Veterinarians answer questions about dogs that you're afraid to ask - Insider
Insider spoke with veterinarians to get answers to some common questions about dogs that you've probably always wanted to ask.
Even longtime dog owners may not have all of the answers about their pet's behaviours and attributes.
And so, Insider spoke with veterinarians to get answers to some common questions about dogs that you've probably always wanted to ask.
Why are dogs' noses always wet?
Veterinarian Whitney Miller, director of veterinary medicine at Petco, told Insider that there are a few reasons that dogs have those moist, clammy noses.
"The [main] reason dogs' noses are wet is because they secrete a mucous that aids their sense of smell," said Miller. "However, they also sweat through their noses and lick their noses quite a bit, essentially cleaning them off with their tongues."
Some owners worry their dog's dry nose means they are sick. But Miller said that, though this isn't always the case, it's best to consult with a vet if you're concerned about your pet's health.
Why do dogs' paws smell like corn chips?
If you've ever sniffed a dog's paw, you may have encountered a distinct corn chip smell. Dog owners often call this phenomenon "Frito feet," and it's actually caused by friendly bacteria.
"Just like people, dogs have normally occurring bacteria and fungi on the skin surface, including their paws. These bacteria can create a 'yeast-like' smell," veterinarian Robert J. Cotton III told Insider.
Though these microbes are generally harmless, Cotton cautioned that an overgrowth of bacteria on the paws can cause problems.
You should check in with your vet if you are able to smell your dog's feet from a distance or notice your pet excessively licking their paws.
Are some breeds, like pit bulls, really more aggressive?
Certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Dobermans, are sometimes associated with aggressive behaviour.
However, Cotton said, it's impossible to predict how an individual dog will behave based solely on their breed.
"No dog breed is naturally aggressive and should not be categorized in that way," he said. "Some dog breeds can be very strong-willed with a desire to work and perform tasks. Even these dogs can be very loving and affectionate with the right dedicated owner."
Cotton stressed that being familiar with your dog's breed and personality is crucial for training and ensuring this animal is the right companion for your family.
Does getting a dog spayed or neutered change their personality?
Some dog owners may be concerned that getting their pet neutered or spayed could alter their personality.
Fortunately, veterinarian Jamie Richardson of Small Door Veterinary explained, removing a dog's reproductive organs at the appropriate age hasn't been shown to have unwanted personality consequences.
"There is no scientific literature to suggest that spaying or neutering makes dogs less energetic or lazy, or [that it] changes their personality in negative ways," said Richardson.
However, she noted, neutering may make male dogs less likely to urinate to mark their territory and can decrease roaming behaviour.
Is it OK to feed your dog only dry food?
Richardson told Insider that dry food can be just as healthy as canned food.
"It is perfectly fine to only feed your dog dry food, providing it is a high-quality, nutritionally-complete food source, and meets the requirements for your dog's breed, life stage, lifestyle, and any individual health requirements," said Richardson.
When looking for dry food, you may want to check if it is certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which is a team of regulatory officials who ensure that animal feed and pet food meets the necessary nutritional requirements.
You can also consult with your vet to see if your pet requires a certain diet.
Do small breeds really bark more than large breeds?
Small or toy breeds have a reputation for barking more than larger breeds, but there's no guarantee that a big dog will be quiet and a little one will be chatty.
Gary Richter, veterinarian with Rover, told Insider that though every dog is different, many smaller dog types were actually bred to be louder.
"Most dogs were bred with a job to do and some of those jobs require being vocal. Some breeds, like miniature pinschers, were bred to guard," Richter explained. "Other dogs, like beagles, were born to hunt and alert their owner to prey."
Richter added that other breeds especially prone to barking include basset hounds, Pomeranians, bloodhounds, chihuahuas, and Yorkshire terriers.
Are male dogs friendlier than female dogs, or vice versa?
When it comes to personality and friendliness, male and female dogs are equal.
"The truth is that no sex is friendlier than the other," Cotton told Insider. "Appropriate training and socialization from a young age can ensure that your dog will be friendly regardless of their sex."
If you're considering adopting a dog, their sex is often less important than factors, such as their history, training, and individual personality.
Are some breeds friendlier than others?
Though some breeds have a reputation for having winning personalities, all dogs can be friendly with the right training and upbringing.
"Certain breeds have been bred over the years to focus on specific qualities, such as loyalty," said Miller. "However, dogs of any breed can be great companions and have unique qualities, social patterns, and habits."
If you are looking to add a specific breed of dog to your family, it's important to do your research on the history, care, and personality of that particular breed.
Do dogs have a dominant paw?
Dogs can actually have a dominant paw.
"There are multiple tests used that can assess this," said Miller. "The purpose of these tests is to observe the dog's behaviour over a duration of time and compare how often the dog's left and right paw are used to hold something."
This test can help show if a dog has a paw preference when completing a task.
Is it safe to feed your dog raw meat?
Some owners may opt to feed raw meat to their dog, Richardson said, but she does not recommend feeding your pet uncooked beef, pork, or poultry.
"Despite the growing popularity of 'wolf diets,' there are in fact no scientific studies that prove the health benefits claimed by supporters of raw meat diets and there are many studies showing the opposite: nutritional imbalances, diet-induced hyperthyroidism, and bacterial infections," said Richardson.
Raw meat also poses contamination risks for dogs and humans from Salmonella, Listeria, and other bacteria.
Can someone with a dog allergy ever adapt to living with dogs?
Some dog allergy sufferers have probably heard anecdotal evidence that it's possible to eventually "adapt" to living with dogs. Unfortunately, there isn't a consensus among experts as to whether this is true.
"One theory is that you may simply grow accustomed to the dog's allergens, thus reducing the level of immune-system sensitivity," said Richter. "[But] it's hard to say what allows allergies to reduce over time."
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends allergy sufferers use a HEPA air filter to mitigate the effects of dog allergens. Antihistamine medication and immunotherapy injections may also help.
People with respiratory problems, such as asthma, should be especially cautious about intentionally exposing themselves to dog allergens.
Can dogs cry tears when they're upset?
Though dogs have emotions, any tears you see trickling from their eyes are likely due to irritation, not sadness.
"Dogs lack the ability to cry in the way that humans do in response to emotional stress," said Cotton. "However, dogs do have natural tear glands like humans and can excessively tear in response to allergies, foreign objects, or structural defects of the eyes."
If you notice your dog is looking weepy, check in with your veterinarian to make sure they're not suffering from an eye problem.