There are several behaviors that pet owners can find unusual.
Eating Rabbit Droppings
For example, some people notice their dogs eating rabbit droppings. Believe it or not, there is actually a flavor to the pellets that some dogs like; maybe because the protein or B-vitamin is very high.
Sporting dog breeds may do this as part of tracking or hunting behavior, too.
So is it bad for dogs to do? There’s no doubt it can upset their digestive tract if a large amount is eaten. Additionally, pets can get certain parasites from these droppings.
The best advice is to keep the yard clean with a rake, water-in the droppings or at least try to keep your dog away from these unfortunate rabbit gifts.
Sometimes, dog owners will see their pets drag their rear end on the floor. This behavior is called scooting.
When they do this, dogs are basically scratching an itch. You may notice that it’s the more portly dogs that do this, and that’s probably because they can’t reach to scratch the itch by chewing.
The most common cause of this itching is a pair of fluid-filled glands that are similar to skunk glands. These glands get distended and it itches like crazy. So to try to get them to drain, they do this little itchy dance.
Allergies can also cause itchiness of the backside, but contrary to popular opinion, “worms” are not a common cause of scooting.
Another common, yet sometimes alarming, behavior is a reverse sneeze.
Dogs will clear their respiratory passage in three different ways:
When there is irritation in the front or nasal part of the upper airway, an out-through-the-nose sneeze occurs.
When the irritation is in the windpipe, the result is an out-through-the-mouth cough.
But irritation in the area in between, like the post-nasal-drip area, creates this inward snort, which is actually a way to slap the soft palate at the itchy back of the throat.
Now, as serious as this sounds, and many people think their dog is struggling to breathe, it is often just a little irritation or mild allergy response. But there are cases where pets have growths or polyps in the back of the throat that cause those signs, too.
It’s interesting to see how pets have become part of our families, almost like our children, and yet they retain many of their natural tendencies.
The important take-home message is that if there doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation, and the behavior doesn’t stop on its own, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian.
If you want to contact the Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, you can reach him at the Roseland Animal Hospital by calling 574-272-6100 or at the Center for Animal Health by calling 888-PETS-VETS.
You can also shoot him an email at MichianaPetVet@comcast.net.