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Dog Gets Up Repeatedly and Keeps Changing Position

If your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position he is most likely experiencing some form of pain or discomfort. Deprived by the gift of voice, it is therefore up to us dog owners to take action and find out what is going on with our furry friends. In most cases, the best option is to visit the vet. Only the vet can truly diagnose what is going on through a physical exam and potentially further diagnostics. Following is just a list of possible causes if your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position; however, as already mentioned, the best option is to always see the vet so to play it safe.

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Help, my dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position!

My Dog Gets Up Repeatedly and Keeps Changing Position

If your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position, don't just assume it's just a temporary quirk that may go away on its own. A dog who can't seem to get comfortable is likely to be in some sort of pain or discomfort and the underlying causes can be serious.

Dogs tend to be quite stoic beings, hiding their pain as much and for as long as possible. This stems from a dog's past history in the wild where manifesting any form of illness made them particularly vulnerable to predators.

On top of that, dogs have a very strong will to be with their social group (their family), so acting ill may have meant in the past being left behind, which could have proven disastrous in a wild setting.

Because dogs can't talk, it's very important to pay attention any time dogs start behaving differently out of the blue. Of course, not always a dog who is getting up repeatedly and keeps changing position is ill. It may just be that the affected dog is feeling hot and can't find a place to stay cool. Most dogs who are hot though will tend to pant and move from lying on a carpet or rug to a tile area or outdoor shady area.

At other times, a dog who gets up repeatedly and keeps changing positions may simply be a dog who is trying to find a place where it is quiet and he can get some deep sleep.

The context in which the getting up repeatedly behavior takes place along with the dog's accompanying physical manifestations may therefore help dog owners determine whether a vet's care should be sought; however, because these symptoms may be sign of some serious medical problems, it's always best to play it safe and see the vet sooner rather than later.

A Matter of Arthritis 

Osteosarcoma in dogs affects Rottweilers among other breeds.

Osteosarcoma in dogs affects Rottweilers among other breeds.

If your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position, there are chances he or she may be suffering from some type of joint pain, particularly arthritis as seen in older dogs.

"This is a very common complaint that I get from clients about their senior pets. Sometimes this can be an indication of arthritis and discomfort when moving and changing positions. Older dogs develop arthritis and this can be somewhat uncomfortable," points out veterinarian Dr. Nicole. 

While over-the-counter supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin or fish oil can help reduce inflammation, in many cases, at a certain point, these medications may not provide enough relief. This is when these dogs may benefit from stronger medications such as prescription anti-inflammatories and pain medications.

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As tempting as it may be to give dogs human pain relieving medications such as aspirin or Tylenol, it's important to understand that these medications are not safe and may cause toxicity and death. A vet visit is therefore in order so that affected senior dogs can be provided with safe pain medication options which can help ensure a good quality of life.

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A Form of Internal Pain

Many health problems in dogs can happen internally which makes them difficult to recognize. Even blood work sometimes fails to provide proof on internal problems such as certain forms of cancer affecting the dog's organs. An abdominal ultrasound may therefore come handy to rule out any malignancies.

Abdominal pain may be a cause if your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position. Affected dogs may develop restlessness and frequent stretching which may be caused by gastroenteritis or a more serious problem such as an ingested foreign body causing a blockage. Seeing the vet promptly in this case is important. The vet will likely start with physical exam and x-rays of the abdomen.

Sometimes, the internal pain may involve problems with internal organs such as the dog's kidneys, liver, spleen or pancreas. In certain cases, a dog may develop an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen as a result of a problem with the dog's liver. If fluid builds up in the abdomen, lying down can feel uncomfortable and could even make it hard for the dog to breath.

If the vet suspectes a problem with internal organs, then bloodwork and an ultrasound may be insightful so to check on their status.

Other Possible Problems

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If your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing position, there are chances of several other different problems that require investigation with the help of a vet.

Sometimes, a dog may get up repeatedly when he or she is suffering from urinary incontinence. As dogs age, their urinary sphincters may weaken which may lead to leaks while the dog is resting or sleeping. The dog may therefore wake up from the sensation of a trickle of urine leaking and this may trigger him/her to get up and move to another resting spot.

If you have an older dog and suspect this is what is happening, you can try to pass a paper towel on the floor and see if you collect any "droppings."

Another possibility is a dog who is suffering from heart problems. As heart problems progress, affected dogs may develop a sudden worsening of the signs and symptoms which is medically referred to as "decompensation." This deterioration can cause a dog's heart to leak fluids in the chest area making it difficult for the dog to breath when lying down. In this case, x-rays are effective as they may shows signs of pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs) and an enlarged heart.

Other possible differentials if your dog gets up repeatedly and keeps changing positions, include suffering from a pinched nerve in the neck or back which causes the affected dog to feel uncomfortable when trying to lie down and fall asleep, or the onset of canine cognitive dysfunction (doggy Alzheimer's' disease in elderly dogs). Of course, there may be several other potential causes not listed here. See your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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