Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Strange Things Dogs Do…

People are from Mars, are dogs from Venus?

Dogs seemingly do some weird things sometimes. From following you to the bathroom, to chasing their tails, and everything in between, we have explanations for you. But in order to comprehend their actions, we have to get into their psyche. So as you read on further, remember, think dog!

First let’s tackle the above mentioned oddity, why do dogs follow us to the bathroom? Firstly, dogs have different social boundaries. They are perfectly at ease in this situation, they would think it odd that we don’t feel so comfortable. What’s more, you can rest assured that the chances are, this is actually a sign of love, they’re interested in what you’re up to and want to be where you are. So you can feel flattered, honestly!

Love can make anyone do strange things so let’s consider some of the other ways your dog shows you affection, here are our top five:

  1. Your dog boils over with excitement when you arrive home. They love you, they want to be with you, so this surely can’t come as a surprise…

  2. They lick your face. Okay so this is pretty unhygienic, especially if they have a tendency for coprophagia (read on to learn about that term, but you might be able to guess!), but it truly is a sign that you are their human.

  3. It’s all about the eye contact. Eye contact can be a complex thing, staring can mean that a dog is anxious or on the verge of aggression. Anyone who has a dog who gives them that kind of soft, relaxed eye contact knows exactly what the ‘look of love’ looks like, you know who you are, you lucky things.

  4. Simultaneous yawning. One study found that some dogs mimic their loved ones in this way, they yawn when we do. Who’d have thought it?

  5. Remaining calm when you leave them. Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it? If they love you, why are they okay with you leaving them? Some scientists think that this displays a level of trust. If your dog is relaxed when you leave them, you are great parents, they know you’ll return, the bond is strong.

As lovely as all this talk of love is, what about the other weird things dogs do? Let’s delve deeper into those.

We mentioned the term ‘coprophagia’ earlier. Well, this means to eat poo. As unpleasant as this is, if your dogs does it, you’d probably like to know why. For some, it is a learned behaviour. Whelping bitches will ‘clean up’ after their offspring to keep a clean environment. Some simply learn this from their mother and never lose the habit. Others however might be lacking important nutrients in their diet or their food might simply not be satiating them. Either way, it’s worth discussing this with one of our vets just to be sure.

Ever seen your dog spinning in circles in their bed before settling down? This is apparently to do with the inherent desire to create a safe and comfy ‘nest’. It looks to us like they’re just fussy when it comes to comfort!

Dogs chasing their tail is a classic comedy sight, many dogs do it at some point in their lives. Interestingly, there are numerous reasons a dog might do this, ranging from sheer intrigue to boredom, and from a flea infestation to compulsive disorder.

With so many potential causes of this bizarre behaviour, if your dog does it repeatedly, and especially with a kind of distracted frenzy about them, best get it checked out by the professionals.

What about head tilting? Are there certain words that get your dog’s head tilting from side to side? This unbelievably cute action actually serves a purpose, they are trying to hear you better. They are adjusting their ear pinna (the bits that flap in the wind) so that they may hear you as best as possible. ‘Did you really say walkies?’

These are just some of the more common oddities we see in our beloved canines, each dog has their own personality and we have no doubt they surprise you daily with the funny things that they do. So provided they are well both physically and mentally, enjoy delving into your dog’s mind – you could learn a lot about them.

Which toys are best for dogs?

The range of dog toys available to us has positively exploded in recent years as we increasingly seem to enjoy treating our beloveds to new and interesting playthings. From budget tennis balls to high-end, luxury toys that wouldn’t be out of place in a child’s bedroom, the choice can be overwhelming. So which toy is best for your dog? We have compiled a few tips to help you make the right choice.

It’s horses for courses

It is worth considering your dog’s breed when choosing a suitable toy, as well as their personality in general.

For some, the clue is in the name. For example, ‘Labrador retrievers’ and ‘golden retrievers’ are likely to want to chase and retrieve an item. So a ball (with a flinger to save your shoulder) is likely to go down a storm with these guys. Even better, these gun-dog breeds with ‘soft mouths’ will take pride in returning a soft toy to you, you can even buy them in the shape of common game birds.

Perhaps your dog is a sucker for a game of tug. In which case, a strong rope-based toy is likely to be the most satisfying. A word of caution, take care of your dog’s teeth and mouth, don’t play too roughly with them. Likewise, watch your hands! Keep your fingers at a safe distance from overzealous nashers, by using a rope toy that is long enough for the both of you.

What about those who are incessant about sticks? These individuals are a real worry since we know what potential perils can result from running with sticks. Fear not, there’s an alternative for stick-lovers too. Kong make a toy that is sticklike in shape but made of rubber and features safe, soft, rounded ends.

Then there are the young and inquisitive puppies who will find toys of different textures fascinating. A crunch sound here and soft mouthful there, some toys incorporate a range of sensations within the very same toy. Teething puppies can find relief from sore gums by mouthing on the right kind of material. It is important, however, that a toy such as this is designed for purpose. There is a danger of damaging delicate baby teeth with overly hard materials, or of ingestion of small chewed parts.

Brain training

There is a vast array of toys on the market designed to mentally stimulate your dog, providing hours of fun. Many involve the promise of a treat once they work out how to access it for example the Kong Wobbler whereby the dog must knock the treats out. Others reward your dog by flinging a ball for them to fetch if they press the right button. Many owners find these useful for overactive individuals for whom hours of exercise doesn’t even cut it (Collies spring to mind). These toys should never be a replacement for exercise, but something to complement your dog’s routine and exercise regime.

