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

For the past few days, my Chihuahua, Aggie, has been eating a lot of grass. She eats it for five minutes straight, several times a day. Why is she doing this and can it hurt her?

Eating grass is a common canine oddity. No one knows why dogs do this (they can’t tell us) with theories including a desire for fiber, or even a deliberate attempt to vomit if a dog feels a little uncomfortable. These ideas may be true in some cases, but I think in general dogs love to explore the world with their mouths. This includes picking up bits of vegetation (like leaves and grass) into their mouths and sometimes swallowing them.

In general, eating grass is unlikely to cause harm, subject to three conditions. First, when eating grass, dogs can accidentally swallow tiny slugs and snails that carry lungworms. It is therefore important to deworm them regularly (for example, once a month, with a dewormer reserved for veterinarians). Second, some dogs regularly eat so much grass that it causes physical irritation in the stomach, inducing regurgitation, so if that’s the case, you need to stop Aggie from overdoing it that way.

And third, rarely can dogs eat poisonous vegetation (eg mushrooms), so it makes sense to keep an eye on dogs to make sure they don’t eat anything that looks unusual or suspicious.

My wire-haired terrier has itchy skin, and after ruling out parasites, my vet told me there wasn’t much that could 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?

-RH, Bandon

It is important to understand the science of itchy skin: there are two aspects. First, the main underlying cause of the problem (i.e. what triggered it: the list goes on, 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 primary and secondary issues need to be addressed. If only one aspect is sorted, the dog will continue to itch. Solving a skin condition can be complex, and busy local vets can suggest a referral to a skin specialist (eg https://www.skinvet.ie/)

Although it may seem complicated and expensive at first, it is often a shortcut to a long-term answer. No dog should have to suffer from this constant itching sensation: there is almost 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

Joey, my two-year-old budgie, seems to be in bad shape: he’s just not as happy as usual. He lives in a standard parakeet cage and is fed parakeet seed from the pet store with a cuttlebone to peck at. Do parakeets suffer from depression or could they be sick?

-MG, Liege

The truth is that the way we keep parakeets in Ireland is generally less than ideal: if you see them in the wild, they live in large flocks, hovering together, flying in groups. So when we keep them alone in cages, we are not meeting their instinctual social needs. This means that while they may appear cheerful and cheerful, they are often under significant stress simply from the way we keep them, which then makes them prone to premature illnesses.

So think about offering him a boyfriend and a bigger cage. It’s also important to realize that “parakeet seed” alone does not provide enough nutrients. Instead, opt for parakeet pellet foods that are specially formulated to contain the right nutrients in the right amounts. You should also give him treats made from fresh green vegetables to boost his daily diet: 10-15% of his diet should consist of 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 veterinarian with a particular interest in birds to have him physically examined for an underlying condition.

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

-SL, Longford

Until last year, it was true that FIP ​​was completely incurable: euthanasia was the only option. However, researchers have just discovered a new treatment that has a high rate of complete cure for affected cats. You can read the details of this treatment here http://www.catvirus.com/treatment.htm. The bad news is that this medicine is not yet legally available in Ireland, so the only option is to ask your vet for a referral to a veterinary practice in Northern Ireland or the UK, where the medicine is legally available for veterinarians. It is expensive, up to €5,000 for a complete cure, but so far the results of the treatment have been very positive.

My fifteen year old cat seems healthy overall, but she has started to lose weight, despite eating more than ever (she seems to be constantly hungry). I gave him a dose of worms but it didn’t help. 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 your life. Take her to your local vet, and they can guide you in getting this sorted.

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