Why Some Dogs Will Eat Anything

Some dogs will eat just about anything.

Dogs have been known to devour a wide variety of objects that aren’t edible and certainly aren’t meant to be consumed. For example, Ozzy, an American Bulldog, swallowed a tennis ball whole, while Bear, a Pomeranian Poodle mix, has eaten everything from her own poop to shoes and dead birds. The formal name for compulsive consumption is called pica, and it can cause a lot of trouble, but before we go into how to prevent your dog from eating anything and everything, it’s important to understand why they do this. Here are just a few of the many reasons why some dogs will eat just about anything:

#1. Dogs explore the world with their mouths.

Human babies learn about the world through their mouths, and dogs do, too. Puppies are born deaf and blind, which means that they have to rely on their skin, nose and mouth to learn about their environment. Additionally, puppies don’t have opposable thumbs, and they use their mouths to pick things up and carry things around. Young puppies may not know how to properly differentiate between eating things and carrying them around in their mouth, and that learned behavior can follow them into adulthood.

#2. Dogs have scavenging in their blood.

Dogs, as well as their wild ancestors, are natural scavengers, eating whatever they can find. In fact, it was this natural instinct to scavenge that helped to build the relationship between dogs and humans that we now enjoy today. Dogs were naturally drawn to scavenge the garbage humans threw away because it was easier and took less energy than hunting. And, even though today’s dogs are fed plenty of high-quality dog food, their natural instinct to scavenge hasn’t gone away, which can cause them to eat almost anything they find.

#3. Dogs can exhibit compulsive behavior when they are stressed.

Stress and anxiety can affect dogs just as much as it can affect people. When a dog is subjected to environments where they are in danger or in an otherwise stressful situation, it can cause them to start eating things that are inappropriate as a way to relieve the stress. Some dogs are anxious and restless even in the best environments. If you think that your dog might be eating things they shouldn’t due to stress and anxiety, consult your veterinarian.

#4. Dogs are instinctive bingers.

In the wild finding food on a regular basis is not always possible. So when a pack of dogs took down prey they would often eat the whole thing in one sitting. This is because it might be days or weeks until they get another meal, and it’s not like they could store it somewhere safe for later on. As we mentioned in our second point, domestic dogs nowadays don’t have to binge because they get regular meals. But that doesn’t mean that the instinct to binge has been eliminated.

#5. Dogs eat things when they’re bored.

Boredom, which is often caused by a lack of mental and/or physical exercise and sometimes a lack of company, can cause a dog to eat things that they shouldn’t. Just as people will eat when they are bored, so will dogs. However, dogs can’t peruse the pantry or the refrigerator, so it often leaves them to dig in the trash or even to chew on objects that aren’t edible. Make it a point to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated with regular walks, games and other activities.

#6. Dog eat things to get attention.

Sometimes, dogs act out in order to get a reaction from their owners. If your dog isn’t feeling like they are getting the amount of attention they want from you they may eat things they know they shouldn’t simply because it causes you to react and give them attention, even if that attention is scolding them. For a dog that doesn’t get a lot of attention from owners even a scolding can be a welcome change.

#7. Dogs can gain insatiable appetites due to medical issues.

Not all dogs who eat anything and everything do so because of instinct or bad behavior. Sometimes, dogs feel hungry all the time because they are suffering from a medical issue. A few of the health conditions that can cause pica in dogs are Diabetes Melitus, a stomach tumor, hookworms, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, hyperthyroidism and many more. Now that you know what can cause dogs to eat just about anything, it’s time to learn what to do when you think your dog ingested something they shouldn’t. Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog to learn more! In the meantime, if you suspect your dog has ingested something inappropriate, don’t wait to get your dog the help they need. Contact our veterinary clinic in Carroll Gardens right away.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm This 4th of July Part 2

The 4th of July is almost here, and it can be an anxiety-ridden holiday for any dog.

It’s perfectly natural for a dog to get anxious on the 4th of July, even if that same dog is calm the other 364 days out of the year. Dogs have no idea what fireworks are; all they know is that they made incredibly loud noises, and that can really freak them out. Thanks to all of that fear and anxiety, dogs can run away, or hurt themselves or other animals or people. But, there are many things you can do to make the 4th of July more pleasant for both you and your dog, and in our last blog, we touched on a few of them. Keep reading to learn more:

#7. Distract your dog with loud noise or music.

