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Dogs are undoubtedly the cutest creatures on earth. They look even cuter when they are stretched out like little babies.
Dog stretching and bowing are some of the most common behaviors, and until this starts happening more often, there’s nothing to be alarmed about.
While dogs typically stretch after a nap or when they want to go outside to relieve themselves, sometimes their stretching can mean something else.
As their pet parents, we should understand why they are overstretching or what they are willing to convey.
There are many reasons why dogs stretch and bend, including digestive problems, behavioral problems, muscle problems, and even joint pain.
This article will discuss what causes dogs to overreach and what it means when they bow too much.
Possible causes of stretching and bending in dogs
Dogs stretch and bow for different reasons, and this is completely normal. This is a way dogs communicate; when they bow to you, it may mean they are greeting you or want to go for a walk.
Dogs often stretch and bow when they wake up from sleep or have just been stationary for a long time, which can make their muscles stiff; stretching helps them relax.
Let’s look at some common causes of stretching and bending in dogs.
1. Exercise needs
One of the reasons dogs stretch or bow is when they need exercise or want to play.
If a dog with high energy or a need to move lacks exercise, they will begin to stretch more frequently. This condition is often seen in dogs such as huskies, who stretch their muscles to relieve pain caused by not engaging in physical activity.
Another type of stretch and bow is during play or exercise. This is also called a game bow. You’ve probably seen your dog lay with their butt up and face down on the ground; that’s a play bow.
This is very normal and you will also see this gesture when your dog is with other dogs, it is just a communication, let’s have fun.
3. Stomach problems
Dogs don’t behave differently until they have something to communicate, and when they stretch or bow frequently, they may indicate an upset stomach.
Bloating or stomach pain is one of the most common reasons for stretching in dogs, which allows them to relieve pressure on their stomachs. Bloating is a very life-threatening problem in dogs and should be treated as early as possible.
4. Stress and Anxiety
Dogs are very sensitive and often deal with stress and anxiety. If you notice your dog stretching too much, it may be because they are anxious or stressed.
They may feel stressed or anxious for a number of reasons: if they hear loud sounds, thunder, or fireworks, if you leave them alone, or if they enter a new environment or live around new people.
This type of stress and anxiety is often classified as a paradoxical stretch. When dogs do paradoxical stretches, they are trying to relieve stress and anxiety.
For example, if they feel stressed and anxious and don’t want to be touched by you but still pet them, they will do contradictory stretching exercises to release negative energy from their body.
5. Abdominal bloating
When dogs feel bloated, they will stretch and bow. Stretching can relieve pressure on their stomachs and make them feel a little more comfortable.
If you notice that your dog’s stomach is bulging or swollen and your dog is stretching a lot, these are not good signs and they may need to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Other signs of bloating are to watch your dog’s behavior, as they won’t let you touch their belly or even lean on their belly.
Another major reason dogs stretch and get into a bowed position is when they have pancreatitis. The symptoms of pancreatitis are very similar to bloating. In this case, though, you’ll see a lot of vomiting and refusal to eat.
They will stretch and get into a prayer position, which is often mistaken for a bow and arrow. If not treated early, pancreatitis can be fatal.
What should you do if your dog stretches too much?
It’s normal for dogs to stretch, but when your dog stretches a lot, it’s bound to sound the alarm. As a pet owner, you’ll want to do anything to make them feel better.
If you read the above reasons why your dog is stretching a lot, you may have found the solution.
If your dog needs more exercise, try giving them some training and activities to keep them engaged. This is just a simple play bow, don’t worry if your dog stretches while playing.
If you and your dog have moved to a new place, or your dog is near a place with too many new people or loud noises, your dog may stretch in response to anxiety and stress.
Try to calm them down by petting them and keeping them close. Offer them fresh water and talk to them to relax them and calm their anxiety.
If your dog refuses to eat and continues to stretch, they may be experiencing some underlying issue healthy situation.
This could be a simple digestive problems or a serious illness like bloating or pancreatitis, watching the symptoms is the only thing you can do. If at any time you are unsure, ask your veterinarian immediately.
When to Consult a Vet
When none of your help reduces the frequency with which your dog stretches and bends, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent any serious damage to your dog’s physical and mental health.
The veterinarian will certainly make a call to visit your dog, and at the time of the visit, tell the veterinarian about any history of illness your dog has had in the past or any related problems they may encounter in the near future.
This will help your veterinarian understand your dog’s issues and overall condition. Your veterinarian will then perform a physical exam to check for any areas of the body they believe are problematic, including any physical injuries or abnormalities that cause your dog to stretch.
If the physical exam doesn’t reveal anything wrong, then the dog may order some imaging tests or blood tests that will help them determine the cause and check if the dog has bloating or pancreatitis.
Depending on the cause, your veterinarian may recommend medication or changes in diet or home care, such as exercise and any other treatments they deem appropriate. If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health, please feel free to ask your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dogs are good at hiding pain from their owners. Some may stretch and some may be very stiff.
If they do stretches, it may relieve some of the stiffness and pain. If stretching is accompanied by vomiting or refusal to eat, the condition may be serious and medical assistance may be required.
Yes, there’s actually no harm in letting your dog stretch and bow. However, it shouldn’t be too much. They may stretch before or before bed, or even when they sit somewhere or haven’t moved for a long time.
If they are constantly stretching for no reason, then this may be a cause for concern.
Dogs will stretch and bow when you’re outside because they may want to go for a walk, poop, or just play with you. This is very normal for dogs and is often loved by many people.
If your dog stretches and bends a lot, they may be suffering from a medical condition such as bloating or pancreatitis, or they may even feel stressed and anxious at times, or they may want to do some exercise.
If you’re not sure why your dog is stretching so much, follow the tips discussed above to determine the cause and know when to consult your veterinarian.
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Dr. Lillian is a DVM with a passion for raising awareness about dogs. She shares her expertise through her blog at canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology and urgent care. Dr. Lillian is committed to animal welfare.