Pet Emergency Resources

Why Does My Dog _____? Your Questions Answered

Dogs can exhibit a unique set of behaviors and characteristics. Have you ever wondered the meaning behind them? Here is some insight on some of the most common “why does my dog,” questions.

Why Does My Dog…

1) …sniff other dog’s rear ends?

A nose to rear greeting is a common form of introduction in the canine community. But why? The answer lies inside your dog’s rectum (yes, we know – gross). Behind your dog’s anus are two, fluid-filled sacs known as anal glands. These glands contain a displeasing smelling fluid that is generally excreted when your dog has a bowel movement. They also serve as a “doggy calling card” and, according to the American Chemical Society, serve as a means of communication between two dogs during their introduction. With a dog’s sense of smell being 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s, science believes that each dog has their own unique scent and that different traits about the dog can be picked up from the pheromones that are excreted from these glands.

2) …chew and lick their feet?

While they aren’t quite as obsessive groomers as cats,  if you notice your dog licking various body parts from time to time,  they may simply be cleaning themselves. However, excessive licking and chewing of the paws should be evaluated by a veterinarian, as it can be a symptom of allergies. Some dogs with allergies will lick and chew at the tops of their paws and between the paw pads. Owners with dogs who have white or light colored fur may even notice a pink color to the fur on their paws from the constant licking or chewing. This is known as salivary staining and is caused from a substance in saliva known as porphyrins.

3) …scoot their rear end on the floor?

This serves as a red flag that something is irritating your dog on or around their rear end or anus. The most common cause tends to be irritated or impacted anal glands, but other problems like parasites, infections, or a foreign object may also cause scooting. Dogs with chronic anal gland problems may require routine expression of the anal glands, while some severe cases may call for surgical removal. No matter the source, have the behavior evaluated by a veterinarian so that they can get relief and be treated accordingly.

4) …have bad breath?

While we don’t expect for your dog’s breath to be minty fresh, any extreme odors from the mouth need to be evaluated by a veterinary dentist. While periodontal disease is the most common source of bad breath, oral tumors, infections, and even underlying endocrine disorders may also be the root of the problem.

Pet Dentistry in Memphis

5) …always have tummy troubles?

We all know that dogs have a tendency to eat things that they shouldn’t. For most dogs, the occasional bout of diarrhea or vomiting is related to a dietary indiscretion and may resolve on its own. However, dogs with recurrent gastrointestinal upset should be evaluated by a veterinarian for a more definitive cause. Inflammatory bowel disease is one example of a chronic condition that can cause recurrent vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Bowel Disease in Pets in Memphis

6) …pant?

It’s adorable when your pooch hangs that big tongue out, but did you know that the behavior serves a purpose? Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat through their skin to cool off. While they can sweat from their paw pads, their primary means of keeping cool is by panting. Through a process known as evaporative cooling, panting is how your dog regulates their body temperature (see video below). This process can only go so far, however, as heat stroke will always be a concern in high temperatures.

7) …have cloudy eyes?

Several conditions can create a cloudy appearance in a dog’s eye, ranging from normal aging of the eye (lenticular sclerosis) to canine cataracts. A visit to your veterinarian can determine the cause and decide if a visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be in your pet’s best interest. Some diseases of the eye can affect your pet’s vision. Early intervention may help create a treatment plan that provides a better long-term outcome for your dog.