behalf of our pet can leave us wondering if we have done the right thing.

What not to say when a pet dies? ›

Don't say: Your dog is in a better place. Don't feel bad. Be strong for the kids.

Will we see our pets in heaven? ›

The pets that we had to say goodbye to are alive in heaven right now in their spiritual bodies and we will see them again if we accept Jesus as our Savior. Your Pet Is Not Gone Forever.


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