Possible Health Issues in Common Dog Breeds

Medically reviewed by Kaitlyn T. Walsh, DVM on November 2, 2017 — Written by Dale Kiefer

Common health problems in dogs

The fortunes of dogs and humans have been mutually entangled for millennia. Numerous distinct breeds of Canis lupus familiaris exist today, owing to dogs’ remarkable adaptability and genetic fluidity. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments, and this diversity has been achieved through selective breeding.

Unfortunately, this practice occasionally yields undesirable results, including a higher incidence of certain hereditary defects, deformities, or infirmities within a given breed. Here are 12 common dog breeds and their potential health issues.

1. Labrador Retrieve

America’s favorite dog breed is prized for its high intelligence and affectionate nature. In many ways, Labs are perfect family dogs: loyal, gentle, and playful. Health issues with this energetic breed are relatively few, provided the animal gets plenty of daily exercise. Under-exercised pets are prone to weight gain and an increased risk of joint disease due to obesity. Labs are also often genetically prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Other inherited diseases can include eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause blindness.

2. German Shepherd

Another contender for America’s favorite dog breed, German Shepherds are exceptionally intelligent and easily trained. They excel at guard duty, but require plenty of stimulation and exercise to maintain optimal health. German Shepherds are prone to hereditary hip dysplasia, a deformation of the hip socket that may lead to arthritis or lameness. Degenerative myelopathy is also a common condition among German Shepherds. This is an untreatable disease that results in progressive paralysis.

3. Basset Hound

With their droopy ears and sad-sack eyes, these adorable dogs are plagued by problems related to their most endearing qualities. Their droopy skin may interfere with vision. Their large, floppy ears are prone to infections and require regular inspection and cleaning. And they have a penchant for constant, enthusiastic sniffing (made all the easier by their short legs). Basset hounds can suffer from intervertebral disc disease, which is a disease of the spine. This condition can make movement difficult and painful if left untreated.

4. Jack (& Parson) Russell Terriers

These highly energetic, intelligent terriers are well known for their relatively good overall health and notable longevity. While some larger breeds may live an average of 10 to 12 years, Jack Russells (and closely related Parson Russell Terriers) may live 14 to 16 years, provided they receive adequate, regular exercise. Inherited diseases include lens luxation, which may result in loss of vision.

5. Lhasa Apso

Experts describe these elegant dogs as “robust,” but the Lhasa requires regular eye care to maintain optimal health. Constant tearing can be expected in this breed. The runny fluid must be gently cleaned from the eyes on a routine basis with isotonic (mild saltwater) solution. The Lhasa’s long flowing coat requires extensive brushing and combing to avoid snags and tangles. This breed is also prone to a form of hereditary kidney disease.

6. Irish Setter

Although their popularity is presently waning, Irish Setters are still ranked among the top 10 breeds for playfulness and affection. These lovable redheads are considered hardy, but some hereditary diseases do occur. Irish setters can experience a variety of conditions including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, bloat, epilepsy, and bone cancer.

7. Yorkshire Terrier

Known for possessing outsized personalities in an undersized package, “Yorkies” have flounced into American’s hearts. They are the third most popular breed in America. With silky blue/tan coats and entitled terrier attitudes, they relish their roles as miniature divas. Yorkies are prone to digestive problems. Their diet should be carefully monitored. As with other toy breeds, tracheal collapse is possible. Clinical signs include a cough and can be exacerbated by a collar. A hereditary defect, portosystemic shunt, may decrease liver function and cause toxins to accumulate in the blood. This can lead to behavioral and neurological problems.

8. Dalmatian

Patient, gentle, and hardy, Dalmatians are famous for their association with firemen, and as the fictional heroes in a series of popular Disney movies. The most common hereditary defect in this breed is deafness, although reputable breeders are working to eradicate this problem. Dalmatians also have a tendency to develop kidney or bladder stones, a condition called urolithiasis. This common problem may require special diet or surgery to correct.

9. Cocker Spaniel

These favorites are known for their flowing coats, but owning a supermodel’s tresses comes at a price. Cocker Spaniels require frequent bathing and brushing to keep their long hair free of tangles. Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to eye disorders, including cataracts and glaucoma, as well as heart disease, epilepsy, and liver disease. Their ears must also be cleaned regularly to prevent ear infections.

10. Pug

Familiar for their flat, pushed-in face, pugs are generally a healthy breed that lives a long life. While the flat-fronted face is part of their charm, it can lead to breathing problems, which may develop into snoring at night or difficulty breathing in hot weather and humidity. The pug prefers living its days as a house companion, steering clear of extremely hot or cold temperatures. However, moderate exercise is still essential, as this breed is known to become overweight.

11. Chihuahua

Made famous by Taco Bell commercials, this tiny breed weighs in around 6 pounds or less. A gentle breed that will pair well with an equally gentle owner, Chihuahuas can live a relatively long life for dogs — around 12 to 15 years. The Chihuahua is not exempt from health concerns, however. The most common is patellar luxation, which can lead to arthritis. Other medical concerns include cardiac and eye disease.

