Hey all you cool cats and kittens, thanks so much to everyone who sent questions in after our last Q & A with Dogtor A. Here’s some of the top questions that came up, as well as the answer to a question that’s been on my mind for some time: When will dogs be able to talk to us?
Q. Can I use human shampoo on my dog?
A. No! I could go on for a page with this answer. But no, pets need pet-specific shampoo. The skin of cats and dogs is actually more sensitive than humans for a number of reasons. They have a thinner stratum corneum (outer skin layer) as well as a different skin pH and hair follicle density which affects the absorption of shampoo ingredients.
Good quality pet shampoo should have a pH tailored to pets skin. If not, the skins top protective layer can be disrupted leading to broken skin which is easier for bacteria, fungus and parasites to penetrate. Finally, a good pet shampoo is easier to rinse out than human shampoo. This is great for bath time logistics but more importantly, surfactants from shampoo left on the skin can be ingested and can irritate their sensitive, thin skin.
Q. Why does my dog drag its bum?
A. Does something smell fishy to you? Does your dog look like they are practising for a ski-trip? These weird signs may be related. I guess the common misconception is that dogs drag their bums because they have worms.
While that may be the case, the intestinal worm (the whipworm) that commonly causes itchy bums for humans, is not a big player in the dog world. My parasitology lecturer told us a very weird story about diagnosis of whipworm in humans but I think that will have to wait for the sealed section of this blog.
This fishy smelling, ski trip, dance move is called 'scooting'. The most common cause for scooting in dogs is likely the most common cause for vets calling in sick, or simply not coming back from their lunch break. Impacted anal sacs. It certainly is as gross as it sounds! For dogs, this impaction, or blockage, must feel like having a huge pimple in their bum. It can be very uncomfortable and can form an abscess, so it needs to be 'manually expressed' at the vet clinic. Sigh. Poor dogs, poor vets.
I find the smell so offensive that I tell clients to keep some Dr Zoo Dry Shampoo at home as an emergency masking agent until they can get to the vet. We love a multipurpose product!
Q. Should I brush my dog or cats’ teeth?
A. You absolutely should brush your dogs and cats’ teeth!
Just like us, plaque that accumulates on the gum line leads to gingivitis, infection and dental pain. Regular toothbrushing should be part of your pets grooming regime.
Tip - Why not tie it in with brushing their coat two or three times weekly so that it’s easier to remember!
Make sure to use a different brush of course! A nice soft children’s tooth brush works well, or you can often get these nifty finger brushes from your vet clinic. One really important point is that if your dog already has gingivitis, then brushing may actually be painful. Existing plaque and gingivitis should be treated at your vet clinic first. Before you start a toothbrushing regime, ask your local vets and nurses to perform a dental examination to check for gingivitis. They can also show you how to brush their teeth properly. There's an art to it and some pets (cats I’m talking to you) simply won’t allow it.
One final point is that you should use a toothpaste made for pets. Human toothpaste containing fluoride is unsafe as you can’t ask your dog to spit it out afterwards…or can you?
Q. When will dogs be able to talk?
A. They’re doing it! I couldn’t resist mentioning this amazing dog Stella I heard about on a podcast. Stella’s mum is an American speech pathologist who noticed that her puppy was displaying similar communication skills to human toddlers just before they start to talk. So, she set up some buttons to indicate different individual words and taught her to talk by choosing the right button.
Now she can communicate using more than 45 words including sentences containing 5 words. Hilarious! She tells her mum she wants to go outside alone but then when she asks for a snack and is told no, she pulls out the “I love you” card.
Perhaps a nice family project for the next lockdown? Could you get your dog to communicate these phrases?
- Feed me.
- Want bed.
Xo Dogtor Andy