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20th May 2022

Dog owners warned this gesture from pet could be a sign of illness

Danny Jones

Pet gestures: big stretch could mean your dog is ill

It’s one dog lovers regularly react to

It is nigh on impossible to see a pet getting up and stretching without saying “biiig stretch” in response: it’s a simple law of the universe. However, one dog owner on TikTok has warned that in her pet’s case, this common canine pose apparently signified something more sinister.

User @sweetteatate, aka Tea, shared a video of her Golden Retriever Barley doing a classic big stretch or downward dog pose in late April with the caption: “If your dog ever does this out of nowhere, please take them to the vet immediately.”


@sweetteatate Really wish I would have caught this sooner. #cancer ♬ Get You The Moon (feat. Snøw) – Kina

As indicated by the tags included in her video, poor Barley was diagnosed with cancer. A follow-up post revealed the dog had since been put to sleep.

While many were quick to point out that their cats and dogs do this all the time, it was comments from people claiming to be veterinarians that paid credence to the suggestion it could be linked to possible illness.

One commenter from a veterinary technician read: “Doing this when they stand up/wake up is normal but when they stay in that position like this dog it usually means they’re in pain.” Another clarified that this is actually “prayer pose”, which “if prolonged or suddenly frequent… is indicative of abdominal pain which has many causes”.

Dr Anna Foreman, an in-house vet for Everypaw Pet Insurance told the Mirror that this position “is something we see in dogs who have abdominal pain, whether this be acute (such as involved in a gastric dilation or foreign body obstruction) or chronic (associated with masses in the abdomen or ongoing inflammatory processes).”

She went on to explain that these stretches are often done to try and relieve the abdomen pain and become of concern when it involves the lymph nodes, some of which are located in this area.

While she states that diagnosis of lymphoma tends to follow “lumps and weight loss”, with problem areas typically found behind the knee and armpits, she confessed these signs and prolonged prayer position stretching are “not mutually exclusive”.

You can use this useful resources list from the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), among many others, to give your pet a quick health check at home.

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