The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs—Answered

The veterinarians at The Drake Center solve your most common canine concerns.

Why is my dog so itchy? 

Itchiness is often the result of a flea bite. Since we live in a warm climate here in San Diego, our pets are at risk for getting fleas year-round. The best defense is to keep your pet on a year-round product, like Sentinel, to prevent and treat flea infestations. Some dogs may also have atopy, which is inhalant, and/or a contact allergy. Dogs can be allergic to one or many of the things that humans are allergic to, such as molds and pollens. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the environmental conditions and the response from the dog. Your dog may also develop secondary skin infections that require medication.

Why does my dog scoot? 

Scooting is typically caused by full or impacted anal sacs. Dogs have two scent glands under their tail and when these become overly full, they can put pressure on the anus.  This discomfort causes the dog to scoot his/her bottom on the floor. The dog is trying to relieve the pressure of the anal sac fluid. If your dog scoots, please bring him/her to the veterinarian to have the anal sacs expressed. If the material in the sacs is not expressed on a regular basis, the sac may rupture, causing a severe skin infection. Most dogs express their own anal sacs with each bowel movement and many owners are unaware that these sacs are even present.   

Why does my dog eat cat/rabbit feces? 

Dogs are descendents of the wolf, who is a hunter and a scavenger. Although it may seem gross, feces is a source of protein and most dogs will eat cat and/or rabbit feces if given the chance. This does not mean that your dog is getting inadequate nutrition or is deficient in some mineral, however. Keep in mind that dogs can pick up intestinal parasites from this behavior, so we recommend fecal tests once or twice a year, depending upon exposure to parasites. If your dog is eating his/her own feces, there is a remedy known as For-Bid. This is a food additive that will make the feces unappealing to your dog. This needs to be used as part of an overall training program to try to deter the behavior.   

Why is chocolate bad for dogs? 

Chocolate contains methylxanthines and phosphodiesterase inhibitors, which can cause vasoconstriction (tightening of veins), increased heart rate and central nervous system stimulation. Mild ingestion may just cause gastrointesinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea), but large quantities can lead to heart failure, weakness, seizures, coma and even death. If your pet ingests any chocolate, please call your veterinarian right away. It is very helpful to know the quantity ingested as well as the type of chocolate. It is important to note that dark and bakers chocolate have a much higher level of methyxanthines. 

Why does my dog hate to have his nails trimmed? 

If an animal is not handled regularly at a young age, he/she will develop a fear of being restrained and manipulated. Most dogs are sensitive about their feet being touched. This could be from a prior bad experience in which the nails were cut too short (which is painful) or simply from a lack of exposure to such handling. It is a good idea to touch your dog's feet often at a young age to help them get accustomed to this type of handling and reward with treats as you do this.

Dr. Michele Drake, veterinarian and owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care, has been treating pets in Encinitas for over 20 years. For more information on pet health or to schedule an appointment for your pet, please call The Drake Center at (760) 753-9393 or visit www.thedrakecenter.com.

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Richard Cone November 14, 2012 at 03:30 PM
AS always, the Drake Center has good advice on your dog. When our Yorkie was with us, we went to Drake Center for her care and the staff is always attentive, caring and thorough. Don't hesitate to trust Drake with the care of your pet. You cannot find a better vet anywhere, Truly, take my word for it, these folks are the best in the business! Regards, Richard Cone


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