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Why Does My Dog Eat Grass? And Other Common Canine Questions

If you’re a dog owner, especially a new dog owner, you’ve probably noticed some odd behaviors from your furry best friend. You may have even noticed things that you want to change or that make you concerned for your dog’s health. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions about man’s best friend.

1. Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

This is probably the most common question asked by first-time dog owners. They take their new puppy outside for a run or a potty break and become instantly concerned when they see him chowing down on grass. Why do dogs, who are notorious meat-eaters, go crazy for grass?

The answer to this question will depend entirely on who you ask. Traditionally, most people believe dogs eat grass when their stomachs hurt. They claim dogs eat grass when they don’t have enough fiber in their diets and are constipated or when their stomachs are upset. Eating grass can introduce fiber into a dog’s diet, but it can also help induce vomiting, which can relieve the pressure on his stomach.

Other vets argue that dogs eat grass because they’re bored and/or because they actually enjoy the taste. This belief stems from research that shows only about 10% of dogs act sick before eating grass, and many don’t vomit afterwards.

Whatever the reason, eating grass won’t usually hurt your dog. If he’s eating plain grass, he should be fine. Be aware that some plants, such as lilies, hemlock, morning glories and others, are poisonous to dogs, though, so make sure grass is all your dog is eating. Also make sure he isn’t eating grass that’s recently been sprayed with weed killer, insecticides or other poisons.

Eating a little grass every now and then can actually be healthy for dogs, so if you live in an apartment or some other place where your dog doesn’t have ready access to grass, you might consider purchasing a grow-your-own-grass kit to give your furry best friend some clean, healthy grass to nibble on now and again. We prefer this Reclaimed Barnwood Style Planter Wheatgrass Kit from Amazon.

Is My Dog Allergic to Poison Ivy?

One of the most common plants that people worry about when it comes to their dogs is poison ivy. Poison ivy is one of those plants that we humans try to avoid at all costs, but does it affect dogs the same way it affects us? In most cases, the answer is no. Most vets agree that dogs aren’t susceptible to poison ivy in the same way that humans are.

However, in rare cases, your dog can experience some itchiness and skin irritation after coming into contact with the plant. This usually only happens to dogs who already have naturally sensitive skin. If you have a pup with sensitive skin who comes in contact with poison ivy, you should give him a bath as soon as possible to help prevent problems. Burt’s Bees makes an excellent dog shampoo to help dogs who are naturally itchy.

You should be aware that even if your dog isn’t allergic to poison ivy, he can still cause problems for you if you’re allergic. If your dog is outside and rolls around in a poison ivy patch and then jumps into your lap, you could experience an allergic reaction due to coming in contact with the residue on his fur, so it’s best to avoid the plants altogether if possible.

Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

Have you ever been sitting around, doing your own thing, only to look up and see your dog staring intently into your eyes? If so, you know how creepy it can be. There are many reasons your dog might end up staring into your face.

He’s Trying to Understand Your Mood and/or Cues

Although the saying “Dogs are a man’s best friend” is cliché, clichés are clichés for a reason. Dogs are one of the few animals that truly love humans, and they’re very intuitive about their owner’s moods. If your dog is sitting silently and staring at you, it could be that he’s trying to figure out what’s on your mind. Dogs will also stare at you to watch for cues that something is about to happen.

For example, if you always pick up your dog’s leash before taking him outside, he might watch you to see if you pick up a leash, knowing that’s the silent cue you’re about to take him out for a walk.

He’s Giving You a Sign He Needs Something

Dogs also stare at their humans when they need something. For example, if it’s about time or past time for your pup’s feeding, he might stare into your eyes to try to communicate to you that he’s hungry. My dog often stares at me when she needs to go out to potty. She’ll walk to the door, sit facing me and stare directly into my eyes until I get up to take her out.

Monitor your dog closely. Does he tend to stare at you at specific times of day? Does he stare at you while sitting in the same spot each time? If you pick up on patterns that happen when your dog is staring at you, you’ll likely find out why he’s doing so fairly quickly.

He’s Bored and Wants Your Attention

Another common reason your dog may be staring at you is because he’s bored. Dogs are incredibly social creatures. They love nothing better than spending time with us, their humans. If your dog gets up and suddenly starts staring intently at you, it’s possibly he’s just trying to get your attention without being rowdy and risking you fussing on him.

If this is the case, try to make some time for him. Take him outside and walk or play with him. If you often find yourself busy when your dog wants to play, find things that entertain him without you having to stop what you’re doing. Buy your furry best friend a wide range of toys suitable for playing inside.

Although marketed for cats, the Goopow Cat Toy Automatic Laser Toy is a great way to keep your pup entertained. It’s also perfect for times when he wants to play, but you can’t exactly stop what you’re doing right then. Other great toys include the StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy, the UPSKY Dog Rope, the COPACHI Pet Dog Squeaky Toy and the Yutang Indoor Suction Cup Self-Playing Dog Toy.

How Many Hours a Day Should My Dog Sleep?

