Is My Pet Normal?
Does your dog howl when you sing? Don't worry, that's pretty normal. Biting his toenails off, however, isn't so normal. Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber helps owners decipher the strange behavior of pets.
Stop the noise!
Ilana's dog goes crazy every time her sister practices the violin. Karen's dog Cry Baby cries whenever someone sings. Slyvia goes crazy when she hears the accordion. Do they howl because the noise hurts their ears?
"This is really normal," assures Dr. Werber. "Dogs are pack animals and they love to sing along. They're having a blast, just being social. Let 'em sing!"
Three's a crowd
Bucky is the jealous type who takes his role as "man's best friend" to a whole new level when it comes to owner Lynn's husband, Chris. Bucky snuggles next to him in the bed and even barks when Chris gives his wife a hug or kiss. Is this normal?
"This is not really normal for a dog," says Dr. Werber. "Dogs are usually very social animals. We need to change the relationship where Lynn becomes an integral part in Bucky's fun, his feeding and walks. And we want to desensitize Bucky from not wanting to be around Lynn. Whenever Chris does something fun with Bucky, Lynn has to be right there. If you want the behavior to change, you have to be number one in that dog's life for a little bit."
Is there doggie aspirin?
Five-year-old boxer Roxy gets migraines -- or so it seems. When owner Tara gets a migraine headache, Roxy seems to exhibit the same symptoms she does: She mopes around, gets in bed with Tara and even throws up! Could Roxy be suffering the same symptoms as her owner?
"Obviously there are some changes going on from Tara's pre-migraine state that Roxy's picking up on," says Dr. Werber. "The Pavlovian response is that when she senses those changes coming, she knows her life is going to be miserable because mom's going to be miserable. She's just sensitive to the physiological changes. There's nothing you can do about it; it's because of the bond between owner and dog."
D-O-G has O-C-D
Anita thinks her dog has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Every time she feeds him, he has to go through rituals like pressing the food down with his nose and putting all the pieces of food in the right place. He won't eat until he does it! Can dogs suffer from OCD?
"Certainly it's an abnormal behavior but dogs can have OCD," says Dr. Werber. "When dogs play with their food like that, sometimes it's a sign of oral disease -- their gums or teeth -- so check that out. If he doesn't have any problems with his mouth, try different consistencies and tastes. If you find he doesn't do it with a different type or size of food, you know that was the problem."
Mmmm ... toenails!
JJ's dog Charlie Bones chews his toenails, and when JJ cuts her nails, Charlie wants to chew on those too and eat them! Is this normal?
"It's not normal," says Dr. Werber. "A lot of dogs have their quirks, and this is certainly a quirk. Somewhere along the line, probably when Charlie was very young, he was not happy about having his toenails trimmed. It's definitely an emotional sensitivity. So we have to make the whole process of trimming his nails fun. You might want to cheat a little bit and give him a drug that reduces anxiety because you want to calm him. Don't try to do them all at once; do one at a time and give him treats. For now, try one of those lampshade collars or booties to give him a chance to heal. Give him his favorite toy to take the attention away from the nails."
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