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A pet owner has issued an urgent warning to others about the ‘big stretch’, whereby dogs stretch forwards in the ‘downward dog’-style yoga pose.
The woman took to TikTok to warn other dog owners about the seemingly alarming animal warning sign, urging pet owners to take their dogs to the vet immediately if they start spotting this behaviour. Watch the video here:
It turns out that her pet’s ‘big stretch’ was sadly a warning sign of cancer. “Really wish I would have caught this sooner #cancer,” she wrote.
However, the stretch isn’t just a symptom of dogs suffering from cancer, but can signal other ‘abdominal’-related diseases and conditions, too.
Dr Anna Foreman, Everypaw Pet Insurance's in-house vet previously told the Mirror: "The prayer position is something we see in dogs who have abdominal pain, whether this be acute (such as involved in a gastric dilation or foreign body obstruction) or chronic (associated with masses in the abdomen or ongoing inflammatory processes)."
She explained that stretching in this way can help subside pain for a brief moment, ‘much like in humans when we eat a large meal.’
"Lymphoma in dogs where we see ‘lumps and weight loss’ (as described in the article) tends to be sub-typed as multicentric lymphoma, a lymphoma which affects the lymph nodes around the body, some of which are in the abdomen.
"Diagnosis tends to come from palpation of superficial lymph nodes such as the popliteal (behind the knee) and axial (in the armpits) rather than a dog doing this prayer position, however, the two are not mutually exclusive."
Although a dog quickly stretching in this pose after lying down for a period of time is nothing to worry about, it is when they hold the pose for a long time and lay down straight away that can be a warning sign, or if they exhibit other symptoms.
PDSA vet Claire Roberts told Tyla: “Dogs showing this behaviour is not necessarily anything to worry about - often dogs will stretch in a prayer pose when they get up from resting, and it is very similar to the play bow that dogs do when they want to have fun."
There are, however, other warning signs from your pets to look out for which can also signal abominable pain and related illnesses, including lack of appetite, lethargy and vomiting with acute diseases, weight loss, and drinking more and urinating more in chronic diseases.
“Sometimes this position can indicate a pain in the spine or the abdomen. It is not a common sign of cancer and is more likely to be a stomach upset or pancreatitis. If your dog is unwell, they are likely to have other symptoms too, such as lethargy or going off their food. If you are concerned you should always contact your vet sooner rather than later.”
For more expert advice on how to care for your dog, visit PDSA’s Pet Health Hub here.
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