Why Do Dogs Walk In Circles Before They Die? (The Reasons 2024)


Why Do Dogs Walk In Circles Before They Die? There are a few theories about why dogs walk in circles before they die. One idea is that they are trying to find a comfortable spot to lie down. Another approach is that they are disoriented and need to know where they are. Whatever the reason, it is sad to see a dog walking in circles before it dies.

Some say that it’s because their brain is shutting down, and they lose control of their motor skills. Others believe they are trying to find a comfortable spot to lie in. Regardless of the reason, it’s a sad sight to see a dog walking in circles before they pass away.

Do Dogs Walk around In Circles Before They Die?

Yes, dogs walk around in circles before they die. It is their instinct to do so. When a dog fails, his body shuts down, and he cannot think clearly. Walking in circles is a way for him to release his energy and find a comfortable position to lie in.

What Do Dogs Do When They Know They’re Dying?

Many dog owners report that their dogs seemed to know when they were dying. The dog may become quiet and withdrawn, stop eating, lie down in a favorite spot, and refuse to move. Some dogs will walk around in circles before they lie down. This behavior may be their way of trying to find a comfortable position. They may also be seeking attention from their owners.

It is not known for sure why dogs behave this way when they are dying. It may be that they are in pain and trying to find a comfortable position. It may also be that they are confused and disoriented. Whatever the reason, it is clear that dogs seem to know when they are dying and often behave differently in the days or hours before they die.

Why Do Dogs Walk In Circles Before They Die?

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before They Die featured image


While it’s true that some dogs might walk in circles before they die, it’s not always the case and it’s not necessarily a direct indicator of their impending passing.

Here are some possible explanations for circling behavior in dogs, both near the end of life and at other times:

Medical reasons:

  • Vestibular issues: Inner ear infections, neurological problems, or even aging can affect a dog’s balance and spatial awareness, leading to disorientation and circling.
  • Pain: If a dog is experiencing pain, particularly in areas like the head or abdomen, they might pace or circle in an attempt to find relief.
  • Cognitive decline: As dogs age, they may experience cognitive decline, which can manifest in repetitive behaviors like circling.

Non-medical reasons:

  • Excitement or anticipation: Before something they enjoy, like playtime or mealtime, some dogs might spin or pace in circles out of pure excitement.
  • Marking territory: Circling can be a way for dogs to leave their scent and claim their space, especially for males.
  • Anxiety or stress: If a dog feels anxious or stressed, they might resort to repetitive behaviors like pacing or circling as a coping mechanism.

End-of-life considerations:

  • In the final stages of life, some dogs might exhibit various changes in behavior, including circling. This could be due to a combination of factors mentioned above, like pain, disorientation, or simply seeking comfort.
  • However, it’s important to remember that circling is not a universal sign of impending death in dogs. Many dogs pass away peacefully without exhibiting any such behavior.

What Medical Conditions Could Cause My Dog To Walk In Circles?

Normal Behavior

Dogs typically walk in circles before they die or before they vomit. This is because when a dog is nauseous, its instinct is to walk in circles to make itself feel better.

There are many different reasons why dogs might walk in circles before they die. One possibility is that they are experiencing dizziness or vertigo, which a number of health conditions can cause. Another case is that they are disoriented and have trouble orienting themselves. This can be caused by several things, including a change in their environment, an illness, or even old age. Regardless, it is essential to take your dog to the vet if they are exhibiting this behavior.


Anxiety, boredom, and fear can all cause a dog to pace or circle. If a dog is anxious, he may pace back and forth to burn off excess energy. Boredom can also lead a dog to walk, mainly if he’s used to being active and not getting enough exercise. Fear may cause a dog to pace or circle as well. If a dog is afraid of something, he may pace in an attempt to get away from it.

Abnormal Behavior

There are several possible explanations for this behavior. One is that the dog is trying to align itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. Another possibility is that the dog is experiencing disorientation and confusion due to a health condition such as dementia or a brain tumor. 

Finally, the dog is simply trying to find a comfortable spot to lie down in. Whatever the reason, it is clear that this is not normal behavior for a dog and is usually a sign that the animal is close to death.


Neosporosis is a disease that can affect dogs and sometimes other animals. It is caused by a single-celled parasite called Neospora caninum. This parasite is found in the environment, particularly in contaminated soil, and can infect animals through the food or water they consume. Once an animal is infected, the parasite will travel to the brain, where it will begin to reproduce.

This can cause neurological problems and, in severe cases, death. One of the first signs that a dog is infected with neosporosis is that it will start to walk in circles.

This is caused by the parasite damaging the part of the brain that controls movement. As the disease progresses, the dog will become increasingly uncoordinated and may eventually become paralyzed. If you notice your dog walking in circles, it is essential to take them to the vet as soon as possible so it can be tested for neosporosis and begin treatment.

