Dogs can look around frantically for a number of reasons – some of the reasons are nothing to worry about, while others might need closer attention from a veterinary professional.
Your dog may be experiencing some neurological conditions that cause them to start and look around in a panic. How can you tell when it’s harmless and when you should be worried?
If you’ve raised your dog from a puppy and you know how they react to certain situations, it’s possible that you will be able to tell immediately what’s causing them to throw a bit of a wobble.
For example, there could have been a trigger that caused the reaction, such as a loud noise, someone at the door, or the smell of another animal.
It’s important for dogs to feel safe and secure in their home environment and as a pet owner, you’ll want to eliminate all the simplest options for why your dog is looking around frantically.
To keep your dog calm and happy, try to remove the stressor immediately, or try to comfort your dog in a way that usually works well for them.
However, if it’s clear that your dog is reacting to something that isn’t caused by a tangible reason, it might be a good idea to make a note of this reaction, especially if it’s been happening more and more frequently.
In fact, if your dog seems to be getting more and more distressed more often, then the best option might be to book an appointment with your vet to see if they would benefit from some forms of treatment.
Another good thing to remember is that while it might seem like a dog is able to see something ‘spiritual’ or otherworldly when they are staring at nothing – there is no evidence that dogs have any extrasensory abilities.
So you can safely cross that off the list!
Common reasons a dog stares or looks round frantically
We’ve put together a list of the most common reasons that a dog might stare blankly at something or look around frantically. As usual, there is no substitute for advice from a medical professional. If you think that your pet needs urgent medical attention, don’t delay in taking them for treatment.
Sadly, dogs can suffer from hallucinations, and it could be one of the reasons that they have suddenly started looking around for no obvious reason.
Dogs can experience hallucinations as a result of seizures, epilepsy, or fly-snapping syndrome. Scientists are unclear what exactly a dog experiences when they hallucinate, but it is clear that they share some similarities with humans.
Without a background in veterinary medicine, you won’t be able to diagnose this in your pet. However, a tell-tale sign that your dog is experiencing hallucinations is if their behaviour changes suddenly for no reason.
For example, if they start barking more than usual or if they are suddenly afraid to come into a certain room, this could be a sign that they are having cognitive issues.
It may also be the case that if a dog is intoxicated or suffers from food poisoning, hallucinogenic effects may be causing sudden fearful reactions like looking around frantically.
Many people are unaware that dogs can also suffer from dementia, especially in old age. Dementia affects behaviour, memory, learning, and comprehension.
Unfortunately, scientists have found that approximately 68% of dogs will suffer from dementia by the age of 15. Some of the most common symptoms of dementia in dogs include disorientation and confusion and unusual reactions to previously familiar environments.
Dogs can suffer from anxiety if they have dementia, and this could be linked to the way they react to situations. They may imagine that they are hearing loud noises or a threatening stimulus due to their anxiety and overreact by looking around frantically.
Another potential cause of a dog looking around for no real cause could be a condition known as nystagmus. This disability in canines can be caused by some health conditions, injuries to the head, or toxic poisoning.
This exhibits itself in the form of involuntary and uncontrollable eye movements. In dogs, this may result in their eyes rapidly moving up and down, side to side or round in circles. If you are not used to seeing this behaviour in your dog, it may seem like the dog is in a panic.
This condition can be quite serious if not treated. Watch out for your dog’s eyes moving when their head is still – this can be an indicator of nystagmus.
However, your vet will be able to make a definitive diagnosis based on your dog’s symptoms. If it’s possible to do without upsetting the animal, try to take a video of your dog if this happens to show your vet.
If your dog exhibits symptoms of fly-snapping syndrome, it’s easy to mistake this for your dog just looking around frantically for no reason. However, it’s a serious condition and requires urgent medical attention.
One of the ways to recognise this syndrome is if your dog focuses their attention on something in mid-air and then suddenly snaps or bites at it. They may also bark, jump, or start swallowing in response to this imaginary stimulus.
Veterinary scientists are unsure what causes this condition, but have proposed it may be caused by seizures, gastrointestinal distress, obsessive compulsive disorder, or vision problems.
Fly-snapping is an action that a dog may do if they are suffering from an underlying condition. A vet will be able to properly diagnose and suggest a treatment for this condition.
As a pet-owner, the most responsible and caring thing that you can do is carefully note down any unusual behaviours or symptoms that your dog does. This will help give your vet a more accurate picture of what’s happening and hopefully get them on the right treatment as soon as possible.
Of course, it would be easier if your pet could speak to you and tell you exactly what’s troubling them, or why they’re behaving unusually. But don’t worry! You know your pet better than anyone, and with early attention, can ensure that they live their happiest lives.
It’s a good idea to have your dog registered at a local vet practice as soon as you bring them home. This ensures that you know exactly where to go and who to call when something worrying happens with your pet.
If your notice your dog reacting to something unusually, don’t immediately assume that it’s a very serious matter and could result in your dog becoming very ill. In many cases, the most obvious solution will be the reason.
Although we provide articles to help you as a pet owner know what could potentially be wrong with your dog, you should never diagnose or treat your canine companion without the approval of a vet.
Remember too, that as dogs grow older, they will experience more health challenges and they will face some issues that may require specialist support or treatment. Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life that dogs will age.
However, as a pet owner, you are in the best position because you can provide your dog with the happiest years of their lives. Take them for that longer walk, bring them to that dog park they love, give them that extra treat, and don’t worry if they occasionally ignore your commands. Their lives are short, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them the happiest times while they can enjoy it.