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What is Moaning?

Dogs may not talk to us but they do communicate with us.  Their body language and sounds can let us know how they are feeling whether it be aggressive, happy, scared or not feeling well. You just have to take the time to learn to read your dog’s behavior and communication mannerisms. Some dogs are definitely more vocals than others; these breeds include the Husky, Beagle, Bloodhound, Malamute and Pomeranian.

 If you hear your dog moaning it may be as a result of:

  • Content puppies
  • Growing pains
  • Joint pain from arthritis
  • Pain from hip dysplasia
  • Discomfort from ascites

If your dog is moaning it can be an indication of a content puppy or it can be a symptom of a serious condition which is causing him pain.  When you hear him moan, try to see if you notice any other symptoms.  Does the moaning happen more often when the dog is trying to get up?  Has there been any difference in behavior such as lethargy, depression or lack of appetite?

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Why Moaning Occurs in Dogs

Content Puppies 

Content puppies will make low pitched moans when they are content and are close to their siblings or their humans.  The moans may come after a meal and before naptime. So the little grunts and moans you are hearing in your puppy mean you have a very happy little fur baby.

Puppy Growing Pains 

Puppy growing pains are also referred to as panosteitis or pano in dogs.  It happens more often to medium, large or giant breeds. Growing pains can cause stiffness, temporary shifting limpness, pain on touch, and whimpering or groaning when rising or moving. These pains are temporary and will stop as he enters maturity.


Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints.  Larger dogs are more susceptible to arthritis. It is a painful condition that may cause a dog to groan or moan when he is trying to rise from a sitting position or when climbing stairs. 


Ascites in dogs is the accumulation of fluid within the abdominal cavity. Ascites is a secondary condition which causes stomach distension. Ascites may occur because of heart failure, parasites, liver disease, or cancer.

What to do if your Dog is Moaning

If your dog is moaning, is showing any other symptoms, or has had a change of behavior he should be seen by a veterinarian.  The veterinarian will want to discuss your dog’s medical history and vaccination records.  He will then perform a thorough physical examination.  The veterinarian may suggest a complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, x-rays, electrocardiogram, urinalysis, and a fecal exam.

The treatment will depend on the diagnosis.  Healthy puppies may be brought up to date on their vaccinations. Puppies going through growing pains may be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain. The puppy’s activity level may be limited for a short amount of time. 

Dog’s diagnosed with arthritis and who are overweight may need to lose some weight.  Less weight will be easier on the joints.  The veterinary caregiver may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication.  Many dogs with arthritis benefit from massage, acupuncture and/or hydrotherapy.  Using a portable ramp may make it easier for your pet to get on and off the bed. Elevated dog bowls may make it easier for him to eat. 

Dogs with ascites may be placed on a restricted low sodium diet and on diuretic medications. The veterinarian may perform an abdominocentesis to draw out the fluids in the abdomen using a needle. The dog may be placed under general anesthesia for the procedure. The veterinarian will discuss what further treatment plan will be necessary depending on the underlying cause of ascites.

Prevention of Moaning

Large breed puppies may benefit from joint supporting dietary supplements such as dasuquin and cosequin.  Supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine can help slow down the effects of arthritis. Good nutrition and daily exercise are beneficial to maintain a healthy weight.  It is important to not let dogs get over weight. Excess weight on their body will cause more pressure on their joints.  

Yearly wellness checks are very important to ensure your dog stays healthy. Dental exams are usually recommended every 6 months. Many conditions and diseases cannot be prevented but they can be diagnosed and treated in the early stages.  The early detection of a medical condition usually means a good recovery prognosis.

Cost of Moaning

The price for treatment will depend on what the diagnosis is for your dog’s moaning. The cost may range from the expense of an office visit at $55, to the expene for care of hip dysplasia which may average in cost at $2500.

Moaning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Rat Terrier
14 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

shaking, non-responsive

Twice now, our rat terrier has woken us up in the middle of the night with low, moaning and keening sounds. It almost sounds like a low strung out howl. It sounds like he is in terrible pain. When we check on him, he is laying flat and non-responsive.
After a bit, he comes out of it, but he's disoriented and looks straight through us. He also starts shaking.

Any idea on what could be causing this?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Pepper's problem could be neurologic, or toxic, or a systemic disease. It sounds like he might be having a seizure but it is difficult to say without seeing him. What would be a good idea would be to video the episodes when they are happening and have your veterinarian examine Pepper and watch the videos, so they can determine what might be happening and how to treat him.

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3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Walking slow

Medication Used


My dog was under the bed and when I called for her to come to me she cried put came and laid down. She doesn't respond to her commands and eats a few chews and stops. The children say when they got home she was walking slow with her back high andback legs close together. No limps. She won't jump or run and won't come for a treat but if I give it to her she will eat it.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
With the position of the spine it may be that Haven has either a spinal issue or has abdominal pain and the back is arching to try to relieve pressure. Without examining her I cannot determine what the cause is, you should keep her rested and restrict movement; however I think you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side to have a thorough examination to determine the specific cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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