Why Does My Dog Lay Down to Eat?

Why Does My Dog Lay Down to Eat?

Your dog lay down to eat for several reasons. It can be the natural – instinctive and protective position to protect their meal from others – or not.

Dogs will naturally place their meal between their paws in a lying position and feed comfortably from there. In that position, her head, spine, and jaws are all aligned that there is less strain on her muscles.

If your pup normally takes that position, you don’t have to be concerned. You should be pleased that your furry buddy eats in this natural way with all the benefits it offers.

Also, your pup might just be feeling tired, sick, or outright lazy even to eat. If your dog typically stands on all four to eat but suddenly lays down for a meal, then you should be concerned. First, you want to watch her mood and body language. If she’s uncomfortable or acting unusual, then you should be asking, “why does my dog lay down to eat?”

What does it mean if your dog lays down while eating?
Image by Mat Coulton from Pixabay

What Does it Mean If Your Dog Lays Down While Eating?

Each of the various reasons your dog lays down to eat will most likely provide a few numbers of clues. Let’s see what it means if your dog lays down while eating and what you can do about it.


It is natural for dogs to lay down to eat. Even healthy dogs in the wild do so. As explained earlier, they do it to protect their meal from other prying counterparts. It doesn’t matter if you only have one dog; she’s already wired to protect what’s hers.

However, this instinctive behavior shouldn’t cause a worry if your dog typically behaves that way. But if it’s sudden, you should consider other reasons.

Your Dog’s Tired

Another reason your pup lays down to feed is that she could be tired. You can expect your dog to act this way after a walk outside, an exercise, or after playing with other dogs. If she partook in any of those, she’d likely lay down while eating.


The scary reason is that your pup might be unwell. In this case, she’ll most likely be moody and less interested in eating the food (if the illness is a bit extreme). But if you’re noticing it for the first time, there are potential health complications to consider:

  1. Your pup may be experiencing some form of issues that makes her uncomfortable when bending her neck to eat. She could also be suffering from weakness or back or neck pain, which may be a hint that it is difficult for her to reach the food bowl.
  2. If your pooch suddenly eats while lying on the floor, she may be having difficulties swallowing. A couple of degenerative diseases can make swallowing a little difficult, causing fatigue and weakness. They include gravis and myasthenia. Also, myopathies, a muscle disorder in dogs, can make swallowing hard.
  3. Specific dog breeds like Labradors, German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, and Great Danes are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. This ailment can cause painful arthritis, making standing in one position for too long uncomfortable.
  4. If your dog is obese or overweight, she might find it more comfortable lying down when eating, especially if she has trouble breathing.
  5. Your dog could also be experiencing an upset stomach and may prefer to lay down while eating. German Shepherds are notorious for their sensitive stomachs.

Whichever the case may be, if you notice your dog looking uncomfortable, take her to the vet as soon as possible!


If your dog is older, then you shouldn’t be surprised when she starts lying down to eat. Age is the more likely reason for older dogs since they are not as strong as they used to be.

Behavioral changes in dogs are normal signs of old age. As your dog gradually becomes a senior dog, you have to be prepared for a couple of changes that will occur, and this can include your dog laying down to eat her food.

Also, age comes with several kinds of health issues, such as arthritis which makes your pup suffer from stiffness and joint pain. Your pooch may always feel comfortable laying down even when she’s not eating.


As with humans or cats, some dogs are simply lazy. No excuses. No health challenges. Still fresh and young. They’d rather just lay around all day, even when eating.  

That said, lazy behavior is typical in some specific breeds like the Bullmastiff and the English Bulldog. These dogs are renowned for their laziness right from birth. However, if your dog doesn’t act that way normally, then you should consider a checkup.

A checkup will help rule out trauma, infectious diseases, metabolic disorders, and parasites, all of which are issues that can affect your pup’s energy levels.

Things to Keep in Mind

Let’s check out a couple of things to consider when trying to detect why your pooch lays down to eat. If you have a better understanding of the causes, it becomes easier to take proper actions.

  • When Your Pup First Started Laying Down to Eat

If your dog started this behavior suddenly, then it is more likely that she’s injured, ill, or tired. Nevertheless, it could be that she’s doing it since it doesn’t require much effort to lay down.

But if your dog usually lays down when eating, it is likely a habit than a problem to worry about.

  • How Your Dog Has Been Acting in Other Ways

You can also consider if your pooch behaves differently in other ways. If your pup started acting differently in any other way at around the same period that she began laying down to eat, then it is likely that it is due to injury or illness.

If she has been acting totally normal, she’s likely found it more comfortable lying down when eating.

Is it OK for my dog to lay down and eat?
Image by Krystian Graba from Pixabay

What Can You Do?