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Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a virus that attacks puppies’ and dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. It is most commonly seen in unvaccinated puppies and young adult dogs. The virus is spread through the air and by direct contact with an infected animal. The incubation period is two to three weeks.

The first signs of the disease are usually a runny nose, eyes, and a cough. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and paralysis follow these. Unfortunately, the condition is fatal in about half of all cases. There is no specific treatment for Canine Distemper, and the virus can remain in the environment for up to a year.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and skin. It is a chronic, progressive disease that often leads to death. One of the final stages of the disease is when the dog’s body can no longer maintain its core temperature, and they start to walk in circles to try and generate heat.

Ear Infection

One of the most common reasons dogs walk in circles is an ear infection. So if your dog is shaking his head or scratching at his ears, it’s likely he’s got an ear infection. Your vet can prescribe medication to clear it up.

Old age

Do Dogs Walk around In Circles Before They Die?
Do Dogs Walk around In Circles Before They Die?

As dog’s age, they can lose their sense of direction. Walking in circles is one way they compensate for their declining navigational skills.


Dogs with dementia often walk in circles. They may also pace back and forth or wander.


If your dog is walking in circles and seems agitated or anxious, he may be stressed. Dogs sometimes walk in circles when they’re nervous or upset.

Head Injuries

Dogs walk in circles before they die because of a head injury. This is because the injury causes the dog to lose its sense of direction and start to circle until it finally passes.

Canine Vestibular Disease

Canine Vestibular Disease is a condition that can cause a dog to walk in circles. The disease affects the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and eye movement. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and comprises the vestibular nerve, the semicircular canals, and the utricle.

The semicircular canals are fluid-filled tubes that help the body sense movement. The utricle is a sac that contains tiny calcium crystals. 

The vestibular nerve sends information from the vestibular system to the brain.

An infection, inflammation, or tumor can cause Canine Vestibular Disease. The disease can also be caused by a genetic defect or old age. Symptoms of Canine Vestibular Disease include walking in circles, head tilt, incoordination, and vomiting. The disease is treated with medication, rest, and physical therapy.

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What Should You Do About Your Dog Walking In A Circle?


Identify the Issue and Triggers

The first thing you need to do is identify the main issue that your dog is experiencing. For example, if your dog is walking in circles because they’re dizzy, the main problem is likely an inner ear infection. However, if your dog is walking in circles because they’re trying to relieve its anxiety, the main issue is likely anxiety. Once you’ve identified the main problem, you can start to look for potential triggers. For example, if loud noises trigger your dog’s anxiety, you’ll want to avoid taking them to places with loud noises or expose them to them gradually so they can get used to it.

Maintain Your Dog’s Ear Hygiene

Dogs walking in circles before they die likely suffer from an ear infection. Several things, including allergies, mites, polyps, or a foreign body in the ear canal, could cause the disease. Whatever the cause, it’s essential to keep your dog’s ears clean and free of debris to prevent further infection.

Create a calm and supportive environment

 Minimize triggers that might contribute to your dog’s anxiety or stress. Provide safe spaces where they can feel comfortable and relaxed.

Provide adequate exercise and stimulation

Ensure your dog gets enough physical and mental stimulation through walks, playtime, training sessions, and interactive toys. This helps prevent boredom and can decrease the likelihood of repetitive behaviors like circling.

Take Your Dog for Annual Checkups

Most people know that they should take their dog to the vet for an annual checkup, but many need to realize that these visits are just as crucial for your dog’s mental health as they are for his physical health. In addition, annual checkups give your vet a chance to check for any changes in your dog’s behavior that could be early warning signs of mental health problems, such as separation anxiety or depression.

How Do I Stop My Dog from Walking In Circles?

If your dog is walking in circles and you’re concerned, take them to the vet to rule out any medical causes. You can redirect their behavior with toys or food if there is no medical reason.

If your dog is walking in circles due to old age or dementia, providing them with a comfortable place to rest and plenty of love and attention can help ease their anxiety.

What Are The Signs Of Your Dog Dying?

Many signs may indicate your dog is dying. Some symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, lethargy, weakness, loss of coordination, trouble breathing, and increased thirst and urination. If you notice any of these signs, you must take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

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What Can I Feed My Dog With Vestibular Disease At Home?

Here are some general tips for feeding a dog with vestibular disease:

  • Prioritize hydration: Ensure your dog stays hydrated by offering fresh water frequently. Broth or wet food can also help with hydration.
  • Offer smaller, more frequent meals: This can be easier for your dog to eat, especially if they are dizzy or nauseous.
  • Choose easily digestible food: Opt for bland, low-fat, and easily digestible food to minimize nausea and digestive upset. Cooked chicken or white rice are common options.
  • Elevate food and water bowls: This can help your dog eat and drink with less straining, especially if they have balance issues.
  • Hand-feeding: If your dog struggles to eat on their own, hand-feeding may be necessary.

