Your dog’s silly antics are part of their charm, but has your funny furry friend done something particularly odd, and left you wondering, “Why do they do that?!” Although humans may not understand every strange dog behavior, our canine companions have their reasons for their weird behaviors, which are not only for our entertainment. Dogs have physiological reasons for many of their actions, and some behaviors can even signal that something is wrong. To better understand and care for your dog, read our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville team’s explanations for your—oftentimes—incomprehensible canine’s behaviors.

Question: Why does my dog eat grass?

Answer: Pet owners often ask veterinarians why their dogs eat grass. Despite grass eating being so common for dogs, research on the behavior is limited, and, while theories abound, no one knows for sure why they do this. Although scientists have determined many grass-gobbling theories are myths, the following theories are possible:

  • Relieve an upset stomach — One common assumption is that is that dogs eat grass to cause themselves to vomit when they have an upset stomach. While eating grass may sometimes cause a dog to vomit, the two likely are unrelated. 
  • Add nutrients to their diet — Grass is a good fiber source, and dogs instinctively know when they need more grass in their diet. 
  • Instinctive behavior — Eating grass may be an instinctive behavior, which they inherited from their wolf ancestor, and is not associated with illness or a dietary deficiency. 
  • Curiosity — Dogs use their mouths to explore their world and may simply be investigating this abundant plant’s texture and flavor. 

Q: Why does my dog sniff other dogs’ behinds?

A: You may feel a little embarrassed when your dog sniffs another pup’s behind, but this intimate greeting is actually a powerful canine communication technique. Your dog’s sense of smell is extremely advanced, and through this they gain vital information about the world around them, especially new canine acquaintances. A quick sniff of another dog’s derrière is your dog’s version of a human visually assessing another person during their first meeting. Why do dogs sniff this particular body part? Each dog’s anal secretions have a unique aroma, and your dog can use this to determine if their new acquaintance is a friend or foe. While this greeting may be awkward for you, the behavior is as natural for a dog as a person’s handshake or a “How do you do?”  

Q: Why does my dog lick and chew certain body areas?

A: Occasional licking is a normal part of your dog’s self-grooming routine, but when their licking becomes constant and is accompanied by chewing, your pooch is likely telling you something important. Your dog may be biting or licking certain body areas for the following reasons:

  • Dry skin — If your dog’s fur is flecked with flakes, they likely have dry skin, and licking is an attempt to soothe the condition. Talk to your veterinarian about moisturizers and supplements that can relieve your dog’s itchy dry skin, and replenish necessary moisture. 
  • Hot spots — If your dog licks too much in one area, their skin can become inflamed and itchy, necessitating a veterinarian-prescribed anti-inflammatory to treat their hot spots. 
  • Arthritis pain — Pets with arthritis often lick, chew, or bite their painful body areas, which, over time, can lead to hair loss and inflamed skin patches.
  • Anxiety or boredom — Many dogs self-soothe through repetitive licking and may engage in the behavior when they are feeling anxious or just plain bored. 

Q: Why does my dog scoot on their hind end?

A: If you’ve ever watched in horror as your dog scooted their hind end across the floor, you probably wondered why in the world they felt compelled to do so. To answer that, we’ve got to talk about glands—anal glands, that is. Dogs have a pair of anal glands located inside their rectum that create, store, and eventually, express fluid on the feces as your dog has a bowel movement. The fluid the anal glands express is a dog’s scent marker. 

The anal glands usually release fluid as the result of a bowel movement’s pressure, but if the fluid does not express, full glands can become itchy, causing your dog to scoot to relieve their discomfort. If your dog is excessively scooting, contact your veterinarian so they can determine this behavior’s cause and plan your dog’s best treatment. 

No question regarding your dog is off limits, and we’re here for you when you need us. If you are concerned about your pet’s odd behaviors, schedule an appointment with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville team.