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Sunset Veterinary Clinic

Ask the Vet: Why Do Pets Hide When They’re Sick?

Dog yawning

It’s not uncommon for a pet to hide in a hard-to-find location when they’re ill.

Contrary to popular belief, animals generally do not run off to a secluded location when they know they are about to die. Simply put, animals, like humans, like to be alone when they aren’t feeling well. Moreover, this action is a natural instinct. Animals, including domesticated dogs and cats, are hardwired to hide when they are feeling sick and/or weak because they understand that weak animals are easier targets for predators.

Is Your Pet Really Sick? Other Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

If the true reason your pet is hiding is indeed that they’re ill, you should look for the following additional symptoms and book an appointment with your vet right away if any are present.

  • Excessive panting and salivation

  • Wheezing

  • Limping or difficulty walking

  • Whimpering or crying

  • No interest in treats, toys, walks, or things they usually enjoy

  • Excessive licking of certain parts of the body

  • Lethargy and sluggishness

  • A poor appetite or excessive thirst

  • Nasal discharge

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting

  • Other abnormal behaviors

Other Reasons Your Pet May Be Hiding

If your pet isn’t ill, there are a few other reasons they may be hiding:

  • Fear and anxiety

    : These emotions may come on for pets during upsetting situations. Often, these situations involve loud noises, such as fireworks, gun shots, or thunderstorms. Your pet might also be anxious during guest visits or big changes in the home.

  • They want to be alone

    : Some pets simply hide when they’d like to be alone for a nap or rest, in which case the behavior is harmless unless they tend to hide in dangerous locations (under the car or near traffic, for example).

In these situations, behavior modification training and/or medications may help. It’s important to address the behaviors swiftly as they may increase chances of biting or aggressiveness and destructiveness in pets.

Not sure why your pet keeps hiding? It’s important to find out if this habit is a symptom of a larger medical problem.

Contact Sunset Veterinary Clinic today to schedule an appointment, and one of our skilled and experienced veterinarians will thoroughly examine your pet to determine the cause. If necessary, we’ll provide treatment options to ensure the lasting health and wellness of your pet.