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Why Is My Dog Whining While Lying Down? (6 Reasons Why & What to Do)

A dog whining while laying down can be in pain. An injury, musculoskeletal conditions, heart disease, pancreatitis, anxiety, and dementia can cause your dog to cry. 

You probably know what a whine sounds like if you’ve ever had a dog. What you probably don’t know is, why dogs whine when lying down.

There are several potential causes, each with its own solution.

Training and simple changes can solve the problem for an anxious dog. When it comes to life-threatening conditions, like pancreatitis, you need to get your dog to the vet immediately.

Read on to find out why dogs whine, what it means if your dog whines when laying down and when it indicates a medical emergency. 

Why Do Dogs Whine?

A dog can whine when they want something – an extra treat or your attention. Dogs also whine when apologizing or when in pain.

 According to the American Kennel Club, dogs whine for the following reasons: 

  • They are in pain. 
  • They need or want something.
  • They want to get your attention. 
  • They are saying “sorry”. 

6 Reasons for a Dog Whining When Lying Down

A dog whining when laying down can be in pain because of a musculoskeletal condition, pancreatitis, bloating, or heart disease. Dogs with anxiety or dementia can also whine and seem restless at night. 

A dog can whine for a short time because of stiffness due to exercise or an injury. 

The following conditions only get worse over time and can be fatal if left untreated: 

  1. Musculoskeletal conditions
  2. Heart Disease
  3. Bloating
  4. Pancreatitis
  5. Anxiety
  6. Dementia

1. Musculoskeletal conditions

dog whining due to musculoskeletal conditions

A musculoskeletal condition is a common cause of pain in dogs. Examples of this condition include arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Signs of a Musculoskeletal Condition in a Dog: 

  • Avoids sitting or struggles to sit.[1]
  • Lies in unusual positions.
  • Whines when laying down.
  • Walking circles in bed before laying down.
  • Gets up moments after laying down and repeats the circling process.

A dog with a musculoskeletal condition can seem happy during the day but struggle to get comfortable when laying down. This is because joint mobility is maintained and pain reduced while the dog’s body weight shifts almost continuously. Laying down at night can put painful pressure on affected joints.[2]

Dogs circle in bed once or twice to find a comfortable sleep position. A dog’s musculoskeletal condition is worsening if it lies down only to get up and repeat the circling process.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has a Musculoskeletal Condition? 

Take your dog to the vet for a check-up. The trained eye of the vet can detect musculoskeletal conditions by looking at the way your dog stands, sits, and lies down.

Your vet can advise you on natural and medicinal therapies, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications that will help ease the pain. 

2. Heart Disease  

dog with Heart Disease

A dog with heart disease can struggle to breathe when lying down.

Heart disease is the blanket term for several conditions affecting the heart. There are two main types – one affects the heart valve and the other affects the heart muscle.[3] 

Symptoms of Heart Disease in a Dog: 

  • A persistent cough.
  • Fainting or collapse (particularly after exercise).
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Sleeping more during the day.
  • Eating less.
  • Showing little interest in previously loved activities.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Heart Disease? 

Speak to the vet about your dog’s symptoms. The vet can diagnose heart disease using one or more of the following tests: 

  • A chest x-ray.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • An echocardiogram (an ultrasound of your dog’s heart).
  • A Holter monitor.
  • Blood tests.[4]

Your vet can advise you on how to manage your dog’s heart condition with diet, exercise, and a medication plan. 

3. Bloating 

Bloating  on dogs

While bloating makes humans feel uncomfortable, it kills about 30 percent of the dogs it affects. The medical term is gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex.

It’s unknown what causes GDV. It starts when a dog’s stomach fills with air. The pressure blocks blood flow, sending the dog’s body into shock. The dog’s stomach, spleen, and pancreas flip and cut off more blood flow. When the pancreas lacks oxygen it produces a hormone that can stop the dog’s heart.[5]

Symptoms of bloating in a dog: 

  • Swollen abdomen.
  • Pain and whining if it feels pressure on the abdomen.
  • Restless.
  • Retching and salivation.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Weak pulse.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Is Bloated? 

Take your dog to an emergency vet as soon as possible. Your dog can start going into physical shock after an hour or two after the initial symptoms. A delay in treatment increases the risk of death. A dog suffering from GDV needs emergency treatment and surgery. 

4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis on dog

A dog suffering from pancreatitis can be in too much pain to sleep. It can whine and pace.   

Pancreatitis is a life-threatening condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed.  

The pancreas is an organ that secretes the enzymes needed to digest food. Pancreatitis occurs when these enzymes begin to digest the pancreas. The condition can be acute and occur suddenly or chronic as a result of ongoing inflammation.[6]

Symptoms of Pancreatitis in a Dog: 

  • A sudden loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain 
  • A hunched back
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Collapse

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Is Suffering From Pancreatitis? 

Pancreatitis can be fatal if the inflammation spreads to multiple organs. Get your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect pancreatitis is the cause of pain and whining. 

Related: How to get a puppy to stop whining

5. Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Many dogs whine when they are scared or anxious[7]. Life changes, like moving house or the loss of another pet or family member, can make your dog feel anxious. 

Symptoms of Anxiety in a Dog: 

  • Whining and pacing.
  • Trembling or panting.
  • Displays destructive behavior when separated from you.
  • Excessive licking.

Your dog can experience separation anxiety when sleeping far away from you at night. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety can be destructive and rip apart their bedding at night or dig up the garden while their owners are out of sight.[8]

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Is Suffering From Anxiety? 

Identify anxiety triggers and either eliminate them or train your dog to handle them better. For example, start giving a dog with separation anxiety a treat before you go out. This can help them associate your leaving with a pleasurable event.[9] 

You can also seek professional help. A vet can recommend a behavioral therapist and natural anti-anxiety therapies to help calm your anxious dog.[10]

6. Dementia

Dementia on dog

Increased night whining and restlessness in an aging dog can be a sign of dementia. Dementia is a term used for conditions that cause loss of cognitive function. 

Symptoms of Dementia in a Dog: 

  • Disorientation in familiar environments.
  • Frequently wakes up during the night.
  • Whining at night and while sleeping.
  • Sleeping more during the day.
  • Behaviors changes like increased aggression or anxiety.
  • Less interest in playing and socializing with other dogs.
  • Staring blankly.
  • Restlessness and pacing.[11]

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Is Suffering From Dementia? 

Take your dog to a vet for a check-up. A vet can advise on dietary changes that slow down the progression of age-related cognitive decline. A vet can prescribe medications to help reduce related anxiety and improve your dog’s sleep cycle.[12] 

When to See a Vet for a Dog That Whines When Laying Down

Take your dog to a vet immediately if your dog whines when laying down and has other symptoms that indicate a life-threatening condition. 

Many factors can cause your dog to whine. Monitor its conditions and discuss them with a vet during a routine check-up. Some cases require immediate treatment. 

But how do you tell the difference?

The key is to look out for other symptoms, like a swollen belly or a hunched back and vomiting, that point to life-threatening health conditions like GVD or pancreatitis that require emergency care. 

Related: Why Is My Dog Limping After Laying Down?

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.