The following are some of the most frequently asked questions that pet parents have concerning their pet’s behavior. If you have a question that is not answered below or you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at your convenience.
Click on a question below to see its corresponding answer.
Most dogs with dew claws attached are in perfect health. Removing dew claws is not a necessity, rather a preference some pet owners have. Dew claw removal is recommended for pets who dig frequently and are at risk for ripping the claws off, a painful and unnecessary experience. If you prefer to have your dog’s dew claws removed, mention it at your pet’s veterinary exam prior to their spay or neuter surgery. Oftentimes, your vet can remove the claws during the same procedure.
The age at which pets lose teeth varies. Most dogs lose their deciduous teeth between the ages of five to eight months, while cats lose theirs between the ages of three to six months. Unlike humans, pets will lose teeth as their adult teeth grow in and push deciduous teeth out. You will not need to pull on teeth to help remove them.
Some pet breeds are more susceptible to excessive eye discharge. For pets with lighter fur, this discharge may stain the area around the eyes, causing a pet to look unclean. Cleaning these ocular secretions is extremely important, as a build-up of eye fluid may cause harmful bacterial infections. There are numerous products available at pet stores that clean and sanitize eye secretions. If you opt not to purchase a special product, you can use a clean, damp cloth to gently remove eye discharge, but avoid making contact with the eye itself.
Clipping the points off cat claws can prevent damage to furniture, stop your pet from getting an ingrown nail, or avoid having their nails grow so long they injure themselves. Clipping claws is not necessary, but many veterinary professionals recommend it, and some practices will even clip them for you during annual wellness exams. In some regions, clipping claws is not recommended for outdoor cats. Be sure to ask your veterinarian whether it is a good decision for your cat.
Cats typically do not need grooming. They are inclined to clean themselves and have a tongue meant for cleaning fur. Occasionally, your cat may trample through mud and require a bath, but these instances are rare. However, if you have an allergy sufferer in your home, bathing your cat may improve their condition. Cats do benefit from periodic brushing, especially cats with longer hair. A pet owner might consider having their longer haired cat shaved during hot summer months, but this is entirely elective and is not necessary.
Most pet owners believe that shaving their dog during summer months helps them keep cool; however, thicker coated breeds have an internal thermostat that allows their body to adjust to warmer weather and self-regulate their internal temperature, so they do not need to be shaved. Shaving a dog that is not used to having short hair allows them to be exposed to harmful UV rays, particularly for outdoor dogs. You are much better off providing an outdoor dog with adequate shade and a pool of water to cool off in. Also, shaving some breeds can cause permanent damage to their coat. Consult with a certified pet groomer about the consequences of shaving your pet prior to cutting their hair.
Female pets that are not spayed will enter a heat cycle and menstruate. Similar to human women, if a pet is not impregnated during her heat cycle, she will shed her uterine lining and bleed. Purchasing pet-specific diapers will help absorb any bodily fluid that your pet may excrete. If a pet refuses to wear the diapers, confine them to a room with an easy-to-clean floor. If you do not want your menstruating dog to become impregnated, prevent them from situations where a male pet may mount them. Male pets can smell a female’s heat cycle and will try everything possible to get to your female pet.
Most dogs menstruate continuously for 21 days, approximately every 6 months. Cats’ cycles last 4 to 10 days but occur more frequently than dogs, about once every 8 to 12 weeks.
If you do not plan on breeding your pet, have them spayed. Spaying female pets prevents numerous health issues including some life-threatening diseases.
There are numerous reasons why dogs eat their feces. The medical term for the act is called coprophagy. Reasons can include:
- A dog is ashamed for defecating and eats it to “hide the evidence”.
- A dog is bored and knows eating fecal matter gets an owner’s attention, which is what they’re really after.
- The dog is not getting full nutritional value from their food, and feces contain undigested food that the dog finds appetizing.
How to get your pet to stop:
- Add enzyme supplements to their diet, or purchase a higher grade dog food to promote digestion and prevent feces from containing “appetizing”, undigested portions.
- Add pumpkin, spinach, or pineapple to the dog’s diet. These foods are believed to taste horrible the second time around. • Clean up after your dog on a daily basis, limiting their access to pet waste.
- Cover the fecal matter with a repulsive substance such as Tobasco sauce or cayenne pepper.
Circling their sleeping place is one of the many “wild” habits that canines never evolved away from. In the wild, dogs would circle a grassy area to trample down grass and make a comfortable surface to lie on. Circling is also how dogs mark their territory, so it is possible they are also staking claim to the surface upon which they are going to lie down. Some dogs will dig at the surface they are going to lie on. Again, this is a method of making the area more comfortable.
Cats refuse their litter box for several reasons. The reason why your cat chooses not to use the litter box depends on where they are opting to go instead. Cats who start to relieve themselves just outside the litter box are trying to signal you to clean the box. No pet likes to step in their own waste so perhaps the litter box is too full for your cat to comfortably “go” in. If your cat is seemingly having accidents around the entire house, they may have a urinary tract infection and will need immediate veterinary assistance. If you are unsure why your cat is refusing their litter box, it’s best to schedule a veterinary exam to be sure the problem isn’t caused by a serious medical issue.
Dogs’ testicles drop at various times between the ages of 4 to 9 months. Often pet owners will push on their dog’s testicles in an attempt to feel for them, but doing so can actually cause harm. If your pet has reached one year of age and still has not had their testicles drop, schedule a veterinary exam.
Veterinarians are in disagreement regarding why pets snack on plants, including grass. Some feel that dogs instinctually chew grass because it was once a primary source of food for wild dogs. Some veterinarians insist that pets know it eliminates stomach pain or can induce vomiting, allowing a pet to rid themselves of something that is bothering their gastrointestinal tract. Other pet experts argue that pets eat grass because their diet has a nutritional imbalance that grass can correct.
Regardless of why your pet gnaws on grass, veterinarians are in agreement that it is not detrimental to your pet’s health.
Similar to eating grass, veterinarians and pet experts don’t fully understand why cats perform the kneading ritual. Several theories about why cats knead include:
- An increasing urge for a mate during their heat cycle.
- Attempting to soften bedding or make a more comfortable place to lie down.
- Having never grown out of the habit from their kitten years, cats continue to knead thinking it will produce milk.
- Leave the scent from their foot pads in areas they wish to mark as their territory.
- Signifies a form of flattery when kneading an owner.
- Stimulating milk flow from their mother’s nipples.