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What is Groaning?

Dogs of varying breeds are more vocal than others, such as the Basset Hound or other hound breed. For similar breeds, groaning is simply something the dog owner becomes accustomed to. There are dogs, however, which groan suddenly and consistently for no apparent reason to the owner. Groaning in dogs is typically a means of wanting attention, a sound of satisfaction from being petted or rubbed, or can be a sign of discomfort. The more dog owners know and are in tune with their dogs, the more likely they will be able to decipher the reason as to why the groaning is occurring. Factors to consider are if the dog is a puppy, a perfectly healthy dog in his middle years, or an aging dog; if he is groaning while sleeping, groaning when lying down, or making the sound when rising from a resting position. Aging dogs may groan if they are not feeling well or if they are very tired. Groaning is typically not a serious sign of any disease, but in some cases may represent a health issue. Groaning in dogs may be caused by the following:

  • Panosteitis
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Ascites
  • Illness or disease
  • A vocal breed
  • Wanting attention

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Why Groaning Occurs in Dogs


Panosteitis, is a condition of rapid bone growth. When puppies have bones that grow more quickly than they can keep up with, pain can occur. Eventually they do adjust, but the initial discomfort of “growing pains” can be hard to bear.


Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage thins out between the joints; it is a degenerative condition that, in time, can cause stiffness and pain in the joints. Osteoarthritis generally occurs in aging dogs.


When fluid builds up within the abdomen caused by a primary disease or illness, the dog’s abdomen can become distended. This condition, marked by swelling and pain, makes it very difficult to lie down.

Illness or Disease

Any number of illnesses or diseases can cause pain and suffering in dogs. Dogs that are suffering from an internal illness or disease can voice their pain by groaning when changing positions or when making specific movements. They may also groan for no apparent reason to the owner, but when they are really having pain.

A Vocal Breed

Many dog breeds are generally more vocal than others. Groaning, moaning, and other little noises often occur when they are satisfied, when they are lying down to rest, or when they are being petted and loved on.

Wanting Attention

When dogs want their owner’s attention, they tend to whine, bark, moan, and groan until they get the attention they want. Sometimes ignoring their requests causes those dogs which are more stubborn and strong-willed to make these noises continuously until they get the attention they want.

What to do if your Dog is Groaning

If you notice your dog is groaning, and he doesn’t normally groan, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to get to the bottom of their groaning sounds by asking you several different questions in order to get more information about his groaning habits.

In order to rule out any health concerns, your veterinarian may want to take a few laboratory tests to get a better picture of what could be causing your dog to groan. He will take into consideration is age and past health issues before conducting any tests. He may perform blood work, urinalysis, biochemistry profile to begin, and then do any imaging or CT scans he feels are necessary. If it is an older dog and he suspects he may be having joint pain, these will be effective in taking a closer look at his joints. He may also palpate the abdomen and take further tests of the abdominal area to check for any buildup of fluid that could be causing him some discomfort.

Prevention of Groaning

Preventing the groaning of your dog will depend on the health issue your dog is having. Once the health issue is diagnosed by your veterinarian, he will recommend treatment options to help your dog become well again. Once the treatment options are in place, and you are consistently giving him any medication that he needs at home, his symptoms may begin to go away. If he is recovering, he may moan and groan less as his pain is decreasing. 

If your dog is groaning due to a behavioral issue or because of his vocal breed-type, prevention may be quite tricky. As a dog owner, you may be simply relieved that your dog’s groaning is not due to a health concern and may be able to tolerate this sound. However, if the groaning is something you want to stop, you may do different things to help prevent it. Distracting your dog when he begins to groan may help, being sure he is always fed on a regular schedule, has a comfortable area to sleep, and gets plenty of attention from you may be ways to prevent this behavior. If your dog’s groaning is out of control and you are out of options, you may contact a behavioral therapist or a trainer to help you reduce your dog’s groaning to a minimum.

Cost of Groaning

The cost of treatment for groaning in dogs depends on the health condition. Costs can range from $300 for the treatment of arthritis, $500 for a behavioral therapist, and up to $1800 to treat ascites. Typically, panosteitis can cost up to $800 for treatment.

Groaning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

I have an 11 year old labradoodle that recently starting groaning/sighing when laying down. He tends to make periodic groaning noises during the day when laying around and sometimes louder ones at night. He recently went in for a check up and was blood tested and everything seemed fine (it wasn't specific to the groaning though). I suspect he may have slight joint discomfort but he is very stoic and never shows it. Any other thoughts as to what may be causing this?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
Dogs are generally stoic so it is hard to judge whether they are in pain or not, but the goaning may be in relation to joint pain given Winston’s age and you may consider trying him on some joint supplements to see if there is any improvement before moving on to anything else. But you should have your Veterinarian examine Winston again and he may require an x-ray or two to rule out certain conditions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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toy poodle
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My toy poodle has started groaning recently and he never used to do it before. He does it when he wants attention, when he's getting bath, when he's laying down and sleeping. We don't know if something is hurting him or if it's just a habit he picked up. Recently we took him to an emergency vet because he was puking nonstop for hours, and he was given medication and was better within two days. Is this something we should be worried about?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
My dog groans for attention, especially when he is at the front door wanting a walk. It may be just a habit he has or it may be an indicator of pain; without examining Lou, I cannot say if this is behavioural or not. If Lou is otherwise alright (eating, drinking, defecating and urinating), I would keep a close eye on him looking for any other symptoms; if you don’t notice any just bring it up with your Veterinarian at your next check up. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Labrador Retriever / Smooth Collie
6 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


Our puppy has been showing a number of odd symptoms for about a week now. He passes gas several times a day, frequently lets out a guttural grunting noise, and moans when lying down. He seems like he can’t get comfortable and is always rolling around while resting. His energy level is good, and he has not had any changes with his poop. I wondered if it was an adverse reaction to Greenies treats, that we started giving him about a week ago. We stopped giving him those on Thursday, and he seemed to be sleeping better and morning less. Three days later, he has started moaning considerably again while lying down. Is this cause for concern, or could it just be growing pains? He does eat and drink quickly, so it could also be that, but that would not explain why he has done so recently.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
If Santi eats and drinks quickly he may be gulping air which can cause bloating of the stomach and abdominal distension, there are special bowls which you can buy which can slow down eating. If the cause is due to the treats, it may take a week or so to see improvement in symptoms; other causes (apart from the gas) may be due to panosteitis which causes inflammation of the long bones which varies in severity, keep an eye on Santi and visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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