What are Hot Spots?

Hot spots are basically sores on your dogs skin. The medical term for those bare, inflamed, red areas you might see on your dog is called acute moist dermatitis, which is a bacterial skin infection. Anything that irritates your dog's skin enough to make them scratch or chew can lead to the pain and itch that is normally associated with hot spots, which if left untreated, can quickly grow larger.

A hot spots location can help your vet diagnose its cause. Fleas, for example, may be the source of a hip hot spot, while a hot spot at the ear might point to ear problems.

Treating hot spots may involve shaving and cleaning the irritated area, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or topical medications, depending on how bad the hot spots are, and how much pain your dog is in.

The Greeting Stretch

When a dog wakes up from a sleep, or simply gets up after lying down for a while and stretches before coming to greet you and say hello, the common misconception is that they are simply stretching their muscles after a long period of rest. Although there are accasions when this might be the case, it is now believed that this behaviour actually forms part of a dogs greeting behaviour, and has even been given a name, the ‘Greeting Stretch‘.

Canine submissive behaviour

Avoiding direct eye contact
In the dog world, looking into another canine’s eyes can be perceived as a threat. So when you see a dog turning their head away from another dog, it likely means they are trying to avoid eye contact to show deference to the other dog and avoid confrontation.

Urinating when greeting
When a dog tucks their tail, avoids eye contact and urinates at your feet when you walk through the door, their showing signs of submissive urination. They may even roll onto their back and urinate. It’s their way of showing you that they are not a threat and that they surrender to your authority. Puppies often outgrow this behaviour, but if your adult dog is still urinating at your feet (or your puppy does it frequently), take them to the vet to rule out any medical conditions. Once you have a good health report from your vet try taking them outside immediately upon coming home while giving them minimal attention until they have been to toilet.

Why do dogs walk around in a circle before lying down?

Circling is innate behaviour

The most probable reason why many dogs circle before they lie down is that their ancestors did so in the wild. You just can’t beat a good nights sleep and simply by circling  around in an area of grass would create a more level, softer surface for lying on. If the area was covered in snow or leaves, circling would similarly soften and level the spot.

The behavioural effects of castrating male dogs (Neutering)

Having your dog neutered is not a decision that you should take lightly, after all there is no going back once the deed is done! Before proceeding you should consider the effects that castration may have on your dog’s behaviour.

The castration of male dogs will stop the production of the hormone testosterone. This might be beneficial when treating unwanted behaviours that are more likely in males than in females. Urine marking, roaming away from home to track down bitches in heat, inappropriate sexual behaviour, and inter-male competitive behaviour. In contrast, and contrary to popular belief, castration does not “calm a dog down”, since excitable and unruly behaviours are seldom influenced by testosterone.

Canine Distemper

Distemper is a very contagious and serious viral illness which has no known cure. Distemper belongs to the Morbillivirus class of viruses, and is a relative of the measles virus, which affects humans, the Rinderpest virus that affects cattle, and the Phocine virus that causes seal distemper. All are members of the Paramyxoviridae family.

Symptoms and Types

The virus is not only spread through the air, but can also be passed on by direct or indirect (i.e. utensils, bedding) contact with another infected animal. Initially the virus will attack a dog’s tonsils and lymph nodes, it then replicates itself there for about one week. Then it moves on to attack the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.

During the initial stages of distemper, the major symptoms include a high fever, reddened eyes, and a watery discharge from the nose and eyes. An infected dog will become lethargic and tired, and will usually become anorexic. Persistent coughing, vomiting, and diarrhoea may also occur. During the later stages of the disease, the virus starts attacking other systems within the dog’s body, particularly the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord are affected and the dog may start having fits, seizures, paralysis, and attacks of hysteria.

Certain strains of the distemper virus can cause an abnormal enlargement or thickening of the dog’s paw pads. If a dog has a particularly weak immune system, death may occur in as little as two to five weeks after the initial infection.

Canine anal gland problems

Anal glands are small and oval in shape, and  they sit just inside your dog’s rectum on either side of the anus. They reside in the muscle of the anal sphincter and are not very visible. The glands produce a smelly, oily substance that collects within tiny ducts. This fluid probably serves as a territorial marker, relaying biochemical information to other dogs that might be in the area.

When nature calls and your dog poops, if the stool is of a normal consistency, the fluid-filled ducts in the anal glands will empty as a result of the pressure imposed by the faeces as it passes through the rectum and anus. This is how nature intended things to work, but dog's these days often have loose stools or irregular bowel movements that don’t press against the anal glands during a poop.

The three main causes of anal gland problems are diet, trauma to the glands, and the position of the glands. However, other contributing factors can include obesity where there is insufficient muscle tone and excess fatty tissue, also certain skin disorders and infections.

Dog behaviour: Play bowing

Dogs and humans have lived together  for thousands of years. Even so, there is still some canine body language that is often misunderstood by humans. One such instance is when a dog drops their belly to the ground when another dog approaches.