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Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 4110
Experience:  I am a practicing small animal veterinarian with 18 years experience.
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Our lovely collie X dog Cassie has recently developed a habit

Resolved Question:

Our lovely collie X dog Cassie has recently developed a habit that she has never had before. She is a rescue, about 12 - 18 months when I got her and I have had her just over 10 years. I cannot tell you how wonderful she has been and has had no problems EVER.
However, suddenly she has taken to pushing her nose (never digging with a paw) in to our
lawn and making unsightly 'holes' which are not deep and she doesn't actually eat any of the grass.
Have you any clue as to what may be wrong for her to be doing this, one friend has suggestd 'senility' ????? another said she may be lacking something in her diet which she is getting from the earth. What could this be? She recently had her annual booster and overall check up and the vet pronounced her an excellent and healthy dog with 'wonderful white teeth' (I clean them regularly) HELP PLEASE, thank you Jean
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Scarlett replied 3 years ago.
Dr. Scarlett :

Hi Jean, Sorry to hear about Cassie's new, rather annoying digging behavior! When she was in for her annual exam, did your vet do any bloodwork?

Dr. Scarlett :

Have you noticed any other behavior changes? Is she acting more hungry or thirsty? Has anything been applied to the grass where she is digging (like a fertilizer)? Does she lie in any of these holes?

Customer:

No there seemed no need as she appears to be a very healthy dog.

Dr. Scarlett :

Any other odd behaviors you've noticed?

Customer:

These are not really holes more like she has just rubbed her nose on the grass until it comes to the earth below, she just rubs leaving a small smooth mark. No she doesn't particularly lie there, but yes we do have 'green thumb' treatment on the lawn every three months and keep her off the lawn for the recommended two/three days afterwards. No other behavioural changes apart from drinking a bit more in this hot weather.

Dr. Scarlett :

Do you think her nose could be bothering her? Does she snort or sneeze? Any discharge from her nose? Does she paw it or rub it anywhere? Do you see any changes in the normal "cobblestone" appearance to her nose?

Customer:

No to all the above her nose is just as it always has been, she may have the very occasional sneeze but that is all. The only other thing is that although she has always wanted to 'be near us' over the last few months she does this more excessively so to the point that you could easily trip over her when she has come up behind you and laid down and you haven't heard her. She lays close up behind or under our dining room chairs when we are eating but she is not looking for food.

Dr. Scarlett :

Well, senility is definitely a possibility, along with decreased sense of hearing and/or smell. The clinginess you are starting to notice can come with age in dogs. Often they get that way when they can't hear as well or their vision is declining.

Dr. Scarlett :

I do think it would be worthwhile to have senior bloodwork done on Cassie, including a thyroid (T4) level. While she may look great on physical exam (and kudos to you for brushing her teeth regularly!), we can't see what is going on internally with kidney, liver, and endocrine glands. So bloodwork would be really useful.

Dr. Scarlett :

If the bloodwork all comes back normal, then it might be worth starting her on a product called Neutricks (ask your vet--it might go by another name in the UK). For the digging, if she is always doing it in the same area, you could try burying some chicken wire just under the dirt as a deterrent.

Customer:

I can't say that her hearing is poor, she hears the biscuit tin taken off the shelf at coffee time no matter how quietly I do this, and no matter how far away she may be, she knows she will get a gravy bone whilst we have our coffee.!!! Also her sight and small seem good, she will always find her ball or thingsw

Dr. Scarlett :

Well that is all good, then. Any signs of anxiety besides the clingyness?

Customer:

OK I will take her to the vet for a blood test and see what the results are. Actually that was to be my next move anyway, but someone suggested I try a helpline, hence I am here tonight! I already have given her omega 3 supplements i her food from having her and more recently put her onto Glucosamine and Chrondritin with Rose Hip etc to aid her joints in view of her age. Should I put her on to a 'senior dog' biscuit food. She has this at dinner time pm and meat or fish with vegetables/rice/pasta tinned food varieties in the morning time.

Dr. Scarlett :

"Senior" dog food can sometimes be just a marketing "gimmick." Here is the US we have an AAFCO statement on the side of the dog food bag. This will say if the food is "For All Life Stages" (which means it is a puppy food) or if it is for dogs 1 yr and older. There really isn't any nutritional advisements for senior dogs. So if you food is an adult food, it is probably fine to stick with for Cassie. I do like the Science Diet Active Maturity foods, but I'm not sure I'd switch if she is otherwise doing fine on the food.

Dr. Scarlett :

I don't think either of the supplements you've started her on would causing her to root in the soil, either.

Customer:

OH thanks for that advice, I don't mind getting a more expensive food IF it helps but I have to admit, I have always wondered if these are a bit of a marketing gimmick!!! She is absolutely fine on the diet she has and everything runs like clockwork!!!

Dr. Scarlett :

Then don't change that. Start with the bloodwork and see what you find. Definitely ask for the T4 level to be checked (most vets do it for senior pets, but not all). It would also be good to have a urinalysis done, not that she is showing any signs of a UTI, but they can have an infection without clinical signs. Good to be complete.

Dr. Scarlett :

I need to go. If you have any other questions, I'll be back later!

Customer:

Many thanks for your advice, I will do all that through the vet. She has been an amazing dog and I love her to bits. Having wanted a dog ever since I was a child (and never having one) I had to wait until I was 56 years old to realise my dream and I decided on a rescue dog and she has bought untold joy, love and tenderness into my life. If only she could live forever ??????????????? Goodnight Jean x

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