Just like with humans, pets stretching after they’ve been in the same position for a while is as normal as them yawning.
Most of the time a dog stretches their neck and looks upwards, it’s because of perfectly harmless reasons, but there are certain serious ailments that the stretching could be alluding to.
Because of this, it’s best to be aware of all the reasons your dog might be stretching more than usual.
But what are those reasons, and when should you be concerned? The following will break down all of the reasons a dog might be stretching their neck and looking up.
Reasons A Dog Might Be Stretching Their Neck
Let’s get straight into it! Below are some of the reasons why your dog might be stretching their neck. Check these out and see if any of the symptoms apply to your dog.
Remember, if you are concerned, take your dog to the vet for them to be examined.
They Just Woke Up
One of the most common reasons a dog would be stretching is simply because they just woke up, or because they’ve been lying in the same position for a while.
This is just the same as when humans stretch; it gets your body moving, which helps to loosen your muscles and get the blood flowing. So, if a dog is yawning while they’re stretching, it’s unlikely there’s anything to worry about.
They Want To Play
Sometimes a dog will stretch because they want you to play with them, which is referred to as a play bow. They’ll stretch their front paws out, lowering their head, which in turn stretches their neck.
When a dog is doing this and is looking up at you waiting, they probably want to play, or at the very least get your attention.
Similarly, it can be a way for the dog to show submission; their necks are one of the most vulnerable parts of a dog’s body. If they lower their head and expose their neck can indicate both submission and trust.
They Need Exercise
If a dog is stretching their neck regularly (or stretching regularly in general), they likely need exercise.
If they’ve been deprived of exercise they’ll instinctively want to get moving and burn off calories, especially if they’re a dog with high energy like a border collie or a husky.
Without regular exercise, your dog will be weaker, so it’s important to let them get as much exercise as they need- not too much, though, especially if they’re a puppy.
If you’re unsure how much exercise your puppy should be getting, consult with a vet, or search online for that particular breed.
In some cases, your dog could be stretching their neck because of stomach or digestion issues. Canine bloat is most often caused by the dog having too much to drink, having too much to eat, age, or simply genetics.
As well as your dog stretching its neck more than is normal, you may also notice that your dog’s stomach is visibly round or distended. This is because gasses are building up within their body.
In this case, the reason a dog will stretch their neck and the rest of their body is to ease bloat pressure by stretching their abdominal muscles away from their internal organs.
Other signs of canine bloat include the dog’s stomach making gurgling noises, their stomach feeling warm when you put your hand to it, and far more saliva than is normal.
If a dog is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult with a vet, because canine bloat can be a lot more serious in dogs than the bloat that humans experience.
If your dog frequently suffers from bloat, limit their water intake, and slow down their mealtime with a puzzle bowl.
Don’t let a dog eat or drink immediately after they’ve been exercising; they should only do so once they’re breathing normally and they’re calm.
They Have Difficulty Swallowing
Another reason a dog might be stretching their neck is that they are attempting to ease the pain within their esophagus.
Difficulty swallowing, otherwise referred to as dysphagia, occurs when fluids or food are trapped inside your dog’s throat. Your dog may also have trouble swallowing because tumors or lesions have formed in their throat.
Both stretching their neck and regurgitating their food are potential signs that your dog is having trouble swallowing, so if a dog is displaying either of these symptoms you should consult with a vet.
A lot of the time it’s a problem that will go away by itself after a few days, but it’s always better to be safe just in case.
Just like humans, dogs can develop pancreatitis. This is when the pancreas gets inflamed, and attempts to digest itself.
These symptoms are like the symptoms of bloat (particularly a swollen stomach), but dogs can also get a fever if they have pancreatitis.
They may also appear lethargic. The reason a dog suffering from this condition would stretch their neck is to pull its abdominal muscles away from its pancreas, temporarily relieving the pain.
The final most common reason is that the dog has suffered an injury to its chest. Injuries to the chest can make it harder for the dog to breathe, so they’ll stretch their neck to receive more oxygen.
Other symptoms include labored or shallow breathing, and in some cases, the dog’s chest may be visibly sunken.
Reasons A Dog Might Be Looking Upwards Excessively
If your dog is looking upwards rather than just stretching, there could be a few reasons for this. Some dogs suffer from stargazing syndrome, which means they’ll look up for a long time as if in a daze.
This is usually caused by OCD or partial seizures. Another reason is to display dominance, which is just the opposite of a dog lowering its head as a sign of submission and trust.
Congestive heart failure, a condition that usually affects more elderly dogs and can cause difficulty breathing, can be another reason your dog is looking upwards, as can pneumonia or a respiratory illness.
Likewise, the dog may struggle to breathe with these conditions, which is why they’ll be stretching their neck or raising their head.
Of course, it’s also possible your dog is just sniffing the air because they smell another animal or food.
There are a lot of potential reasons your dog keeps stretching their neck or looking up. Some of them are cause for concern, while others are completely normal.
They could be giving you a play bow, having a morning stretch, suffering from bloat, suffering from pancreatitis, having difficulty swallowing, or suffering from a chest injury.
Or, if your dog is looking upwards, they could be sniffing the air, displaying signs of stargazing syndrome, displaying dominance, or suffering from congestive heart failure, pneumonia, or a respiratory illness.