Dear Dr. Fox:

I have a Yorkie with a distinctive sweet, flowery scent on top of his head. We thought it might have been transferred from some of the perfumes found in soaps and other products we humans use, but it’s not — it’s just his own distinctive smell.

This is the first time I’ve ever encountered this in any of my dogs. I love it. Picking him up at the end of a long day, cuddling with him and sniffing his head, lets me know I’m home in a very elemental way.

L.F., Fairfax

Dear Dr. Fox:

My first canine companion was a husky mix. Throughout my childhood, she treated me as though I were her pup. She was always looking out for me. When I would get upset, Mom would apparently tell me to go smell the dog’s belly, and it would calm me down. I don’t remember anything about this, other than how much I loved that dog.

I am an adult now, and I have my own standard poodle. I thought I’d smell her tummy just to see whether it worked. You know, the smell of the dog’s tummy is sweet, like flowers and baby powder, and yes, it is still very calming.

M.H., St. Louis

DF: I have posted previous responses from dog owners about their perfumed dogs, and I hope both your letters will encourage others to check out their own dogs for scented body areas.

Your letters give support to pheromone research and marketing of dog-calming body scents for dogs, which you both find calming for yourselves!

We are losing our sense of smell, as well as other sensibilities, as we text and tweet with our less and less opposable thumbs in cyberspace. Engaging in a good dog sniff might be one way for us to recover our senses.

We can also use our sense of smell to help recognize when our dogs are not well and need a change of diet, or maybe just a bath. For most healthy dogs, this is rarely needed, except for some breeds with oily skin and older dogs with various age-related conditions.

Dear readers:

Pet health insurer Nationwide says policyholders filed 1.3 million claims for pet ailments related to obesity in 2015, accounting for $60 million in costs for veterinary care.

Arthritis was the most common obesity-related claim for dogs, with an average cost per claim of $295.

Bladder and urinary tract problems were most common among obese cats, costing an average of $442 per case.

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Send letters to or write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.

©2017 United Feature Syndicate