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Is cotton candy bad for dogs?
Q. My 2-year-old beagle loves to lick cotton candy, but he licks his feet and ears so much that he gets a rash. I have been feeding him chicken-flavored treats, but he still seems to love cotton candy. Is there something wrong with it?
—Jenna, via email
A. While you shouldn't give dogs cotton candy, it's not the only thing in the world that can irritate dogs' skin. Your beagle, for example, could have allergies to a number of things, including carpet or other flooring material.
Beagles tend to get an itchy or raspy tongue because of the constant licking, especially if their coat is short. This is not a problem that can be remedied by feeding your dog cotton candy, but you can try keeping the floor clean or getting a dog treat that has no cotton candy flavor and no chicken or beef flavor.
Q. I'm confused. Should my dog's ears be washed with a product? Should they be dry? Does it matter what the product is?
—Anastasia, via email
A. The answer to your question depends on the type of ears your dog has. If your dog has floppy or wrinkly ears that hang down, such as some French bulldogs, poodles and boxers, they probably need to be dry and clean.
Your dog's ears should be cleaned every day and kept dry and clean. If you're concerned about the chemicals on most commercial ear-waxing products, you could clean them yourself with a cotton ball and a mild shampoo. It's best to buy natural products.
If your dog has long, erect ears, such as most English bulldogs, bullmastiffs and Airedales, they probably do not need to be cleaned and are dry.
A dog's ears should be kept clean and dry because bacteria can get into the ear and cause infections, especially if the ears are constantly damp.
Q. Can you share the safest way to get a doggy to pee indoors? My doggy goes out a few times a week, and I would prefer that she not pee on my living room carpet. I've tried pee guards and I can't tell if they work. What do you suggest?
—Anastasia, via email
A. It sounds like your dog is having some success with peeing inside, and that's great! However, if you have an indoor-only dog, you need to find a way to keep her from peeing in your home.
There are several products available that you can try.
• A plastic or rubber urine pan that is placed inside of your dog's pen to catch the pee can be made from a toilet tank lid, which you can find at many home improvement centers. You also can buy special pan covers that will keep your dog from peeing on the pan.
• Toilet paper rolls make a good dog pee guard. Just cut them in half and you're all set.
• If your dog has a puppy pad, you can cut off the bottom of it, turn it upside down and place it in her litter box.
• A homemade product can be made by cutting up cardboard or aluminum foil and putting it in your dog's pen to soak up her urine.
Q. My dog has started to get "cotton ball" looking skin at his belly. It was only happening a week ago. He's otherwise a healthy dog. Is there anything we can do to get this under control? He is still eating and drinking fine.
—Caitlin, via email
A. There are many possible causes for skin eruptions, but most are not life threatening. Your dog may have had a skin irritation or rash at some time in the past, so if this is the first time he's having such an issue, it may be a new problem.
Other possible causes for skin eruptions include skin allergies and contact dermatitis.
Try feeding a diet free of wheat. Wheat contains gluten, a protein in food that can cause allergies in some dogs.
Also, make sure your dog is not eating the skin or fur of other animals, including other dogs or cats.
You should also be sure your dog is not getting too little water. If he's drinking but not eating, he may be too skinny and be drinking more water than he needs.
Q. How can I stop my dog from digging in the backyard? I've tried getting rid of the fence, but he still keeps digging.
—Kelly, via email
A. Your dog's behavior probably has a few causes, including boredom.
If your dog is kept in a cage or an enclosure, the walls are too high for him to climb and you won't see his actions.
Another possible cause is that he's bored.
Make sure there are toys or play items in your backyard for him to use.
Q. I think my 2-year-old boxer has been eating carpet. She chews on the underside of the couch, carpet and even shoes. I've seen her do it three times. Is there a way to stop her from doing this?
—Laura, via email
A. Your question is a bit vague, so it's not clear what kind of carpet your dog has been eating. If it's carpet from your house, it may be easy to replace it with another type of carpet.
If the carpet came from a store, try to find out where the carpet came from. Then contact the store and ask if they have any ideas about how to stop your dog from eating carpet.
Q. Our 5-year-old male cocker spaniel has been peeing on the floor. His name is Buddy. How can I stop this?
—Rachael, via email
A. Buddy has probably been overdoing it, since he's been using the bathroom multiple times a day.
It's important to make sure he is