The noise of the fireworks is really the biggest thing that freaks dogs out, and one of the best way to reduce anxiety because of the noise is to distract your dog from it with other noises. Play music, run a fan or turn on the TV to distract your dog from the outside noises. However, keep in mind that your dog has a strong sense of hearing and is sensitive to all noises — not just fireworks — so don’t attempt to drown out the noise; just use it as a means of distraction.

#8. Keep your own behavior in check.

Dogs pick up on the feelings of their owners, and they learn from your actions, even when you’re not actively trying to train them. The normal reaction to a cowering, terrified dog is to shower them with cuddles and love, but it’s important not to take the comforting too far. If you reward your dog’s fear with love and kisses, it will reinforce their anxious, fearful behavior in the future. Instead, act normally around your dog, using a normal tone of voice. If your dog sees that you aren’t acting any differently, it will help to keep them calm.

#9. Think about boarding your dog.

If you can’t be home with your dog during the fireworks on the 4th of July, boarding your dog might be a better option than leaving them at home alone. These centers are usually well-insulated, and the noise from other barking dogs may even drown out the noise from the fireworks so much that your dog doesn’t even realize they are happening. However, if you’ve never boarded your dog before, the 4th of July is not a good day to do so for the first time, as it will likely only make your dog’s anxiety worse.

#10. Keep the blinds and/or curtains closed.

While the noise from the fireworks is certainly the biggest problem in terms of dog anxiety and fear, the sight of fireworks exploding in the sky doesn’t make the situation any easier. Remove the added visual stimulation of the fireworks by covering your dog’s crate if they are kenneled up, or closing any windows or blinds.

#11. Try putting a wrap on your dog.

There are a couple of wraps out there that are designed to calm an anxious dog — the Thundershirt and the Anxiety Wrap. These wraps fit snugly around your dog, applying gentle pressure that helps them to calm down; it’s like a continual, therapeutic hug. This is the same concept as weighted blankets for people who suffer from anxiety, insomnia and other conditions. Though these wraps don’t work for every dog in every situation, they might work for yours!

#12. Talk to your veterinarian.

If your dog has an extreme fear of fireworks that can’t be reduced through the other methods we’ve discussed, it might be a good idea to consult your veterinarian. Dogs in panic mode can hurt themselves or others, and your veterinarian might be able to prescribe a medication to help your dog get through the 4th of July safely.

Let us help you enjoy a calm, safe 4th of July with your dog.

Your 4th of July doesn’t have to be fraught with terrified dogs, and we hope that these tips will help you enjoy a safe, calm holiday this year. If you have questions or concerns, or you think your dog might benefit from anxiety medication, schedule your appointment with our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens today.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm This 4th of July

The 4th of July can be a nerve-wracking holiday for any dog.

Dogs don’t understand fireworks, so when there’s a sudden explosion in the sky accompanied by an extremely loud noise — which is made even worse by a dog’s acute sense of hearing — it’s no wonder why many dogs get scared and freak out a little. A fear of fireworks in dogs is perfectly normal, but that doesn’t make Independence Day any easier for dog owners. The good news is that there are a lot of steps you can take to make the 4th of July easier on both you and your dog, including:

#1. Keep your dog inside.

If you know your dog gets anxious around fireworks — or you’re unsure of how they’ll react — it’s a much better option to keep them inside at home until the fireworks have subsided than it is to bring your dog to the center of the action. If your dog gets frightened while you are out and about, or even in the yard, they may escape and run away. Additionally, when dogs are scared, it can cause them to act unpredictably toward other animals or people.

#2. Stay home with your dog.

We know that everyone wants to be able to go out and enjoy the fireworks, but as a dog owner, sometimes, sacrifices are required. Locking your dog in your house by themselves while fireworks are going off can freak them out quite a bit, and it can help a lot if someone stays home to comfort them. Plus, if you’re home, you can ensure that your dog doesn’t try to escape. After all, just because your dog is in your home, it doesn’t mean they can’t escape. Some dogs have even been known to jump through windows in their attempt to escape from a loud, unknown noise.

#3. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.

During the daytime on the 4th of July, you’ll need to make sure that your dog gets lots and lots of exercise. If your dog is physically tired, it will help to reduce their anxiety while the fireworks are going off. Taking them on a long walk or playing a strenuous game of tug of war or fetch will help to keep your dog calm during the fireworks show.

