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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

Why Groaning Occurs in Dogs

Panosteitis

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 

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.

Ascites

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Groaning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Teddy bear

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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Groaning While Laying Down

My teddy bear makes sounds between a groan and whine as he's going to sleep. He is slowing down considerably and eating very few things. How do I know if it's a breathing issue or a pain issue?

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, and I'm sorry that your pet is not doing well. Different things can happen as animals age, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between a breathing problem and groaning due to pain. That would be something that a veterinarian would be able to tell you after they are able to examine your pet, see what might be going on, and let you know more What treatments might be available, whether there is a problem or not, or if you need to be worried. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Nyssa

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Chihuahua

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Whining
Obsessive Behavior

My 3 year old chihuahua seemed just fine till about 3 days ago. She now whines when inside almost constantly, and has become obsessive about 2 squeaky toys. I thought maybe there was an odor on the toys so I washed them both, but she is still obsessive. She licks them a lot, has to have them near her all the time and whines almost constantly. Her last heat was about 3 or 4 months ago. When she goes outside she's fine. She plays, digs, runs around. No whining. She seems to be eating and drinking water just fine and pooping ok. But the obsessiveness over the 2 toys and near constant whining indoors isn't her usual behavior. Nothing happened to stress her out, so I'm worried and confused

May 19, 2018

Nyssa's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It sounds like Nyssa is exhibiting maternal behaviour towards those two toys which is normally an indicator of a hormonal imbalance which may occur in intact females; normally spaying is a good course of action if you’re not planning on breeding her, but you should consult your Veterinarian for an examination to ensure it isn’t anything more serious. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/condition/maternal-behavior-problems

May 20, 2018

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Harley

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cattle dog mix

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Heavy Breathing

Hi, I was wondering why my dog breathes heavily when she is sleeping and sounds like normal breathing but a lot heavier.She doesn't seem to have any problems breathing when she is awake. is this normal? if not what can I do?

March 26, 2018

Harley's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are various causes for heavier breathing whilst sleeping which may include sleeping position (like people snoring on their back), elongated soft palate, laryngeal disorders among other causes. If Harley is normal whilst awake I would just keep an eye on it and bring it up with your Veterinarian at Harley’s next check up. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 26, 2018

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Sweetie

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Shepherd

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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our shepard/ Siberian husky groans more lately , especially when snuggling with her at night , its intermitent groaning , shes maybe 7 or 8 we rescued her and don't know much about her except shes very sweet ,have had her 4 years , she weighs 85 lbs and seems healthy , plays with her other dog friends and loves cold weather outdoors activities. HELP?

Feb. 1, 2018

Sweetie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Groaning may be an indicator of pain, looking for more attention, internal disorders among other causes; without examining Sweetie I cannot say what the specific cause of the groaning is. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine a cause and to treat or manage as required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 1, 2018

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Henry

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German Shepherd

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Vomiting
Bad Breath

My dog (1.5 year German Shepherd, Collie mix) has not been able to keep food down for the past couple of days. He throws up his food between 1-6 hours after eating - sometimes it looks digested, liquid and yellow in color, and sometimes it looks like it just came out of the bowl. He is still wagging his tail, interacting with me, and hungry for food. I took him to the vet and they gave him an anti nausea shot and fluids and put him on a chicken and rice bland diet. He kept food down for 48 hours and then vomited again. He is still pooping - very small poop once per day. I don't believe he ate anything he shouldn't have, especially since he is acting pretty normal. He doesn't whine when I push on his stomach. His breath smells very foul and sour, but he still has his appetite. Since I got him two months ago, he has groaned often when lying down and always wants his belly rubbed. He had worms when I got him and didn't have much of an appetite, but I treated him with dewormer medication and his appetite increased.

Jan. 22, 2018

Henry's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining Henry, I am not sure what might be going on with him, but it might be a good idea to have some x-rays taken if they haven't been already. He may just need more supportive care by your veterinarian, but he may have an underlying problem that needs to be resolved. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian and let them know that he is still vomiting so that they can recommend any further testing or treatments. I hope that he does well.

Jan. 23, 2018

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Vader

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Lab mix

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7 Years

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Allergies
Groaning

For the past few days, Vader has been groaning whenever he lays down, shifts while laying down, or sometimes when he wants my attention. He’s very smart and always finds ways to speak to me, usually through little barks/yelps, scratches on surfaces, excited movement toward whatever he wants, etc. But since he’s been taking his allergy meds (‘oral therapy’ that consists of me spraying 3 pumps of medicine from a tiny, refrigerated bottle between his gums and cheek), he’s been kinda antsy like he usually is: biting to the point of bleeding, scratching, sudden/nervous movement from wherever he is over and over (like quickly laying down for a few seconds, then getting up and moving on a repeated cycle that lasts a few minutes), etc. But groaning has never been a thing with him like these other symptoms always have been. My family thinks its cute, but I really cannot tell if its a serious issue or my own paranoia, considering he’s entering his senior years, he’s taking new medicine for allergies that purposefully trigger his allergies (and another note: he’s eating new food from a new brand with ingredients he’s not allergic to), and we have only hardwood floor in my home (backyard is all wood-chip and a concrete drive in, which he’s never minded but I have no idea what kind of effect it has on his bones) that I have heard is NOT the best for older dogs or dogs’ bones in general. Sorry this is a handful of info but if an expert replies I’ll feel much better... Hopefully it isn’t serious though, as my family is more poor and again, I’m as paranoid and jittery as my baby boy is!

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Zeke

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Jack Russell Terrier

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Groaning Sighing Lethargic

My dog Zeke is a Jack Russel Chihuahua mix, 7 years old.. and recently his groaning has gotten a lil worse.. he doesn't appear to be in any sort of pain however when i scratch his belly or his ribs the groaning intensifies alot. Typically i would just write this off as him wanting attention but the past 2 days he hasnt bee himself, doesnt want to go outside, his energy level seems very low, he eats and drinks but it seems minimal. We introduced some new treats into his diet recently and i've been just writing it off as an upset belly, but today things seem to have taken a turn. When i pick him up the groaning is intense and if i hold him to me thats all i can hear. he has had no medical conditions that i know of.

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Greta

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German Shepherd

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Groaning
Groaning, Vomiting, Won'T Drink/Eat
Groaning, Vomiting, Won'T Eat/Drink

She won't eat food or drink water. She groans when moving or laying down, she doesn't play with her toys anymore, she doesn't get excited when she hears the other dogs outside.

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Molly

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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12 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Groaning

Molly is an 11 almost 12 year old staffy, she had recently had a hysterectomy, never had puppies.. But lately she has started groaning and moaning.. She's a little slow atm but also alittle chubby although we exercise her regular.. But the sighing and moaning is recently new.

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Zeus

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Saint Bernard

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Groaning

Zeus suddenly started groaning very loudly 2 days ago. This only happens when he lays down. We immediately decided to take him to the vet as this is not normal behaviour for him. The vet performed x-rays and couldn't find anything wrong but noticed his heartbeat was very rapid (150 beats per minute) and suggested we take him for a emergency heart sonar - everything came back normal. The vet is now only available next week yet we still don't know what is causing the discomfort associated with the worsening groaning... Obviously something is wrong but we have no definitive answer.