Jack Russell Terrier on a walk

Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog want to eat gross stuff when he’s on a walk?

A: To us, garbage lying on the ground is nasty. To your pet, it’s a tasty investigation. There’s a whole mess of reasons why this might occur. If your pet is overly anxious, bored or just plain curious, a piece of trash might appear to be a snack. Another reason might have to do with a lack of nutrients, primarily vitamin B1. Learn more about coprophagia (eating feces) and pica (eating things that aren't food) from our friends at the ASPCA®.

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.

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cat with food bowl

Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my cat cover his food?

A: When cats cover their food, they’re taking a cue from their ancestors (a practice referred to as “caching”). It’s their way of hiding the scent of their tasty meal from scavengers—or in a housecat’s case, other pets. Finicky cats may also cover their food to let you know they’d prefer something else to eat. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.

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While some cat and dog behaviors can be quite amusing, others can be cause for concern. Here are four you shouldn’t ignore:

1. Excessive belching– Your pet might suffer a burping spell after drinking too quickly, but a lot of belching can be a sign of acid reflux.

2. Obsessive licking– Constant licking may be due to a simple skin irritation, but left untreated it can lead to sores and infections.

3. Compulsive pacing– Pets sometimes pace or circle when getting ready to sleep, but done obsessively, it can indicate anxiety.

4. Litter box issues– Going outside the box could be your cat’s way of telling you it needs cleaning. However, it can also point to a bladder problem.

Behaviors like these can result in stress for the whole household. That’s why we include coverage for behavioral issues with plan Levels 3 and 4. Get a quote to see your plan options.

And, be sure to consult with your veterinarian if your pet has these or any other concerning behaviors.

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Basenji sleeping

Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog run or bark while sleeping?

A: Your dog is probably dreaming, just like a person who walks or talks in their sleep. Dogs experience the same stages of sleep as humans, including rapid eye movement (REM), which is the time when we might move around. Older canines spend more than 10% of their time asleep in the REM stage, while puppies are in dreamland for a more considerable amount of time. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.

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Dog tilting head

Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my dog tip his head when he hears something?

A: While incredibly cute, the head tilt may be your dog’s way of trying to hear something more clearly. This position leans one ear forward to better catch the sound. Another theory involves patterned behavior. In other words, it looks cute for a reason. If you tend to lovingly pet your canine after a head tilt, then a sideways look may be a request for affection. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.


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Cat rolling on ground

Our pets can do some quirky things, but even the strangest behaviors may have reasons behind them. Here are explanations of some common pet behaviors. Does your furry friend have any of these habits? Tell us about it in the comments!

Q: Why does my cat roll around on the ground?

A:  Sometimes cats roll out of excitement or joy, like the way dogs run around when you walk in the door. Other times, they may be seeking attention, and they want to be petted, played with or given a treat. If your cat enjoys catnip toys, it might also be that your frisky feline is feeling intoxicated. Learn more

Note: Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pet’s specific behavior. Your veterinarian can give you advice about your individual pet's needs and rule out any potential medical issue.

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cat dressed as a doctor

Notoriously independent, cats may hide or mask symptoms of injury or illness, but these clues can help detect a health problem with your kitty.

Clue #1: Weight change
Unexplained weight loss or weight gain can be an indicator that something isn't right with your cat.

Clue #2: Messy coat
Cats may stop taking care of their fur if they're unwell. Over-grooming can also be a cause for concern.

Clue #3: Eye and ear issues
Check ears for inflammation or discoloration, and peek at the eyes. Pupils should be the same size with no cloudy film.

Clue #4: Mouth trouble
Cat breath may not be sweet, but it shouldn't smell terrible. Discolored gums can also be a sign of sickness.

Clue #5: Behavioral problems
Changes in behavior, like sudden irritability or litter box problems, can mean an illness is bothering your furry friend.

Of course, if you have any suspicion your cat isn't feeling right, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

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dog with blue graduation cap

If your canine hasn't earned a diploma from obedience school, you may be looking for some training help. In that case, there are a few options you can consider:

Group Sessions
Training in a small group can be great for teaching basic skills and socializing puppies.

Private Lessons
If your pet has a specific issue, one-on-one time with a pro may be the way to go.

Board-and-Train
Don't have time to devote to your dog's training? This may be a good choice for you.

Talk to your veterinarian about specific training recommendations for your dog. Our friends at the ASPCA® also have more advice at their website.

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More of Our Pets Quirky Behaviors Explained

Life with humans hasn’t eradicated all of our animals’ quirky behaviors. Many behaviors, such as digging, may be rooted in pets’ wild animal ancestry.

Face or Clothes Licking
Many cats like to shower their pet parents with rough-tongued kisses, sometimes purring and kneading them too. This behavior, which some experts link to being weaned or orphaned too early, may give cats comfort during times of stress, illness, or boredom—or it might simply be their way of relaxing.

Digging Dirt
Lots of dogs love to dig in the dirt or even on rugs and furniture. This urge may have been passed down from foxes and wolves that dig dens to protect pups from predators and extreme temperatures.  In addition to making comfy sleeping spots, dogs dig to bury items, to hunt ground animals, or just to amuse themselves.

Faucet Sipping
Some cats prefer water straight from the tap over water in their bowls. That’s not surprising considering it’s bound to be fresher. This behavior may have evolved from wild cat ancestors. For them, moving water could be a healthier choice, since it’s less likely to contain contaminants than stagnant water.

Chewing Around 
Why do dogs like to put things in their mouths? Puppies chew to explore and relieve teething pain, while older dogs often gnaw to strengthen jaws and clean teeth. Unfortunately, chewing can also be destructive and harmful if an object is ingested. Talk to your veterinarian if chewing is a problem in your home.

Keep in mind that if summer shenanigans land your pet at the veterinarian’s office, our pet insurance can help you afford treatments and medications. Learn more by getting a free quote now.
 
You can find advice on a number of behavior issues for cats and for dogs at the ASPCA®’s website.

 

 

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Hartville Group News & Info

WELCOME,
PET PARENTS!

As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, a 7-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.