Dog Keeps Stretching Neck and Looking Up (Is This Normal?)

Most dogs that I’ve seen and had as pets are rather flexible. They can contort their bodies and necks into positions that are next to impossible for us mere mortals.

What happens if you have been noticing your dog stretching its neck and looking up?

Many dogs stretch out their necks and look up as a way to alleviate some discomfort that they might be feeling. It could also be due underlying health issues that are causing them to behave this way. Sometimes, it is just your dog being a dog.

There are a number of possible reasons that can be causing this rather weird behavior. Let us dive a little deeper into each reason.

Difficulty Swallowing

Dogs are notoriously known for eating or putting objects in their mouths that can be hazardous.

Sometimes it is due to curiosity or out of plain greediness.

A dog that has a foreign object stuck in its throat or esophagus will definitely experience pain and discomfort.

It will start to stretch out its neck and look up to try and dislodge whatever food, object or liquid that is stuck in the throat.

If you know for sure that your dog is having difficulty swallowing due to an obstruction in its throat, open your dog’s mouth to see if you are able to dislodge the matter.

Tumors or lesions in your dog’s throat can also cause pain and swallowing difficulty.

If you notice that your dog stretches its neck and regurgitates its food often, it could be a sign that it’s experiencing esophageal pain.

Morning Stretch

There’s nothing like a good stretch in the morning after a good night’s sleep to awaken your joints and muscles.

And dogs feel the same way after sleeping or lying down for a while. However, no creature on earth comes close to beating the master of the stretch…the cat.

Stretching helps your dog to loosen up its stiff muscles and get the blood flow going again.

Dogs stretch because it feels good for them.

Dog Bloat

Dog bloat is a very common issue in dogs that can end up being deadly if left untreated. Basically, it is a condition that causes stomach and digestion problems for your dog.

Your dog’s stomach gets and feels bloated when it fills up with food, fluid or gas. When the stomach starts to expand more than normal, it put pressure on the other major organs.

This can be problematic because:

  • A tear in the stomach wall
  • Decreased blood flow to the stomach and heart
  • Difficulty breathing

In some rare cases, the stomach can twist and trap blood in the stomach. This prevents blood from flowing back to the heart and the dog can go into shock.

Dog or canine bloat can be caused by:

  • Eating one big meal a day
  • Being too active after a meal
  • Drinking too much water
  • Genetics

Dogs with bloated tummies will try to stretch out their necks and elongate their abdominal muscles to relieve the pressure on other organs.

Your dog will show the following symptoms if it suffers from canine bloat.

  • Swollen stomach
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restless
  • Pale gums
  • Difficulty breathing

Your dog needs immediate veterinary attention to try and relieve the bloat from the dog’s stomach. The longer you wait, you risk putting your dog in greater danger.

Some dog breeds are more prone to having this condition like the Boxers, German Shepherds, Great Danes and St. Bernards. Even though canine bloat is more common in older dogs, puppies from the above dog breeds are at a higher risk of bloating.

Playful Bow

When your dog stretches its neck and looks up, it isn’t always about doom and gloom. Sometimes, your dog just wants to play.

The dog’s neck will be stretched out together with its front paws and with its heads lowered. You will also notice your dog wagging its tail and barking at you to throw something for it to fetch.

Such a gesture is called a playful bow and it is a normal behavior in dogs when they want to play with other dogs or with their owner.


Dogs can get pancreatitis just as humans do. When this condition happens, the pancreas will start to get inflamed and cause discomfort.

The pancreas is a vital organ in the dog’s body as it secretes enzymes for digestion and maintaining proper hormonal levels.

The exact cause of pancreatitis is yet to be known and it can strike any dog regardless of age, sex and breed.

Some doctors suspect that it could be due to a high-fat diet or prolonged use of steroids in a dog’s healthcare.

This condition is painful and dogs with this problem are constantly stretching their necks and front paws to try and get some relief.

You will notice other symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite

These symptoms might seem very similar to a dog having canine bloat hence it would be best to have the vet run some tests to ascertain the problem.

Chest Or Neck Injury

A dog that has sustained a recent chest or neck injury might be constantly stretching its neck. If a dog has sustained any form of injury or trauma to its chest, it might have some difficulty breathing.

