My Dog Keeps Stretching Its Neck and Looking Up (Time To Worry?)

dog keeps stretching neck and looking up

From playful leaps to endearing head tilts, our dogs never cease to captivate us with their unique and spirited behaviors. Your dog might also display an unusual habit that leaves you wondering if it’s merely a quirk or something more serious.

Should you be concerned if your dog has been 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 to underlying health issues that are causing them to behave this way. Sometimes, it is just your dog being a dog.

Join us as we uncover the reasons behind this specific behavior, ensuring that you’re well-equipped to address any issues and provide the best care for your cat.

Difficulty Swallowing

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

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.

A dog that has difficulty swallowing will also not be in the mood to eat. A loss of appetite over a period of time can cause many other health issues for the dog.

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.

Your dog needs to be seen by the vet to ascertain the root cause and treated accordingly to prevent the problem from worsening.

Canine 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 lead to issues such as:

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

In severe 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.

“It is very possible for a dog to die from having this stomach condition.”

Dog or canine bloat can be caused by:

  • Eating one big meal a day
  • Too active after a meal
  • Drinking too much water
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • 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

Some dog breeds are more prone to having this condition such as Great Danes and St. Bernards1.

Even though canine bloat is more common in older dogs, puppies too can suffer from bloat.

Your dog needs immediate veterinary attention to try and relieve the bloat from the dog’s stomach. The best way to solve canine bloat is to perform surgery on the dog.

The longer you wait, you risk putting your dog in greater danger. It is very possible for a dog to die from having this stomach condition.


Dogs can get pancreatitis just as humans do. The pancreas is a vital organ in the dog’s body that secretes enzymes for digestion and for maintaining proper hormonal levels.

When a dog has pancreatitis, these enzymes will start to digest the pancreas which can cause a lot of pain for the dog.

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 lifetime.

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 such as:

  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Hunched back
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite

There isn’t a complete cure for pancreatitis in dogs. Medication and supportive care can be given to help with the symptoms.

The most important thing that you can do is to eliminate sugar and unnecessary fat from your dog’s diet.

Make sure to feed a diet that is low in carbs and high in animal protein.

Dogs are after all carnivores by nature.

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.

Dogs can injure themselves when they play too roughly or get hit by a vehicle.

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. The most common symptoms will be inflammation and swelling in the affected area.

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 Disorder (OCD)

“Too much anxiety and a lack of mental stimulation can also trigger OCD in dogs.”

Your dog might be stretching its neck due to having obsessive compulsive disorder. Similar to humans, OCD can manifest in many weird actions and behaviors.

Some humans might have the need to wash their legs 100x a day.

Your dog might find stretching its neck provides relief for its OCD.

Dogs with OCD also tend to exhibit other symptoms such as:

  • Excessive licking or chewing
  • Tail chasing
  • Compulsive barking
  • Eating inedible objects

OCD in dogs can be caused by genetics and there are some dog breeds such as German Shepherds and Bull Terriers that are more prone to getting this disorder.

Too much anxiety and a lack of mental stimulation can also trigger OCD in dogs.

If you suspect that your dog has OCD, you need to consult with your vet or pet behavior therapist.

There are techniques that help redirect or extinguish the obsessive behavior.

Medication such as antidepressants can also be used to help dogs with more severe symptoms.

Morning Stretches

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.

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 head 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 or when getting their owners.

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.

If you have never owned a dog before and are 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.

It might seem like a strange behavior to you but there is usually a logical explanation behind your dog’s action.

Presence Of Pests

If your dog has been standing still at one spot 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, up to 35% of dogs that are older than 8 years of age are at risk of getting canine dementia2.

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 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 throwing up, 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.

My Dog Keeps Throwing Its Head Back

Dogs that are throwing their heads back might be different 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 are affecting its well-being.


1. Glickman, L. T., Glickman, N. W., Schellenberg, D. B., Raghavan, M., & Lee, T. (2000). Incidence of and breed-related risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

2. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Dewey CW, Davies ES, Xie H, Wakshlag JJ

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