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Is My Dog Normal? Evaluating strange canine behaviors

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Bottom scooting, bad breath, horrible eating habits, crotch sniffing, strange aggressions and even stranger companionships are just some of the weird behaviors our furry family members exhibit. With more than 46 million dog owning households in the United States, pet parents are all too familiar with quirky canine behaviors. Protect Your Bubble pet health insurance is on a mission to educate pet parents about some of the craziest canine conundrums to determine once and for all – is your dog normal?!

Dr. Oz made the segment famous – audience members and off-the-street regular folks ask him their most embarrassing and personal questions, followed by Am I Normal? He puts them in his truth tube in front of millions and gives a medically based judgment – normal or not normal. The embarrassing truth is that as abnormal as humans feel sometimes – pet issues can be yuckier, smellier, crazier, more puzzling and way more complicated to understand. And since Americans spend an estimated $13 billion on vet care annually, it’s important to know what behaviors can lead to health issues. So we’ll be the judge – normal or not normal!

Poop eaters – Technically known as coprophagia, excrement eating is a pretty disgusting behavior that still puzzles veterinarians. “There are many possible underlying causes for coprophagia including nutritional deficiencies and intestinal malabsorption, but I’m not sure anyone knows for sure why pets sometimes eat #2,” says Dr. Scott Gibbs, owner and veterinarian at Hilltop Animal Hospital just outside of Raleigh, NC. “Some pets outgrow the behavior and others don’t. The only way to avoid this is to make it completely inaccessible, instead of dousing it in meat tenderizer.”

VERDICT – not normal, but not super unusual either.

Humping – All pet parents have experienced that awkward moment when their dog starts humping someone or something. “Humping can be a sexual behavior, but frequently is not. Humping in an unneutered or unspayed dog is likely sexual in nature, but in older dogs, it can be a sign of dominance or a reaction to something exciting, like a doorbell ringing or new people visiting,” explains Dr. Gibbs. “This behavior is frequently funny and oftentimes embarrassing, especially if you’re on the receiving end.”

VERDICT – normal

Crotch sniffing – Your dog greets everybody by sniffing his or her crotch – chalk it up to another awkward pet parent moment! “In the doggie world, butt sniffing is a perfectly acceptable and polite way of greeting a friend,” explains Dr. Gibbs. “Dogs have a very powerful sense of smell, so it’s easy to understand why they would use their sense of smell to investigate newcomers. It is thought that dogs can obtain and process a great deal of information from sniffing other dogs’ butts and – of course – our crotches.”

VERDICT – normal

Horrible breath – Also known as halitosis, dogs get bad breath for the same reasons that people do – a build up or accumulation of odor producing bacteria in the oral cavity, lungs or gut. “Halitosis is frequently associated with oral or dental disease, but can associated with more severe medical conditions like kidney disease. Either way, bad breath warrants a visit to the veterinarian for an evaluation,” says Dr. Gibbs.

VERDICT – not normal

Butt scooting boogie – One of the most frequently asked questions in the veterinarian’s office – why is my dog scooting across the floor on his butt? According to Dr. Gibbs, “Butt scooting is typically associated with some underlying disorder, the most common being full or inflamed anal sacs or internal parasites. Persistent butt scooting warrants a visit to the doctor.”

VERDICT – occasionally – normal; persistent scooting – not normal

Hoarding – Hoarding is a commonly documented behavior in wild and domestic canines. Says Dr. Gibbs, “Don’t get too worried about hoarding unless your dog keeps hiding and hoarding your car keys or if it is accompanied by aggression toward family members or other pets in the house.”

VERDICT – normal

These are just a few of the curious behaviors our canine companions dole out on a daily basis, but at least now you know – normal or not normal! At Protect Your Bubble, we want to ensure your pets’ health and well being throughout its entire life, so if there’s an issue that’s persisting for lengthy periods of time or is interfering with your pets’ quality of life, see your veterinarian right away.

(Submitted by Protect Your Bubble Pet Health Insurance, Atlanta, GA 30309)

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