Plaything pitfalls

As vets, it’s not uncommon to see dogs who have, quite literally, bitten off more than they can chew. Some dogs see a toy as a challenge, something to be destroyed as quickly as possible and seem to have teeth like razors. The trouble comes when pieces are accidentally (or otherwise) ingested. The classic culprit in these scenarios is the plastic squeaker from a soft toy. Squeakers and other large inedible toy parts are likely to require surgical removal, or at the very least cause stomach upset. There will be owners out there who are accustomed to seeing the stuffing stripped from soft toys and strewn around the sitting room. If you are one of these, it is important to account for all toy-parts and phone for advice if you can’t piece the puzzle back together again.

So are there toys out there that can stand the test of time? Well that depends on the pooch. There are tough ranges of toys that claim to, however the most tenacious of dogs can often defeat these too. It is sensible to be savvy in these cases and choose toys that serve a different purpose.

One example is the Kong Extreme, which is not only designed from super-strong materials but also refocuses the mindset from one of destruction, to one treat-seeking as it allows you to stuff the cone-shaped toy with their favourite flavours. You are likely to find that your dog is occupied for much longer too!

Another consideration is the importance of buying size-appropriate toys for your dog. This can be tricky if your pack includes the likes of a Labrador as well as a Chihuahua for example. Mini tennis balls are available on the market for those with mini-mouths. It just so happens however, that these slip easily down the windpipe or can be easily swallowed by larger breeds of dog, we need not explain the problems associated with that, we’re sure. Large, hard, chew toys for large breeds are also likely to damage the mouths of a small breed dog, often size-guidance is provided by the manufacturer.

With the exciting and plentiful array of toys now available to us, there is something available to suit all doggy tastes out there. Of course what is super-important to any playful pooch too, is the time spent with their beloved human. So enjoy!

An Easter menu is not for dogs!

Whilst you can enjoy being an Easter feaster this year, here’s how to keep your dog a happy bunny!

Chocolate eggs

More and more people are aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but do they appreciate quite how poisonous it can be, and why? It is the component theobromine within cocoa that is the nasty culprit, dogs simply can’t metabolize it with appropriate speed (thank goodness we as humans can!). So theobromine remains in the bloodstream and develops to toxic levels playing havoc with a dog’s nervous system and heart.

Even relatively meagre amounts of chocolate can cause death, especially in smaller dogs. However, the handy thing is that we have a reasonably good handle on how much cocoa it takes to harm a dog of a given size. Therefore, if you can find out how much cocoa a dog has consumed, any of our vets can indicate just how worried we should be and formulate an appropriate plan, which is likely to include making them vomit (it is important that you never make your dog vomit yourself). So what then, about white chocolate where cocoa content is low to nonexistent?  There is still a good chance of causing digestive upset, and maybe even pancreatitis.

Should your dog get their greedy paws on your Easter eggs this year, remember, the sooner the veterinary intervention, the better the outcome is likely to be. So hide those treats well, because in the case of chocolate, prevention is always better cure…

…and all the more for us then!

Hot cross buns, not hot cross tums

Just the thought of a toasted hot cross bun, slathered in melting butter is enough to get the taste buds tingling. Of course, your dog probably agrees! So how can such a tasty treat be so dangerous to dogs? It’s all about the currants in this case. Grape based products can contain toxins which attack the kidneys of dogs. This can lead to renal failure and even death.

The interesting (and scary) thing about all grape products is that there is no strict rule on toxic doses. A small amount of raisins could indeed prove fatal to one dog, yet cause only moderate signs of poisoning to the next, and none at all to another. This is another instance where a zero risk policy is best. Once again, in the event that your dog gets their mucky paws on a hot cross bun or similar, phone for advice ASAP.


Easter Simnel cake

Easter Simnel cake, another rich, fruity delight us humans enjoy at this time of year. But the list of dog-harmful contents within is likely to be extensive. We know there’s a problem with currants; almonds can be an issue too. While not strictly toxic to dogs, they can be hard to digest and cause stomach upset. The same applies to many of the other of the ingredients.

The calorific tastiness of this treat, as with many others, is in part enhanced by high fat content and should your mischievous mutt get hold of a sizeable chunk, they are at risk of acute pancreatitis, a very painful condition that will likely result in a stay at the vets.

A final word on commercially prepared goodies, some contain Xylitol, a compound worth avoiding by dogs altogether. Even small amounts can cause very serious symptoms including hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), liver failure and death.

Down in one!

An abundance of edible Easter treats generally means an abundance of packaging too. Ever caught your dog with something they know they shouldn’t have, and they’ve scoffed the lot before you can say ‘That’s still wrapped in plastic!’? Sadly, a hasty (or hungry) hound won’t likely take the time to distinguish between edibles and their packaging, and it’s this that can cause just as much bother.

The digestive system is a wonderful thing, but it meets its match when it comes to plastic which it simply won’t process. Worse, your dog could actually damage the gastrointestinal tract by consuming non-food items and could even require surgery to remove a life-threatening blockage.

We as vets brace ourselves over festive periods such as Easter, for just these types of emergencies, they truly seem to increase in frequency. In the event of any of the situations described, it is vital that you seek veterinary advice as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome for your dog. Enjoy your Easter treats, just remember to keep them to yourselves!

Our 3 hospital are open 24 hours over the Easter period and any concerns clients can call their normal practice number and they will be transferred to their closest hospital where advice or treatment can be sought.