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As dog parents, it’s important to connect with our dogs.  Part of this connection can be built by understanding them and their behavior. From learning about their strange behaviors, to understanding why Roofus is drooling, and deciding if he can, in fact share a bed with you, connecting with your pup up can strengthen the bond you share. 

1. Why do Dogs Eat Poop?

Unpleasant to humans, studies show some dogs eat the feces of other animals. Known as Coprophagia, it can be a difficult habit to break.  If you find your dog consistently munching on a patch of grass, it may have some leftover fecal matter on it. 

Dr. Benjamin Hart, from the University of California, Davis, led a team of researchers at the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Conference and found that 1 out of 6 dogs (about 16%) can be classified as “serious” stool eaters, meaning they have been caught in the act at least five times.1

But…why do dogs eat poop?  

To protect the pack: Females may consume feces to “clean up the nest,” while adult dogs of either gender will do the same to protect the pack. The idea here is to eliminate any scent that might attract predators.2

To get rid of evidence: Feelings of shame and guilt for having “made a mistake” in the house (especially if a dog had his nose rubbed in it), may make a dog eat poop.  If pooping in the house has gotten your dog in trouble before, they may just be trying to cover up the scene of the crime.

Anxiety: Some studies have suggested that dogs who feel stressed as a result of isolation, or any form of anxiety, may be more likely to eat poop.3

2. How Often do Dogs go into Heat? 

Many small dog breeds may reach sexual maturity before the one year mark, while giant breeds may not until they are 18-24 months of age.4

Typically, female dogs go into heat twice a year, or about every six months, once they are of age.5

Pregnancy lasts 9 weeks, or approximately 63 days.  If you suspect your dog is pregnant, it is best to have her seen by your veterinarian. It’s also important to remember that spaying may be included under your dog health insurance plan.2

3. How Long do Dogs Live?   

“Not long enough,” would be the answer given by most pet parents. Dogs live, on average 10 – 15 years, with some small breeds exceeding that number. 

Many website charts can help you determine the average lifespan of your dog by breed as well. Regardless, ensuring your dog is seen regularly by your veterinarian can help ensure the longest, healthiest life possible.

4. What Colors do Dogs See? 

In the retina of a dog’s eye are both rods, which detect motion, and cones, which detect color and brightness.  Dogs have only yellow and blue-to-ultraviolet light cones, so, to them, red appears green. This can make it hard to find that red ball in the grass without their sense of smell! Dogs also cannot tell pink, orange, yellow and green apart.  

Additionally, dogs have a reflective layer behind their retina.  As light passes through the retina, it reflects off the tapetum lucidum before passing back through the retina. The resulting reflection is what gives our pets’ eyes that glow from the flash of a camera.6

5. What do Dogs Dream About?  

Dogs may experience multiple sleep stages and during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep dogs may dream just like we do.  Their twitches and whimpers may give insight into whether not it is a dream or nightmare.  Dogs go into their REM cycle 20 minutes after they fall asleep and appear to sleep better after exercise.7

What dogs dream about, however, may be something only dogs know.  

Just like us though, dogs sometimes experience traumatic dreams. If your dog is growling or acting out aggressively in a dream, you can try quietly calling his or her name until they are fully awake.  They can also experience peasent dreams, such as chasing squirrels or sticking their head out of the car window

If you have any concerns about your dog’s sleep patterns, consult your veterinarian.  Having dog health insurance can give you peace of mind about bringing your dog for a check-up anytime one is needed.2

6. How do Dogs Get Heart Worms?

Mosquitoes!  Adult female heartworms live in infected animals (ex: dogs, foxes, coyotes, wolves) and produce microfilaria, aka baby worms, which circulate in the animal’s bloodstream.

When a mosquito bites, sucking blood from the infected animal, these baby worms are also ingested. They develop into larvae over the next 10 to 14 days, and when the mosquito then bites a dog, the larvae enter your dog through the mosquito’s bite wound.8  

Once inside, the larvae take 6 months to mature into adult heartworms -- foot long, spaghetti-like worms that live inside a dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels, potentially affecting many organs.  Outcome of infection varies greatly from dog to dog, but adult worms may cause inflammation of the blood vessels and can block blood flow leading to clots in the lungs and heart failure.9

Signs & Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Here are a few common signs and symptoms of Heartworm Disease in dogs that you can watch for in your furry friend:1o

  • Coughing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormally rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen

According to the American Heartworm Society, Heartworm Disease is inexpensive and easy to prevent but costly and difficult to treat. Staying up to date with your veterinary visits may help ensure that heartworms are detected early.

If you are still concerned about your dog's behavior, consider checking out the top 5 behavioral issues in dogs.

Consider Investing in Dog Insurance  

Looking for more ways to keep your pup happy and healthy? Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  Our dog insurance policies can provide the coverage and care your furry family member deserves.  Get your free quote today. 

Protect your Dog

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.  

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.  

1. “Why Dogs Eat Poop & How to Stop It”, American Kennel Club, November 5, 2021. 

2. 7 Reasons That Puppies Eat Poop and How to Stop It,  Pet Keen 

3. Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Stop It, American Kennel Club 

4. Sexual Maturity, GuideDog.org 

5. Estrous Cycles in Dogs,VCA Animal Hospitals 

6. “One Dogs Journey Using his Eyes, Ears, Nose, Paws and Tongue,” PetSafetyCrusader.com, August 2020. 

7. “Do Dogs Dream? Here’s What the Experts Have to Say,”  Southern Living, Jennifer Nelson 

8.  Heartworm in Dogs: What You Should Know About the Parasite, American Kennel Club 

9. Heartworm Basics,American Heartworm Society 

10. 7 Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs,PetFul Veterinarians,  2019