Why Does My Dog…?

Why Does My Dog…?

At ZippiVet, we get asked the same questions by dog owners every day. You wouldn’t believe how many times we hear, “Why does my dog…” As dog behavior experts, we’re always glad to help!

Why does my dog have whiskers?

Whiskers, the long, coarse hairs protruding from a dog’s muzzle, jaw and above its eyes are filled with nerves that send sensory messages to a dog’s brain. A dog’s whiskers serve as receptors for important information about the size, shape and speed of nearby objects. This helps dogs “see” objects more clearly, even in the dark. Being able to feel vibrations in the air also helps dogs sense approaching dangers.

Why does my dog howl?

Howling is another way dogs communicate, along with barking and shrieking. Dogs howl for a few key reasons:

1) For attention

2) To alert their owner to danger

3) To make contact and acknowledge other dogs

4) In response to high pitched noises or sounds.

Why does my dog eat grass?

There are several theories for why dogs eat grass. Dogs don’t actually have the means to digest grass. They lack the enzymes needed to break down the fibers and it has little to no nutritional value. One reason for eating grass may be due to a feeling of nausea. It is possible that dogs learn this is a temporary solution for stomach irritation. Grass eating is a common behavior of normal, healthy dogs. If your dog seems sick or vomits more than occasionally (whether associated with grass eating or not), you should see a veterinarian.

Why does my dog lick?

Dogs lick their owners, other dogs, and themselves for a variety of reasons ranging from love and submission to a possible medical condition. Some of the more common reasons your dog might be offering up canine kisses include:

1) You taste delicious. As gross as it sounds, sweaty, salty skin can be intriguing to dogs, who often explore the world with their mouths and are comforted by the scent of their owners.

2) You inadvertently reward the behavior. Once licked consider your own behavior –  Did you reach down and pet or scratch your dog? Offer the dog food? Say something to them, even like “Stop licking me, would you.” These are all forms of positive reinforcement.

3) When a dog licks, it releases endorphins (the “feel good” hormone), which adds to the reward.

4) Your dog might be licking to show submission, especially while licking another dog’s muzzle.

5) Dog’s skin allergies or some anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder come out in licking. If you notice your dog obsessively licking themselves, a person, or an object (i.e. bed sheets), see a veterinarian, who may recommend medical treatment or a consultation with a behavior specialist.

Why does my dog pant?

With our many hot days in Austin, local dogs are typically panting to try to cool down. Pugs or Bulldogs with short snouts naturally pant more than other breeds. There may be other causes for panting in dogs, including:

1) When dogs are excited or are engaging in heavy exercise (like running or playing fetch) they will pant, much like a human can become out of breath after a vigorous run.

2) Dogs do not sweat like humans do so they pant to keep themselves cool. If it’s very hot outside or if the dog is dehydrated, it can be much harder for them to breathe, thus they will pant heavily to cool down. Read more about heatstroke in our blog.

3) When a dog is in pain they may pant excessively, especially if what they have just experienced is traumatizing.

4) In older dogs in particular, panting is a sign of other ailments. Signs of heart failure, lung tumors, and even choking in a dog will include heavy panting, breathing difficulty, and coughing. Read more about caring for senior dogs in our blog.

5) A dog that has eaten something poisonous may pant, as well as drool, vomit, or become lethargic. See your vet immediately to treat poisoning.

Why does my dog eat poop?

Coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh) is the scientific name for this nasty habit. There are both behavioral and physiologic reasons why some dogs view dung as a delicacy. Mostly it is about exploring their world and common among puppies, who typically drop the habit at about nine months of age. It is, however, a normal, natural behavior at some canine life stages. Mother dogs will lick their puppies to urge them to eliminate, and clean their feces for about the first three weeks. Dogs’ eating their own poop is harmless, but consuming that of other animals may cause health problems if the stool is contaminated with parasites, viruses, or toxins. We discuss parasites, including those that spread to people and how to treat them in-depth in a recent blog.

At ZippiVet, no questions are considered silly. Helping you to care for your dog is our top priority. Our Pet Wellness Exams offer plenty of time to get all of your nagging questions answered too. Call, text, or request an appointment online for your pet at one of ZippiVet’s four Austin area locations today!