My Dog is Acting Strange?

Dogs are man’s best friend so it is important to know the reasons why your dog is acting strange and how to deal with it. There are a number of different reasons that may be at play.

My dog is acting strange

Why is my dog suddenly acting weird?

The sudden onset of strange behavior in your dog can be alarming, but sometimes the explanation is simple. Some behavioral changes, however, may indicate a deeper problem that requires veterinary attention.

It is important to determine the cause of your dog’s strange behavior before making any changes to how you interact with him. If the behavior is due to an underlying medical condition, improper training could make matters worse, potentially exacerbating other symptoms.

If your vet rules out any illness or injury, then it’s time to look at the situation from your dog’s point of view and see if you can figure out what’s causing him to behave that way.

The following is a list of possible reasons why your dog may be behaving strangely.

Pain

Dogs often hide their pain so it is difficult to know when they are experiencing discomfort. Pain can make dogs irritable and easily startled. They may seek out more quiet areas and become withdrawn or spend more time sleeping than usual. Dogs with pain may also become aggressive toward people or other pets if they are touched or approached in a way that increases their discomfort.

Fear

Fear can manifest in many different ways. Your dog may appear fearful when he hides under a bed, crouches down as if trying to make himself as small as possible, runs away, puts his tail between his legs, and avoids eye contact with people.

Boredom

There are many ways to tell if your dog is bored. He may chew on things he shouldn’t, dig holes in the yard, bark excessively or even try to escape from the house or yard.

Anxiety or Depression

Dogs who are anxious may pace back and forth or run around aimlessly. He might pant excessively, even when it isn’t hot outside, hide under the bed.

Dogs can become depressed for many reasons, including the loss of a family member or another pet, or separation from their owner.

When dogs become anxious or stressed, they will show a number of symptoms. The most common are:

  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Hiding in small spaces
  • Excessive licking of surfaces
  • Being clingy and wanting to be held constantly
  • Shedding more than usual

Illnesses

Sometimes dogs are acting strange because of a physical problem like chronic pain or infections such as parvovirus that can cause vomiting and diarrhea for days or weeks at a time. Usually, when these problems are treated with medications, your pet will start eating again within 24 hours and regain his happy personality!

New environment

Sometimes it’s just because they are aware of something new in their environment that they haven’t seen before. However, if they are acting strange around other dogs or people, then it may be something more serious.

How do you know if your dog is not feeling well?

It’s easy to tell when your dog is feeling playful or excited. But how do you know if your dog is not feeling well? Some signs are subtle, but others are unmistakable.

In the early stages of illness or injury, dogs often try to hide their discomfort. As a result, signs of illness in dogs may be very subtle at first. Here are some common signs:

  • Signs of pain
  • Crying or whining
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Withdrawal from interaction with people and/or other pets
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Loss of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
  • Licking a body part that hurts, such as a sore paw or joint
  • Difficulty sleeping, anxiousness, pacing, and circling
  • Reluctance to play, jump up, climb stairs, or take walks
  • Reluctance to move at all, including getting up from a resting position.

Changes in behavior

A sick dog may act differently than usual — more or less energetic, for example, than normal. The frequency of urination and defecation may also change.

Changes in eating habits

Many dogs get finicky about food when they are sick, but some do the opposite and eat voraciously. A decrease or increase in appetite could signal a health problem. You should also monitor what and how much your dog eats and drinks. Excessive drinking (polydipsia), excessive urination (polyuria), and excessive panting can be symptoms of various health problems in dogs.

Weight changes

A healthy dog’s weight should stay fairly consistent from week to week as long as he gets the same amount of food and exercise every day. An unexplained weight loss might mean your dog has worms or another health problem that should be checked out by a veterinarian.

Changes in activities

If your normally active dog suddenly becomes lethargic and lazy, it could be a sign of illness. Likewise, if your typically calm pup has become hyperactive and will not stop barking, it could also be a sign that he is unwell. Keep in mind that these changes in activity may also indicate injuries, so if you notice sudden changes in behavior along with any other symptoms on this list you should take your dog to the vet just to be sure.

Vomiting

Vomiting can indicate anything from an upset stomach to a serious illness such as kidney disease or diabetes. If it goes on for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by diarrhea or blood in the vomit, see your vet immediately.

Diarrhea

Like vomiting, diarrhea can be caused by anything from a change in diet to parasites or infections. It can also cause dehydration, so make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available at all times and call the vet if it lasts more than a day or two.

How do dogs act when they’re dying?

There are some things that are almost universally true about dogs. They love us unconditionally, they show us joy and sadness, and they learn to communicate with us. But they also do things that baffle and confound us, especially when it comes to what they do when they’re dying.

Dogs can’t tell us how much pain they’re in or where it hurts, so we have to rely on their behavior to tell us what’s wrong. When a dog is dying, there are physical and emotional signs that indicate he’s close to death.

Most dogs experience a loss of appetite as their final days approach. This is usually followed by lethargy and weakness, which can make it difficult for them to get up or move around comfortably.

As the disease progresses, their respiratory system becomes weaker, which may make breathing labored or noisy. Their sleep patterns may change as well; many dogs will sleep more during the day and less at night as their end draws near. Your veterinarian can prescribe pain medication if your dog appears uncomfortable.

If your pet has stopped eating or drinking, talk to your veterinarian about ways to keep them comfortable. In some cases, you may need to provide small meals through a feeding tube or syringe until they’ve passed away.

Dogs will also try to find a secluded spot in which to pass away and may suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. Some dogs will still respond to touch or sound, and may still eat, drink, or go to the bathroom.

If your dog’s dying process is being prolonged by medical intervention or your dog is in any discomfort, you should consider euthanasia.

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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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