12. Boxer

Highly athletic, the Boxer is rumored to have acquired its name from the way it uses its front paws for nearly every activity, seeming to bat at objects as if sparring. This compact and muscular breed is susceptible to a number of conditions, though. Boxers are prone to heart-related and thyroid problems, as well as skin allergies. Other medical concerns include cancer, bloat, and elbow dysplasia.


When considering bringing home a new puppy or adult dog, be sure to work with a reputable breeder who is honest and open about the health lines of their dogs. Don’t purchase a puppy without documentation that the parents were cleared of health issues. If adopting from a shelter, be sure to take your new dog to the vet soon after adoption.

Whether bred for their protectiveness and vigilance or their suitability to the pampered life, there is a breed of dog suitable for virtually every environment and type of owner. Learn more about choosing the right dog breed for your lifestyle, and get tips to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Animal Cruelty, People of Animal Welfare

Compassion Fatigue for Animal Rescuers: What you should know before you judge

By Modi Ramos
We live in a society that is often quick to judge others for their actions. We don’t always do this on purpose, but sometimes when we do not understand a situation we are quick to throw stones. For someone that dedicates their life or a large portion of their life to rescuing and rehabilitating animals, it is no easy feat. This takes perseverance, dedication and, most of all, thick skin. And for some people, it comes with devastating compassion fatigue.

And sadly, brushing that off at the end of the day is no easy task. It’s difficult for an animal lover, let alone an animal rescuer, not to feel pain knowing the tragedy an animal has endured. It’s something that you carry with you, and you try your best to ensure that as long as that animal is in your care, you never want them to feel pain like that ever again.

But what about the next animal, and the animal after that? As we know there is an epidemic of homeless and displaced in this world, so how can an animal care worker ever feel as if their work is “done” at the end of the day?

For animal care professionals, this constant stress and worry is known as compassion fatigue.

As it’s defined in this informational PDF, it gives a clear view into the mind of what these passionate people might feel after some time–and even more so on those difficult days and heart-wrenching abuse cases…

The “double-edged sword” phenomenon of working in the animal care industry. You’ve dedicated your life to making a positive difference for animals. But the emotional stress is draining, exhausting and taking a toll on you. You can’t imagine doing anything else with your life, but outside of your work, do you have a life?

Your work is in the animal care industry, not necessarily because you’ve chosen to, but because it’s chosen you. You cannot exist without doing all that you can to care for and save animals. You love what you do. But the heartbreak and emotional strain on you is sometimes too much to bear. There is a term for all of this, it’s called Compassion Fatigue (further referenced as CF). And it is normal, and very real.

Not only does CF dominate your professional life, but it always rears its head in your personal life.

It’s sleepless nights, exhaustion, acute sadness, depression, isolation from friends, a life that feels out of balance, rides on emotional roller-coasters, and anger towards people in general for the terrible ways in which they treat animals.

Dr. Robert G. Roop is the President of the Humane Society University and author of Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community. CF is most prevalent in the animal care field than in any other field. Why is this?

He believes that it is the sheer volume of animals, of beings, that animal care workers deal with on a daily basis. Unlike physicians for humans, or psychologists or counselors, people in the animal care field, specifically in shelters and rescues, can be caring for up to 500 animals a day in some cases. The number of lives and suffering that one is exposed to is much higher than in human care fields. This creates a burden on the heart and soul of the caregiver. Everyone responds differently to these stresses and everyone has different coping skills available to them.

Psychology Today took time to research this phenomenon for animal care givers. And their results resonated to what was mentioned above: the work is never done.

Our minds get satisfaction once tasks are completed, and sadly when it comes to the animal rescue world, the work truly never ends.

Compassion fatigue clearly exists in the world of animal welfare. But it is also present in the human healthcare world. Specifically, those professionals who dedicate their lives to helping the sick and injured. One thing is certain. It is never our right to judge their efforts, because we only see what exists at surface level.

One of the main issues for those experiencing compassion fatigue is that it manifests itself without the person even realizing that this is, in fact, what they are dealing with:

“People don’t always recognize compassion fatigue,” says Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, the largest marine mammal rehabilitation center in the world.

Thankfully, there is a support system in place for those dealing with this issue, and it’s known as the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project.

Founded by Patricia Smith, its mission is“to promote an awareness and understanding of Compassion Fatigue and its effect on caregivers.

Smith’s goal is to spread awareness for the project and for those who are living with compassion fatigue to feel supported and be taken seriously:

“Not only do [animal welfare workers] suffer daily in the work they do, they also often deal with the public’s total disregard and criticism of their work. Shelter work was one of the most distressing and sorrow-filled work I’ve ever done.”

(If you’d like to learn more about what compassion fatigue is, the project website has a detailed description here.)

