10 Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Sitting Down Abruptly (A Few Surprises)

dog sitting down on the floor

Is your dog frequently sitting down abruptly? This behavior can signal various health and behavioral concerns.

Common reasons for a dog sitting down abruptly include swollen anal glands, tick and flea infestations, intestinal parasites, hip dysplasia, spinal issues, muscle strains, paw injuries, anxiety or stress, etc. Each of these conditions requires specific attention and treatment.

Our guide explores common causes and effective solutions to help your dog regain comfort and normal activity.

1. Swollen Anal Glands

You might not have seen your dog’s anal glands before but they play an important role in a dog’s life.

A dog’s anal glands or sacs are located on the inside of the anus.

The two anal glands are located on the lower left and right side of the anus (4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions), with ducts that open on the edge of the anus.

They contain an oily brown liquid that smells musky, almost like fish oil.

Anal sacs have a few purposes:

  • For territorial marking
  • A database about a dog’s sex, age, health, etc
  • Readiness to mate

When formed stool passes through the anus, a small amount of their secretion is released.

If the anal glands are not emptied regularly, favorable conditions are created for a bacterial infection.

Common symptoms include:

  • Dog sitting down suddenly and dragging its rear on the ground (scooting)
  • Licking or biting its anal area
  • Swelling or lumps near the anus
  • Visible discomfort or pain when sitting or defecating
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the anus
  • Bloody or pus-filled stools
  • Anal Fistulas

How To Help Your Dog?

Swollen anal glands are a painful condition for your dog which requires medical intervention.

There are a few treatment options available.

Manual Expression

A veterinarian or a trained groomer can manually express (squeeze out) the contents of the anal glands.

This can help to provide some immediate relief but needs to be done regularly until your dog recovers.

If you’re new to expressing your dog’s anal sacs, it’s wise to first learn from a professional.

I have done it a few times and it ain’t the prettiest sight and smell to behold.

And make sure to wear gloves.

Sometimes an anal gland lavage (or flush) is carried out.

The process involves placing a catheter through the anal duct and using saline solution to flush out the contents.

An antibiotic is applied directly into the sac to treat the infection.


If the glands are infected, the vet may prescribe antibiotics and pain-relief medication.

You need to ensure that your dog finishes its entire course of antibiotics to be fully effective.


If your dog has repeated infections, this can create scar tissue leading to chronic problems.

Surgical removal of the anal glands may be recommended for such cases.

This is used as a last resort due to the risk of complications such as fecal incontinence.

2. Ticks And Fleas

tick and fleas

Ticks and fleas are surface parasites that feed on your dog’s blood.

Fleas are tiny, quick, and dark-colored, whereas ticks are bigger and burrow into the skin.

Dogs are at a higher risk of infestation because they often spend more time outside and around other dogs.

Tick and flea infestations can lead to persistent itch and stress out your dog.

This can cause your dogs to scratch, bite, or suddenly sit down to ease the irritation

Some dogs may tuck their tails between their legs and behave unusually due to the infestation.

Other symptoms include:

  • Red or irritated skin
  • Hair loss
  • Flea dirt
  • Skin allergic reactions
  • Restlessness
  • Pale gums (amenia)
  • Tick fever or Lyme disease
  • Tapeworms (from ingesting fleas)

How To Help Your Dog?

Here are some of the most effective forms of flea and tick treatments.

Topical Treatments

These treatments work by releasing active ingredients that kill fleas and ticks when they feed on your dog.

Topical treatments are applied directly to a small area of your dog’s skin.

The best place to apply the solution is between the shoulder blades, an area your dog can’t lick.

It is important to not bathe your dog before applying flea medication. You should wait at least 48 hours after applying topical treatments before bathing your dog to ensure effective absorption of the medication.

The medication needs to be distributed by your dog’s natural skin oil so that it can cover as much surface area as possible.

These treatments work by releasing active ingredients that kill fleas and ticks when they feed on your dog.

Medicated shampoos work well to kill fleas and ticks on contact and are particularly useful for quick relief.

Flea collars are worn around the dog’s neck that release chemicals over an extended period.

Oral Medication

Oral medications are available in pill or chewable form from your vet.

These flea medications work from the inside to disrupt the life cycle of the parasites.

One major advantage oral meds have over a topical solution is the speed of effectiveness.

It can take as quickly as 30 minutes to enter your dog’s bloodstream and take effect.

Be careful when giving your dog oral medication so as not to overdose your dog with flea/tick medication.

Most recommended dosages are tied to the weight of the dog.

Consult A Veterinarian

If your dog is having a bad reaction to the infestation, it would be best to see a vet.

There’s a chance that your dog could be suffering from anemia or tick fever which require proper medical treatment.

3. Intestinal Parasites

intestinal parasites

Internal parasites are worms that live in your dog’s body like its heart or stomach.

If your dog has been sitting down abruptly and scooting, it could be due to intestinal parasites.

The most common forms of intestinal parasites are:

  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Roundworms
  • Whipworms

Most dogs get infected by ingesting food, soil, animal droppings or water that has been contaminated by these parasites.

