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Why do dogs walk in circles?

Updated on September 26, 2008

Circling around and chasing the tail is considered to be pretty normal behavior for a dog. Even cats do this too. We often find it amusing to see our pets walk in circles. However, there are times when a pet that is walking in circles is no laughing matter.

Common reasons why dogs walk in circle

The walking in circles behavior of the modern day dogs is believed to be a holdover of the way primitive dogs prepare the place where they are going to rest. The wolves that roam the plains and the forest have to make the place in the wilderness where they have decided to rest comfortable. By walking in circles on the chosen place they are tamping the snow, the grass or the dirt to make the nesting place more snug and comfy.

A primitive dog that is walking in circles before lying down is making sure that no predators are near and that the resting place is not inhabited by animals that can cause harm. Domesticated dogs would circle the sleeping area; they can't help themselves as the behavior is already in their genes.

The dangerous reasons why dog walk in circles

The walking in circles behavior of the dog can arise from a medical problem. One of these medical concerns is ear infection. Since the ear is considered to be one of the balance centers of the body, impairment or damage to the inner ear can result to the loss of balance of the dog. Ear infection can be due to ear mite infestation and reaction to some antibiotics. Some breeds of dogs are also prone to ear infection. These are floppy eared dogs and water retrievers.

Canine distemper is another reason why dog do walk in circles. A dog that is afflicted with distemper would have nasal discharge and would be lethargic, movement will be uncoordinated.

Vestibular diseases that are most common in matured dogs, parasites infestation, systemic lupus erythematosus are other medical problems that make a dog walk in circles.

Helping the afflicted pet

It is certainly amusing to see the pet "perform" and walk in circles. However, pet owners must be able to distinguish between an act that is done to entertain the human family and one that is involuntarily done by the pet due to a medical problem.

Walking in circles is a serious sign of an illness that would need immediate veterinary attention. But if the vet is not available right away, you may want to discontinue giving oral antibiotics and ear medications.

A pet that keeps on walking in circles is dizzy. Keeping him in a crate will avoid accident like falling from heights or falling on stairs.


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