Below is a heartbreaking example of the very real trauma that these rescuers experience, and hopefully it can shed more light to this subject of compassion fatigue for animal rescuers…

Next time you think of compassion fatigue and stop to wonder if it is real, think of your own cat(s) in your home that you call your own.

Perhaps they entered your life by way of an animal rescue or shelter? Know that others cared for them, likely nursed them back to health, and that yours was one of the lucky survivors. All because of the kindhearted, selfless volunteers/underpaid workers that helped them along the way. Consider yourself lucky that someone cared that much to give them the second chance they deserved!

And if you happen to be a person who rescues animal, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything you do for animals in need. You are the real heroes.

Want To Know The Signs Of Compassion Fatigue? Read Below…

How to Know if you are in Trouble – Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue:

When you are constantly exposed to harsh, painful realities (trauma) and you are not able to debrief (to talk about what happened and how you feel about it), all that you stuff inside builds up into a reservoir, until you are exhausted, or angry, or feel like you’ll explode, or feel that you hate all people, or you’ve lost your enthusiasm, joy, and hope.

  • You can feel depressed and want to quit your job, feeling stuck in depression.
  • You may have sudden outbursts of anger.
  • May feel sad, with your tears always just below the surface. Many long-time workers are experiencing long-term grief
  • You may feel cynical, or numb, or hardened, like nothing phases you.
  • May be having nightmares or flashbacks (where you repeatedly see images of suffering animals from the past).
  • You may switch back and forth. One minute feeling angry, the next minute numb, the next minute sad, the next minute depressed.


  • Feeling isolated from family and friends.
  • You may have problems relating to your co-workers or the public.
  • You may snipe at others, be aggressive, sarcastic, uncooperative.
  • May notice your usual high productivity is now low, or you are frequently late to work, or accident prone.


  • You may feel exhausted or ill.
  • Frequent health problems may develop.
  • You may have difficulty sleeping, difficulty breathing.
  • You may start abusing alcohol, food, drugs (or doing other destructive behavior) to suppress your feelings.


  • You may have difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions.
  • Your thoughts may race.


  • You may feel hopeless or cynical.
  • Source:


    Could Your Dog’s Water Bowl Make Him Sick? Here’s What You Need To Know

    Did you know that your dog’s water bowl could make him sick? There are actually several different ways you could be putting your dog’s health at risk with his water bowl. From the material the bowl is made from to how often you wash it, there are a lot of different ways your dog’s water bowl can affect his health. Here’s how.

    Infrequent washing

    If you’re like most dog owners, you just rinse and refill your dog’s water bowl once a day. After all, it’s just water. The problem is that water can harbor all sorts of pathogens. If you aren’t sanitizing the bowl every day, you’re opening your dog to the possibility of infection from things like yeast, mold, Salmonella, and E. coli. You should really have an extra set of bowls. That way, one set is always being washed, sanitized, and air-dried or going through a cycle in the dishwasher.

    Dog bowl material matters

    The water bowl itself could also be making your dog sick. It’s more important than you realize to choose the right bowl for your dog. Here’s what you need to know about dog bowl materials.


    Plastic is the worst possible material a dog bowl could be made from. Why? Two reasons.

    Plastic scratches easily, and these scratches make great places for bacteria and other pathogens to cling to and reproduce. This increases the odds of your dog becoming sick. These scratches are harder to get clean than you would expect, so even regular sanitizing can’t guarantee your dog’s health.

    Secondly, plastic tends to release a variety of chemicals. Have you heard all the fuss about BPA in containers that hold food or water for humans, especially babies? BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen commonly found in plastic products that has been linked to problems with reproductive issues, impaired brain function, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, diabetes, early puberty, obesity, and resistance to chemotherapy in humans. It isn’t difficult to imagine that our beloved fur children could be harmed by BPA as well.

    In addition to BPA, plastic contains other chemicals that can leach into your dog’s water and make him sick. While you can reduce the odds of harming your dog by finding dog bowls that are certified as being free of BPA and phthalates, you’re better off avoiding plastic bowls altogether.


    You probably already know about the dangers of ingesting lead. Every once in a while there are stories of children becoming ill from lead poisoning after chewing on toys made in China or elsewhere that were contaminated with lead. Did you know that there is lead in ceramic glazes? While some pottery is fired at temperatures high enough to prevent the lead from leaching into the water or food in the bowl, the slightest scratch or other damage can cause lead to get into the water anyway. Lead poisoning is difficult and expensive to treat. Therefore, you should regularly check for chips and cracks and discontinue use if you spot any. If you insist on buying ceramic bowls for your dogs, stick to ones made in the USA (after 1971 – don’t use heirloom china) that are certified for food use and made from either porcelain or stoneware.


    Aluminum is not commonly used in dog bowls, and for good reason – aluminum can leach into food and cause cognitive dysfunction and bone damage. If aluminum is used in pots and pans for human use, it’s supposed to be anodized. Anodized aluminum is thought to reduce the risk, but there is some debate about how effective this is. If you happen to have aluminum dog bowls, you should probably stop using them.


