May 6, 2013

Why Dogs Eat Grass

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dr. Loridawn's Lessons — Tags: — Dr. Loridawn Gordon @ 9:00 am

why-do-dogs-eat-grassHave you ever wondered why it seems like some dogs eat grass constantly? Like they just can’t get enough?

There could be various reasons as to why your pooch eats grass. It could simply be a habit which your beloved companion has developed – even boredom. Or, it may be related to the health of your dog’s digestive tract, such as a stomach irritation, or lack of fiber in their diet. If this is the case, you should consult your veterinarian. Keep in mind that grass is difficult for dogs to digest, and some dogs vomit after ingesting it. Perhaps this is where the common theory that a dog eats grass to help him vomit came about. A study regarding this issue, found on Medicine Net, tries to shed some light:

Question 1: Why do dogs eat grass? Is it because they are feeling ill?
Answer: Less than 10% of dogs were sick before eating grass.

Question 2: Do they actually do it to vomit?
Answer: Not necessarily. Studies have shown that less than 25% of dogs will vomit after grazing.

So we’re back to why do dogs eat grass? And once again, the more common possibilities are:

1. A habit Fido has developed
2. Irritation in their digestive tract
3. Imbalance in their digestive health

Furthermore, dogs have a natural instinct to balance their digestive system. Grass can be a natural source of probiotics, which actually aids with their digestive health.

There are however some precautions you should take, and things to be aware of if your dog enjoys grazing on grass:

• If you use chemicals on your lawn, your dog will ingest these chemicals.
• The risk of parasites such as roundworm, can be transferred to your dog through the ingestion of grass found in areas of high dog traffic, like dog parks.

Every dog is different. And the reason your dog grazes on grass may be different than your neighbor’s dog. Just remember to keep an eye on your dog, particularly if you suspect that his eating grass is associated with health issues. And of course, contact your vet if this is the case.

Dr. Loridawn Gordon

 

 

 

Dr. Loridawn Gordon

 

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July 9, 2012

How to Stop a Dog from Digging

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 9:00 am

Dog DiggingMany dogs just have a natural urge to burrow and dig. Others do it for any number of reasons – from wanting attention to loving the smell of fresh fertilizer. Whatever the reason your dog insists upon trashing your yard, here are some steps to take to get it to stop.

1. Pinpoint the Reason

Knowing why your dog is digging is important to figure out how to stop it. Is he digging near the fence? He could be trying to escape and find a mate. Is he digging during the hot hours of the day? He could be looking for a way to cool down. Is he a terrier or Labrador? These breeds tend to dig out of instinct.

Some dogs are searching for rodents or a place to store their beloved chew toy. Some might be bored and acting out in order to get your attention. Others just love the smell of fresh dirt.

2. Keep him Exhausted

Making sure your dog gets enough exercise means he won’t have any extra energy left to dig up your yard!

Go for a morning stroll with him, give him plenty of toys to keep him active and bring him to the dog park after work. What better excuse to get yourself into shape too? Go running with your dog!

Mental exhaustion is important too. The Kong can be a great toy to keep your dog busy, mentally stimulated and active during the day.

3. Create a Negative Association with Digging

Supervise your dog in the yard. When he starts to dig, firmly yell “NO!” as you run toward him. Be consistent and ready to spend a few hours watching him, ready to discipline as soon as the behaviour starts again.

Bury something in their favourite digging spot.

  • A balloon will pop when a claw hits it and scare the dog,
  • Chicken wire a couple of inches below ground level will startle your dog. Since dogs usually don’t like the feeling of wire or metal on their paws, this can be a great deterrent.

4. Make it Even More Unappealing

You can also mix up some of your dog’s own “lawn presents” with some soil and bury it around where he likes to dig. Once he starts digging he will smell it and immediately stop. He will not want to dig that up.

5. Remove the Reasons

Remove all of the various reasons that might be encouraging your dog to dig! If your dog is tormented by rodents and digging to find them, call the exterminator. If he is digging because he is seeking comfort from the sun, bring him inside during the hot hours of the day. If he is digging because he is seeking a mate, consider getting him neutered.

It’s only natural!

If your dog is digging because it’s instinctual for him, it may be tougher to stop the behaviour. If you’ve tried all of the techniques to control digging and have failed, you may need to accept that the behaviour is here to stay.

Section off a designated digging area. Fill it with dirt and make it more appealing to dig. Place his favourite bone in it or bury a treat for him. Reward him for digging in this special spot.

