Dr. Google knows everything, right? It can even predict what you are about to ask. And some things you might never even think to ask. So that made me wonder. What are people asking Google about us felines and our canine friends? Don’t forget to check out my “Why Does My Cat…” post as well!
So I (with the help of Mom, of course) did my own google search to find out what questions would pop up. And I feel fairly confident that with my keen feline intellect I will be able to delve deep into the animal psyche to uncover answers to the public’s burning questions. So here they are in descending order of google recommendation (for today, at least). The top five google “why does my dog” inquiries:
Dogs pant for many reasons. The most obvious reason a dog pants is for thermoregulation, or body temperature control. While dogs do have sweat glands, they don’t produce sweat for thermoregulatory purposes.
Panting can also signal emotional arousal. There’s the happy, goofy pant. There’s the “oh, crap, are we going to the vet again?” or freaking out because of a thunderstorm pant. And don’t forget about the “I ripped off my toenail, and it really hurts” pant.
That’s all good, but if a canine seems to be panting more than normal, he needs to be examined by a vet for a more serious underlying medical condition. And there are about a thousand that can cause excessive panting. This can include metabolic problems, over-exertion, or obesity. But there are emergencies such as heat stroke, heart failure, or respiratory problems that need immediate intervention.
So basically, if you think your dog is panting more than he should, don’t be a dummy. Believe it or not, Dr. Google cannot diagnose or treat anything. Go see your veterinarian.
Little dogs (chihuahuas, anyone??) are notorious shakers. This doesn’t always mean they are “cold natured.” In fact, it is unclear why some little dogs shake. So, micro-dog owners (you know who you are), just get used to it.
But, of course, dogs do shake when they are cold. So bring your pup inside and turn the heat up if you think this is the case. For especially short haired (or naked) dogs, you can always opt for a dog sweater or blanket to help keep them warm.
And there are also some not-so-good things that can cause a dog to shake. Emotional stimulation (fearful, excited, anxious) can trigger trembling. Pain, fatigue, metabolic problems, seizure activity, and toxicity are but a few of the many frightening things that can contribute. Caretakers know their babies better than anyone, so close observation can help determine abnormal behavior that may need attention.
Older dogs, especially larger ones, sometimes shake from pain or arthritis. They may also have weakened muscles that shake or tremble even when just standing. And, although I believe that canines are simpletons to begin with, cognitive decline can occasionally lead to trembling.
In my humble feline opinion, your dog howls because he is obnoxious. But I somehow doubt that’s the answer the googlers (is that even a thing?) want to hear. Howling is a canine form of communication dogs use for a few reasons. In healthy dogs, they use it to make social contact with other howling dogs (or alarms or sirens). Somebody should really talk to them about Facebook.
Some dogs howl when they are anxious. Cognitive dysfunction in older dogs is a common cause. Dogs with separation anxiety may howl only when the object of attachment (their favorite human) is away. Pain, frustration, or just plain boredom can be the cause in some dogs. Careful, though. Dogs can also easily train their humans to give them a treat when they howl in an attempt to comfort or appease them. Not a fun request for a midnight snack, if you ask me.
Depending on the cause, the veterinarian may recommend certain medications if an underlying problem is identified. In cases of boredom, anxiety, or bad habit, behavior modification may be necessary.
What exactly are these dogs licking? People? Objects? Themselves? And if they are licking themselves, exactly where and how are they doing it? Those questions have to be answered before the cause of licking can be identified.
Dogs lick people (especially in the face and around the mouth) as a sign of submission or affection. It is also believed to be a stress reliever by releasing endorphins. Canines in the wild will often lick their mother or more dominant pack members around the mouth. (Am I supposed to be flattered?) Rewarding the behavior with attention (positive or negative) will only reinforce that behavior. Ignoring the dog until he can sit still without licking can help decrease this behavior.
Dogs lick objects for some of the same reasons that they lick humans. They may find comfort in the object (a favorite bed or blanket). They may use it as a stress reliever (like thumb sucking in children). Or the pooch may just be bored. Get the poor thing a dog toy to play with.
Dogs that lick themselves, now that’s another story. If a dog frequently licks one specific area of the body this is usually a sign of pain or pruritus (itching). Injury, arthritis, or allergies need to be ruled out by a veterinarian. Location is important for diagnosis (feet, tailhead, around the anal region, abdomen, etc.). And it is essential to make sure the animal is on a monthly flea preventive prescribed by the vet (yes, even if you don’t see fleas!). Frequent licking of one spot (particularly around the feet) can lead to lick granulomas. Trust me, you don’t want to go there!
Surely, oh surely people know this by now. Believe it or not, people used to think it was good for dogs to lick their wounds (either from injury or surgery). Just. No. Aside from the trauma from the mechanical action, have you seen the horrors that canines put in their mouths? Do people really think that nastiness would be good to put in a wound or surgery site? Put that baby in an e-collar. Like, now.
A fair question for sure. But seriously, my own choice would have been ” why does my dog eat poop” instead of “grass”, but I digress.
Despite what some people think, dogs are omnivores, not carnivores. So an occasional canine salad is nothing to panic about. Some dogs just like the taste or texture of it. No big deal. And, no, they are not deworming themselves. In fact, eating grass (or anything off the ground) is a lovely way to become infected with parasites.
Frequent or obsessive grass eating can be a sign that something is medically amiss, particularly in dogs that have never really eaten it before. A low fiber diet may trigger a dog to seek fiber elsewhere. Also, gastrointestinal disease (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, inflammatory bowel disease, parasites, etc.) can be underlying causes. A good exam and some fecal or blood tests can help identify any potential underlying problem.
The moral of the story is: if you have a general pet curiosity, some information can be helpful and accurate on Google. But make sure you check the source and check references. And, most importantly, if you think there is something wrong with your pet, believe it or not, Dr. Google didn’t go to vet school. Nothing can diagnose or treat your pet aside from your vet that actually can see and examine the animal.
If you want to read more about some interesting canine curiosities, check out the book Answers to the 50 Questions Dog Lovers Ask.
If you have any pet questions of your own, you are welcome to contact me, and I’ll do my best to answer. In the meantime, try to keep those crazy canines under control!
Until next time… keeping Pebbles Strong.
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