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Blanket and flank sucking in Doberman Pinschers

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate blanket and flank sucking and any association with pica in Doberman Pinschers.

Design—Survey and case-control study.

Animals—153 Doberman Pinschers (77 dogs with blanket or flank sucking and 76 unaffected dogs).

Procedures—Owners of Doberman Pinschers with blanket sucking, flank sucking, or both were surveyed regarding the age of onset, triggers, frequency, duration, interruptability, and associated medical and behavioral consequences. A putative association of blanket sucking and flank sucking with pica was examined by comparison of affected dogs with unaffected dogs.

Results—Apart from the difference in the object of oral activity between blanket and flank suckers, age of onset was the only variable that differed between dogs with the 2 conditions. Dogs with blanket or flank sucking had a higher prevalence of pica than the unaffected population.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Blanket and flank sucking are apparently related conditions that can occur with sufficient intensity to cause medical sequelae. These nonnutritive suckling behaviors share similarities with other canine compulsive disorders and are associated with pica. Veterinarians should advise owners that flank and blanket sucking are abnormal, potentially harmful behaviors in dogs. Treatment should be considered for severely affected dogs or when flank or blanket sucking is associated with medical problems.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate blanket and flank sucking and any association with pica in Doberman Pinschers.

Design—Survey and case-control study.

Animals—153 Doberman Pinschers (77 dogs with blanket or flank sucking and 76 unaffected dogs).

Procedures—Owners of Doberman Pinschers with blanket sucking, flank sucking, or both were surveyed regarding the age of onset, triggers, frequency, duration, interruptability, and associated medical and behavioral consequences. A putative association of blanket sucking and flank sucking with pica was examined by comparison of affected dogs with unaffected dogs.

Results—Apart from the difference in the object of oral activity between blanket and flank suckers, age of onset was the only variable that differed between dogs with the 2 conditions. Dogs with blanket or flank sucking had a higher prevalence of pica than the unaffected population.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Blanket and flank sucking are apparently related conditions that can occur with sufficient intensity to cause medical sequelae. These nonnutritive suckling behaviors share similarities with other canine compulsive disorders and are associated with pica. Veterinarians should advise owners that flank and blanket sucking are abnormal, potentially harmful behaviors in dogs. Treatment should be considered for severely affected dogs or when flank or blanket sucking is associated with medical problems.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Moon-Fanelli.