If you see your dog in some weird yoga-like position…
It’s understandable that you wonder…
Why does my dog stretch like a cat?
Here you’ll find out the truth. Read on to discover:
- 9 common reasons why dogs stretch like cats.
- The most common stretch that dogs perform (and why they do it).
- How stretching can be a sign that your dog’s stomach is upset (and what you can do about it).
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog stretch like a cat?
- 9 reasons why your dog stretches like a cat
- #1: Your dog is doing a morning stretch
- #2: Your dog feels comfortable with you
- #3: Your dog wants to cool themselves
- #4: Your dog’s stomach is upset
- #5: Your dog wants to stretch their hips and back
- #6: Your dog could have pancreatitis
- #7: Your dog is inviting a mate
- #8: Your dog is scared
- #9: Your dog could have a spinal issue
- Should I be worried that my dog stretches?
Why does my dog stretch like a cat?
The reason why your dog stretches like a cat might be because they’re greeting you upon you entering the house. Or they could be stretching after they’ve been sleeping or haven’t moved for a while.
The truth is:
There are a lot of reasons why your dog might stretch like a cat. Below we’re going to talk about the 9 most common reasons.
9 reasons why your dog stretches like a cat
#1: Your dog is doing a morning stretch
Your dog has just woken up and stretches their front paws.
This is one of the most common types of stretches and is very beneficial for the muscles. This is your dog’s preparation for running.
#2: Your dog feels comfortable with you
That’s a great reason for stretching, isn’t it?
This type of stretching calls for no action from your side – just enjoy watching your dog do it.
There’s even a term for this stretching. It’s called ‘the greeting stretch’.
Next time you see it, just think about this: your dog is saying ‘Hey, sup, buddy?’
It could also be translated to ‘Welcome back!’ when your dog does this directly after you’ve come home.
The friendly posture your dog takes backs this theory up.
The stretch could serve two purposes at the same time – to greet you and invite you to play.
Your dog could even go on their rear paws and lean towards you with their front ones. It’s a sign of affection.
Reading tip: Why Does My Dog Act Like A Cat? 8 Reasons + 5 Tips
#3: Your dog wants to cool themselves
But how can a dog cool themselves by stretching?
Well, there’s this term called ‘splooting’.
What happens is that the dog extends its hind legs, and is laying with their belly flat on the floor.
Another variation includes one leg being tucked under the body while the other is extended behind the body.
Dogs can easily cool down in this posture during the hot summer months. This technique works well when your dog is inside or outside.
Last but not least, splooting is a great way for dogs to stretch their hips.
#4: Your dog’s stomach is upset
Just like with humans, one of the places where pressure builds up in the dog’s body is the stomach.
When your dog feels pressure in their stomach, they might instinctively stretch as this will lessen the unpleasant feeling.
But how does the pressure in the stomach affect dogs exactly?
As soon as there’s gas in the tummy, the abdomen starts to extend. Then it pushes the organs around it.
How to recognize this is the case
You can check if your dog’s stomach looks too round (out of the ordinary). Another indication is if it feels warm. Add to that excessive drooling, and the case could be bloat.
Other signs of abdominal pain include vomiting, loss of appetite, and being lethargic.
All of these symptoms could also be accompanied by gurgling sounds coming from your dog’s stomach.
Caution: Canine bloat is serious and can lead to death if not treated on time.
What to do about it
Pay attention to how much water and food your dog ingests.
After you come back home from a walk or after playtime has ended, give your dog several minutes so their breath can return back to normal.
Don’t put excessive amounts of food and water, especially if your dog tends to eat and drink fast.
Better give them a bit of water after they’ve normalized their breath.
Then you can leave a small amount that will ensure your dog doesn’t become dehydrated. That way you will also prevent them from gulping a big bowl of water at once.
Be careful with the food intake. If your dog tends to eat their food in seconds, you can put it in a bowl for slow feeding.
The bowl itself looks like it has a labyrinth inside it so it’s impossible to take out the contents all at once.
#5: Your dog wants to stretch their hips and back
When your dog attempts to do this, you might see them lying flat on their belly and their legs dragging behind them.
It looks like splooting but with movement.
There’s also the possibility that your dog has injured themselves but most often this isn’t the cause of this stretch.
If you do have any doubts that an injury could be at the bottom of the stretch, you could check if your dog feels pain anywhere.
Take each paw in your hand and squeeze gently. Apply just enough pressure to not hurt your dog but figure out if there’s anything worrisome.
Do the same with the leg, ankles, and hips. Check if your dog reacts to this at all and how.
In case your doggo squeaks or shows any other signs of discomfort such as backing away, don’t hesitate to visit your vet asap.
#6: Your dog could have pancreatitis
Some dogs who have started to develop pancreatitis might stretch themselves to lower down the amount of pressure on their stomach.
How to recognize this is the case
Stretching alone is not a sufficient indication of a present medical condition in your dog. When accompanied by other signs though, it could point to pancreatitis.
For example, does your dog hunch over when standing? Or do they appear to be weak?
If so, you should have their temperature checked by a vet as your dog might have a fever.
Apart from that, pancreatitis also causes the belly to bloat.
#7: Your dog is inviting a mate
This applies to dogs who haven’t been neutered.
Dogs could use the stretch to attract a mate.
This is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t worry about it.
#8: Your dog is scared
When your dog arches their back but their tail is tucked between the legs, and their whole body has lowered down, it means they’re fearful.
This is different from a cat’s arched back.
A cat would arch their back to appear larger when they feel danger approaching and want to protect their territory, for example.
A dog doing this, with the combination of the above-mentioned signs is aiming to look smaller and non-threatening.
When they’ve taken this posture, they might even hide in a corner or under an object to feel a bit safer.
A fearful dog would avoid eye contact and lower their head as well.
#9: Your dog could have a spinal issue
Your dog’s spine consists of smaller bones between which there are discs. These discs help the spine’s flexibility by providing cushion.
The same applies to the neck and the tail as parts of the spine.
When the discs work well, your dog is able to engage without a problem in physical activities such as running, jumping, playing.
But while aging or due to trauma, the discs could start to break. This could result in a herniated disc.
The discs get inflamed and then your dog starts feeling pain because the discs are putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
How to recognize it
Don’t be quick to worry but do observe your dog carefully.
If arching the back is accompanied by loud cries, lowered head, and reluctance to go up or down any stairs, you’ll have to book an appointment with your vet.
Should I be worried that my dog stretches?
Stretching is a beneficial activity for your dog and you shouldn’t be worried if you witness it. That’s how your dog prepares their muscles for a walk or a run.
If you notice that your dog has any hesitancy or difficulty stretching though, you should have your dog checked out by a vet to determine whether this is due to a medical condition.
Medical conditions that could prevent your dog from stretching freely include joint problems, arthritis, tendonitis, and spinal problems.