WTF is my dog's problem?
July 4, 2008 6:30 AM   Subscribe

DogFilter: Why is my dog licking the carpets excessively, then vomiting a pile of hair (and other charming habits)?

For the past 2-3 days my 4 year old chihuahua has been licking the carpets all over the house, trying to pull out pieces of the carpet, running around making chokey/snortey sound or panting, and then vomiting a great pile of hair held together with partially digested food.

I have read that this may be a form of doggie OCD, boredom, anxiety, hunger, or thirst, and that one should try distracting the dog or redirecting her from the carpet to a toy or chew. These things have so far not worked. If you get her attention during a licking episode, she will stare at you for a few seconds and continue on. She doesn't appear to enjoy the licking, but acts like it's compulsive, which makes me think it's the OCD/anxiety.

Things that may be related:
-It has been ungodly hot here. Like, over 100 degrees.
-She does not like to drink water although it is tossed and refilled at least once daily so that it's fresh and cool. She will pant for hours without seeming to think to take a drink.
-We are having issues with her hiding under our bed - when not licking the carpet, she's usually under the bed and submissively urinates when we try to coax her out.
-A few feet away from the bed, she has episodes of sneaky urination- when we leave the door open, she goes in and pees in the same spot, every time, despite the multitude of pet and carpet cleaners we've tried. This leads to the aforementioned hiding under the bed.
-Her ears have been really warm. I don't know if this matters.
-We moved into a new apartment about 2 months ago, though this behavior didn't start til 3-4 weeks ago (the peeing), 2 weeks ago (the hiding) and then 2-3 days ago (the licking).

We are making a vet appointment for ASAP on Monday, but any advice, ideas, suggestions, etc to get through the weekend and keep her comfortable would be appreciated.
posted by alpha_betty to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
If the behavior is sudden within the past few days, it's highly unlikely to be behavioral and much more likely to be a physical illness.

She sounds very stressed in addition to being ill. Vomiting and not drinking for 2-3 days is worthy of a trip to an emergency vet. At least, it would be with my dog. Please do not let her go until Monday before she's seen. With several days of vomiting already behind her, she's likely to already need subcutaneous fluids to help with dehydration.

A lot of people don't know this, so my apologies if you already do: Call your vet's number to see if they have an after-hours answering service or a doctor on call. If that's a no go, look in your yellow pages under veterinarians for ads that say "24 hours" or "emergency" or "ER." Prepare to spend about $100 just on being seen without an appointment, and more for whatever is ailing your pup.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2008

Not an expert, but that sounds like a sick dog who's trying to eat grass to me.
posted by Leon at 8:06 AM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Second the emergency vet, I wouldn't wait through the weekend.
posted by arimathea at 8:59 AM on July 4, 2008

This sounds like an acute illness (licking can be related to nausea or GI discomfort, which can include life-threatening issues like an obstruction, which are only going to get worse), and I would not be waiting until Monday with these symptoms, I'd go to the emergency clinic if this were my dog.
posted by biscotti at 9:14 AM on July 4, 2008

From what you've written there are a few things, that might be the problem -

Dogs aren't as efficient at cooling themselves as we are. If it's that hot, your dog is probably uncomfortable. If he likes to play in water, let him. If not, a wipe down with a cool wash cloth would help a bit.

Once a day doesn't seem often enough for water changes. The water at your new place may taste/smell slightly different. The dog can find the new water unappealing. Try water from the Brita jug (or whatever you drink) for a few days and see if it helps to get him to drink. (BTW, the water filters remove chlorine which means the water really shouldn't be left standing for hours.)

The licking and vomiting behavior sounds like a stomach upset/blockage Poor guy is trying to evacuate whatever is causing the problem. Between the heat, lack of water and tummy troubles, he's one uncomfortable, dehydrated little guy. He's being more submissive because he's sick.

posted by 26.2 at 9:21 AM on July 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. We have adjusted the AC and changed out the water a few times, and are trying to take it easy around and with her (i.e. softer voices and lots more love). I'm not certain whether that had anything to do with it, but she seems to be back to normal for now... I will keep an eye on her and call a vet in the morning.
posted by alpha_betty at 4:00 PM on July 4, 2008

My dog does this when her allergies act up. I usually give her benedryl and try to keep her on hard surfaces.
posted by answergrape at 7:00 PM on July 4, 2008

Response by poster: Update: She was allergic to her food. I guess they changed the recipe, or something, but she couldn't handle it anymore. We have changed to a different formula and she's back to her old self. Thanks!!!
posted by alpha_betty at 9:40 AM on July 18, 2008

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