Why is my dog ​​eating grass? Is it dangerous? - petsitterbank

Why is my dog ​​eating grass? Is it dangerous?

For the last number of days my Chihuahua, Aggie, has been eating a lot of grass. She eats it for five minutes at a time, several times a day. Why does she do this and can it cause her any harm?

Grass eating is a common canine oddity. Nobody knows why dogs do this (they can’t tell us) with theories including a desire for fibre, or even a deliberate attempt to self-induce vomiting if a dog is feeling a bit queasy. These ideas may be true in some cases, but I think that in general, dogs just love to explore the world with their mouths. This includes picking up bits of vegetation (like leaves and grass) in their mouth, and sometimes swallowing it.

In general, grass-eating is unlikely to cause any harm, with three provisos. First, when they eat grass, dogs can accidentally swallow tiny slugs and snails that can carry lungworm, so regular worming against lungworm is important (eg once a month, with a vet-only wormer). Second, some dogs regularly eat so much grass that it causes a physical irritation of the stomach, inducing regurgitation, so if this is the case, you should prevent Aggie from overdoing it in this way.

And thirdly, rarely, dogs might eat toxic vegetation (eg toadstools) so it makes sense to keep an eye on dogs to ensure that they don’t eat anything that looks unusual or suspicious.

My wire-haired terrier has itchy skin, and after ruling out parasites, my vet has told me there’s not much that can be done for her. She continues to itch regularly and I want to help her. I shampoo her once a month. Is there anything else I can do?

-HR, Bandon

It’s important to understand the science of itchy skin: there are two aspects. First, the underlying primary cause of the problem (ie what started it: there’s a long list, from fleas to allergies), and second, the secondary complications that develop once the skin has been irritated by the primary cause (eg yeast infections). To help itchy dogs, both the primary and secondary issues need to be tackled. If only one aspect is sorted, the dog will continue to itch. Solving skin disease can be complex, and busy local vets may suggest a referral to a skin specialist (eg https://www.skinvet.ie/)

While this may initially sound complicated and costly, it’s often a short cut to a long term answer. No dog should have to suffer that constant feeling of itchiness: there is nearly always an effective treatment, once an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the problem has been made. Watch this video for a summary of the science of dog skin disease: https://petfixclub.com/dermatitis-video

My two-year-old budgie Joey seems to be under the weather: he just isn’t as chirpy as usual. He lives in a standard budgie cage, and is fed on budgie seed from the pet shop with a cuttlefish bone to peck at. Do budgies suffer from depression or could he be unwell?

-MG, Cork

The truth is that the way that we keep budgies in Ireland is usually far from ideal: if you see them in the wild, they live in big flocks, fluttering around together, flying in groups. So when we keep them in cages, on their own, we don’t meet their instinctive social needs. This means that although they may seem cheerful and chirpy, they are often under significant stress just from how we keep them, and this then makes them prone to premature illnesses.

So getting consider him a small friend and a bigger cage. It’s also important to realize that “budgie seed” on its own does not provide enough nutrition. Instead, change to pelleted budgie food that has been specially designed to contain the right nutrients in the right amounts. You should also give him treats of fresh greens to boost his daily nutrition: 10-15% of his diet should be pieces of fruit and vegetables.

If you adjust his living conditions and diet and he still seems depressed, it’s important that you take him to a vet with a particular interest in birds to have him checked out physically for underlying illness.

My seven-year-old cat has been diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). I had never heard of this before, but my vet tells me that it is untreatable and that euthanasia is the only option. Are there any alternative treatments that might be able to help at all?

-SL, Longford

Up until last year, it was true that FIP ​​was completely untreatable: euthanasia was the only option. However, researchers have just discovered a new treatment that has a high rate of completely curing affected cats. You can read details of this treatment here http://www.catvirus.com/treatment.htm. The bad news is that this medication is not yet legally available in Ireland, so the only option is to request a referral from your vet to a vet practice in Northern Ireland or the UK, where the drug is legally available to vets. It’s expensive, costing up to €5000 for a full course, but to date, the treatment results have been very positive.

My fifteen-year-old cat seems generally healthy, but she has started losing weight, despite eating more than ever (she seems continually hungry). I’ve given her a worm dose but it hasn’t helped. What should I do?

-LT, Fermoy

Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) is a common cause of these signs in older cats. It’s easy to diagnose (via a simple blood test) and can be cured with twice-daily medication for the rest of her life. Take her to your local vet, and they’ll be able to guide you to get getting this sorted.

  • If you have any questions about your pet, send them to pete@petfix.com

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