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Why Do Dogs…The Most Commonly Asked Canine Conundrums Answered

Why Do Dogs...The Most Commonly Asked Canine Conundrums Answered

Everyday millions of dog owners are left puzzled and perplexed by the behaviour of their pets. Here we tackle three of the most frequently posed canine questions as requested by K9 Magazine readers.

…. Pant?

Unlike us, dogs can’t take their clothes off when they get too hot. Regardless of the weather dogs are always wearing their jackets. When our body temperatures get too high we sweat, dress in lighter clothes and we do what we can to avoid situations likely to make us even hotter.

Our ability to sweat is really the main difference though. Sweating helps our skin breathe and cools us down when our brains calculate that we are too hot.

Now think about your dog. They can hardly sweat through their fur and although they can sweat a little from their pads, they tend to generate heat rather than sweat through their skin.

Why Do Dogs...The Most Commonly Asked Canine Conundrums Answered

That’s part of the reason why dogs should never be left alone in cars, let alone hot cars. As they get hotter and hotter they give off their heat and heat up the area around them which in turn makes them even hotter and can lead to their death.

So because dogs can’t sweat like us, they pant. Dogs pant because it helps them circulate air quickly over the moist tissue in their mouth and on their tongue.

A panting dog is trying to rid itself of as much heat as possible using its only effective cooling system. The panting is a dog’s own unique method of keeping themselves cool.

….Die if They Eat Chocolate?

Most dog owners are now aware that chocolate has the capacity to seriously harm or even kill our greedy, canine pals. Many vets experience calls from dog owners who are panic stricken because their pet has eaten a bar of chocolate by mistake or somebody has given their dog some chocolate without realising the potential harm it can do.

So, let's get straight to the point. Can chocolate kill dogs?

The short answer is yes. Chocolate can indeed cause a dog to die if ingested in enough quantity. A single, shop purchased bar of chocolate is not going to kill your dog. It’s unlikely it could harm a great deal although still not advisable for safety.

Your dog has to ingest significant quantities of chocolate to feel any negative effects. It is the caffeine and bromethalin in chocolate that is poisonous to your dog. Dark cooking chocolate is most toxic to your dog since it contains a high amount of caffeine and bromethalin. Milk chocolate and white chocolate have lower amounts of caffeine.

Whilst chocolate has its fatally poisonous qualities when eaten by dogs, it's by no means one of the biggest toxic dangers in your home. Purposely giving your dog human grade chocolate is pointless, expensive and likely to be of no value to you or your dog. Can they die from it? Yes, if ingested in large quantity. Treat it as a food item to avoid but don’t reach for the panic button if your dog steals a Mars Bar. Similar to chocolate, grapes can also be fatal to dogs if eaten in large quantities.

….Eat Their Own Poop?

Dogs have always been scavengers. They'll eat roadkill as readily as their suppers. Household rubbish, pond muck and dead sparrows on the lawn are no less appetising to certain dogs.

A dogs digestive process tends to kick into action the moment they sniff something with a pungent smell and, as we all know dung certainly does smell.

Why Do Dogs...The Most Commonly Asked Canine Conundrums Answered

Not all animal poop tastes the same though. Dogs seem to have different preferences. Some are attracted to the stools of deer, cows or horses. Others will eat the stools of other dogs and a great many dogs are attracted to cat droppings, possibly because cat foods are very high in protein and the dogs are going after undigested nutrients.

Boredom can be a motivator. Dogs entertain themselves by putting things in their mouths. When not much is happening, they often nose around picking up sticks and putting them down even mouthing rocks on occasion. Since they aren't offended by the smell or taste of dung, it's just another thing for them to pick up, play with, and explore.

When we spot them doing this it can provoke an immediate and high energy response from us. Bored dog, highly ‘entertaining’ response from dog’s owner – see where this might be going? Don’t for a second dismiss the idea that sometimes put poop in their mouths because it provokes a response from us. Yes, they really do ‘go there’.

Dogs occasionally eat so much dung that they get sick to their stomachs. For the most part, however, it's not likely to make them sick - although they may get worms from eating the stools of an infected animal. Their digestive tracts are very forgiving. If you happen to own a dung eating dog you must make sure they’re wormed regularly. The standard advice is to worm your dog four times a year, this may need to be more frequent if your dog is a poop hound.

The people who live with dogs, however, are less forgiving. For one thing, it's an ugly sight that no one wants to watch. There's also the fact that dogs who eat dung have heart-stopping bad breath. It takes some serious devotion to get past that!

Poop-Eating Tip: Veterinarians sometimes recommend adding garlic or canned pumpkin to a dung-eating dog's food. Assuming that it's his own dung that he's attracted do, these ingredients may give it a taste he dislikes - although it's hard to imagine that anything could make it taste worse than it already does. This isn't a perfect solution, but it does work for some dogs.

If you have a doggy dilemma or pet peeve, you can send it to us at and we'll do our best to feature your question next time!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. carol

    February 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    i have always been told that garlic is toxic for dogs along side onions! so why do your vets say add garlic to their food if they are own pooh eaters?

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