The dog might be stretching its neck to make it easier to breathe.

If the dog has a neck injury instead of a chest injury, there might be some pain when the dog raises its neck. By stretching it out, it might feel better for the dog.

It can be hard to detect the extent of the injury with the naked eye. Your dog might have suffered injuries to its internal organs or bones that can only be seen via an x-ray or MRI.

Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (OCD)

Like humans, our dogs come with their own weird quirks as well. The dog might be stretching its neck due to compulsive behavior.

Some dogs might see the need to turn round in circles for a minute every time before their nap. Some might even spend too much time chasing and retrieving their favorite ball.

If a dog spends too much time doing a particular ‘normal’ activity which starts to have a negative impact, then it is time to see the vet.

There is also such a thing as too much neck stretching by a dog.

Your Dog Is Bored

If you notice that your dog stretches its neck after sleeping and then goes back to sleep almost the whole day, it could be a sign that your dog is bored.

Unlike cats, dogs do need their required exercise on a daily basis to be healthy. There are some dog breeds that need more exercise as compared to others due to their heritage.

These breeds are:

The above list isn’t exhaustive but if your dog was bred as a working dog, sleeping at home all day will cause it to be depressed.

For someone who has never owned a dog before and is thinking of getting one, be realistic about your commitment levels before deciding on what breed to get as a first dog.

Why Does My Dog Keep Looking Up At The Ceiling?

Even if your dog is perfectly healthy, there are times when it might be just looking up at the ceiling.

You look up the spot that your dog is looking for and see nothing there. However, don’t forget that a dog’s senses are a lot more sensitive than ours.

What you can’t see might be visible to your dog.

Presence Of Pests

If your dog has been standing still at one spot and looking at a particular and looking at the wall or ceiling with great intent, there’s a possibility that there has been a pest infestation in that area.

Dogs have an amazing sense of hearing and smell. It could be the presence of rats, wasps or bees that your dog has picked up.

It would be a good idea to call the pest exterminator to have a look to see what creepy crawly has decided to set up shop in your home.

Feeling Anxious

There are some dogs that are not fond of loud noises. Some can even get very anxious or stressed out when they hear loud commotions like fireworks or sirens.

If your dog has the same anxiety issues, it might be looking up if the noise is coming from the apartment upstairs.

Other symptoms that you will notice will be barking, whining and trying to hide from the noise.

Dogs with anxiety issues need some form of therapy or treatment. If not treated, these anxieties can get worst and cause behavioral issues.

Canine Dementia

There is a risk of a dog getting canine dementia as it gets older. In fact, studies have found that 1 out of 3 dogs are at risk of this condition past the age of 12 years old.

Dogs with this issue will be disorientated, forget how to perform simple things and just ‘zone out’ by staring at the ceiling.

You will need to speak to the vet about how to go about managing dogs with canine dementia to give them the best quality of life possible.

Foreign Object In The Eye

Your dog might be looking up at the recently due to having something small lodged in its eye.

It could be grass seeds or a spec of dust that has found its way into your dog’s eye. Look out for swelling and excessive tearing that usually happens when your dog’s eyes are irritated.

Take your dog to the vet to have them flush out the object.

Flea Treatments

Dogs that have recently been given flea treatments can exhibit some side effects like vomiting, tremors and seizures.

Some dogs can also look up at the ceiling and start biting their own tails.

Flea medication contains very strong active ingredients that are required to get rid of such parasites. Make sure to give your dog the right flea medication dosage to prevent any health issues.

If you are buying any non-prescribed flea medication, make sure to consult your vet before administering it to your dog.

Dog Keeps Throwing Its Head Back

Dogs that are throwing their heads back might be differing from canine otitis which is the inflammation of the external ear canal.

This inflammation can be caused by bacteria, parasites or a foreign object.

Dogs with neurological conditions can also throw or jolt their heads back when having a seizure.

These are muscular spasms that the dog is not able to control on its own.


For the majority of dogs, stretching their neck is a normal thing to be doing and should not be a cause of concern for the owner.

The only time that your dog should seek medical attention for this behavior is when you notice other symptoms as well that is affecting its well being.