It can be incredibly worrying when you find your four-legged friend repeatedly staring into space or seeming fixated on a certain object for no reason. You may be worried that your dog is scared, sick, or even has a head injury.
If you're unsure whether your dog's gaze is to be expected, we're here to help. For that we will explain some of the most common reasons why a dog seems to be staring into space. From there, we'll explain what you can do to help your furry friend.
By understanding the reasoning behind the appearanceweird actingrecognize when it's time to make an appointment with the vet and when your dog is showing a harmless quirk.
Why do dogs stare?
The effects of your dog staring into space depend largely on how often he exhibits the behavior. If you've just caught your dog staring into space once or twice, it's doubtful you have to worry too much about this behavior.
The occasional glance might just be a sign that your dog has stopped because he heard a noise in the distance or smelled an unusual smell.
On the other hand, if a dog is staring at walls and other inanimate objects frequently and for long periods of time, it could be a symptom of a more serious condition. The following are some of the most worrying reasons dogs stare compulsively into space:
1.Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)
If you have a dog in their older years and they often stare into space, chances are they will suffer early in life.Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or CCD.
CCD is a medical term for a form of senile dementia that is relatively common in older dogs. Like dementia in humans, CCD often causes disorientation and difficulties with individual consciousness.
What may seem like a stare may mean your dog is confused and disoriented in a formerly familiar environment. Other signs of this cognitive dysfunction syndrome can include bumping into walls and furniture, incontinence, wandering around the house mindlessly, not following basic commands, and increased levels of aggression.
What Can You Do When Your Dog Is Staring Due to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CCD; However, there are prescription medications and dietary changes that can help relieve your dog's symptoms.
The best thing to do if you suspect your dog's staring is related to CCD is to simply take your senior dog to a veterinarian. If your dog is diagnosed with CCD, your veterinarian can discuss treatment plans and recommend actions you can take to improve your dog's quality of life.
PetMD also has an informative guide on canine cognitive dysfunction that may be helpful:Canine Dementia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Life Expectancy.
2.Canine epilepsy and partial seizures
While you might associate epilepsy with sudden and dramatic symptoms like violent fainting spells and tremors, there are also less obvious signs of seizures in dogs.
Staring is one of the most common signs of a mild seizure, also known as a partial or focal seizure. This is because these types of seizures originate in a single part of the brain, making them less likely to affect the dog's entire body.
Unlike a general seizure, which originates from both hemispheres of the brain, these partial seizures result in mild symptoms. This can complicate the diagnosis.
If you notice that your dog seems disoriented and lethargic after you stop searching, there's a chance he may have suffered a partial seizure.
For more information on seizures in dogs, we recommend reading the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation guide:Understanding Canine Epilepsy.
What can you do if your dog is staring due to the seizures?
The first thing to do if you suspect mild seizures are to blame for your dog's blank stare is to take him to a veterinarian right away. A veterinarian can run tests that can provide an accurate diagnosis for your dog.
Suppose the dog has canine epilepsy or another condition that causes seizures. In this case, your vet can prescribe medications that can help control your dog's symptoms and reduce the frequency of seizures.
There is a wide range of anti-epileptic drugs that are safe for dogs. In addition to prescribing the best options, your veterinarian can guide you through strategies you can follow to preserve yourssafe dogwhen seizures get worse.
3.fear or physical pain
If your dog suddenly starts staring into space, chances are this new behavior is related to fear or even physical pain.
While dogs can certainly express themselves through a variety of vocalizations, they often tacitly communicate pain and discomfort through their body language. When a dog has started looking glassy, it may be their way of dealing with pain, stress, or general discomfort.
You may notice other symptoms besides your dog staring, including whining, pacing, limping, and various destructive behaviors.
For more information on anxiety in dogs, please see the American Kennel Club's complete guide:Understand, prevent and treat dog fear.
What should you do if you suspect your dog's staring is due to pain or fear?
If the behavior seems to have started out of nowhere, carefully examine your dog for signs of physical injury. If you can't see any obvious signs of damage, look for othersbehavior of your dogshows
If the dog is making more noise than usual and seems frightened, it may be suffering from anxiety. If the gaze occurs just before leaving the house, this could be your dog's way of expressing separation anxiety.
If you're concerned that your dog may be experiencing chronic pain or anxiety, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an evaluation. Explain the behaviors you've noticed, including your dog's staring, as this can help with the diagnosis.
From there, the vet can prescribe a treatment plan, from prescription medications to simple lifestyle adjustments like paying more attention and exercise.
Other reasons dogs stare into space
While some of the above reasons for staring can be alarming, there are many other reasons dogs repeatedly stare into space.
For many dogs, staring is simply a compulsive behavior. In addition to barking, chewing on objects, scratching a lot, and biting their tails, dogs don't just stare because it's a habit they developed at a young age.
Staring can also be a form of attention-seeking behavior, especially when the gaze is on a person. You may notice your dog looking towards the door while a person has left, or out the window while waiting for someone to return. In this sense, the dog is not staring straight into space; they look at an object and expect a certain result.
In these cases, you don't need to worry too much about your dog's gaze, but keep in mind that it could be related to anxiety or stress.
What to do when your dog is staring at you
Your dog's gaze can be treated in a number of ways. You must see a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if it is related to a medical condition or physical injury.
If it's just compulsive behavior, you can try paying attention to your dog when you notice him watching. This can help the dog overcome the behavior, especially if it has been staring out of boredom.