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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.

Constipation

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

Shadow
Whippet
2 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Whining

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.

Hi Shadow's Owner! Your description of your dogs whining sounds just like my dog. I've been researching and have not found any advise. I was wondering if you have an update or any new info you can provide. I am also hoping my dog will grow out of the whining. Please let me know if you know of anything that will help!

My dog is starting to do the same thing! It’s been a little over a year since I’ve had Cass and at first she usually only whinned when I left. Starting the past few days though she’s constantly holding one of her toys to go play fetch. She woke me up in the middle of the night doing it, does it throughout the day. Even now as I am sitting behind a closed door she sits on the other side sniffing under it and Willa whine when I walk out. I’m not sure what to do either because playing with her seems to only make it worse...and it’s getting hard to just ignore that for days on end lol. I’ve thought about a thunder shirt...I’ve heard those can help calm/comfort some dogs with anxiety problems, maybe it can help or comfort the attention seekers as well?? Might be worth a try!

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Sadie
Border Collie
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Whining
Confused
Pacing
Disoriented

Last night, our dog had about 6 episodes throughout the evening. She would be lying in her bed asleep and abruptly wake up whining, pacing frantically throughout the house with her nose down and back hunched (as if she needed to go to the bathroom) and head straight for one of the doors. We would let her out and she would just stand there most of the time (only twice did she actually urinate), then come back in, lay down, and repeat the process about every 2-3 hours. This only happened one time prior about 2 months ago and hasn't happened since. She is about 8 years old (to our knowledge) as she was a rescued dog. She is on Proin for incontinence, Tri-Heart Plus, and Bravecto. Only seems to happen after she has fallen asleep. Trying to capture video of this as we are not sure what to do.

Hey Sadie’s owners! Did you ever figure out what was going on with Sadie? My black lab mix did this ALL night last night and is still doing it this morning. Unfortunately, this is not the first time she’s done this either. She did this again about 3 months ago and then another time 3 months prior to that. I’ve taken her to the vet & had ALL tests run on her and everything always comes back normal. I’m lost as to what to do to help her, she’s obvious uncomfortable.

You mention she is already being treated for incontinence so here is something to keep in the back of your mind - two possible side effects of Proin are confusion and (though possible, I think it’s a less common one) urine retention. If this happens then the dog cannot fully empty the bladder. With only a small amount of urine left within the bladder, your dog may feel the urge to go when laying down but after walking to the door, it goes away. Perhaps (since it seems irregular and more side effect like than regular health occurrence) it’s something to look into. Not to cause alarm or anything, it is only an outside thought to keep in mind if no other reason can be found..I hope all is well!!

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Calli
Boston Terrier
15 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Unsettled

Our dog is blind and deaf and was diagnosed about 6 weeks ago with vestibular disease. We noticed that lately she is disoriented and unsettled, she wont lau down. She gets up and roams bumping into walls and such. We take her out she will go the bathroom, settle for maybe 20 minutes and then shes doing it again.

Our old Maltese Shih Tzu had vestibular diseases and dimentia. He used to wander around the house half the night and was very unsettled for months. He would stand in the middle of the room in the darkness and just bark. With these conditions and poor eye sight night time was awful. It was so sad to deal with and very tiring. We lost him at 15yrs old 18 months ago. Miss him every day.

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Mels
Yorkshire Terrier
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Slobbering
Pain?
Can't focus
Restless walking,

Medication Used

Metacam
cerenia
antibiotic shot

Our little Yorkie started to walk aimlessly around the house drooling and can’t focus about a month and a half ago. We have been to vet multiple times with MANY tests performed but no permanent fix. They gave antibiotics and Cerenia and it stopped for two weeks. Then boom, it happens again. First they thought it was GI, then a bladder stone, then ear infection and finally vertigo. Still two weeks later, it happens again.

It always happens at night when they are closed. Any ideas as to what to look for next?

Thank you.

I’m so sorry for your loss, it’s so hard to lose our fur babies.

It was a liver shunt. We took her to a big city Vet ER. They found it in less than two hours. Most of that was waiting on doc. They tried to save her by fluids overnight trying to clear out the toxins and $1500 later we had to put her to sleep. She had a bad seizure and didn’t come out of it.

The love of my life is gone.

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Trixie
Jackadoodle
7 Years
Fair condition
-1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

As above

My 7 year old Jackadoodle started whining a few days ago-she never leave my side normally but since the whining she seems stressed and keeps going to my bedroom and staying there? When I take her out, she toilets but then runs right back to my bedroom-sh is eating and drinking fine and toileting fine but she is licking herself down below a lot? She was carrying a toy about like she was coveting it so I took the toy away as I had the same problem with a very similar toy a few months ago and am wondering if it's a phantom pregnancy? If it is-how do I help her? Do I ignore it or pamper her?

What was wrong with Trixi

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Jasper
American Staffordshire Terrier
18 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Staring
Unsettled
Panting
Whining

We've had our dog Jasper for ~6 months. When we first got him he had a very hard time settling down for the night and would pace the house, bark at us, etc. He is a rescue so has obvious stress. Only a crate could calm him down. Now he sleeps with us in our room just fine and is crated 2X a week and the other days he goes to dog daycare. We both work full time but spend a lot of time with him still. He does not exhibit separation anxiety but recently (after we picked him up from his boarding stay) he has exhibited some odd behaviors. At least 3X over the last two weeks he has had a hard time settling again and will not sit in one spot for long. When he does get up he comes and stares at us and whines (we take him out to potty but he won't go) and starts panting as if he's stressed. This is also occurring when he is clearly very sleepy so should be able to go to bed. We cannot figure out why. He has had normal bowel movements, is eating, and exercising regularly. It's driving us nuts and has me very worried! He has never been able to chill. He is either going hard chewing/playing or sleeping, there is no in between. We cannot even sit down and watch a TV show for an hour. I am not sure if it is physical or mental but I want to help him.

