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Q&A: Dirty Panty Sniffer

Filed under: Q&ADogDr. Patrick Mahaney

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TeddyHilton.com reader, Kate, has an interesting question for Dr. Patrick Mahaney.

She wrote:

TeddyHilton.com, I need some answers!

I have the most adorable and wrinkly Shar-Pei named Titan. The strange thing is that Titan is obsessed with my dirty panties. He sniffs them, licks them, and does this really weird lower jaw vibration after getting the first whiff. I understand that's where my 'scent' lingers, but why my undies? Why are my sweaty sportsbra, pajama shirt and even my husband's boxers chopped liver? And what, if you know what I'm talking about, is that weird vibrating jaw thing that he does after he gets a big whiff?

Another question, on a completely different note. . .

My two dogs are my walking buddies. I've recently taken up running, and they seem to really enjoy it. However, I know that I am incredibly sore after an incredibly long run. Do my dogs get sore? I also take long hikes when I go camping, which are about three times as long as their normal daily walks. Would a longer and more strenuous walk affect them in the same way it affects me, with soreness and muscle aches? All in all: do dogs get sore after intense workouts?

Thanks so much, I'm really looking forward to hearing from you!

Kate in Portales, New Mexico

Dr. Patrick responded:

Hello Kate,

Thank you for submitting your questions, with the "panty sniffing" definitely being the first time we have broached such a topic for TeddyHilton.com readers.

Many dogs are attracted to human scents. Dogs like to lick the sweat, lotion, or other appealing substances off our skin. Female bodily fluids, such as that which ends up on your underwear, is certainly something that would be of interest to your average dog. Perhaps your and your husband's other items just don't let off as delicious of a smell.

Titan's "weird vibrating jaw" behavior, from what you describe, is called the flehmen response, which distributes scents and pheromones inside the mouth around the vomeronasal organ (AKA Jacobson's organ). This gland is part of the complex network of sensory structures that permit the brain's proper understanding of smell. I commonly see dogs exhibit flehmen after they lick or sniff another dog's urine (my dog, Cardiff, has what appears to be a heightened flehmen response that he exhibits on a frequent basis).

As I have been called upon to surgically remove human scented fabrics (underwear, socks, tampons, etc) from dogs' stomach or intestines, it is best that you keep such delectable delicates from Titan's reach. The need to surgically remove an ingested foreign body would put considerable stress on Titan's body and your pocketbook.

Moving onto your second question regarding exercising your dog. Yes, your dogs can develop muscular soreness or incur injury to their joints, tendons, or ligaments from exercise. Before you continue with regular human led exercise runs with your dogs, have them examined by your veterinarian to see if there are any palpable painful areas or decreased range of motion (ROM) of any joints.

Less strenuous activities, such as hiking, can still be challenging, but provide a more moderate pace suitable to dogs having a variety of fitness levels.

Good luck,

Dr PM

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