Restless in Dogs

Why is my dog restless?

Most common conditions

Cushings Disease / Separation Anxiety / Poisoning

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Rated as mild conditon

10 Veterinary Answers

Most common conditions

Cushings Disease / Separation Anxiety / Poisoning

Why is my dog restless?

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What are Restless?

Sometimes, your dog will pace or seem restless to get your attention.  Excitement usually accompanies this type of restless.  As a pet owner, you know what your dog’s normal behavior is like so you can spot his out of character restlessness when it occurs.  Restlessness in your dog may include pacing or circling, repeatedly adjusting his position and changes in sleep patterns.  You will want to know the cause of your dog unsettled behavior.  There are several potential reasons for restless from behavioral to medical conditions.  Some of the more common reasons include:

  • Separation anxiety (behavioral)
  • Phobias (behavioral)
  • Fleas and ticks
  • Tapeworms
  • Poisoning
  • Cushing’s Disease

While some restlessness is behavioral, it is important to rule out any medical reasons for your dog’s unsettled behavior.

Why Restless Occurs in Dogs

Out of the ordinary, restless behavior in your dog may indicate some levels of pain, health issues, or anxiety.  Most people can determine if the nature of the problem is behavioral or medical.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs sometimes develop overly attached bonds to their people, and when you leave your dog, he may become restless.  Separation anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors, over vocalization, or house soiling and typically manifest with the first 15 to 30 minutes after leaving your dog.    

Phobias and Fears

Phobias and fears as the cause of restless behavior are easier to spot because something usually triggers your dog’s restlessness.  Phobias are an exaggerated fear, and your dog may tuck his tail under, pant excessively, pace, or cry when his phobia is triggered.  Loud noises, such as thunder, fireworks, or gunshots usually trigger phobias.  

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are small parasites that bite and feed on your dog’s blood and can be very uncomfortable for your dog.  If your dog has a flea infestation, he will intensely scratch and lick his skin to help relieve the itching.  Ticks, on the other hand, use their mouths to attach themselves to your dog and draw blood from him.  Ticks may carry infectious disease and further harm your dog beyond the irritation that leads to restless behaviors.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are intestinal parasitic worms with flat heads and are common in dogs of all ages. Tapeworms are not a serious threat to your dog but may lead to intestinal blockages.  Puppies are more susceptible to the harmful effects a tapeworm as it can result in slow growth and anemia in your puppy.  The most common tapeworm in dogs is a flea tapeworm and may develop after your dog ingests fleas.  

Toxin and Poison Ingestion

There are potential toxins and poisons your dog may have an opportunity to ingest throughout his day, and some may not seem likely. A common poison for dogs that we often forget is chocolate. Consuming chocolate can lead to restless behavior, excessive panting, and agitation in your dog.  The clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can occur within the first few hours of ingestion and can last for days.  You will usually know if your dog has eaten chocolate because he leaves the evidence behind, such as candy wrappers and boxes.    

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease occurs when the endocrine glands can no longer produce the correct levels of cortisol in your dog.  Cortisol production occurs to help suppress inflammation and can trigger during moments of stress in your dog’s life.  Cushing’s is an overproduction of cortisol and can be triggered by pituitary gland (grown gland) damage, adrenal tumors, or over treating with anti-inflammatory corticosteroids.

What to do if your Dog is Restless

If your dog’s restlessness is abnormal, you must determine if the response is behavioral or medical and you should seek a veterinarian’s advice.  You can lessen anxiety and fear over time with reinforcement-based training and should ask for help from a trainer or your vet for the best course of action.  Sedative and anti-anxiety medications can also be administered to help an adjusting pet but will not solve your dog’s behavior-related restlessness.    

If your dog is in pain or his restlessness is due to a medical condition, your veterinarian will be able to determine the cause.  If fleas or ticks are the cause of your dog’s unease, you much follow your vet’s instructions with care to get rid of the parasites.  Tapeworm treatments are very effective if your dog is diagnosed with a worm parasite and your veterinarian will prescribe a dewormer medication.  

The treatment for ingesting a toxin or poison, such as chocolate, will depend on how quickly you catch the ingestion and get your dog to the veterinarian.  At the vet, your dog may be induced to vomit to remove the chocolate from his stomach.  Absorbents, such as charcoal, may also be used to help absorb the toxins.  Many times other treatments are given to support the removal of toxins, such as interventions fluid therapy and beta-blockers to help reduce the heart rate.  

