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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why does my dog do that?

The information below is just that, information. As always, any sudden change in behavior should be evaluated by your vet.


Scooting: Scooting or dragging the anal area on the ground can be an indication of an anal sac problem. Small dogs are more prone to this. The anal sacs, which are located at the 4 o’clock ~8 o’clock position of the anus can become full or impacted and become sore for your dog. Therefore, the dog may scoot trying to break them open.  In severe cases the sacs can become infected and blow a hole through the skin which requires vet care.   Scooting can also be a sign of anal sac problems due to worms which may make the stool too soft, so it is important to watch for that as well.


Licking: If licking the private area this can be an indication of infection in both male and female. (Bladder stones can also cause this) Unfortunately I have come across many customers who believe that the dog is just pleasuring itself! IF there is an infection present, medication will be needed from your vet. If licking on the leg this can be a sign of lick granuloma which is like a compulsion and can cause a deep infection which requires medication and behavior modification.


Head shaking: This can be a sign of an ear infection or ear mites, both of which need treatment. Ear infections may require antibiotics from your vet.  Too much head shaking can lead to an aural hematoma (filling of fluid/blood in the ear flap) so the sooner you can have it checked the better.  



Air or fly snapping: can be an indication of seizure activity. If you see odd behaviors such as this you may want to take a short video of the dog doing it to show your vet. (Pacing, whining, being more distant, or becoming clingy can also be signs of seizure activity) Such activites can last frm hours to days in duration.
 
Lip smacking: can also be an indication of seizure activity, as well as a toxin, or something stuck between the teeth. Doing a finger sweep around the teeth may yield a stuck object.


Walks while pooping:  This can be a sign of arthritis or hip dysplasia. With either, there is pain when the dog remains in one spot so walking helps to ease that pain.  

Eats rocks, grass, stones, cement, feces, etc.  This is known as pica and can be a sign of boredom (behavior),  hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, iron deficiency, or other endocrine disorders and can turn very dangerous causing vomiting, diarrhea, or lead to bowel obstruction.

Stands in corner,seems lost; Depending on the age and breed of the dog, you may be seeing the start of cognitive dysfunction. These dogs start to become confused, forget how to get out of a door, stand in corners, stand in one place and stare. Some even forget potty habits causing accidents inside the home.   

Rubs face along furniture or ground: This is a good indication of airborne allergies and can come on suddenly or over time. You may notice the dog licking the paws more frequently as well. Dogs with airborne allergies may also scratch more if there is no obvious sign of fleas.  Face rubbing can also be a sign of a tooth or gum problem.
  
Head pressing: Dogs that press their heads into items or walls may have a liver shunt or a neurological disease and should be checked out by your vet as soon as possible.

Humping items/humans/ other dogs: This is not usually due to a sexual act (unless between intact male and female) but an act of dominance, stress, or excitment (excitment:as when a dog is crated for a time and is finally let out). However be aware that if humping occurs on an item it may be more the act of scratching because of an infection in the vaginal or scrotum area.

Tail Chasing: For pups it can just be a fun quirk, if it stays with the dog into adulthood and there are no anal sac or flea problems, then it may actually be a compulsion. Dogs do suffer from compulsive anxieties. Meds and behavior modification can help. Talk to your vet and a qualified dog behaviorist or trainer to get help with this.        


Carries item in mouth while around other dogs: This can be breed inherited such as a retriever; however in a home with many dogs it can also be a sign that the dog is submissive and trying to avoid a fight. (Let’s just hope it picks up something other than your guests bra or panties!) Yawning around other dogs is also a sign of submission.


Nudging your arm or scratching you with paw: This is a simple one, because you allow it!











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