The Animal Doctor

Dog Obsessed With Licking Tile Floor

DEAR DR. FOX: I am having a problem with my dog. He’s a 2-year-old Lhasa Apso/poodle mix and is neutered.

He constantly licks our tile floor. The floor is kept very clean and has no food residue. I have talked to our vet about this and they don’t have a clue. -- L.E., West Palm Beach, Florida

DEAR L.E.: I find it quite incomprehensible that the veterinarian with whom you consulted could offer no treatment suggestions for your little dog. The behavior that you describe is an anxiety-driven obsessive-compulsive disorder that is actually quite common, especially in small breeds. But first, a thorough clinical examination is called for, to rule out a possible physical cause of discomfort such as an inflamed oral cavity or digestive tract.

I would seek a second opinion and a full wellness examination. One effective treatment is Prozac, but in some instances, a change in diet -- providing the dog an organic, whole-ingredient dog food free of chemical dyes and preservatives -- can prove remedial. Combine a more natural (or even home-prepared) diet with regular exercise, and avoid using chemical floor cleaners that could cause your dog other health problems. These may be your first steps before trying Prozac.

DEAR DR. FOX: I just read your column and have a response to your request regarding cat behaviors in and around the litter box.

I was fortunate to be blessed with the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with a great number of cats during the past 40-plus years. One of my oldest and dearest cats was with me for many years, and she was one of those cats that did not bury her business in the litter box. She always used the litter box, was a very intelligent, unique and clean cat, but did not ever bury her stuff.

So, being the “cat lady” and all, cats and their behavior have always been a topic of interest to me. I read, once upon a time, that certain cats think of themselves as the “top cat” and they feel superior to others. Thusly, some will not have a problem with the odor of their waste fouling the air: They’re announcing that they are THERE and they don’t care who knows about it. They have no desire to conceal their presence, is the reasoning behind their not burying their waste.

I read that many years ago, and have since spent many years with many cats in multiple-cat settings. I think that explanation may be right on target. That’s just my opinion; I hope it helps. -- K.S., Bayville, New Jersey

DEAR K.S.: It could well have been one of my earlier writings about cat behavior you read, where I expressed the opinion that secure and dominant cats may leave their feces uncovered, especially around the edges of their territories in the wild, as markers.

Your years of experience with indoor cats and their dominance-relationships confirms my theory. We have but one cat in our home now, and he sometimes seems to forget to bury his poop. In addition, he often races through the house after pooping, which we interpret as sweet relief! One of our dogs would do a wiggling dance very often after defecating outdoors, which we also interpreted as pleasurable relief!

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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