Ask any vet, “What’s something all new dog parents are worried about that’s just normal dog behavior?” and s/he’ll tell you it has to do with how much time their dogs spend sleeping. For someone who has never owned a dog before, especially a puppy, it might be alarming to notice that your new pet seems to be sleeping his life away. Why does he spend so much time asleep? Is he sick? Is something wrong with him?

Actually, dogs, especially puppies, just sleep a lot. A young puppy can spend anywhere from 18 to 20 hours a day sleeping. This isn’t because he’s sick; it’s just a natural part of a puppy’s day. Adult dogs sleep a little less often, usually only spending between 12 and 14 hours each day asleep. The only time you really need to worry about whether or not your dog is sleeping too much is if his sleep patterns suddenly change. If your dog, who usually sleeps about 12 hours a day, is suddenly sleeping around the clock, this could be cause for concern.

Outdoor Dogs

Because dogs spend so much of their time asleep, it’s important they have somewhere safe and comfortable to do that, especially if they’re outdoor dogs. They need somewhere to get out of the intense heat and/or rain, sleet and snow. For outdoor dogs, we prefer the Best Choice Products All-Weather Fir Wood Dog House. First of all, it’s just adorable, but it’s also durable and versatile. On sunny, breezy days, your dog can sleep on the porch part of the house and still get a little sun and wind. On days when the weather isn’t as pleasant, he can go inside the house itself.

Indoor Dogs

It’s important for indoor dogs to have a proper place to sleep as well. Otherwise, they’ll quickly claim your furniture or even your bed for their own private napping spot. It’s better to give them their own designated spot. It keeps them from overtaking your space, and you’ll have a lot less mess to clean up on your furniture. Here are our top five favorites for indoor pet beds.

Why Does My Dog Chew on Everything?

There are several different reasons your dog may be chewing on everything. If he’s a puppy, it’s very likely that he’s teething. Puppies teethe just like human babies do, and while they’re teething, their mouths can hurt a lot. Buying your pup some teething toys for him to sink his teeth into can help cut down on the amount of damage he does to your furniture, shoes, clothes, etc. Petstages also makes a great chew stick that’s safer for your puppy than chewing on real sticks, which he’ll want to do every time he’s outside.

It’s also not unusual for your adult dog to chew on things. Dogs continue to chew on things throughout their entire lives. It’s a natural way for them to clean their teeth, keep their jaws strong and relieve boredom. The same teething toys that keep puppies entertained will also work for adult dogs. However, if you’re looking for a safe chewable that also helps keep your dog’s teeth clean, you might want to invest in some Dentastix, an Everlasting BentoBall treat or an Arm & Hammer Dental Chew.

If your dog’s chewing becomes a problem even with all the toys, bones and treats you give him, you may have to look into other ways to keep him away from your furniture and anything else you don’t want him to chew. There are many companies that make no-chew sprays to help keep dogs away from things you don’t want them gnawing on. With our dog, we’ve found NaturVet Bitter Yuck spray to be pretty effective. Never muzzle or crate your dog as punishment for chewing. He won’t understand why he’s being punished, and it’ll just be an unnecessary cruelty to him.

Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

While we’re on the subject of chewing and teeth, let’s go ahead and address this commonly asked question. Should you brush your dog’s teeth? Oral hygiene is just as important to dogs as it is to humans. In fact, it may even be more important for dogs because at least humans can get dentures if all their teeth fall out. That’s not exactly an option for dogs, so the short answer is yes. You should definitely take care of your dog’s teeth.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean brushing them. If you start brushing your pup’s teeth when he’s young and get him used to the process, then brushing might not be a problem for you. Arm & Hammer makes a great toothbrush and toothpaste kit for dogs. If your dog will let you brush his teeth, that’s certainly the best option.

Dental Chews

If you’ve tried and just can’t get your doggy to cooperate, Dentastix and dental chews are the next best thing. There are several dental chews, such as the Cactus Dog Chew Toothbrush, made specifically to get between your dog’s teeth and help cut down on plaque buildup. Others, like the Little World Dog Chew Toothbrush, have a spot where you can actually squeeze in some doggy toothpaste. As your dog chews the toy, the toothpaste does its work. Be aware that these can be a little messy, so give them to your dog somewhere the toothpaste won’t stain everything it touches.

Water Additives

Finally, if all else fails, you can use water additives, such as Sonnyridge’s Dog Advanced Dental Water Additive, to your dog’s water. Each time he takes a drink, the additives clean and coat his teeth, leaving his breath fresh and helping cut down on plaque.

How Do I Take Care of My Dog’s Paws?

Other parts of your dog’s body that often get overlooked are his paws. Unlike humans, dogs don’t naturally feel the need to be clothed when outside. In most cases, this is perfectly fine. A dog walking around without any clothes on isn’t going to turn heads or get him arrested. However, a dog’s paws can become just as damaged by going barefoot – or barepawed – as a human’s feet can.

For Cold Winters

Most of the time, dogs can run around just fine on bare paws. In some instances, though, you might want to consider covering them up. If you live somewhere where snow and ice are common, your dog’s going to need something to cover his paws so that they don’t become injured from the freezing cold snow and ice. These QUMY Waterproof Dog Boots are a great option. They’re warm; they protect his feet from the ice; and they’re waterproof, so the melting snow won’t seep into them and freeze his little paws and toes.

