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What is Unsettled?

When a dog is unsettled, he is unable to relax. He may be unable to rest and may be aimlessly pacing around the house. He may also be panting or may whine and cry. A dog owner is typically very familiar with the normal behavior of his pet, and when a dog is unsettled, or uneasy and restless, he may notice this very quickly. 

A dog can become very anxious or stressed when certain events occur, and often become very unsettled. He may whine, bark, pace in circles, and shake. He may also act confused and lick himself repeatedly and have heavy panting. If a dog is unsettled, this may be a sign of an underlying health condition which will need to be addressed by the owner. It may also be something very mild that is causing his restless behavior. Reasons a dog may be unsettled include:

  • Anxiety
  • Neurological conditions
  • Liver disease
  • Stomach conditions
  • Constipation
  • Cushing’s disease

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Why Unsettled Occurs in Dogs

An unsettled dog may be a sign of a mild or severe disorder. Only you know your dog, and if your dog typically becomes unsettled when you leave, come home, or if there is a thunderstorm or fireworks, then you may want to consult your veterinarian, but it is not needed if you are able to help him at home. More serious reasons can cause your dog to be unsettled and they include:

Consistent and Severe Anxiety

Dogs can get anxiety, and the symptoms can stem from similar issues that may add to human anxiety. A stressful environment, loud noises from a thunderstorm, or separation issues can cause your dog to be unsettled.

Neurological Conditions

Neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease or senility can cause your dog to pace unknowingly and be very restless. Unsettled behavior can be caused by confusion that comes with neurological conditions that can occur in dogs of any age.

Liver Disease

The liver is responsible for the removal of toxins, proper digestion, and the clotting of blood. If your dog is suffering from liver disease, he may be unsettled and may confusingly pace around the house.

Stomach Conditions

A painful stomach, such as bloating, can cause your dog to become very unsettled. Bloat is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.


Like humans, when a dog is constipated it is very uncomfortable. Simple constipation can cause discomfort, and a more serious bowel issue, such as a blockage, requires immediate attention. If you notice your dog has not had a bowel movement in a day, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cushing’s Disease

When too much glucocorticoid is produced in the dog’s body, your dog can be restless and unsettled. This increase of cortisone can cause many different symptoms in addition to being unsettled, such as a swollen belly, increased hunger and thirst, panting, increased urination, and insomnia, to name a few.

What to do if your Dog is Unsettled

If you notice your dog seems unsettled, look for other symptoms as well. Behaviors such as excessive drooling, barking or whining, aggression, and heavy panting may be seen. These and any other behaviors need to be reported to your veterinarian when you take him in. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s symptoms and how long they have lasted, as well as when they began. 

He will then perform a complete physical examination on your companion and check his health history. He may also conduct testing such as a urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and blood work. The biochemistry profile will give the veterinarian information as to how his organs are functioning. He may also recommend other diagnostic tools be used, such as a thyroid test, to check his neurological functions, and any other tests he feels are necessary for an accurate diagnosis as to what is causing your dog to be unsettled. 

He may also palpate his abdomen and check for blockages or constipation. Your veterinarian will want to know if he has had a recent bowel movement, or one within the last 24 hours.

Prevention of Unsettled

There are ways to prevent your dog from being unsettled if it is due to conditions such as anxiety. You may consider purchasing a Thundershirt to snuggle him tight if he is anxious due to loud noises. This can be worn all the time if your dog is overly anxious. If your dog is unsettled due to you leaving and coming home, take time to hold him and give him a lot of attention. When you are home, spend as much time with him as you can and simply show him a lot of love and affection.

For underlying health issues, these may be harder to prevent. However, if you take your dog to the veterinarian on a regular basis for his checkups, your physician may be able to notice if a condition is coming on, and may be able to diagnosis it very early. Always pay attention and monitor your dog for different behaviors, and if you notice any, contact your veterinarian rather than waiting.

Cost of Unsettled

For anxiety issues with your companion, the cost may be approximately $300. For a health issue such as a liver condition, which can cause your dog to be unsettled, the cost may be $3000.

Unsettled Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


My dog is very prone to whining, I think it is out of boredom or for attention but it doesn't seem to matter if she's had lots of exercise and play that day or if it's been a very boring day. She does it when I'm trying to study or have downtime, or if she's been asked to stay when we're eating. A lot of the time it appears to be for no reason at all. I thought she would grow out of it but in the year I've had her it's gotten progressively worse. I ignore her completely when she starts whining, and stop petting her. It's driving me nuts! No one seems to have any advice.

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Cocker Spaniel
6 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

heavy breath, heat month,
heavy breath

my dog was restless throughout the day, this has never happened before.she can't sit or sleep at a place more than 3 seconds and keeps moving around. I have already massaged her, she also can't sleep on her left side of the body.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1608 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining Jenny, I'm not sure what might be the cause of her discomfort or restlessness. She may have injured herself, hurt her back or a limb, or be having respiratory issues. It would be best to have her examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they will be able to assess her, determine what might be the cause of her problems, and recommend any testing or treatments that may help. I hope that everything goes well for her.

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German Shepherd
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used

Dexanethasone a

I was woken by my German shepherd at 3 am crying at My bedroom door. Not normal behavior. I let her out she came in and refused to go back in my room. So I kept her in living room. Woke to her crying at 6 am. She has been unsettled since. Keeps rubbing her face on the couch and will not sit still for long. And keeps trying to lay in bathroom. Very odd behavior.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
You noted that Hana is taking dexamethasone and an antibiotic, I’m wondering if the dexamethasone is making Hana restless as it is a noted side effect in dogs. However, without examining her or knowing what she is being treated for I cannot say for certain; restlessness may be caused by medication side effects, pain, anxiety among many other conditions. If the behaviour continues, you should visit your Veterinarian for another check. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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10 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Drooling, whining, moving, shaking

My family left a few weeks ago on a trip and it's just been me and my dog. She shakes randomly throughout the day, which I believed to be separation anxiety, but today at random points she would pant, shake, drool, and whine while constantly moving into different positions. Could this all be anxiety related? She still eats and goes to the bathroom regularly, but the whines make me think she may be in pain?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
It does sound like separation anxiety and you should try to ensure that Meda is getting plenty of attention during this time, however I cannot rule out a medical cause without an examination. I’ve placed two articles below on separation anxiety, have a look and see if there is something helpful for your situation. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My dog is very unsettled most sore at night times pacing around panting crying and doing strange old things. He is perfectly fine during the day time

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