Your dog doesn’t have bad intentions when he digs up your yard. He is, in many cases, just trying to satisfy an instinct or a need. Before getting upset with him, look into why he may be digging. You may find that the solution is much easier than you’d ever imagined.

April 21, 2012

Top 5 Weird Things Dogs Do That Are Actually Normal

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 11:06 pm

dog behaviorWhen your dog starts chasing its own legs or humping your legs, sometimes it makes you wonder “Is my dog normal?” There certainly are weird things dogs do that they do to make us wonder what is normal. Here are a few:

1. Crotch Sniffing

Apparently, when it comes to this behavior, dogs can figure out a lot of information about other dogs by sniffing their genital areas. There might be a good reason that dogs think that this works on humans too, so they go about sniffing the same area.
Chasing Tail: Another crazy thing dogs do is chase their own tails, but it’s actually not so crazy. It’s their way of exploring themselves and have some fun and exercise at the same time.

2. Scooting

It is pretty common for a dog to scoot after doing their business, especially if they have loose stools, but if they do it frequently it is a good idea to take the dog to the vet. Compulsive disorders can be common among certain breeds of dogs and the same can be treated with medicines and behavioral modifications

3. Humping

When you find your dog humping against your sofa you might think, Is it normal for my dog to do this? Well, it is their method of relieving stress and can be found in both male and female dogs.

4. Eating Grass

Dogs are omnivores and this means they like vegetation along with their meat. It is considered normal when taken in moderation, but if your dog binges on grass it might be a sign of an upset stomach. A dog eating grass is normal.

5. Drinking From Toilet

A dog drinking from the toilet is normal, as the water might taste much fresher than stagnant water, as it gets changed with every flush.

Dogs can act crazy, but these behaviors are well within the normal range for dogs.

December 30, 2011

Why Does My Dog Eat Poo?

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 12:20 am

While it is a truly revolting habit, many dog owners are confounded and confused by their dog eating poo.  Although it may seem counter-intuitive, there are a variety of environmental and biological reasons why dogs eat poo.  This article will detail not only the reasons why dogs eat poo, but also ways you can get your dog to stop this dirty habit.

There is a variety of reasons why your dog may eat poo, which can lead to your dog developing Coprophagia (i.e. the habitual and deliberate ingestion of eating poo that is neither incidental nor accidental).  First off, some veterinarians argue that dogs were “born” to eat poo, since their ancestors ate poo too survive – their ancestors ate anything that was edible.  Secondly, dogs may learn this behavior from their mother, who eats the poop of her newborn puppies to keep the environment clean.  Alternatively, in a multi dog household, the lesser member of the hierarchical wolf pack will eat poo as an act of submission.  Another possible explanation is that dogs eat poo as a result of house training lessons – when an owner gets mad at a dog for defecating inside, the dog will commence eating its poo, in order to get rid of the “evidence.”  Some veterinarians suggest that the reason why dogs eat poo is because it contains many nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy functioning system.  In fact, some argue that a dog’s system is not yet well adapted to the new modern diet, which contains more plant proteins and less meat.  As such, this reasoning suggests that dogs eat poo to replenish the necessary nutrients to facilitate proper functioning.  The last possible example is environmental.  Some suggest that dogs eat poo in order to gain their owner’s attention, especially if they are bored or lonely.  Further, by scolding the dog for eating poo, it only reinforces the behavior.

So, now that you are aware why your dog eats poo, how can you get him/her to stop eating poo?

In addition to the following below advice, you should take your dog to your veterinarian to seek council.

dog eats pooFirst and foremost, you must make sure your dog gains all necessary nutrients.  You can ensure this by feeding your dog a high grade level dry kibble.  If you do not feed your dog a kibble with enough nutrients, the problem will continue, and perhaps worsen.  Additionally, you should think about supplementing your dog’s dry kibble with dog vitamins.

Many of the possible reasons explored above have one thing in common: stress.  Thus, if you eliminate your dog’s stress and anxiety level, it is likely that your dog will stop eating poo.  Make sure your pet dog has enough exercise and that you are giving him/her praise for their good behavior.  If the dog is still anxious/stressed, think about taking him/her to a certified trainer.  Additionally, think about using a natural stress-reduction remedy.

This next point goes along with the last point – it is imperative that you keep your pet occupied and happy.  Play games with your dog and make sure that he is occupied through companionship and toys.

Lastly, maintain a clean living environment.  If things are clean and in order, which includes having the dog feces picked up and removed from the environment quickly, then there will be no need for your dog to eat the waste.  A clean environment will also help alleviate stress.

Disclaimer: 1st Pet Naturals is an education resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet is taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.