Even puppies can get infected by their mother’s milk. Some parasites are even transmitted to puppies while still in the womb.

These parasites thrive in your dog’s intestinal tract by feeding off the nutrients that your dog eats.

How To Spot Intestinal Parasites In Your Dog?

Spotting intestinal parasites in your dog involves being vigilant.

Some signs and symptoms that can indicate an infestation.

Presence Of Worms

Look for visible worms in your dog’s stool or vomit.

They may appear as small, rice-like segments or long, spaghetti-like strands. Sometimes, you can also spot it around your dog’s rear end.

For hookworms and roundworms, a stool sample is required for the vet to take a look under the microscope.

Unexplained Weight Loss And Appetite Change

Despite eating well, your dog might start losing weight because the parasites are stealing its nutrients.

Some dogs might feel hungrier if they’re losing nutrients, while others might not feel like eating at all.

Bloody Diarrhea

Another tell-tale sign is when your dog is suffering from frequent bloody diarrhea and smelly gas.

Hookworms attach themselves to your dog’s intestinal wall and feed on its blood. This causes bleeding and results in bloody stools.

Parasites can cause a lot of swelling in the intestines. This can lead to bleeding, resulting in blood in the stool.

How To Help Your Dog?

Deworming Medication

The vet will prescribe appropriate deworming medication based on the type of parasite.

The medicine aims to get rid of these worms to prevent them from maturing and breeding.

These parasites will either be reabsorbed back into the dog’s body or expelled via its stools.

Bland Diet

Your dog’s digestive system won’t be in the best shape while having an intestinal infestation.

Providing a bland diet can help support your dog’s recovery.

Boiled chicken and white rice are great for your dog. This mix is nutritious and easy to digest.

4. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia in dogs can develop and can be diagnosed between 6-12 months of age.

One common joint problem in dogs is canine hip dysplasia.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint like our shoulders. This condition causes the hip joint of a dog to become unstable.

Standing or walking for your dog will become painful and difficult.

Many dogs develop joint problems as they get older too.

More so if they have been very active from a young age and do a lot of running like Greyhounds and Border Collies.

If you find your older dog sitting down on its butt while it’s walking or standing, it could be a sign of hip dysplasia.

Some dog breeds like the Golden Retriever, Pugs, Bulldogs, St Bernards, Great Danes and Labradors are more prone to canine hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia in dogs can develop and can be diagnosed between 6-12 months of age.

The onset of clinical signs depends on the severity of the dysplasia.

If the hip dysplasia is not severe, young dogs won’t show any clinical signs.

But as they age, older dogs will start to show signs of developing osteoarthritis secondary to the dysplasia.

How To Help Your Dog?

The ideal management of hip dysplasia in your dog starts with a veterinary diagnosis through physical exams and X-rays.

Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief will often be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are also recommended to support joint health.

I would also highly suggest physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint to improve mobility.

Home care and lifestyle adjustments are also important for dogs with this condition.

Activities that involve jumping or running should be avoided to prevent stress on the hips.

Using ramps or stairs to help your dog access higher surfaces without jumping is a good idea.

In severe hip dysplasia cases, surgeries such as total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy (FHO) might be considered.

Most vets prefer doing a total hip replacement surgery where success rates can be as high as 95%.

5. Spinal Issues

xray of dog spine

Spinal issues in dogs can vary from slight discomfort to intense pain, greatly affecting their movement and behavior.

Spinal issues in dogs can be caused by:

  • Congenital defects
  • Injury to the back
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Infections

Conditions like Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), spinal stenosis, or spondylosis can cause significant pain and discomfort.

These issues can worsen in cold weather when the joints and muscles are stiffer.

Some dogs can also suffer from a nerve impingement when having spinal issues.

Symptoms of spinal issues can be:

  • Whining and whimpering
  • Hunched back
  • Weak limbs
  • Lethargy

This can lead to sudden changes in posture and movement, such as abruptly sitting down.

How To Help Your Dog?

Neurological assessments and various imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans are essential for an accurate diagnosis.

Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers are usually prescribed to manage the discomfort associated with spinal problems.

Rehabilitation exercises play a crucial role in improving mobility and strengthening the muscles that support the spine.

In cases of herniated discs or major spinal injuries, surgery may be required.

The goal is to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and prevent additional damage.

6. Muscle Strains Or Sprains

A bad muscle sprain is enough to make your dog sit back down abruptly when it tries to get up.

If you have a dog that is very hyper and loves being active, it can suffer from a pulled muscle rather easily.

A muscle strain is less serious as compared to a fracture or joint problem but it can still be very painful.

A bad muscle sprain is enough to make your dog sit back down abruptly when it tries to get up.

Muscle injuries in dogs can cause limping or lameness. Dogs often exhibit signs of pain and discomfort during movement or when the affected area is touched.

Swelling or inflammation is also common in the injured region.

How To Help Your Dog?

The best treatment for muscle strains and sprains in your dog is adequate rest and recovery.

For bad sprains, it is necessary to see the vet for treatment.

Limit your dog’s movement and physical activities. This gives ample time for the injured muscle or ligament to heal.

The duration of rest required varies depending on the severity of the injury.

