dog sitting and scratching itselfMost dogs have some peculiar behavioral traits, and we pet owners usually chalk this up to personality or breed. However, what if that strange behavior becomes chronic, or if it is causing harm to your pet? Patton Chapel Animal Clinic has seen it’s fair share of odd dog behavior, and we know that some are more concerning than others. Read below for ten odd dog behaviors— and when you should seek your vet’s attention.

Chasing Their Tails

Yes, dogs actually do chase their tails. This is a pretty common behavior, and it is usually quite humorous. Sometimes dogs chase their tails for attention or to relieve boredom. See your vet if the behavior becomes chronic or if your dog is beginning to injure his own tail by biting or chewing, as you could have a flea or parasite problem on your hands. Some dogs could even be exhibiting a compulsive behavior problem.

Scooting on their Bottoms

If your dog has ever scooted on his bottom in front of a room full of visitors, you were probably either completely confused or embarrassed. This behavior is a sign of anal irritation, and can stem from parasitic infection, inflammation, or anal gland problems. See your vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Sucking on Blankets

Some dogs never want to grow up! Sucking on blankets is a sign that your dog may have been prematurely weaned as a puppy. Most puppies are able to nurse on demand and are weaned at the right time by their mothers. However, if a breeder ignores guidelines for when to sell puppies, or if you adopt an orphan pup, you may end up with a older dog who still chews on a blanket or even his own body (also known as flank sucking). Dog owners who see this behavior should talk to their vet about the possibility of behavioral problems related to early weaning.

Self Mutilation

If your dog chews, licks or bites his extremities to the point where he is missing hair or has raw skin, he could be exhibiting signs of compulsive disorder. Self mutilation is just one example of compulsive disorder in dogs. Another cause could be food or environmental allergies. In extreme cases of compulsive behavior, dogs can do so much damage that they require tail amputation.

Fly Biting

A dog who jumps and snaps at the air like he is trying to catch an imaginary fly is also exhibiting signs of compulsive disorder. The exact cause of this behavior isn’t known, but some dogs have shown improvement after dietary changes, leading researchers to relate the behavior to the possibility of underlying GI problems.

Disorientation & Head Tilting

Is your dog suddenly disoriented, tilting his head, or even falling down? He could be suffering from Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, an inner ear condition that affects your dog’s ability to balance. There are a range of different factors (injury, infection, toxicity, even cancer) that could cause vestibular disease, so it’s best to see your vet as soon as possible. Older dogs can also experience disorientation due to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.

Pacing or Circling

If your dog seems unsettled with every thunderstorm or 4th of July celebration, chances are he just has anxiety. However, if the pacing or circling is a routine event, talk to your veterinarian. Canine compulsive disorder and canine cognitive dysfunction are two possible causes, but other more serious diseases such as Cushing’s Disease or Liver Disease could also lead to pacing.

Excess Drinking

You know when your dog should be drinking more than usual, like if he endures heavy exercise or if it’s hot outside, but if your dog is drinking more than usual without these conditions, see your veterinarian. There are several diseases that can cause your dog to feel extra thirsty, such as diabetes or kidney disease. Certain medications your pet is taking could also cause dehydration; a change in dosage could be recommended by your vet in these cases.

Changes in Appetite

Some dogs are consistently picky when it comes to eating. If your dog doesn’t seem thrilled about his kibble from time to time, it’s probably not a big deal. However, if your dog refuses to eat for more than a couple of days you should see your vet to rule out a more serious issue.

Eating Grass

Eating grass from time to time is pretty normal in dogs. Some people believe dogs naturally tend to eat grass to relieve stomach upset. But if your dog eats a lot of grass, talk to your vet about a possible nutrient deficiency or other underlying issue such as worms.

If your dog is exhibiting any other behaviors that you think are out of the ordinary, talk to your vet or contact us for a checkup. Your observation can lead to a healthier life for your dog.