    While glass dog bowls are uncommon, many people choose to use their own bowls to give their dogs food and water, and glass can be a convenient option. As long as it isn’t cracked or chipped, glass is perfectly safe for dogs. The problem with glass is that it’s easily broken, and even a tiny chip or crack can injure your dog’s tongue if he licks it. Use glass bowls with caution.

    Stainless steel

    Stainless steel is the safest option for dog bowls. It is easy to sanitize and unlikely to scratch or chip. Dogs are unlikely to chew on it, and there are a variety of shapes and sizes at a low price point. Those in the know recommend stainless steel for dog bowls.

    (H/T: Psychology Today, Bark Think, Whole Dog Journal.

    Written by Jennifer Nelson



    SPCA Nelspruit & White River take hands

    Today we assisted White River SPCA with this cruelty complaint as their inspector is currently on leave.

    It is in a very remote location,the gravel roads are in a horrible condition and it took us two and a half hours to reach the residence. This poor dog,Bobby, had been burned with boiling water as “punishment” for “stealing” a piece of meat.

    Her puppies had all been burned with the boiling water and subsequently died a horrible death. Bobby was extremely scared, but after spoiling her with soft food and spending some time with her, she eventually allowed us to touch her.

    We cleaned the wounds and applied burn shields which we wrapped up with bandages. This was just a small effort to make the journey back as comfortable as possible.

    This allegedly happened two weeks ago. The complainant is following up on the identity of the offender, and there are apparently also witnesses.

    We will charge the perpetrator with animal cruelty under the Animals Protection Act as soon as we have her identity.

    Today we just wanted to get Bobby to the vets as soon as possible.

    She was humanely euthanized. RIP precious soul. We are so sorry that humans failed you.

    We are comforted by knowing that we could restore a little bit of faith in humans in the last hours of your life, and that we could hold you when you crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

    Thank you once again to Nelspruit Mazda for the amazing vehicle. There is no way we would have been able to attend to this case without your support and generosity. You guys are just amazing!!

    Lize Pienaar

    SPCA Nelspruit Chairperson


    Why cats and dogs do the weird things that they do

    By Sydney Baum-Haines


    Why cats and dogs do the weird things that they do

    1. The muzzle grasp

    When two dogs are hanging out and then one appears to bite the other’s muzzle, it can be a bit shocking to the owners, but it isn’t something to be worried about. This is just a social behavior dogs got from their wolf ancestors. The dogs are affirming their social relation: the dog being grasped is insecure and making sure it’s still the other dog’s pup.


    Muzzle grasping is usually done between dogs who know each other well, but insecure dogs can also ask a human can do it. If your pup approaches you while puffing its nose, you can gently grasp its muzzle and reassure it that you’ll take care of it. He’ll be happy to know it.

    2. Cat in the box

    It’s no secret that cats love cardboard boxes. From small indoor cats to big tigers, they can’t get enough of the box. They like to sit in boxes even if they barely fit. It seems that, for domestic cats at least, boxes reduce their stress by providing a safe enclosed space.

    Big cat little box
    Breakfast in America

    Cats like a place where they can observe others, but not be seen. They like to hide from predators and prey, which boxes help with. Or at least cats feel like they do. They might also like boxes for their warmth or maybe they just want to explore the new thing in their environment. We still don’t really know.

    3. The head tilt

    You might have noticed that sometimes when you talk to your dog, she tilts her head to the side. It’s very cute, but why is she doing it? Well not much research has been done on this, so scientists don’t have a clear answer but they do have some plausible hypotheses.

    Dog head tilt
    Mental Floss

    There are two possible reasons for the head tilt. Dogs might be tilting their heads to get a better view of your facial expression, because it could be hard to see around a long muzzle. But they might be doing it instead to hear you better, possibly by adjusting their floppy ears.

    4. Flehmen response

    If you’ve ever seen a cat with a particularly funny look on their face, they may be doing something called “flehemen.” Look for an open mouth with drawn back lips; maybe the cat looks kind of disgusted or grimacing. Don’t take offense, because there’s a different reason for this expression.

    Cat flehmen

    The flehemen response is actually a kind of smelling method. Instead of sniffing with their nose, the cat is drawing air over an organ on the roof of their mouth. This organ is called the vomeronasal organ and it can smell different scents than the nose. Other animals, like tigers and horses, do this too.

    5. Yawning

    While a person yawning is perceived as bored or tired, yawning actually has a different meaning to dogs. Your dog’s yawns aren’t necessarily a sign of tiredness, but are often a pacifying behavior. They’re doing it to show friendship and peace to you or another dog. And they probably interpret your yawn the same way.

    Puppy yawn

    While yawning may have served a more physiological purpose originally, it’s evolved to become a form of communication. As with many dog behaviors, it evolved as a part of their social pack behavior. Hierarchy and dominance is very important in a pack, so communication is important. If you yawn back, you’re affirming the peace.

