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Does Your Dog Chase His Tail?
It’s not all in his head; it’s in his blood!
Dog got its tail?

Remember that viral video of a dog “attacking” his hind leg that a lot of people found funny? I cringed every time it was sent to me with a comment like, “Isn’t this hilarious?” Clearly, the dog was suffering from some kind of illness and needed treatment, not to be videotaped and shown far and wide for the ignorant masses’ amusement. That’s an extreme example, but it got me wondering—are some of our dogs’ “cute” or “funny” behaviors actually a reflection of poor health?

A recent study published in Journal of Small Animal Practice (March 2009) demonstrates a possible link between compulsive tail-chasing and high cholesterol. What’s even more fascinating is that, according to Discovery News, “The finding adds to a growing body of evidence—mostly from studies on humans—that high cholesterol may be a marker for behavioral problems, such as panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder, which could be expressed by frequent tail-chasing falls in dogs.” The theory so far is that high cholesterol blocks the normal flow of serotonin to the brain and thus affects behavior. Females and certain breeds, such as Bull Terriers and German Shepherds, seem more prone to chasing their tails, but it’s not known why. So the next time your dog does something cute or funny, it might be time for a check up!



Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by Kathy Konetzka-Close | April 1 2009 |

Our Collie pup has chased his tail from the day we got him at 4 months of age, so I doubt it’s his cholesterol that’s a problem. However, his BUN was a little high on some recent labwork (he’ll turn a year old this month), suggesting that he may need less protein in his diet. Concidence? I’m not sure, but I have never encouraged his behavior because I can see how easy it would be for him to become obsessive about it. When I catch him doing it, I redirect his attention to a toy or a treat or a hug; anything to get his mind on something else. Fortunately, he doesn’t do it very often. I’ve always thought it was a way for him to discharge excess energy, which he has in abundance, and it seems to only happen when he’s really excited. But I’ll definitely keep a closer eye on things.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 3 2009 |

I have 2 cairn terriers
a 6 year old female and a 6 month old male
He wants her to play so bad and barks at her to get her attention she is ok for awhile but he nips at her to play after awhile of his puppyness she growls and barks and snaps and charges him
its like she has become the mommy in dog world that is and is reprimanding him. Do I allow her to continue this or do I try and stop her of her aggressive behavior as well..
We live in a condo and they frown on barking
I constantly say NO BARKING any other suggestions as its not really helping

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2009 |

In the dog world it is not uncommon for the females to be in charge. Usually, but not always the female dog takes over. Your female is also older and she is training the pup. I wouldn't worry about it unless she aggressively attacks the puppy. I have not seen this happen unless there is food guarding or toy guarding involved. Your puppy should be taking cues from the older dog and backing away. It's how they learn. At other times does she clean the puppy or does the puppy lick the females face? These are common behaviors. Hope everyting works out. Alison The Total Dog

Submitted by Anna Dibble | April 6 2009 |

I have a mixed Lab who chases her tail when she is excited - usually when I'm about to take her for a walk. She does it joyfully, not obsessively, and only a few revolutions. I'd love to know why dogs chase their tails in this particular (positive) way.

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