DEAR JOHANNA: Why is my Chihuahua licking her bum so incessantly?
I had the vet squeeze out her glands down there, but it didn’t make any difference. She’s clean and inside all the time.
Leslie, San Jose
DEAR LESLIE: Before we get into the more worrisome topics, it’s important to understand that dogs just love to lick. They learn a lot about the world around them through their tongues, but licking can become a habit.
The best way to stop this behavior is to distract her whenever she starts. Just moving her face away from the area being licked can do it, but you may need to use a treat or toy to get her focus elsewhere.
While licking can be annoying for you, it isn’t too much of a problem as long as she doesn’t harm herself. If the skin on or around an area she’s licking becomes red and inflamed, it’s time to see the vet.
Dogs will lick their butts when their anal glands are affected, but since your veterinarian has treated them for it and it hasn’t stopped them from licking, this may not be the problem. Dogs can develop a chronic condition and need to express the glands frequently. Hence, you should take this into account.
You should also have a poop test done on your dog to look for worms and other parasites. Even dogs, who are mostly indoors, can catch a bug from something that has been brought into the house. This can cause itching, which she tries to relieve.
Allergies can also lead to excessive licking, although this is generally more common if the dog licks and chews other parts of the body.
Hopefully it’s more of a compulsion than a physical problem, and with a little work you can break the habit out of it.
DEAR JOHANNA: We put a new rope on our cat’s favorite scratching post and glued small spots on both ends of the bottom of the cardboard tube. She refuses to use it now. What do we do?
DEAR SUE: Cats are very creatures of habit and they don’t always like change, even if the changes are good.
Your cat’s scratching post doesn’t see, feel, or smell the same, and he’s just persistent enough to refuse to give it a try. Two options come to mind.
First, throw away the old post and get a brand new one. You might accept this because, well, cat logic.
However, the more practical and economical option is to keep the old post and rub the new rope with catnip. That should get her attention and make her forget why she hated it in the first place. Apply the catnip daily until it gets used to the revamped post.
If she’s in the minority of cats who aren’t crazy about catnip, try adding a few treats on and around the post.
DEAR JOHANNA: My cat won’t let me put a flea collar on. What should I do?
Corlette, Eleanor, West Virginia
LOVE CORLETS: Many people don’t recommend flea collars for cats because the chemicals can be too strong. If your cat is an outdoors cat, the collar can also become entangled, creating a risk of strangulation. Ask your veterinarian about alternatives, including external oils or internal medications.
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