Q I need help with a 1-year-old beagle mix who has suddenly become afraid to walk on tile. She whines in a room or hallway until you go and get her. I have tried rugs, but that has not worked, and treats, which work fairly well, but I have to go get her. I am buying a pair of shoes for her to try, but I know she won’t want to keep on. I am afraid of the paw wax as I don’t need to fall myself. I am 67. My veterinarian recommended Xanax for her, and she seemed better, but still whined a lot. I feel badly for her.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
A I am glad you ruled out health problems first. If your beagle was older, my first concern would be an undiagnosed orthopedic problem. But your dog is young, and since this is a sudden change in behavior not related to a health problem, your dog probably had a slippery experience on the floor that has shaken her courage. She may have even fallen.
For some dogs, walking on a slick wood or tile floor may feel like walking across a sheet of ice: You can’t get your grip and you feel like you’re going to fall. The uncertainty of that experience may be what’s causing her whining. She wants to cross the room, but doesn’t trust the floor anymore, so she whines to express her anxiety and frustration to you.
The anxiety medication can help reduce her unease, but she will still need to build her trust with the floor again. The best way to do that is to replace that memory with a more positive experience. That might involve putting treats across the floor or giving her a puzzle toy or Kong with treats to play with in that area. The goal is to keep her mind busy on or near the floor. It’s like chatting with someone on an airplane to keep their mind off their fear of flying.
At this point, any movement under her feet, whether a slippery floor or bunched up rug, will only increase her anxiety. Keep her nails trimmed, so her paws can better grip the floor, and try rugs again, but this time, make sure they are weighty or have special padding, so they don’t bunch up.
Q. My veterinarian has been trying to help keep my dog from constant scooting since age 4. She is more than 13 years old and still does it, fussing and whining because her anal sacs are irritated. The veterinarian empties the sacs, as needed. I add fiber products in her wet food as advised by my vet. She only eats wet food. I need your advice. She is overweight, which does not help.
— Pat B.
East Hampton, Connecticut
A Dogs and cats often butt-scoot across the lawn or carpet to relieve posterior discomfort, which can be the result of worms, skin allergies or impacted anal glands. The primary culprit is impacted anal sacs, which, as you know, can become chronic for some dogs.
I trust your veterinarian has been giving you good advice, so I will just add a few things here. While your veterinarian or groomer can empty the glands as needed, the glands also can be surgically removed as a last resort.
Keeping your dog fit helps, since fatter dogs tend to have the problem more often. There are some good canine weight-loss foods on the market that you can try.
There is also a product called NaturVet No Scoot Plus Pumpkin Soft Chews for Dogs, which supposedly “supports healthy anal sac and gland function.”
Q In my daily walks in my neighborhood, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of wild rabbits. They are especially numerous early mornings and evenings. Is there an explanation for the rise in their population?
A I checked with Volunteers for Wildlife in Locust Valley. The group is unaware of any large population boom of rabbits on Long Island. As prey animals, the population of rabbits in a certain area is in flux with the number of predators in that area. They say you are likely in an area that is hospitable to wild rabbits, providing an abundance of grass and clover, places to hide and few natural predators.
The most common times to see wild rabbits are in the morning and evening, so enjoy.