This aspect of recovery can be challenging if you have a puppy or a very high-energy dog.

Vets often prescribe pain medications to ease the discomfort associated with muscle injuries.

Cold compresses are particularly useful to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Warm compresses can be applied later to promote healing and provide comfort to the recovering area.

7. Paw Injury

dog paws

Paw injuries are a common yet often overlooked cause of discomfort in dogs.

This can lead to behaviors such as suddenly sitting down or limping.

The paws are a crucial part of every dog’s anatomy, used for walking and running.

Injuries to this area can range from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe issues like burns, blisters, or puncture wounds.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve accidentally stepped on my dog’s paws a few times before. Thankfully it didn’t cause any serious damage.

Just some swelling.

Symptoms of a paw injury are:

  • Visible cuts, bleeding, or abrasions.
  • Limping or favoring one paw.
  • Frequent licking or chewing at the paw.
  • Swelling and redness
  • Signs of pus or foul odor.

How To Help Your Dog?

When examining a paw injury, gently touch the affected area to gauge the pain response.

For minor injuries, gently clean the wound with mild soap and water and apply an antiseptic.

It’s important to keep the injured paw clean and protected from further injury.

Paw wounds such as deep cuts, burns or signs of infection need to be treated by a vet immediately.

The vet may prescribe antibiotics, pain relief or recommend bandaging or splinting the paw.

Don’t be too concerned if your dog is limping after the splint is removed. It does take some time for the limb to heal completely.

Protective booties or socks can be useful in preventing paw injuries in your dog.

They are particularly helpful when walking in rough terrain or during extreme weather.

Your mileage will vary as not many dogs are fans of having their paws wrapped up.

8. Feeling Tired And Lazy

french bulldog lazing on the sofa

Even the most energetic of dogs can be feeling too lazy or tired to move.

If your dog feels lazy and you try to take it for a walk, it might sit down suddenly, indicating a sign of exercise intolerance.

Older dogs tend to have joint problems such as arthritis which makes them less willing to move.

So cut your senior dog some slack if it wishes to chill in front of the TV rather than take a walk in the park.

How To Help Your Dog?

Make sure that you are not over-exerting your dog by walking too many miles too often.

It is okay to give your dog a day off now and then if it doesn’t feel like moving much.

Or just do short walks instead if your dog isn’t feeling up to it.

Most dogs will be eager to head out to play after a day of rest.

9. Attention Seeking Behavior

Our dogs are clever animals and can devise ways to get what they want from us.

Your dog may have found a special way to get your attention or food, like suddenly sitting down and not moving.

Many dog owners unknowingly reinforce this behavior by responding with affection, treats or praise.

Consequently, the dog associates this with play and enjoys the extra attention.

Such actions tend to reinforce the dog’s bad behavior rather than correct it.

It might seem like an adorable behavior at first but not when your dog does it at a busy road crossing.

How To Help Your Dog?

It’s crucial to avoid reinforcing the behavior.

If you suspect your dog is sitting down abruptly for attention, ensure you respond appropriately.

Only give attention when your dog is calm and not performing the behavior.

It is a battle of who gives in first.

To change this behavior, try to engage your dog in a different activity such as a training session or a game.

This offers attention in a more structured way.

10. Anxiety And Stress

fireworks making dog stress

Just like humans, dogs also feel anxiety and stress, which can influence their behavior and cause illnesses.

These emotional states can lead to weird actions such as the sudden act of sitting down.

This behavior can be a complex coping mechanism employed by your dog to deal with situations that are overwhelming or cause unease.

It’s important to remember that addressing these issues is crucial for your pet’s well-being

Causes of Anxiety And Stress In Dogs

Environmental Changes

Moving to a new home, changes in the household or the introduction of new pets or family members can trigger stress.

Based on my foster experience, I find that new pets tend to cause more stress to my dogs.

This can disrupt the existing dominance hierarchy which has already been established.

Separation Anxiety

Some dogs get anxious when away from their owners, showing behaviors such as pacing, acting destructively, and whining.

Loud Noises

For example, loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks or even the lawn mower can induce fear and anxiety in dogs.

Past Trauma

Dogs with a history of trauma or abuse may have heightened anxiety responses. Post traumatic stress disorder is real in pets.

How To Help My Dog?

If your dog’s anxiety is starting to affect its quality of life, professional intervention is necessary.

Managing anxiety and stress in dogs involves creating a nurturing and stable environment.

One effective approach is to establish a safe soothing space for your dog. A dedicated area where they can feel secure and retreat when anxious.

You’ll be surprised to know that your dog loves a routine as much as a cat does.

Keeping a regular routine with feeding, walking routes, and playtime can greatly lessen stress and anxiety.

Regular mental and physical exercises are also key in managing stress.

If your dog’s anxiety is starting to affect its quality of life, professional intervention is necessary.

Consulting a veterinarian is the first step in such scenarios.

They can evaluate the dog’s condition and suggest medications formulated to manage anxiety.

Behavioral therapy with a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist can be highly beneficial too.

These experts can provide tailored strategies and training programs to manage the root cause of your dog’s stress.

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