How To Tell If A Dog May Die After Circling?

A few things could indicate that a dog may die after circling. First, if the dog is spinning excessively and seems in pain, it may be a sign that it is nearing the end of its life. If the dog is ancient and has started to lose mobility, this may also be a sign that the dog is dying. Finally, if the dog is not responding to treatment and its condition is deteriorating, it may also be a sign that it is dying.

Why Do Dogs Walk Around In Circles Before They Poop?

There are several possible reasons why dogs walk around in circles before they poop! It’s a common behavior that many dog owners find funny or curious, but there are actually some interesting instincts and practical explanations behind it. Here are a few of the most likely reasons:

1. Aligning with the Earth’s Magnetic Field: A recent study suggests that dogs might be circling to align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. This could help them remember where they marked their territory in the past, making it easier to find their way back to the same spot.

2. Marking Territory: Dogs have scent glands near their anus that release pheromones. By circling, they spread these pheromones, marking the area as their own and letting other dogs know they’ve been there.

3. Checking for Safety: Circling allows your dog to get a good view of their surroundings and make sure there are no threats nearby. This is especially important when they’re in a vulnerable position like pooping.

4. Preparing the Ground: Some dogs might circle to flatten the grass or other vegetation before they poop. This makes it more comfortable for them to squat and do their business.

5. Getting the Bowels Moving: The act of walking and circling can stimulate the bowels and help get things moving, especially if your dog is a bit constipated.

6. Finding the Perfect Spot: Some dogs might be picky about where they poop, and the circling can help them find the perfect spot that feels safe and comfortable.

It’s important to note that the exact reason why your dog circles before pooping might be different from another dog’s reason. It could be a combination of several of these factors, or there could be another reason entirely that we haven’t discovered yet!

What Does It Mean When A Dog Walks In Circles Around You?

A dog walking in circles around you can have several meanings, depending on the context and your dog’s usual behavior. Here are some possibilities:

Affection and Excitement:

  • Greeting: This is the most common reason. Circling can be a way for your dog to greet you when you come home, show excitement when you’re about to go for a walk, or express general affection. They might also wag their tail, lick you, or jump up on you.
  • Playful anticipation: Some dogs circle when they’re excited about playtime or waiting for something they enjoy, like a treat or their favorite toy. Their body language will usually be playful and bouncy.

Communication and Guidance:

  • Herd: Herding breeds like collies are naturally inclined to herd, and they might circle you to try and get you moving in a certain direction, perhaps towards their food bowl or favorite spot.
  • Request: Your dog might circle you if they want something from you, like food, water, or attention. They might also look at you expectantly or paw at you.

Internal Needs and Concerns:

  • Stress or anxiety: Dogs can circle due to stress or anxiety, especially if they’re in a new environment or feeling uncertain. Look for other signs of anxiety, such as panting, licking, or hiding.
  • Nesting: Some dogs circle before lying down, a behavior inherited from their wolf ancestors who would “nest” in tall grass for warmth and comfort.
  • Medical issues: In rare cases, circling can be a symptom of a medical condition, such as vestibular disease or a brain tumor. If your dog suddenly starts circling and exhibits other unusual behavior, consult your veterinarian.

Observing Your Dog:

To understand the meaning behind your dog’s circling, pay attention to the context and their overall behavior. Look for other cues like tail wagging, vocalizations, and body language. If you’re unsure, calmly engage with your dog and see how they respond. If you’re concerned about your dog’s behavior, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Why Do Dogs Walk In Circles Before They Lie Down?

It’s a natural behavior that has to do with their instincts. When dogs are in the wild, they need to keep their energy up to survive. Walking in circles helps them do that. It also helps them keep their pack together. Unfortunately, when a dog is about to die, it doesn’t have the same instinct to keep moving. That’s why it might seem like they’re walking in circles before they lay down.

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There are several intriguing reasons why your furry friend might take a few spins before settling down for a nap! These behaviors stem from both primal instincts and practical needs:

1. Nesting Instinct: This ingrained behavior harks back to their wolf ancestors. In the wild, dogs built “nests” by trampling down tall grass and vegetation to create a comfortable and insulated sleeping area. Circling mimics this action, even in our comfy sofas!

2. Checking for Comfort: Similar to nest-building, circling helps your dog adjust their bed for optimal comfort. They might be flattening uneven surfaces, aligning themselves with the sun’s warmth, or simply finding the “sweet spot” for their body.