We are experiencing the same sort of of thing with our Australian Shepherd 7 month old puppy. She will not settle after breakfast and dinner and just barks for more food. She is exercised and mentally stimulated every day but she just will not go down or settle after her meals and paces the house or barks for more food.
What do we do?

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Dixie
Jack/RatTerrier
14 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Whining ,roaming ,restless

I have a 14 year old Jack/Rat Terrier, Dixie. She is almost completely deaf and has cataracts in both eyes. She lost almost half her body weight (which was fine because she was overweight) in about 3 months. The vet checked her blood and found no reason. I began to notice she was having a hard time eating her dry dog food and checked her mouth. She was loosing her teeth and struggling to chew the dry hard food. I put her on a soft diet and she was doing great, she even gained back 1 1/2 lbs. Then last month she started whining , wandering for sometimes an hour at a time, just walking and wandering room to room. She goes to the door and barks wanting out every 30 to 45 min. once outside she just stands with her nose in the air and barks. She will pee sometimes, but after 3 to 4 min she barking to come back in. She walks around whining and is laying places she has never laid before. She stays under my feet and moves when I do. She has never been a needy dog, never cared much for being loved on or petted. She liked to lay next to me on the couch and slept at my feet on the bed. But several years ago I noticed her having trouble jumping up and down, being afraid she was going to hurt herself I stopped letting on the couch and bed. She seemed fine with sleeping in her bed until a couple of months ago and she looks for other places to sleep, a pile of laundry in the laundry room, clean clothes in a basket, she will pull the quilt from the foot of our bed to the floor and lay on that. But when the whining and wandering around started I am just confused as to how to help her.

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Kenai
Akita Inu
7 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Crying
Pacing
Bark

Medication Used

Omeprazole

He had a problem with his stomach and puked blood because he ate a lot of plastic in the trash but we went to the vet and he has been checked and so far she think he's alright. She gave me a stomach protector to give him and we did, but recently he's very agitated and sometimes whines for no reason. In retrospect, he's a bit whiny and always complains when we ask him to do stuff he doesnt wanna do, but these times it seems different. could it be that he feels female dogs in heat? He always barks at me because he wants to play and when we do play he gets even more agitated and can't be calmed down.

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peanut
Miniature Pinscher
9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Whining, pacing, crying stretching

constant wihining pacing usually only at night never used to do this his wines vary in sound he had all his front top and bottom teeth removed recently then the whining got worse

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peanut
Miniature Pinscher chiuauaha
9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

making weird wineing noises
Bulging eyes
wineing
Pacing

my dog had his front bottom and top teeth removed because he had been wining the vet removed the problem teeth 1 week later and ever since he wines very oddly making noises ive never heard he just wines and paces sometimes all night usually after eating we have taken him back to the vet for blood work and xrays and the vet cant find anything his eyes bulge and tear up and he oddly stretches out often during these fits. Hes not constapated his anal glands are not ruptured his blood panel came back normal

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Opie
Chihuahua
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Pacing whining stiffness restless
Pacing whinning

At about 4 in the morning my dog was unable to rest and he started pushing on me to wake up ... he would not stay still he wanted to be picked up and when I would pick him up he’d wanna jump out my arms but then picked up again... he seems very stiff not relaxed and seemed worried anxious he did wine a little I was so worried he calmed down slightly after hours of coddling and hugging him and having him next to my other dog ... don’t know if I should take him to the vet .. there was nothing that would trigger him at that time or in the morning

My 12-yo chihuahua is acting similarly. Starting Tuesday morning, she paced around all day and wouldn’t lay down or nap, and she would be okay in my arms but would want to get down within minutes. She didn’t sleep all night - just stared and paced in the hallway. She has done this before (when she gets constipated) but not like this. Also, she had brief episodes of panting - from the pain I believe. I took her to the vet this morning (Wednesday), and they took an X-ray and saw a lot of fecal build up in her intestines. They performed a successful enema and instructed me to give her MiraLax, but she has acted the same all day, still hasn’t slept, and no bowel movements. I did probably feed her too large of meals this last week, but she doesn’t squeal or anything when her tummy is pushed. I’m worried the vet may have to eventually perform manual extraction of the fecal matter, in which case that wouldn’t be able to happen because my dog is a mid/late stage heart patient. The vet is very good and knows all about her and her heart condition. Heart and lungs looked clear and good upon examination. Stomach area is a slightly enlarged and she weighs 0.2 to 0.3 pounds above usual (recent) weight.

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Meda
Pekingese
10 Years
Mild condition
1 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
3320 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 https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-separation-anxiety https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-small-dog-with-separation-anxiety

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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Hana
German Shepherd
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Itching
Panting
Whining
Pacing

Medication Used

antibiotic
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
3320 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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jenny
Cocker Spaniel
6 Years
Moderate condition
-1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

heavy breath
heavy breath, heat month,

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
1611 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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