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My Dog Is Stretching a Lot – What Does It Mean?

Like humans, dogs stretch when they wake up in the morning, after a nap, and when they want to play. But while you may think it is cute when your dog stretches, it isn’t always good news if they stretch a lot.    

If your dog stretches a lot, it may be serious, but it may also not be. Your dog may simply like to stretch a lot. Or they want to play or exercise. On a more serious note, it could be a sign of an upset stomach, abdominal pain, pancreatitis, severe pneumonia, or congestive heart failure.   

Let’s see if you need to be concerned when you notice your dog stretching a lot.  

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Is Stretching a Lot

There are a variety of reasons why your dog stretches a lot; they include: 

They Like It 

Your pooch may just simply like the feeling of stretching out their body, and because of this, do it more often. 

They Need Exercise

If your dog doesn’t get enough physical stimulation, it might start stretching more. High-energy dogs like huskies and border collies may start stretching excessively to alleviate muscle pain when they don’t get enough exercise.  

They Want to Play

Your dog stretches when they want to play and it looks like a bow. Or even like the downward dog pose in yoga. 

You’ll find your pooch also wagging their tail and they’ll have a happy expression on their face. This indicates to other dogs that they don’t want to engage in behavior that’s aggressive. 

They Have an Upset Stomach or Suffer From Bloating

If your pooch is suffering from an upset stomach, they may stretch more to help relieve the build-up of gas and pressure that comes with being bloated.  

They Want to Cool Down 

When your doggo lies flat and stretches their tummy on the ground, it is called splooting. Long-legged breeds like Labs and greyhounds generally like to sploot. 

Dogs sploot when it is hot; they try to make the most of a cool spot on the ground or floor when they lie flat and stretch out on their stomach. 

They Are Tired 

It’s pretty normal if your active dog stretches after a long day because it is tired. Your pooch may stretch at night just before its bedtime. 

They Have Pancreatitis and Other Health Issues 

There are a few instances when stretching is a cause for concern. Worry when stretching is accompanied by other symptoms, like diarrhea, pain, bleeding, or vomiting. 

If your dog stretches a lot and vomits, it may be: 

  • Acute abdominal pain, which is life-threatening. Your dog may also moan a lot, be nauseous, and exhibit respiratory problems.
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease where your dog also has diarrhea, is in chronic pain, and lost weight. 
  • Gastroduodenal ulcers, and your doggo may have blood in their stool. 
  • Gastric torsion (or bloat) where your pooch drools a lot and has a distended abdomen. 
  • Pancreatitis in which your dog suffers from severe tummy pain and has other symptoms too. 

Should the stretching be accompanied by labored breathing, then your dog is trying to get more oxygen. These conditions may be at fault: 

  • Pleural effusion – an accumulation of fluid in the chest 
  • Severe pneumonia – common in dogs with a compromised immune system, puppies, and elderly dogs 
  • Congestive heart failure – the heart doesn’t send enough oxygen to the body 

Should You Be Alarmed?

If your dog stretches a lot, you should only be concerned if the stretching comes with other symptoms, like: 

  • A swollen tummy 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Labored breathing 
  • Change in appetite 
  • Blood in stool 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Cough 
  • Fever 
  • Depression 
  • Runny nose with green mucus 
  • Lethargy 

When to Start Worrying About Your Dog’s Stretching Habits

When to Start Worrying About Your Dog’s Stretching Habits

Even if you don’t see the symptoms mentioned above just yet, you should worry about your dog’s stretching habits when: 

They Do It More Than Usual

Your dog may start stretching more than usual as they get older. This could simply be to relieve some joint aches and pain. Or your high-energy dog may also start stretching more if they don’t get enough exercise. 

In this case, the best you can do is to keep watch over your pooch, and if you are concerned, take your dog for a check-up at the vet.  

If They Are in Pain

If your dog stretches a lot and seems to be in pain, then you should be concerned. A trip to the vet is in order so more serious health concerns can be ruled out or prevented with treatment. 

If There Are Visible Injuries

Take your dog to the vet if they have visible injuries and start stretching a lot. This may be accompanied by pain. 

What to Do When Your Dog Is Stretching a Lot

Here are a few tips to follow when your dog stretches a lot: 

Tip 1

Do nothing if the stretching stems from normal behavior. This could include being active, having a long day, in the morning, or after naps. 

Tip 2

If your pooch is overweight and not getting enough exercise, you should start playing games and taking them for daily walks. Give your dog a workout if it is a high-energy dog and needs to exercise more. 

Tip 3 

Lastly, if you are unsure or your dog is acting strangely or exhibiting other symptoms, like a fever, bloating, or lethargy, call your vet and schedule an appointment.  


Dog owners want the best care for their dogs, and this includes noticing abnormal behavior. 

If your dog stretches in the morning, because it wants to play, or after naps, then you don’t need to worry. Just like you sometimes stretch to feel better and relieve sore muscles, your dog does the same. 

However, there is cause for worry if your dog is acting strangely or shows other signs like a runny tummy, fever, nausea, and more. In this case, it is better to be safe than sorry. So call your vet and have your pooch checked out. 

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