Dog is Pacing and Unsettled

Common Reasons Why a Dog is Pacing and Unsettled

It can be hard for a pet owner to see their dog acting stressed and anxious. But, there are several reasons why a dog could be pacing and unsettled. Some have to deal with excitement, while others are more worrisome. The more you know about the additional symptoms, and the causes behind them, the more peace of mind you’ll be able to have about your dog’s behavior.

Most of the time, dogs pace because they want your attention. You know better than anyone what ‘normal’ behavior looks like for your pet. If they seem restless, and that’s out of character for them, it’s a good indicator that something might be wrong.

Consider the following potential conditions when your dog is pacing and restless. If you’re able to keep a closer eye on them, you’ll likely be able to pinpoint what is wrong and help them find a solution.

Why Your Dog is Pacing and Unsettled

Different dogs showcase this behavior for different reasons. However, there are several common reasons behind excessive pacing in dogs. Let’s take a closer look at some of these commonalities. Once you know the cause of the restlessness, you’ll be better equipped to find the right kind of treatment.


This is an incredibly broad term for dogs. Anxiety covers a wide variety of common situations. From travel anxiety to separation anxiety, there are plenty of different situations in which your dog can get easily stressed. Anxiety can also be triggered by past experiences. Trauma affects dogs similarly to how it affects people. If your dog has been through a stressful experience, it can cause problems for years.

If your dog seems restless, look for other symptoms, such as:

Again, anxiety comes in many different forms. Dogs can experience this type of stress for so many different reasons, so it’s important to pay attention to their behaviors, and what causes them to change. Sometimes, anxiety can be controlled by changing the situation. Other times, medication can be utilized to help your dog calm down.

Liver Disease

Connecting issues with the liver and pacing may not seem so obvious at first. But, a damaged liver in dogs can cause abnormal neurological behaviors. This includes everything from pacing, to circling, or even sudden changes in behavioral changes. This happens if the liver is unable to function properly. If it can’t filter out toxins correctly, those toxins can get into the bloodstream, and affect the neurological systems of a dog.

Any disease or damage to the liver should be taken very seriously. Some issues might be able to be managed with medication. However, you should seek out the help of a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cushing’s Disease

This is simply an overproduction of the cortisol hormone. While it’s most common in older dogs, it can happen at any time. Some of the most well-known symptoms of the disease include pacing, restlessness, and wandering. Cushing’s Disease can also lead to pituitary tumors, which can press against the brain, and cause even more neurological damage. This, too, can often be treated with medication.

Cognitive Dysfunction (Alzheimer’s Disease)

Yes, dog’s can get Alzheimer’s disease or forms of dementia. This condition occurs due to deposits on the brain and low dopamine levels. As it does in humans, most symptoms of this disease will show up slowly. You may first notice your dog acting confused, or disoriented. This can eventually lead to aimless wandering and pacing or circling. Unfortunately, because this is a degenerative disease, there aren’t any strong treatment options as of yet.

my dog keeps pacing and won't lay down


Dogs can get brain tumors just as easily as humans. They aren’t immune to similar illnesses and diseases. Unfortunately, brain tumors do occur in dogs on occasion, and they can severely affect the neurological system. As we’ve seen with other disorders (liver, Cushing’s disease), it’s the neurological system that can affect your dog’s behaviors. Unusual pacing or aimless circling can be a symptom of a brain tumor.

Unfortunately, symptoms of a brain tumor can either show up very quickly or gradually. If they do show up suddenly, it may be more difficult to start treatment before it becomes a serious problem.

Sources of Help for a Restless Dog

As you can see, most issues with pacing or stress in your dog can be caused by other underlying health issues. If these are abnormal behaviors for your dog, try capturing them on video whenever they happen. If you can’t discern what might be causing them, your vet should be able to have a better idea if they can see the behaviors taking place.

Things like therapeutic treatment, medication, or even a change in scenery or diet can help a restless dog. No one wants to see their four-legged friend go through any serious health condition. But, the sooner you get in touch with your vet to get answers, the sooner you can seek out treatment.

If these behaviors seem like more of a situational issue, try to eliminate or change the factors causing them. Again, anxiety can play a huge factor in a dog’s restlessness. Thankfully, it can also be one of the most treatable reasons on this list.

You know your dog’s natural behaviors better than anyone. When you take a look at these reasons why a dog is pacing and unsettled, you’ll know what’s ‘normal’ for your dog. If they’re not typically anxious or stressed, there’s a good chance some health issue is going on.

Simply pay attention to their behavioral patterns. If the strange pacing, circling, and wandering continues, see a vet as soon as possible. Some of the medical issues listed above can be very serious. So, the sooner medical help is sought out, the better chance your dog has at restoring their health.