Dogs stretch just like we do and for the simple reason and pleasure of loosening the body after a while in the same position. But in dogs, there are also several interesting motifs surrounding the stretching mechanism.
One of them, which is also usually very striking, is stretching as part of the invitation posture to play. But, sometimes, certain positions maintained warn us that the dog feels some pain or looks for a position to breathe better.
Dogs stretch when they wake up
Normally we will see that the dog stretches after getting up after a good while sleeping or, for example, before going for a walk. The reason is the same for which we stretch ourselves, that is, it only responds to the need to stretch the body after a while at rest or in the same posture.
The dog does this by resting its front legs on the ground, fully extended, and raising the rear. Another option that we can see also consists of stretching the hind legs.
Normally the dog stands and stretches one leg, resting the outer part of the toes on the ground, and then the other. After this stretch, it is usual for the dog to conclude the stretching by shaking off.
The playing position to invite to play
Sometimes the dog adopts the stretching posture, with the front legs supported and the rump in the air, but it is not to stretch. In this case, the posture is not going to be adopted after getting up, but when it wants to interact with us or with another dog.
It is also normal for it to keep its mouth open and its tongue sticking out, bark in a high-pitched tone repeatedly, move its tail from side to side, and jump or even hit us with its front legs. It is his way of encouraging us to play. If this scene happens with a dog it trusts, it is usual for it to respond by adopting the same position.
We’ll see them pouncing on each other and starting a game of chase, mock attacks, and races until one or both of them get tired. Therefore, this stretch is normal and, moreover, desirable. It indicates that we are facing a happy and well-socialized dog.
When does a dog stretch mean sickness?
Sometimes, if the dog is kept in an abnormal position and we also notice other symptoms, we could be facing some pathology of digestive, cardiac, or respiratory origin that will need veterinary attention. It can indicate a serious illness.
Two anomalous positions are distinguished. The first is called a prayer or prayer posture and is the same as that described for the invitation to play. It is usually a sign of pain. The second is the orthopneic posture, which is what the animal adopts when it needs to get more air.
To do this, it stands with its front legs open or sitting with its neck stretched out, in an attempt to get more oxygen. In both cases, we are facing a problem that the veterinarian must treat.
My dog stretches from digestive problems
An abnormally stretched posture in a dog, which is also accompanied by vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal swelling, or pain, is a reason for urgent consultation with the veterinarian. The most frequent causes are the following:
Torsion-dilation of the stomach: a serious condition in which the stomach becomes dilated and turns on its axis. It causes pain, abdominal inflammation, nervousness, hypersalivation, etc. The bloat needs surgery.
Pancreatitis: inflammation of the pancreas that is very painful and causes severe vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, and even shock. It can be deadly.
Inflammatory bowel disease: it is a chronic disease that can cause occasional episodes of acute pain. It manifests itself through vomiting, weight loss, or diarrhea.
Gastroduodenal ulcer: it is a lesion in the digestive system that presents with bleeding, which we will see in feces or vomit, in addition to weight loss and pain. Blood can be fresh or digested.
Acute abdomen: It is not a disease, but a symptom that can be detected in several serious conditions, such as peritonitis or a ruptured bladder. It causes a lot of pain and if the dog does not receive the prompt treatment it will go into shock. You have to react fast.
Dogs stretch if they can’t breathe
Other times the problem is not located at the digestive level, but the dog maintains an abnormal posture with the neck stretched out because some circumstance is making it difficult to breathe. Among the most common causes that affect both the respiratory tract and the heart, we highlight:
Congestive heart failure: in these cases the heart does not work well, resulting in a lack of oxygen. The dog will present intolerance to exercise, anorexia, weight loss, cough, edema, cyanosis or marked fatigue. Of course, it requires veterinary treatment.
Pneumonia: in the most serious pneumonia the dog will suffer considerable breathing difficulties. There will be fever, cough, apathy, etc. The vet also has to see him. It is considered an emergency.
Pleural effusion: it is a sign caused by some pathology that causes the accumulation of blood or serum in the chest, which prevents the normal functioning of the lungs. It is a very delicate situation, being urged to go to the vet.