    6. Licking your face

    Some find it endearing, others find it annoying, and many find it gross, but dogs keep licking people’s faces. Even some wolves do it to humans. Why are they doing this? Well, it’s to show they think of you as a friend and to suppress any aggressive or dominance behavior.

    Dog licking face

    Licking your face is a dog’s gesture of peace, so the best response to it is to close your eyes, turn your head away, and yawn. To the dog, this means you accepted their friendship. On the bright side, the germs from their tongue are no worse than the germs you get from kissing other humans.

    7. For the love of catnip

    Cats are notorious for going crazy for catnip. They rub their bodies all over it and some even lick it up. This behavior is actually a response to a chemical compound, called nepetalactone, that the catnip is producing. For the plants, nepetalactone wards off insects, but for cats it does something quite different.

    Cat with catnip
    Pets Magazine

    Scientists think nepetalactone is similar to cat pheromones, which are chemicals animals use to communicate. The nepetalactone molecule goes into a cat’s nose and then binds to the same receptor a pheromone would bind to, this effectively signals to the cat’s brain that there’s tons of pheromones around.

    8. Catnip on the brain

    Researchers investigated what catnip is doing to cat brains and found that catnip, through the molecule nepetalactone, is stimulating three areas of the cat brain. It affects the olfactory bulb, which processes smells, the amygdala, which is tied to emotions and decisions, and the hypothalamus, which is involved with a number of things, including sexual response.

    Cat catnip
    Sydney Baum-Haines

    The hypothalamus stimulation may be the reason for the rolling around, which is what female cats do when in heat. It may also be why kittens don’t normally react to catnip until they become sexually mature. But not all adult cats go wild around catnip, because the reaction is genetic. However, catnip craziness isn’t limited to pet cats, some big cats love catnip too.

    9. Panting for a cause

    You’re probably used to your pupper panting with his mouth open and tongue lolling out, but do you know why he’s doing that? Dogs pant to cool down because the evaporation of their saliva removes heat. Humans sweat to do this, but dogs only have sweat glands on their paws so they can’t get rid of a lot of heat that way.

    Dog panting

    When breathing hard and fast, dogs evaporate more water. Letting the tongue hang out also increases the amount of evaporating saliva and cools down the blood circulating in the tongue. All mammals pant under certain conditions, like when it’s really hot or from over exertion. Just make sure to give your dog some water when he pants, because he’s losing a lot of water from doing so.

    10. Just shake it off

    Have you ever been caught in an unwanted shower when your wet dog voraciously shakes itself? Well that behavior evolved for a very important reason: keeping the doggy toasty warm. Fur needs to be dry to keep an animal warm, because it can’t trap air when it’s wet.

    Dog shaking water
    Louisa Lewis

    Since an animal could get hypothermia when wet in cold weather, getting dry quick is crucial. Other mammal species, like mice and bears, shake themselves to get dry too. Animals have to shake hard enough to break the water’s surface tension, so smaller animals actually have to shake faster. Dogs get help from their loose skin flapping around, because it helps to throw off water.

    11. Scratching everything

    While cats are adorable, they can get annoying at times. One of the worst things cats do is scratch the furniture, carpet, and just about anything. Unfortunately, this is a natural behavior for them. Scratching is good for their claws, because it removes the dead outer layer of the nail.

    Cat scratching
    Pet HealthZone

    Plus, scratching stuff serves as a way for cats to mark their territory. Cats are pretty territorial, and are used to living alone, so they don’t like other cats encroaching on their area. Cat paws have scent glands, so the smell and visible scratches serve to warn other cats, “This is my territory!”

    12. Not the couch!

    Not only is scratching good for their nails and for marking their territory, it also helps cats stretch their back and shoulder muscles. So maybe your cat is avoiding your small scratching post because it can’t get a good enough stretch on it. Don’t you just love a good stretch?

    Cat scratching post
    The Happy Cat Site

    And if your cat didn’t have enough reasons to scratch your furniture, it seems that scratching is also a stress reliever and emotional release. Your cat may do it when she’s anxious or excited or frustrated. Whatever the reason your cat is scratching, to get her off the furniture and carpet, you should give her a tall scratching post.

    13. Rolling in the grass

    When dogs go to the beloved outside, they like to roll themselves all over the grass. Why do they insist on doing this? It might be another leftover behavior from their wolf ancestry. Wolves will roll around in an interesting odor to get it on their body and then bring the scent back to their pack.

    Dog rolling in grass
    Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog

    The pack then sniffs the scent and may even follow it back to its origin. Maybe your dog is finding an interesting smell and bringing it to you, because you’re its family. Or maybe it’s rolling in the grass for an entirely different reason. There’s a few other possible explanations.

    14. Stinky and itchy

    While your dog may be rolling around to bring you a cool new scent, he might also be doing it to get rid of an unwanted smell. Perhaps you bathed him with something that smells too strong, and he just wants it off. Next time, bathe him with something that has no scent and he might be happier.

