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Why Does My Dog Groan? What Does It Mean Exactly?

Why Does My Dog Groan? What Does It Mean Exactly?

Dogs have limited vocalization, so they cannot communicate like humans; in fact, only humans have advanced vocalization of all creatures. Due to this fact, as a dog owner, you need to know all the meaning behind all your dog’s sounds. Sometimes, these sounds can be confusing, and without adequate understanding, you will not know what they signify.

Your dog groans for many reasons, including to seek attention, it feels sleepy, ascites, developing pains (in puppies), panosteitis, arthritis, Osteoarthritis, diseases, and illness. You should know that some dog breeds are vocal, so they groan frequently. Most times, a groan signifies delight.

Usually, three medical conditions can cause a dog to groan: one in older dogs, one in puppies, and one that can affect any dog. You need to understand the medical conditions so you can identify them.

brave dog parkWhy Does My Dog Groan?

Groaning is normal in dogs, as they often groan more while deeply asleep. This is even common in very vocal dog breeds. Groaning most times is not usually a thing to worry about, as it could be a way of getting the owner’s attention.

However, it could occur in some cases due to a medical condition. This is more likely if the dog suddenly begins to groan and it does not seem to stop. It is important to talk to your vet about this groaning sound in cases like this. We will be explaining some common reasons why dogs groan below.

Attention Seeking

This is a common reason why a lot of dogs groan. When dogs feel they are not getting enough attention from their owner, they often look for different ways of getting it. Common sounds they use to seek attention include barking, moaning, whining, and groaning.

So, if you notice your dog groaning when it is bored, it is a way of just getting your attention. If you choose to give your dog some attention whenever it groans, perhaps you decide to take it on a walk or spend some time with it, you reinforce this behavior. The implication is that the dog would groan some other time when it needs attention.


Panosteitis is quite common in puppies. This is a condition where a dog’s bone begins to grow more rapidly than its body could accommodate. It often causes their skin to stretch when this happens, leading to discomfort. Although, with time, the dog’s skin and bones would eventually adjust.

However, before it does, the discomfort could cause the dog to groan for a while. Panosteitis is more common in dog breeds like Greyhound, German Shepherd, and Dachshund. Some common symptoms of Panosteitis include limping, moaning, groaning, and yelping when you touch the affected part of the dog’s body.


If your dog has been groaning more whenever it lays down, it could be suffering from ascites. Ascites is a medical condition in which a dog’s abdomen becomes trapped with fluid, which could cause the dog to groan. The cause of the fluid could either be due to an accident, which is quite common in puppies, or liver or kidney disease for older dogs.

Common symptoms of ascites include difficulty breathing, vomiting, swollen abdomen, parched tongue, discomfort, and groaning. Sometimes, there is pressure on the stomach and lungs of the dog, resulting in vomiting and breathing difficulties. Once you notice these symptoms in your dog, ensure you take it to a vet for treatment.

In puppies, ascites is caused by injuries, like when the dog bumps into a fence or a piece of furniture while it is playing. In older dogs, ascites is caused by different health issues, including heart disease, cancer, liver issues, or kidney damage. If you notice that your dog has a distended or swollen tummy, take it to a vet.


If your older dog suddenly begins to groan whenever it lies down, it could indicate Osteoarthritis. This is a health condition that causes the cartilages of a dog’s back bones and joints to become weak as the dog grows older. When this happens, you will notice your dog finding it difficult to lie down or get up.

In addition, the dog will become less active in various fun activities it used to engage in. Other symptoms may include groaning, chewing, or licking the affected joints. For treatment options, speak to a vet. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), cold laser, physiotherapy, and surgery are possible treatment options.

Other Illness

If you cannot identify any of the conditions stated above as a potential cause for your dog’s groaning, it could be suffering from other forms of illness or disease. These illnesses could be related to digestion issues or any other form of internal illness.

This is more likely, especially when the groaning occurs when the dog is trying to change its position or move. To be sure of the actual problem and get a solution, you need to speak to your vet.

A Vocal Breed

Some dogs breed like the Basset Hound, or other Hound breeds are more naturally vocal than others. Dogs like this often groan or moan whenever they feel satisfied, relaxed, and ready to sleep.

In contrast, a dog could also groan if it feels disappointed. Perhaps your dog wants something, and you refuse to give it; it could lay low on the ground then groan, indicating that it is not happy with you.

Why Does My Dog Groan When I Pet Him?

There are about three reasons why your dog will groan when you pet it: an expression of enjoyment or gratitude. So, when you pet your dog and it groans, it signifies that the dog is happy and satisfied with you. When you hear it groan like this, you can tell it is happy from its facial expression.

Another reason will be that you are touching a part of the dog that hurts it. As a dog owner, you should know that dogs do not like to display pain; it is an inherited trait from their wild ancestors. So, there are times when you pet your dog; you may unknowingly touch a part of its body where it feels pain. It could groan to warn you.

Why Does My Dog Groan When He Lays Down?

If your dog groans when it lays down, it is evident that it is in pain. This could be a result of health issues or physical injuries. You need to be observant if you want to know why your dog groans when it lies down. You will notice that the dog takes its time to lie down and tries to avoid laying on some parts of its body.

Also, health issues like obesity will cause a dog to groan when it lays down. The extra layers of fat around the dog’s abdomen prevent the diaphragms from expanding and contracting normally when they breathe because the lungs are constricted. So, when the dog lies down, it breathes sharply and groans.

beautiful dog sunsetWhy Does My Dog Groan When I Pick Him Up?

It is unusual for dogs to groan when you pick them up; however, you must know that dogs can be naughty sometimes. So, if your dog groans when you pick it up, it can be a sign of contentment and happiness, which is nothing to be worried about; however, if you notice that your dog groans as if in pain when you pick it up, you should be worried

More like this: Why Does My Dog Bark at Nothing? How Do I Stop It?

Final Thoughts

It is not unusual for dogs to groan; it is one of their modes of communication. However, they groan in different ways to communicate different things to you. And as a dog owner, you need to know the different things that can cause your dog to groan. This will help you to know what to do.

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