For more severe conditions, such as Cushing’s, your dog may have to undergo surgery or radiation therapy as well as use medication to help control the adrenal glands.

Prevention of Restless

Training and positive reinforcement can go a long way in preventing anxiety and fear from developing in your dog.  A loving and comfortable home is always the best environment for your dog to grow and be happy.  You can prevent medical-related restlessness caused by fleas and ticks by proper grooming techniques and learning how to spot and remove ticks.  Avoiding tall grassy areas will also prevent ticks from coming into contact with your dog.

Several common household products and plants may affect your dog’s health and make him restless. Knowing what is unsafe for you dog and keeping it away from him will help prevent potential poisoning.

As your dog ages, he may develop diseases that lead to restless behavior; however, you can prevent chemically induced physiological responses by limiting unnecessary medications.  Overuse of anti-inflammatory medications are one such drug that may lead to Cushing’s disease; therefore, you should always consult with your veterinarian before administering any medication.

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Cost of Restless

Treatment cost for restless behavior will depend on the underlying cause.  For example, treatment for fleas can cost $300 whereas treatment for Cushing’s may cost $2,000.

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Restless Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Brendie

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Mix

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Restless Not Eating

I have a female dog Brendie and she has recently stopped eating anything but treats, also she is restless and lays in one place and can not get comfortable and constantly moves. going to the bathroom is normal but she has thrown up 2 times that we know of in a week of this happening with no blood just yellow. Any help would be appreciated.

Sept. 23, 2018

Brendie's Owner

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Bandit

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Chihuahua

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Restless

My dog is acting strange, standing in the hallway staring at me, lays down and then gets up. He usually is settled but tonight he has been restless for the past few hours. About 10 hours ago he managed to snatch the last few sips of my instant coffee when I wasn't looking, about 10mls? But has also started on new food in the past 24 hours. Could it be either of these things? Is there anything I can do to make him settle?

May 23, 2018

Bandit's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Bandit is restless and not settling, it may be due to the coffee that he ate. If he does not settle down in the next few hours, it would be best to have him examined, but if he had a few sips of coffee, I can see that being a reason for him being restless.

May 23, 2018

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Bubbles

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Maltese

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hi ive got a small maltese that is beeing walking around my lounge up and down from yesturday "sunday" afternoon with her nose up in the air if she can smell something and her tail is down and keeping looking at the lounge seilling if something is fritening her , on saturday i gave my green pepper seedlings some sour milk and water mix on my lounge windowsill can it be that what she is smelling or is there something in the house whats making her scared, im worried about her she acts normal outside like she is always doing but when she comes back in the lounge she is scared. What can it be dr.

May 21, 2018

Bubbles' Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Dogs do have a very sensitive sense of smell, and Bubbles may be smelling the sour milk on the windowsill. If the behavior continues after you move the pepper seedlings to another place, there may be more going on with her, but if she acts very normal outside, I suspect that is what she is doing.

May 21, 2018

Thanks alot Dr. Michele King ive moved the pepper seedlings to another room in the house and closed the room door where they are in and bubbles started to act normal again , thanks alot Dr. U where very helpful.

May 21, 2018

Bubbles's Owner

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Molly

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Cross breed

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Restlessness, Stiffness

Hello. I got a rescue dog (three years old) and she seems, at times, to like she has stiffness in her legs after she gets up - this lessens after we have walked a little way. After a good walk today she become restless and not be able to settle (not sure if she had pain in her legs). Also just now I beckoned her on to the couch and she was reluctant to jump up - like she did't want to put pressure on either the front or back legs. Can you advise what might be wrong please.

April 13, 2018

Molly's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Restlessness may be an indicator for pain, however this pain may be from joints or abdominal pain; without examining Molly I cannot narrow in on a specific area nevermind a diagnosis. You should try and keep Molly calm and run your hands over her back, neck and legs to see if she is showing any sensitivity at all. If there is no improvement, you should visit your Veterinarian for a thorough examination to determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 14, 2018

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Flash

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pacing

My dog Flash is very restless lately. He will be turning 8 August 13. He's a Staffordshire mix and he is up to date on shots. Since seeing his vet back in September or October he was fine. He just recently started acting like he can't sit at night. He's always walking and he'll sit for a moment and then get right back up. I know he's super jealous of our Boxer and wants to do everything she does, so I give him extra treatment sometimes, but he's still acting weird with this pacing thing. All I hear at night is him walking back and forth. If I don't want to be bothered, my boxer will just lay down she knows to go to her spot but he's still wanting attention so I'm wondering if it's an attention seeking thing. He's also always licking my husband and I. He licks Phoebe a lot too but she'll walk away if she doesn't want to be bother by him. She does like his ears sometimes and he likes that but it's like he always wants more. What do you think? Just a note, he's eating fine, bathroom fine, playful, and gets plenty of water as well.

