Why Is My Dog Growling?

There’s no mistaking it – that low “grrr” sound your dog makes when he’s trying to communicate something. Growling is a behavior that your dog will use as a warning to let other dogs, people or other pets know that he’s feeling uncomfortable or nervous.

Here are a few potential causes of persistent growling:

  • Fear: This can result from something unusual happening in the house or fearing another pet or person. Pets that are overly fearful can growl and even bite if approached or handled.
  • Medical causes: These can include pain from an injury, arthritis or an underlying medical issue. Some pets may also growl when they aren’t feeling well.
  • Anxiety: Certain situations may make your pet anxious, which can lead to growling. These include noise phobias, separation anxiety or an overreaction to a perceived threat (i.e., doorbells, other dogs walking by, the mailman, etc.).
  • Aggression: This can include territorial aggression, food aggression or object-based aggression (i.e., possessiveness over toys, treats, blankets, etc.).

What to Look For In a Growling Dog

Dogs that are scared or nervous may lash out or bite others—even their owners. In most cases, your dog’s growling will go away when your pet feels safe again. Frequent growling, however, can be a sign of pain, an anxiety disorder or an aggression issue.

If your pet growls often, head over to your veterinarian’s office. He or she can work with you to find the cause and the best way to treat the underlying problem.

How to Treat Persistent Growling

Treatment for persistent growling is based on the underlying cause. Options might include treating a medical issue, managing an anxiety disorder, eliminating the stimulus causing the growling or implementing a behavior modification plan. Your local Banfield veterinarian can work with you to diagnose the root cause of the growling and develop a treatment plan that is specific to your pet. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the problem from escalating.

Learn More

The best way to keep your pet healthy is with preventive care. Consider enrolling in an Optimum Wellness Plan. Plans can be personalized to meet your pet's needs, but every plan includes early screenings for illness and unlimited office visits.

You can read even more about your pet’s health in the Preventive Care section of our website, or by reading these suggested articles.