    Dog bathing

    But if your dog is especially itchy, he may just be trying to get a good scratch in. If he’s seems especially itchy, he might have some kind of bugs bothering him and you should probably have him checked out. Since there’s a few possibilities for rolling in the grass, pay attention to your dog to figure it out.

    15. Pupper’s appetite for grass

    When they’re not rolling in it, they’re eating it. Why do dogs like to eat grass? Well if they’re not feeling well they might eat a bunch to make themselves vomit, but this doesn’t happen every time. So why else could they be eating it? It probably goes back to their pre-modern life.

    Dog eating grass

    Since dogs were scavengers and had to eat whatever they could find, they’re pretty much down to eat anything nowadays. And since anything includes grass, they eat grass. It might be providing a good source of fiber and minerals for your pup. Cats, however, eat grass for a different reason.

    16. Kitty’s appetite for grass

    When you let your cat outside, they take in some sun and then start munching on the grass. And then they probably throw up the grass they literally just ate. Cats can’t digest plants (although they might get a vitamin from it) so why did they bother eating it in the first place?

    Cat eating grass

    It’s likely that cats eat grass to throw up other indigestible material in their digestive tract: the bones, fur, and feathers of their prey. Your cat might not eat live animals now, but it’s pretty hard to get rid of a behavior that natural selection has been working on for millions of years.

    17. The mysterious purr

    Few things bring more joy to a cat person than their kitty purring; it’s soothing and comforting. But while cats often purr when cuddling, they also do it in dramatically different situations, like when they’re in pain or giving birth. Since it’s done in such different emotional circumstances, it isn’t considered communication.

    Cat cuddling

    In fact, scientists think it’s actually a form of self medication. Low frequencies have been shown to help build bone density, and cat purrs fall right in this range. So purrhaps, cats are purring to heal and maintain healthy bones. And it’s even possible that your bones could benefit from being next to their pawsitive vibrations.

    18. The unwanted present

    It’s not fun coming home to a dead bird or rodent in your home, but your cat doesn’t understand your revulsion. She’s gone out and caught this animal just for you. When wild cat mothers raise their kittens, they start teaching them how to hunt by bringing back dead prey.

    Cat with mouse
    Washington Post

    This present starts the kitten eating meat instead of milk, but also provides them with something to test their hunting skills on. So when your cat brings you an unwanted present, she’s probably trying to teach you how to hunt. But since male cats can also bring back these little gifts, it may be the cat’s instinct to get its prey to a safer place than where they caught it.

    19. Following into the bathroom

    Dogs just can’t seem to give you any privacy. They tend to follow their owners into the bathroom, which can be a little uncomfortable, to say the least. Sure, it’s nice to have a bathroom buddy when you’re out in the woods at night, but in your own home, it’s really unnecessary. Despite that, dogs have their pack mentality and they just don’t see privacy the way you do.

    Mad Paws

    Dogs’ wolf ancestry is most likely to blame. Since you are part of your dog’s pack, he’s just showing his loyalty. Or perhaps he’s just very curious about what you do when you close the door. However, if he consistently follows you everywhere it may be because he’s insecure or thinks you need to be guarded all the time. These behaviors can become dangerous and consulting a veterinarian could be the best option.

    20. A good ol’ tail wag

    Dogs are well known for two things: being man’s best friend and wagging their tails. Generally, a dog’s tail wag is accepted to mean happiness and friendliness, but it may actually be more nuanced than that. For instance, if your dog is wagging its tail slowly, that means he’s feeling uncertain.

    Dogs wagging tails
    Life with Dogs and Cats

    However, if he’s wagging his tail energetically it means something else entirely. Most likely it means the dog is happy and excited, but a couple of studies have shown that the side he wags on can mean different things. Who knew a dog’s tail wag could communicate so much?

    21. Wagging right vs. left

    Your dog may be telling you more than you think with how she wags her tail. If your pupper wags slightly more to her right side, it means she sees something she wants to approach. Most likely this is a human, like you. However, if she wags more to her left side, she might be looking at something she wants to avoid.

    Dog wagging tail
    Pet Symptoms

    Your dog might want to avoid a more dominant dog. When scientists showed videos of dogs wagging their tails to other dogs, the watching dogs were anxious about left side wags but pretty calm about right side wags. But if your dog wags her tail right in the middle, who knows what it means.

    22. It’s all in the tail

    The further we get into the tail wagging business, the more complicated it gets. For instance, if the tail is wagging widely, it’s probably a more positive sign than a tail wagging in tiny movements. But of course, dogs do use their tails to communicate in other ways than just wagging.

    Dog tail lowered

    If your dog has his tail lowered between his legs, he’s probably scared, anxious, or submissive. But if your dog has his tail held high, he might have seen something really interesting, or it might be a threatening and dominant signal. A middle tail height probably means your dog is relaxed and happy.

    23. Kitty’s raised tail

    While dog’s tails are often wagging, cat tails aren’t as energetically expressive. However, it can still tell you something. When a cat walks up to you with its tail held high, it’s greeting you. Give that kitty a little head rub and it may in turn rub up against you.