For Hot Summers

In hotter areas, during the summer months, the sidewalk and roads can get hot. Trust someone who knows from personal experience. I once walked barefoot down the middle of the road in an Alabama summer, and it was so hot, the tar on the road was melting. By the time I got home, my feet were covered in blisters, and the bottoms of them were sticky with hot, melted tar.

Your dog will experience just as much pain from walking on hot asphalt as you would if you were to go barefoot. The boots listed above are suitable, of course, but they’re made for colder weather and might be a little hot. If you’re trying to protect your dog’s paws against heat, we recommend these Zunea Summer Mesh Breathable Dog Sandals. They offer just as much protection against the heat as the boots would, but they are much cooler and much more comfortable for your dog in the heat.

How Do I Keep Mosquitoes Off My Dog?

Another problem you may have with your dog, especially if you live in a hot, humid area, is the inability to protect him from mosquitoes. You can go to just about any pet store or veterinary clinic and pick up some medicine, spray and/or shampoo to protect him against fleas and ticks, but mosquitoes are a whole different problem. Mosquitoes bite dogs just as easily and eagerly as they do humans, and just like with humans, the bites can be itchy and uncomfortable.

Mosquitoes also carry diseases to which dogs can be susceptible. Therefore, it’s important you protect your dog from them, as well as from black flies and other stinging, biting insects. There are bug sprays made specifically for dogs. Never use bug spray designed for humans because the concentration of repellent in them is usually too strong.

Here are the things we’ve found to be the most effective:

If you live in an area that’s covered in mosquitoes, you may also want to dress your dog in a cool, light shirt or vest whenever you take him outside. This can help cut down on the amount of exposed skin for the mosquitoes to bite.

Why Does My Dog Drag His Butt Across the Floor?

This behavior, more commonly referred to as “scooting,” is fairly common for dogs to do at some point in their lives. The reasons for it can range from rather benign to quite severe. If your dog isn’t scooting often and just happens to do it once or twice randomly, it likely isn’t that big of a deal. If he does it right after pooping, he may be slightly constipated and unable to get all of his poop out. In this case, you might find a nasty surprise on your floor, but unless the behavior persists, it really isn’t anything over which you should be concerned.

If your dog has recently been to the groomer, this could be another superficial reason for his scooting behavior. If he’s experienced some clipper burn (similar to razor burn in humans) or had a negative reaction to one of the grooming products the groomer used, it could cause him to be itchy and start scooting to try to scratch his bottom.

Other reasons your dog could be scooting include worms, injury or problems with his anal sac or it could be a response to a food allergy he’s experienced. Any time you notice your dog scooting, check his poop for worms. If you see any, take him to the vet right away.

The same goes for anything else in the poop that shouldn’t be there, such as blood or mucus. As gross as it is, your dog’s poop is a really good indicator of his overall health. If you see something there that shouldn’t be there or if your dog persists in scooting more than twice, it might be time for a trip to the vet.

What Is That Gunky Stuff Inside My Dog’s Ears?

There’s a lot going on inside your dog’s ears. Dogs produce earwax just like humans. With that being said, though, not everything inside your dog’s ears is always normal. If you look inside your dog’s ears and see something waxy and pale yellow or light, golden brown in color, you can be fairly certain it’s normal. That’s just what healthy doggy earwax looks like.

However, if you check out your pup’s ears and see dark brown or black gunk covering the inside of the ears, that can be a cause for concern. This gunk can be a sign of an ear infection, or you could be looking at a case of ear mites in your dog’s ear. If treated properly, neither of these things is anything too serious, but you should never try to self-diagnose what’s going on in your dog’s ears.

Always take him to the vet right away and get a real diagnosis and some medicine to treat the issue. Also, unless you’ve been given express permission by your vet, don’t ever try to clean your dog’s ears with a Q-tip yourself! Getting an ear cleaning from an inexperienced person can be hugely damaging to your dog’s ears.

How Many Treats Can I Feed My Dog Each Day?

Dogs are world-class beggars when it comes to food, and they’re so cute, and we love them so much that sometimes we give in when we really shouldn’t. A few treats now and then are fine for your dog, but you can definitely overdo it if you aren’t careful. Dogs are prone to many of the same diseases and health problems to which humans often fall prey. These include diabetes, obesity, heart problems and more.

For these reasons, it’s important you don’t overfeed your dog, especially with tasty treats between meal times. A good rule of thumb is that your dog’s daily treat limit shouldn’t exceed 10% of his total daily calories. That isn’t much, so use treats sparingly. Also, try to stick to healthy dog treats as opposed to those that are super fatty or bad for their hearts. We like to give our dog Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Meat Dog Treats.

We Hope This Helps!

We hope we’ve been able to answer some of the questions you might have had about your dog and his seemingly inexplicable behaviors. Dogs are a great source of comfort and pleasure for us, and it’s important we understand them as much as possible. If you’re ever in doubt about a certain behavior or problem your dog is having, call a vet. Most of the time, they’re more than happy to help.