#4. Section off a quiet, comfortable space for your dog at home.

Simply leaving your dog at home is often not good enough, especially if you can’t be there with them during the loudest part of the night. If you can create a quiet, comfortable space in your home for your dog during the fireworks (and far away from any windows), it will help to block out some of the noise that causes the anxiety and panic. Make sure your dog has plenty of toys and treats to keep them busy during the fireworks, and make sure there are no areas where they could escape if they do start to panic.

#5. Allow your dog to relieve themselves before the fireworks start.

Dogs shouldn’t be forced to hold it for longer than necessary, and you’ll want to ensure that your dog has a chance to do their business before the first firework goes off. If you take your dog outside in your yard or even on a leash during the fireworks to relieve themselves, they are at risk for escaping and fleeing the loud noise, which could lead to them getting lost or injured.

#6. Make sure the ID information is correct.

While it’s smart to take precautions to prevent your dog from running away to try to escape the loud noises from the fireworks, it’s also smart to have a plan B, just in case. If your dog does somehow get out during the fireworks show, they’ll have a much better chance of getting back home again if the information on their ID tag is up to date, so double check that the ID information is correct before the 4th gets here. In our next blog, we’ll be going over a few more things you can do to keep your dog safe and calm on the 4th of July. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns about anxiety in dogs, or your dog is due for a veterinary visit, contact us at The Vet Set to schedule your appointment with our veterinarian.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer Part 2

The summer is a magical time in many ways, but it can also be a dangerous season for your pet.

Your pet faces many different risks in the summer, and you can learn about them when you check out our previous blog series. Although summer can be a dangerous season for pets in many different ways, there are also many things you, as a pet owner, can do to keep your pet safe and protected throughout the summer. In part one of this series, we touched on the first few steps you can take to keep your pet safe this summer. Keep reading to learn more.

#7. Protect your dog from sunburns.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that dogs can get sunburned just like people can. Some dogs are more susceptible to sunburns than other dogs, like dogs that are hairless, have thin hair or have white fur. However, no matter what breed your dog is, all dogs have areas of their bodies that are at risk for burns, like the ears and belly. The risk of sunburn is even higher if you shave your dog in the summer and expose the skin underneath it. However, you can protect against sunburns by using a sunscreen that is safe for dogs. Avoid any and all sunscreen that has zinc-oxide in it. This common ingredient in sunscreen is toxic to dogs, and because dogs like to lick the sunscreen off, it could easily get ingested.

#8. Know and watch for the signs of heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a major concern in the summer, and it can be caused by many different things, from leaving your pet in the hot car to over-exercising your pet in the middle of the hottest part of the day. Some pets are even more prone to heat stroke than others, including pets who are overweight, very young and very old, pets who have respiratory issues, and pets who haven’t been conditioned to exercise. Additionally, dog breeds that have short muzzles, like Bully breeds and pugs, have a harder time breathing in the heat and should be monitored closely. The signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, fever, lethargy, profuse salivation, lack of coordination, vomiting, a purple or deep red tongue, unconsciousness and seizure. At the first sign of a heatstroke, bring your dog to our animal hospital in Carroll Gardens.

#9. Avoid giving your pet people food.

With barbecues and picnics all summer long, many pet owners are tempted to let their furry friends in on the fun by feeding them leftovers or table scraps. However, it’s important to remember that many foods that are safe for humans are toxic for dogs and/or cats. Onions, raisins, mushrooms, grapes and chocolate are just a few of the many foods that are unsafe for pets to consume, but there are many more. Furthermore, other foods that may not be toxic for your pet could still be dangerous for them to consume. Chicken bones, for example, aren’t poisonous, but when ingested, they can splinter and puncture your pet’s digestive tract. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid giving any people food to your pets, but if you must, at least do your research to make sure it’s safe first.

#10. Take precautions when you travel.

Summer is a great time for family vacations, and if your furry friend will be traveling with you, you’ll want to make sure they are safe. Never put your dog in the back of an open pickup truck. It’s incredibly dangerous for your dog, as they could fall out or jump out easily. Even allowing your pet to hang halfway out of your car window can be dangerous, as they may jump out or could end up getting hit by something. Pets who are loose inside a car may get scared and try to jump on the driver’s lap, increasing the risk of an accident. A pet carrier is the safest place for your pet while traveling, but make sure that you take frequent breaks so that your pet can stretch their legs and do their business.