    Companion Animal Psychology

    The rubbing or head butting is probably your cat’s way of marking you with its scent, although if it’s a strange cat that you’ve just met, she’s probably trying to get information about you. While this is behavior cats do to other cats, there’s one common behavior that cats only do around humans.

    24. Meow

    You learn it as a child, dog goes bark and cat goes meow, but they don’t exactly teach you what those meows mean. If you’ve ever owned a cat, you likely know that meows mean different things in different situations. Plus, it varies between individual cats. But you might not have known that cats only meow to humans.

    Cat meowing
    The Spruce Pets

    While kittens meow to mom, when hungry, scared, or cold, adult cats don’t meow to each other. They communicate with each other in other ways, like hissing, growling, and scent marking. So when your kitty is meowing, they’re trying to tell you something, like feed me, pet me, or maybe just hi. Pay attention to your cat and you’ll probably learn to distinguish the different meows.

    25. The exposed belly and attack

    Cats are well known for exposing their belly and then attacking if you try and rub it. Of course, there’s the rare cat that actually lets you rub their belly, but most don’t like it. When cats do show you their tummy, they’re really showing that they trust you.

    Fluffy cat belly
    Fluffy’s World

    Then you break their trust when you reach for it. A cat’s belly is its most vulnerable body part because right under that fluff are their crucial organs. So instead of going for the belly rub, pet your cat’s head instead. Of course, a few cats actually like their belly rubbed, but you have to risk the scratches to figure out which ones.

    26. Burying the toy hatchet

    You might be getting annoyed at your pup for digging in your garden and burying things like toys and food, but your dog isn’t just going to lose an instinctual behavior so quickly. Out in the wild, food is a precious resource compared the plentiful bounty of the food bowl.

    Dog digging yard dirt

    Dogs’ ancestors buried food so they could come back and eat it later. Maybe they found too much food for one meal, so they had to take a doggy bag back to the hole. Just think of your garden as your dog’s very own refrigerator and not, well, your garden.

    27. Regurgitation near puppies

    You’ve heard of mama birding, but what about mama dogging? Mama dogs sometimes puke up their food near their puppies. She isn’t sick, she’s actually feeding them. Of course these puppies could just wander over to their food bowl and eat there, but it’s a trait from a time when they couldn’t.

    Dog with puppies

    In the wild, wolf cubs can’t hunt for their own food, so the parents’ help is needed to feed them. It might be kinda gross to you, but mama dog is just trying to do her mama-birding best for her puppies. So, don’t get too mad at her when she vomits for her puppies.

    28. Making biscuits

    One strange thing cats do, as cat people lovingly call it, is make biscuits. They knead their little paws on blankets, furniture, and you. It’s pretty cute, if painful, but why do they do it? Most scientists think it’s a neotenic behavior, meaning it was a juvenile behavior that adults just kept doing.

    Cat and kitten
    Why Universe

    Kittens knead their mothers’ bellies to make her make milk, and since some adult cats also suckle when they knead, this explanation makes sense. However, adult wild cats don’t knead, so why do domestic ones? While cats are fairly similar to their wild counterparts, domestication has changed them in a few ways.

    29. Do they need to knead?

    Kittens knead because it’s necessary for getting milk, but wild adult cats don’t. Yet domestic adult cats do, so what gives? It turns out that neotenic behaviors, like kneading, are mostly found in domestic animals and not in their wild cat relatives. So while cats aren’t super different from domestication, this seems to be one change.

    The neotenic behavior is likely because humans artificially selected sociable and less aggressive cats, which are traits more similar to kittens than full grown wild cats. Generally, wild cats are loners, but house cats aren’t nearly as much. So kneading has become a way for adult cats to show they trust you and feel safe.

    30. Circling before bed

    As the day (or the article) winds down, it gets to be time for bed. Your dog wants to join you, but first she circles around a spot a few times before settling in. Why? Well, back when dogs lived in the wild they had to make the ground suitable for sleeping somehow.

    Dog in dog bed

    Grass and dirt certainly aren’t as comfortable as a plush bed, but dogs made it work. If the dog was settling down in a grassy area, she probably needed to pat down the tall grasses, so circling was a good way to do that. Plus, the movement might have driven out insects and reptiles that could threaten her puppies.

    31. Sleepy kitty

    Have you ever thought, if only I was a cat and I could sleep all day? Well maybe all that fantasizing stopped you from wondering why they sleep so much in the first place. People think it all comes back to their past eight lives as hunters.

    Cat sleeping

    Hunting takes energy, so sleeping a lot conserves that needed energy. Also, cats’ prey often come out at dawn and dusk, so that’s when cats are the most active. For much of their 12 or so hours, cats are just dozing in a light sleep so they can quickly get up if needed, but they do take short deep sleeps, too.

