Does your dog walk in circles? I bet you’ve also seen that in many other dogs. Walking in circles seems to be natural for dogs, especially before they sit or lie down. Sometimes you can also see dogs walk in circles before they poop or if they try to follow a smell. However, if this happens more frequently than normal, this circling behavior can also indicate something serious that we should be concerned about.
Although we are already familiar with our dog’s behavior, or we regularly check up on them, it’s still important to be observant, especially when we see any changes in their body and behavior. Here are the reasons why do our dogs walk in circles.
Why Does My Dog Keep Walking in Circles?
An ear infection is a common condition in dogs that may affect one or both ears. When our dog walks in circles, it can be caused by an internal ear infection or otitis internal, where the inner ear structures are inflamed. It could have resulted from infection from the external ear that has spread through the middle (otitis media) and inner parts of the ear. It can affect their balance and coordination that causes them to walk in circles. This health problem shouldn’t be taken for granted because it can lead to total deafness and other serious health problems.
Other than the circling behavior, other symptoms may include:
- head shaking
- foul odor coming from the ear.
- inability to blink
- scratching his paw to his ear
How is the Inner Ear Infection treated?
As soon as we see the early signs of ear infections, we should take our dogs immediately to the vet. An ear infection may cause discomfort to our dogs since it causes pain. It’s important to have them checked immediately to prevent the spread of infection that can cause severe problems. The vet may prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
Like humans, dogs can also be diagnosed with OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder. A dog with OCD appears to have weird, repetitive behavior patterns such as air biting, obsessive licking of body parts, tail chasing, etc. It is often caused by stress and frustration, while some cases are hereditary. We might think these are normal dog behaviors in our dogs, which are. However, when it becomes frequent and when they exhibit this behavior in inappropriate situations, it can be an indication that our dog has OCD.
When can a normal behavior become a symptom of OCD? Below are the most common behaviors:
- flank sucking
- rhythmic barking
- chasing invisible objects (hallucination)
- excessive water consumption
- freezing and staring
- obsessive licking and chewing
How is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) treated?
In some cases, some OCD behaviors are not treated if they are not causing serious concerns to the owners and do not cause physical harm to the dog. However, if it’s the other way around, drug therapy can be initiated by a vet. It is to normalize brain and neurotransmitter levels. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association has shown that with the treatment of Clomipramine, the frequency, and intensity of OCD can decrease.
Another condition that may cause dog circling behavior in dogs is a brain injury. A traumatic brain injury can occur from a fall or accident that has impacted the head. It has two categories: Primary and secondary. Immediate care should be initiated during the primary injury to prevent complications in the secondary. Furthermore, brain injury can also be caused by other factors such as the lack of blood flow in the brain, hypoglycemia, extended fever, toxins, infections, an extreme decrease of temperature, and many more. It can lead to neurological dysfunction, including sudden changes in behavior, and walking in a circle is one of the visible signs.
Other symptoms of brain injury may include:
- visible hemorrhage in the ears or nose
- irregular movements
- abnormal posture
- rapid or heavy breathing
- abnormal heart rate
- retinal bleeding
How is brain injury treated?
A brain injury in dogs needs to have immediate hospitalization regardless of the cause. It is to maintain adequate levels of oxygen and normalize the dog’s body temperature. The vet would perform the treatment or surgery (if necessary). As also stated in a study, dogs can compensate for the cerebral tissue that was lost.
If for some reason, we did not see the incident, or we are unaware of our dog’s condition, it can be hard to recognize the signs of brain injury. Yet, if there are any behavioral changes in our dogs, such as frequently walking in circles and other things, it’s still best to go to the vet.
Vestibular disease is more common in old dogs where they experience disturbance of balance and coordination. Aside from old age, it can also be caused by an inner ear problem, brain problem, nutritional deficiency, and other conditions that may affect the vestibular system. Walking in circles is one of the most common signs of vestibular disease.
Other symptoms of the vestibular disease may include:
- flickering eye movements
- head tilting
- reluctance to stand or walk
How is vestibular disease treated?
Even we don’t know the main reason for the balance and coordination issues in our dogs, better to go to the vet, especially if it has more than one of the symptoms. Only they can diagnose the condition. They will do some tests, and treatments may vary depending on the cause.
Should I be concerned about my dog walking in circles?
I enjoy watching my dog walks in circles around me because I believe it’s part of his playtime, which can be. However, as dog owners, we should be able to identify if it’s normal or not. If our dog keeps walking in circles for hours, we may want to be concerned. Knowing the other causes of this behavior is essential for us to be aware of the possible conditions that our dog might be suffering. If we see any of the above symptoms in our dogs, we should take them to the vet as soon as possible before it’s too late. Home treatment is not recommended because it may just make it worst and could cause complications. If we love our dogs, we’ll give them the proper care and treatment they deserve.