#11. Leave your dog at home on the Fourth of July.

The Fourth of July is the biggest fireworks’ holiday in the United States, and as such, it can be a terrifying experience for your dog. That’s why it’s always better to leave your dog at home for the festivities than it is to bring them along. A terrified dog can act in unpredictable ways, putting themselves as well as other at risk, and your dog will feel much more comfortable at home, where it’s hopefully at least a little quieter.

Let us help you keep your pet safe this summer.

Summer can be a risky time for our pets, but with a few precautions and a little knowledge, you can do a lot to prevent your pet from getting hurt or sick. If you have questions or concerns, or your pet needs veterinary attention, contact us at The Vet Set today.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer

With the summer, comes many risks for our pets.

The summer is finally here, and it’s time to say goodbye to those short, cold days of winter. While there’s a lot to be excited about in the summer, it’s important to know about the risks summer brings for our pets. In our last blog series, we talked about summer dangers for pets, and if you had a chance to read it, then you already know about the many things that can put your pet at risk. Luckily though, there are lots of things you can do as a pet owner to keep your pet safe. Here are just a few of them:

#1. Make sure your pet is on a heartworm preventative.

We recommend that you give your pet a heartworm preventative all year round, but if your pet isn’t currently on one, now is the time to get started. Heartworm is transmitted to dogs and cats by mosquitoes, which are most active in the summer, and the cheapest and easiest way to deal with heartworm is to prevent it. If you wait until your pet has already contracted heartworm to start being concerned about it, you’ll be faced with an expensive treatment option that is nowhere near as effective as prevention. Schedule your appointment with our animal hospital in Carroll Gardens today to get your pet started on a heartworm prevention.

#2. Be mindful about the heat when exercising your dog.

All dogs need exercise, and the summer doesn’t change that. However, in the summer, you may not be able to take your dog for a run in the middle of the day because of the heat. Dogs can get overheated quickly, and pushing your dog to exercise during the hottest part of the day is definitely a common cause. When the heat is on, take your dog for walks or runs early in the morning or later on in the evening to keep them from overheating.

#3. Make sure your dog always has water and a cool place to rest.

The summer is not the time of the year when it’s okay to leave your dog tethered to a leash outside in the full glare of the sun. Besides the fact that it is illegal in the state of New York to leave your dog tethered alone for more than three hours, it also puts their life at risk. This is another surefire way to overheat your dog, and it’s always essential that your dog has a cool place to hang out and plenty of water to drink. The same goes for leaving your dog in the car while you run errands. Contrary to what you might think, it gets much too hot in a car to leave your dog for even a short amount of time without the risk of overheating.

#4. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised around water.

Despite what a lot of people think, not every dog is going to be a natural in the water. Believe it or not, thousands of dogs die every year from drowning in backyard pools, and you should absolutely never leave your dog unsupervised in the water. For even more peace of mind, buy a life jacket for your dog to wear when you’re in the water!

#5. Be mindful of your pet’s feet when out walking.

When you’re out walking, it’s important to be mindful about the ground you’re walking on. Your pet doesn’t have shoes on like you do, and the hot asphalt underneath their feet can cause burns. When you’re walking outside, try to stay on grass and dirt during the hottest part of the day. But, as a general rule, you’re much better off walking your pet during a cooler part of the day, like in the mornings or evenings.

#6. Make sure all of your windows have screens.

If you’re home doesn’t have air conditioning, tempting a breeze into your home by opening your windows is one of the best ways to keep cool during the summer. However, it’s important to ensure that any windows you leave open have screens. Both cats and dogs could easily get out if you leave ground-level windows open, putting them at risk for getting lost, in a fight or run over by a car. And, if you live on the second floor or higher, it’s even more important to ensure that all windows have screens, as pets can fall out and get hurt or killed. Summer can be a dangerous time for pets for many reasons, but there are lots of things you can do to keep your pet safe. To learn more tips for protecting your pet this summer, please stay tuned for our next blog. And, if your pet is due for a veterinary visit, schedule your appointment with us at The Vet Set in Carroll Gardens today!

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