    32. Why do cats lick you?

    It’s super cute when your cat licks you, as it feels like they really do care about you. But then, after a few licks, it feels like someone’s rubbing sandpaper on your skin. Their tongues are made for ripping meat off the bone, so why are they licking you? Well there’s the other thing their tongue is for: cleaning.

    Mother Nature Network

    Cats are great because you don’t need to bathe them, and that’s all thanks to their barbed tongue. Sometimes, cats will groom other cats, usually members of their family. So your cat might be grooming you, seeing as you’re part of her family. But there are some other possible reasons your cat likes to lick you…

    33. Rough sandpaper kisses

    Cats might lick (or even bite) you for attention. They want something, maybe play or pets. But if it’s excessive licking, the cat might be stressed about something. However, sometimes your cat licks you just because you taste interesting. Maybe you spilled something on yourself or you’ve got water on you from the shower or your cat just likes the salt on your skin.

    The Spruce Pets

    But there’s also the fact that your cat may just be licking you to show affection. Cats do this to each other, so they might be just showing you some love and wanting some love in return. Licking often means the cat is calm, but since there’s several possible explanations, pay attention to the context of your cat’s licking to figure out the real reason.

    34. Rolling over while playing

    Cats might lick (or even bite) you for attention. They want something, maybe play or pets. But if it’s excessive licking, the cat might be stressed about something. However, sometimes your cat licks you just because you taste interesting. Maybe you spilled something on yourself or you’ve got water on you from the shower or your cat just likes the salt on your skin.

    Scientific American

    But there’s also the fact that your cat may just be licking you to show affection. Cats do this to each other, so they might be just showing you some love. Licking often means the cat is calm, but since there’s several possible explanations, pay attention to the context of your cat’s licking to figure out the real reason.

    35. Barking their heads off

    Wolves don’t bark much at all, compared to the other sounds they make. But domesticated foxes bark, when wild ones don’t. So what’s the deal with barking and why do dogs do it? Because sometimes they bark so much you just want to go back to the shelter and trade your dog in for a new one.

    American Kennel Club

    Well, their barks have different meanings. When they bark at a stranger, it sounds different than when they’re just barking alone or when they’re playing. But it seems like it has something to do with their domestication and the fact that they were bred to be less aggressive. Unlike the cat’s meow, though, dogs do seem to communicate with each other by barking.

    36. Your dog is just so excited to see you again!

    There’s nothing better than coming home to your dog. He’s overwhelmingly excited and acting like it’s been days, even if it’s only been a few hours, since he last saw you. Why do they do this every time you come home? Scientists took a peek into dog brain scans to understand it better. The smell of familiar humans triggered their brain’s reward center like no other smell did.

    Dog Gone Problems

    Plus, scientists did an experiment and found that the reunion of owner and dog is quite similar to a reunion between a human mother and child after they’ve been apart for some time. Dogs are very social and don’t like to be left alone, so they get real excited when you finally come back.

    37. The ease of litter box training

    While dogs need tons of training to get them to even do their business outside, cats can easily be trained to use a litter box. In fact, whenever you get a cat or kitten, they’re usually already litter box trained. And it isn’t easy to train them to do anything else, so why is this training so easy?


    Well, it turns out that cats usually hide their excrement to hide the smell from predators and other cats. Soft dirt, sand, or litter are just very easy materials to cover their fecal “treasures” with. However, sometimes dominant cats in a group won’t cover their feces, as a way to mark their territory.

    38. Your kitty, the climber

    Cats love to climb and be up as high as possible, and they don’t care if that means ruining your screen door in the process or getting fur all over the kitchen counters. They prefer to be able to see their whole territory from up high, but it’s also in their instincts to climb for avoiding predators.

    Makati Dog and Cat Hospital

    Plus, not only does climbing give cats a great vantage point over their territory, it also increases the area of their territory. Just think of your cat getting up on the bookshelf and thinking to itself, “Everything the light touches is my kingdom.”

    39. The butt sniff

    One of the grosser dog behaviors, from our perspective, is when they smell each other’s butts. But view it from the dog’s perspective and it isn’t quite so nasty, since they’re basically just introducing themselves to each other. On either side of the dog’s butt are glands that secrete a variety of chemicals.

    Terribly Terrier

    These glands tell the sniffer about the gender and reproductive status of the dog, plus things about its diet, health, and emotional state. Dogs can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans, so they communicate using these chemical signals (aka smells). Dogs actually have an organ in their nose exclusively for smelling chemical communication.

    40. Chewing and destruction

    Chewing is one of the most annoying things dogs do, but it can have a variety of reasons. For puppies, it can relieve any pain they have from their incoming adult teeth. For adults, it keeps their teeth clean and jaws strong. But if your pup only chews when you’re not home, she might be having separation anxiety.

    Cesar’s Way

    If your dog likes to lick and chew fabrics, she might have been weaned from mom too early. But there’s also the chance that your dog is chewing things because she’s hungry and wants more food. Wild dogs love to chew on bones for fun, stimulation, and to relieve anxiety, so it’s important to provide your pet dog with things to chew on.