Why Does My Dog Roll In Stinky Stuff?

Crazy Stuff My Dog Does!

Rolling in stinky stuff, chasing his/her tail, reverse sneezes and eating poop! Is anyone else’s dog a weirdo or is it just mine? Honestly, I thought my kids were gross, but the doggo tops it. I asked Dr. Buckley to help me better understand why my dog has such behaviors and more importantly are they okay, or do we need to head to the vet?

Anyone who has spent time with their dog will notice behaviors which we ask ourselves, why do they do that?  Let’s take a look at a couple of the more common, but yes odd behaviors which from your dog’s perspective are perfectly normal.

Stinky Stuff:

Let’s start with the rolling in stinky stuff mystery.  This is a huge pastime of my own dogs as we walk a lot in the woods and you never know what smell they may find that is tempting.  One theory is that dogs may want to compete with a scent they found by placing their own scent over it, thus the roll is considered an excellent idea at the time.  Other possibilities are that the dogs wish to cover their own scent to sneak up on prey.  Or my favorite. They just like to roll in it for the simple pleasure it brings. My dogs certainly look very happy when they find something smelly and start to roll.

Tail Chasing:

Tail chasing is a common behavior which many times starts when they are puppies.  The whole world is new and everything needs to be explored, including the tail.  Most dogs will outgrow the behavior as they mature but for some dogs if the behavior is encouraged it may become an engrained pastime which continues throughout life.  I would recommend not encouraging your dog to do this.

Other causes include the presence of fleas or a skin infection on the tail or lower back area. These areas may itch or be sore.  The dog may appear to be chasing their tail but if hair loss, scratching the area, chewing or redness to the skin is noticed then an underlying cause is likely.  Please contact your veterinarian to make a plan for treating the condition as soon as possible as your pet is not comfortable.

Reverse Sneezing:

The fancy name for this is “paroxysmal respiration”.  Your dog suddenly starts with a deep snort in the nose and they it appears that they may be choking or trying to cough.   After several minutes it passes but at the time it can appear something serious is happening. Reverse sneezing can be caused by an irritant in the air, nasal infection or foreign body in the nose or sinus passage. Sometimes just eating or drinking to fast can cause the reverse sneeze to start.  This creates a spasm in the trachea which temporarily disrupts air flow.  Afterwards the dogs are back to normal and show no ongoing issues.

This is not a problem which needs medical care should it only happen occasionally.  However, any ongoing changes noted with breathing patterns, nasal discharge or coughing should be check by your veterinarian.

During a reverse sneeze take a quick look in the mouth for any possible obstruction and remove it if possible. Gently massaging the throat may help ease the spasm. 

Eating poop!:

Ok some dogs like tennis balls, others chase squirrels but you also have some dogs with a palate designed for the less finer things in life, like eating poop.  Maybe this is a learned behavior which started when they were puppies.  Maybe some developed a taste as they did not get enough to eat or the residual smell of food in the feces was tempting.  Poor diet can also be a cause due to nutritional deficiencies.  Cat poop maybe more enticing for your dog as the cat foods are higher in meat and flavorings.

My advise, keep your pet on a good diet to provide all their nutritional and caloric needs.  Keep litter boxes at home out of the areas where the dog can get to.  Keep the area where they defecate clean and pick up feces immediately.  Avoid areas where feces from other dogs and cats may be present.  This is often a learned behavior which takes time to resolve but avoidance is the first step.

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