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Dog Health Questions

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Here are the answers to several frequently asked dog health questions received through our website.

Why does my dog eat the cat’s poop out of the litter box?

Your cat’s diet consists mostly of protein, so his stool has high protein content. Many dogs simply crave the protein. Try using a litter box with a cover or one that automatically scoops litter after each use.

Why does my dog try to eat pantyhose and socks?

Most likely, your dog starts chewing these items from boredom, frustration, or anxiety. Once he starts chewing, his natural instinct is to continue the process by swallowing the object. In other words, it might just be a mistake. Once you know which clothing items are your dog’s favorites, keep those and similar items tucked away in a drawer.

Why does my dog eat grass?

Eating grass is normal for a dog. Some dogs develop a taste for it no matter what the effect is on their digestive system (i.e. vomiting, diarrhea). If you cannot dissuade your dog from eating grass by offering him treats, make sure that the grass and plant matter to which he has access are not toxic to animals.

Dog Health Question:
How can I protect my dog from sunburn?

Use the same common sense and know-how that keeps you and your family from burning in the sun.

First, keep your dog in the shade during times when the sun’s rays are most intense – approximately 10 am to 4 pm.

Second, apply a little sun block to your dog’s most exposed areas – the tip of each ear and the nose. Although your dog’s lip area is also vulnerable to sunburn, the chance that your dog will ingest sunscreen applied around the lips is too great. Instead of applying sunscreen to the lip area, keep a close eye on it and make sure that the area doesn’t get too pink.

Third, pay special attention to your dog if he has a lighter color fur. Just like their pale human counterparts, these dogs are more vulnerable to sunburn. If, after a day out in the sun, any part of your dog’s skin is reddened or blistered, immediately consult a veterinarian.

Dog Health Question:
What do I need to know about my dog’s anal glands?

The anal glands are two small glands located just on the inside of your dog’s anus. They secrete a foul smelling liquid that animals use for marking their territory. Most of the time, your dog empties his own glands while defecating. In some dogs, however, the anal glands do not empty properly and become impacted.

If your dog is scooting a lot or licking his hind end often, he may have a problem with his anal glands. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to check the dog’s anal glands. If the glands are full, your vet can manually empty them.

You can learn how to empty the glands at home. Some dogs need to have their anal glands manually emptied on a regular basis. Although a dog’s anal glands can be surgically removed, it’s a complicated procedure with a risk of fecal incontinence if the surgery does not go properly.

Dog Health Question:
How can I collect a urine sample from my dog?

If your veterinarian asks you to bring a urine sample from your dog, how do you collect this sample? The easiest way to get a urine sample is to tape a plastic container to the end of a yard stick. While your dog is out doing his business, place the container underneath his urine stream.

Your veterinarian wants as fresh a sample as possible. If you are not taking the sample to the vet right away, keep it refrigerated (tightly covered) until you visit the vet.

Dog Health Question:
What do I need to know about meningitis in dogs?

Meningitis in dogs is typically caused by an infection and is potentially life-threatening. Meningitis is an inflammation in the meninges, the membranes that coat and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis can be either bacterial or non-bacterial. Bacterial meningitis is transmitted through the bloodstream from a secondary wound or infection. The cause of non-bacterial (or aseptic) meningitis is unknown.

Symptoms of meningitis include signs of depression, fever, seizures, and a general loss in coordination.

Your vet will have to extract fluid from your dog’s spine to properly diagnose meningitis, which means inserting a large needle directly into your dog’s back. This procedure can be painful for the dog, even with anesthesia, so it may be best to leave the room and let the vet and technicians handle the procedure.

Being in the room during a painful veterinary procedure may make you tear up, but the effects of your tears are worse for your dog. The stress can constrict his veins, making it even harder for techs to finish the procedure and stop the pain.

Meningitis can usually be treated effectively with anti-inflammatory medications. In the case of bacterial meningitis or seizures, antibiotics and anti-seizure meds may also be administered.

Updated: December 15, 2013 — 3:58 pm

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