April 10, 2018

Flash's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what the specific cause is, this may be behavioural (attention seeks, jealousy etc…) or medical (pacing due to pain or discomfort; without examining Flash I cannot say which one it is or start to say what possible behavioural issues may be going on with Flash. You could try to place Flash in a crate or another room when he is showing behaviour which isn’t desired as a punishment, but it may take time and he may not pick up on it. As for the pacing, you should visit your Veterinarian again to make sure that there isn’t a medical cause for it. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 11, 2018

Going to try the crate first and go from there. He's not yelping or anything. He whimpers when he has to go potty but that's normal for him or during the rainy days. Hopefully the crate will work. I have one but never use it, so maybe this will let me know if he's just seeking attention or not. Its just weird it only happens at night when we're all in the living room watching TV.

April 11, 2018

Flash's Owner

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Honey

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Chihuahua jack russel miniature dobermin pincher

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Panting
Restlessness
Large Pupils
Moving Head Side To Side

My dog honey can not stay still right now for the life of her. Her pupils are huge.She can't stop moving her head side to side. She is panting and runs in circles. But her tail is wagging. She wants to be very close to my face then gets down to my lap then back up again to my face. She keeps going back and forth. Not staying still for even a split second.

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Echo

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English Cocker Spaniel

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Racing Around, Stoping And Staring,

I have a 2 year old English Coker spaniel who was born deaf, he’s been neutered. He loves playing fetch to the point of exhaustion and we eventually have to take the ball off him. He also runs around and then stands and stares at a spot, sometimes he’ll bark at it from time to time, I normally disturb him to break the spell but then the racing around begins with him stopping and staring at an imaginary spot. He is quite slender and has a good diet but because of all of his activity he is a slender dog. He is a happy dog but gets anxious when I take him off our property and visits to the vets are a struggle with him.

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Zara

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Mastiff/Lab mix

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Whining
Heavy Panting
Restlessness
Accident In House

My girl Zara is five and a half years old. She’s a very laid back dog usually, but she peed on the couch last night. I figured it was just an accident, she’s getting older and her body may be getting weaker. Now she’s been constantly restless, running up and down our stairs, walking around the whole house, constantly wanting outside but not going to the bathroom, and she’s been clingy. This is not normal for her. I figured it was a uti but now I’m not so sure it isn’t an anxiety attack. Her sister has had anxiety attacks since they were just months old (she went septic after getting fixed and almost died), but Zara never has.

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Laika

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mini Schnauzer and English sheepdog

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding
Panting
Pacing
Stomach Ache
Tucked Tail

New behavior occurs : few episodes where Laika our 11 yrs old mix breed mini schnauzer -English sheepdog of 25 pounds female dog, wakes up abruptly mostly during the night and early morning,starts panting, pacing, looking up, wanting to climb as high as possible, cloudy eyes tucked tail tries to back up as much as possible sits on us as high as she can one paw bend?. She has a calm life, nothing new, were home with her, we are very calm, she is a very well behaved dog. This new behaviors last for 2 to 3 hrs hrs at the time minimum, It looks like anxiety but don`t understand where it is coming from no noise, no tigger? she sleeps with us on the bed, She also have lots of funny noise in her stomach, she eats only dog food Acana and dry liver or chicken treats, she is also very scared when she has flatulence, drinks a lot of water? There was only one incidence this summer she hurt her knee and torn her ligament and now wares a brace since June, she now can stand on her leg but not fully healed? What are those episodes about? Thank you

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Delphine

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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8 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Crate Digging
Crate Soiling
Destruction

Delphine was a normal happy puppy, but oddly chill and calm. As of recently, she will constantly bark, whine, dig in the bottom of the crate, shred her bedding and soil her kennel, which are all new traits. We provide Frozen peanut butter kongs and similar toys but nothing works. We have tried soft classical music. We are just at a total loss and don't know how to make her comfortable.

Cannanine