Do Dogs Hide When They’re Sick? What to Expect

As devoted pet owners, we all want the best for our furry companions. But sometimes, our dogs may exhibit subtle behavioral changes that leave us questioning their well-being. 

One puzzling behavior often observed in dogs is their tendency to hide when they’re sick. 

Is this behavior a sign of illness, or is there another reason behind it? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why dogs may hide when they’re feeling unwell and discuss how pet owners can recognize and respond to these signs of potential illness.

The Canine Instinct to Hide Weakness

Dogs are descendants of wild animals and have retained certain instincts from their ancestors. 

In the wild, showing signs of weakness could make them vulnerable to predators, so they developed the tendency to hide when feeling unwell. This behavior is an adaptive mechanism to protect themselves from potential dangers.

When dogs hide, they may seek out a quiet and secluded spot where they feel secure. This behavior is often observed in various species of animals, including cats, as a survival strategy. 

However, it’s important to understand that not all dogs will display this behavior when they’re sick, as individual personalities and past experiences can influence their responses.

Recognizing the Signs of Illness

As responsible pet owners, it is crucial to be vigilant and identify signs of illness in our dogs. While hiding can be one of the indications, there are other symptoms that might accompany this behavior. 

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Some common signs that your dog may be unwell include:

  1. Changes in Appetite: A sudden loss of interest in food or water can be a red flag for an underlying health issue.
  2. Lethargy: If your once active and playful dog becomes lethargic and lacks energy, it may be a sign of illness.
  3. Altered Bathroom Habits: Any significant changes in your dog’s bathroom habits, such as frequent accidents or difficulty urinating, should be taken seriously.
  4. Vomiting or Diarrhea: Occasional upset stomachs are normal, but persistent vomiting or diarrhea could be an indication of a health problem.
  5. Changes in Behavior: Pay attention to any sudden changes in your dog’s behavior, such as increased irritability, aggression, or anxiety.
  6. Respiratory Issues: Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or coughing may indicate respiratory problems.
  7. Physical Symptoms: Keep an eye out for physical symptoms like limping, excessive scratching, or skin irritations.

Reasons Why Dogs Hide When Sick

  1. Discomfort and Pain: Dogs may hide when they’re unwell because they experience discomfort and pain. Hiding provides them a sense of security and privacy to cope with their discomfort.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Dogs are sensitive creatures, and changes in their environment, routine, or emotional distress can lead to hiding behavior.
  3. Seeking Solace: Similar to humans, some dogs may prefer to be alone when they don’t feel well, seeking solitude to recover.
  4. Fear of Medication or Treatment: If a dog associates being unwell with unpleasant medication or vet visits, they might hide to avoid these experiences.
  5. Innate Behavior: As mentioned earlier, hiding when feeling weak or vulnerable is an innate behavior from their wild ancestors.
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Steps to Support a Sick Dog

If you suspect your dog is unwell and is displaying hiding behavior, it’s essential to take the following steps:

  1. Observe Closely: Monitor your dog’s behavior and look for any other signs of illness. Keeping a record of changes can be helpful for your veterinarian.
  2. Seek Professional Guidance: If you notice any concerning symptoms or behavioral changes, consult your veterinarian promptly. Early detection and treatment can be crucial for a positive outcome.
  3. Create a Safe Space: Provide a comfortable and quiet area for your dog to rest and recover. Ensure easy access to food, water, and a comfortable bed.
  4. Offer Gentle Reassurance: If your dog chooses to be near you while hiding, offer gentle reassurance and avoid forcing them out of their hiding spot.
  5. Be Mindful of Stressors: Identify potential stressors in your dog’s environment and try to minimize them.


In conclusion, the instinct of dogs to hide when they’re sick is a natural response passed down from their ancestors. Understanding this behavior can help pet owners recognize when something may be amiss with their furry friends. 

If your dog is displaying hiding behavior along with other concerning symptoms, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian promptly for proper evaluation and treatment. 

By being attentive to our dogs’ needs, we can provide the love and care they require during times of illness, helping them recover and thrive once again.