3. Safety Check: In the wild, circling allowed dogs to scan for potential threats in their surroundings before curling up to sleep. While your cozy living room might not house wolves, the instinct persists, offering a quick 360-degree security check.

4. Scent Marking: Dogs have scent glands in their paws that leave invisible pheromone trails. Walking in circles can disperse these pheromones, subtly marking their chosen resting spot as their own. This behavior, though mostly subconscious, connects them to their territorial instincts.

5. Positioning for Warmth: In colder climates, circling can help dogs pack down snow or leaves to create a warmer, insulated bed. Additionally, they might adjust their body position within the circle to maximize heat retention, curling up in a tight ball for optimal warmth.

Remember, while these are the most common reasons, individual dogs might have their own unique motivations for circling. Some might even enjoy the ritualistic aspect of it, finding it calming and reassuring before sleep.

So, the next time you witness your dog’s pre-nap pirouette, appreciate the fascinating blend of ancient instincts and practical needs playing out right before your eyes! This seemingly simple behavior is a window into the complex and captivating world of canine psychology.


There are many theories about why dogs walk in circles before they die, but the most likely explanation is that they are disoriented and confused. Their senses are failing, and they can no longer orient themselves in their surroundings. This can be a very upsetting experience for owners to witness, but it is essential to remember that your dog is not in pain and is not suffering.


Which disease found in dogs can cause circling behavior?

Vestibular disease: This affects the inner ear, which is responsible for balance. It can cause dizziness and disorientation, leading to circling in one direction. This is a common cause of circling in older dogs.
Brain tumors: Tumors in the brain can affect any area, including those responsible for movement and coordination. This can cause circling, along with other neurological symptoms like seizures, head tilt, and weakness.
Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD): This is essentially doggy dementia and can cause changes in behavior, including pacing and circling, in older dogs.

What is it called when a dog spins in circles?

“Zoomies” or FRAPs (Frenetic Random Activity Periods): This is a burst of playful energy, often seen in young dogs, where they may run frantically, jump around, and even spin in circles. This is generally harmless and a sign of a happy and energized dog.
Pre-sleep ritual: Some dogs will circle a few times before settling down to sleep, possibly to flatten their bedding or mark their territory with scent. This can be a normal and comforting routine for them.
Tail chasing: Some dogs, especially puppies, may spin in circles while chasing their tails, driven by curiosity or playfulness.

How many times does a dog circle before lying down?

1-3 circles: This is a common range for many dogs, especially if they’re familiar with their bed and relaxed.
4-6 circles: Some dogs, particularly anxious or meticulous ones, might circle more in this range.
More than 6 circles: If your dog circles excessively (more than 10 times) or seems distressed while doing it, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.

What breed of dog spins in circles?

Border Collie: Bred for herding, these energetic dogs often have bursts of playful energy and might spin excitedly.
Jack Russell Terrier: Lively and energetic, Jack Russells are known for their playful antics, which can include spinning in circles.
Beagle: These hounds are curious and playful, and their love of chasing can sometimes manifest as spinning after their tails or other objects.
Pomeranian: Often nicknamed “pom poms” for their fluffy fur, Pomeranians can be surprisingly energetic and playful, and some individuals enjoy spinning in circles.
Poodle: While not all poodles spin, some may exhibit circling as a way to prepare their bedding or “nest” before settling down. This can be a remnant of their retriever instincts.
German Shepherd: This intelligent breed can sometimes spin in circles due to boredom or lack of stimulation. Providing them with mental and physical exercise can help reduce this behavior.
Doberman Pinscher: Dobermans are known for their high energy and alertness, and some individuals may spin in circles while excited or anxious.

How long does it take for a dog to recover from vestibular syndrome?

Within 24-48 hours: The initial symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, and head tilt, are usually at their worst. Some dogs may also experience vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), and loss of balance.
3-7 days: Most dogs begin to show significant improvement during this period. The dizziness and nausea subside, and they start to regain their balance and coordination.
1-3 weeks: Most dogs make a full recovery within this timeframe. The head tilt may resolve completely, or it may persist to some degree in some cases.


2 thoughts on “Why Do Dogs Walk In Circles Before They Die? (The Reasons 2024)”

  1. Hi,

    My 18 yr old chihuahua is walking in circles and completely blind in one eye with very poor sight in the other. She does this the majority of the time she is on the floor. She is otherwise in my lap. If I step out of sight she whines and behaves hysterical. Her confusion is worse at night and I spend a lot time trying to keep her calm. I place her in her kennel when we have company to keep her from getting upset from the change of people and environment. She also toilets on the floor constantly although she has always been trained. I give her homeopathic dog relaxation treats during day and night to keep her quality of life better, to keep her calm. I am curious to know if there j
    Is anything more I can do to make my babies end-of-life process easier for both of us.


    Miss Glenda Donald


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