Although your dog laying down to eat might not be a problem, here’s what you can do about it.

  • Take Your Dog to the Vet

If you feel worried about your dog lying down to eat, the best option is to take her to the vet for a checkup. This would especially vital if she has been suddenly showing other hints of being ill, weak, or sick.

  • Allow Your Dog Lay Down

It is not uncommon behavior for healthy dogs to lay down while eating. If your pup lays down to eat more often, then that might be how she likes it. You don’t have to do anything to stop her. You could even change her feeding spot to make laying down more comfortable for her.

Is it Ok for My Dog to Lay Down and Eat?

There are several advantages that your pup derives from eating laying down. It is even a healthy eating posture for dogs.

When your dog bends to eat, a lot of pressure is placed on her muscles. Due to the way the lower and upper jaws work, there’ll be an imbalance between the extender and flexor muscles in that area. The same thing applies to the legs and the spine.

The pressure weakens these muscles, and when it continues over an extended period, your pup will begin to experience some health complications, which can affect her posture and gradually result in pain as well as other related ailments.

What’s More?

When your dog gets to the stage of experiencing pain in her legs, then she’ll begin to lie down while eating. However, this issue will affect mostly larger dogs than smaller ones because smaller dogs are nearer to the ground and are less strained than the larger ones.

For that reason, some experts recommend elevated feeding bowls that allow dogs’ shoulders to be at the same height as the feeding bowls. This will limit the amount of pressure dogs experience when eating.

Another thing to keep in mind is bloating. There’s been a debate that when dogs eat heads down, it is an unnatural position, leading to bloating. While there’s no solid proof to this yea, many experts argue that there’s merit to it.

The most popularly opined cause of bloating in dogs is when they engage in physical activities immediately after eating. Some experts also believe that there’s no genuine link between dogs eating from a standing point and bloating.

In a nutshell, and to be on the safer side, you should ensure that your pup does not engage in any physical activities for at least 30 minutes after a meal.

That said, there are several props you can use to keep your pooch occupied after a meal. Bloating might appear as a minor health condition, but it can result in severe discomfort in dogs.

Why Does My Dog Lay Down to Drink?

Your dog’s body can properly digest when she’s standing or laying down. If she lays down more often to drink, it is what is comfortable for her. You don’t have to raise the bowl on a stand, which can mess with her digestion.

Nevertheless, if your dog normally stands up to drink but suddenly starts laying down to drink, you should find out if something is wrong with her. If she does this after an intense exercise or a long walk outside, then it is totally normal. If she starts showing noticeable issues, then it is time to take her to the vet.

If she starts showing discomfort when laying down, whining, then try to find out what the problem is. You’ll want to do this, especially if she starts acting any of those ways when she lays down to drink.

Should I Use an Elevated Bowl to Feed My Dog?

There’s no absolute answer to the question, “should I use an elevated bowl to feed my dog?” However, elevated bowls have their own benefits, and a lot of dog owners are going for it nowadays.

So, what’s so great about using elevated bowls? Is it okay to get one for your dog? Also, what type of elevated bowl should you go for – what height and size?

Benefits of Using an Elevated Bowl

Before you get an elevated feeding bowl for your four-legged best friend, here are the significant benefits to expect:

  • Eating Becomes Easier for Your Dog

One of the vital benefits of using an elevated feeding bowl for your dog is that it makes it more comfortable for your dog to reach her meal.

Raising the bowl from the ground brings it closer to your dog’s mouth. That allows your dog not to bend her head down to the floor each time she wants to drink water or eat. Also, having your dog’s food elevated from the ground reduces the strain on her neck. That is especially beneficial for dogs with arthritis, joint disorders, and mobility issues.

  • Eating Becomes Less Messy

Another great benefit of elevated feeding bowls is that it makes your dog’s drinking and eating less messy than when the bowl is on the ground.

If your elevated feeding bowl comes with a stand and a platform, it will catch flyaway bits of water and food before they land on the floor. Also, since the stand secures the bowl, your furry buddy can’t push the bowl around and mess the entire floor with her food and drink.

All in all, an elevated feeding bowl means less mess. That also means less cleaning time!

is it normal for a dog to eat lying down
Image by user2014 from Pixabay

Final Note on Why Does My Dog Lay Down to Eat

While there may be a need for concern if your dog lays down to drink and eat most times, there are also advantages to your pooch taking this completely natural position when the feed.

In as much as you’re looking to prevent potential health complications for your pup, you should encourage laying down to eat to avoid neck strains and bad posture.

An excellent practice is to offer your pup a chewy toy that she can play with. This doesn’t promote only her natural feeding position; it also helps strengthen your pup’s gums and teeth.

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