Friday, October 16, 2015

Katie's zig-zag back

Every so often over the years, I've noticed a zig-zag pattern in Katie's back fur.  Lately, since she's gained a few extra pounds, it's much more pronounced:


I finally did a search on the zig-zags this morning, and the only thing I could find is that this is "raising her hackles," which is a sign of fear or stress.

"Various types of dog fur exist, from super short to so long the fur touches the ground. One thing all dogs have in common, however, is a patch of fur along their backs that has a different texture and appearance than the rest of the coat. That section of fur might seem insignificant, but it serves a greater purpose."


"All dogs have hackles along the base of their spines, which usually presents as fur that is coarser and denser than the rest of their coats. Depending on the breed of dog, hackles generally have a wrinkled or zigzag appearance and run from a dog’s neck or shoulder blades down to the base of his tail. Dogs can use their hackles to communicate their feelings or to appear taller in a threatening situation."


"You may occasionally see your dog raise his hackles. The section of your dog’s coat that normally has a wrinkled appearance will stand on end, or puff up. This is called piloerection, which is an involuntary physical response your dog will have to particularly frightening, exciting or stressful situations. Similar to how humans get goose bumps when they’re quite frightened or nervous, piloerection is a physical response to a surge of adrenaline caused by a variety of situations or stimulants."

Interesting, huh?  The strange thing is that with Katie, there doesn't seem to be anything different going on when the zig-zags are prominent.  She even has them inside The Palms when it's just Katie and me, doing normal day-to-day stuff.

The link in the third paragraph is the best explanation that I could find with a quick search on-line and they have more information if you're interested.  The site is The Daily Puppy.

BTW, Katie went to Sierra Veterinary Services again on Tuesday to have her teeth cleaned.  She had some gingivitis on the gum over her left canine and she needed her teeth cleaned to make sure it didn't become infected.  I was really worried about her; I've never had a dog with gingivitis before and was afraid she might lose some teeth, but when I picked her up, they said her teeth are great, very solid.  And now they are bright, shiny white again.  That was a relief!   So that is done and already her gum looks better.  I don't know if gingivitis goes away or not without meds, but she seems improved without any Rx.


We're at South Monticello Campground right now.  The campground road is so level and smooth, I can easily push Katie in her stroller.  The last two days we've walked 3+ miles each day.  That's also a sign that temps are coming down - when we were here in the middle of the summer it was WAY too hot to walk much.  This time the weather has been perfect, but last night and today are VERY windy.

BTW,  at Katie's first vet appointment on September 23rd she weighed in at 16.0 pounds (Ouch! Overweight pup!).  When she went in for her teeth cleaning 20 days later, she had lost 4 ounces.  That might not sound like much, but she's now 15.6 pounds and losing more every day.  Since she's feeling better and can walk more, she's getting a bit more exercise.  Also going back to the Royal Canin Chihuahua food is helping.  She should probably weigh 12 or 13 pounds, and hopefully we can get there.  The weight loss will also help her back legs.

From me and Katie, have a great Friday, everyone!  :)

26 comments:

  1. Good luck with Katie's diet, she will feel better in the long run.

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  2. I've never heard of that before, but you took a great photo of it. Maybe Katie is afraid she'll lose to much weight and blow away.

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  3. I have never seen that type of zig zag pattern in a dog....Maybe katie is just trying to stay Hip? LOL

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  4. Hi Katies Mom, aka Barbara. Corky (my chi / jack mix) and I have been lurking for such a long time. I've often wondered about his back coat. It's never zig / zagged but there is a noticeable difference in texture. Thanks for the info.
    We will be just north of you in about a week, volunteering at Bosque del Apache refuge. It will be my first volunteer position, knowing it gets very chilly there I'm working on getting our home in order for the 4 months we will be there.
    Thanks so much for your blog, you have given us so much info over the years. We have only been on the road about 8 weeks but had researched full timing for 2+ years, with your help.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Carlene aka Corky's Mom / WaianaeGal

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  5. I have never seen anything like this Zig-Zag pattern on any dog. Molly sure never shows anything like this.

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  6. It's amazing that dogs and people are subject to the same diseases, such as gingivitis, and can easily become overweight. You are right on top of everything though - I have never seen that zig zag pattern on a dog's back. Have you asked a vet?

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  7. The good life makes us all way too fat! I need to go on a low cal people chow.

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  8. Those zig zags in Katie's fur are just SOOooo prominent....maybe you should be calling her Ziggy! I'm glad she's feeling better and dropping some weight...sure wish I could.

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  9. The zig-zag is very interesting. I have not seen that before. I'm sure that I will be seeing the zig-zag now that I know about it. Like when you're pregnant and see pregnant women everywhere.

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  10. I've never seen this before! My Katie's fur is so long that if she has anything like this it's hidden. Glad your Katie is feeling better! We know how hard it is to lose weight. Katie here is 22 pounds and should be 20. Such a struggle!

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  11. I don't think the zig-zag is Katie raising her hackles. If it were, the fur there should literally be upright. I think the waviness you saw mentioned referred to the texture of the actual hairs themselves. Here is a picture of a chihuahua raising it's hackles: https://www.flickr.com/photos/patflinschrod/237591020 Sometimes it goes all down the back, sometimes is more pronounced near the shoulders or the rear. I was able to find a few pics similar to Katie by searching zig zag dog and going past the Toy Story pictures. The only explanation I saw offered was that it is just a cowlick, although I'm not totally convinced on that either. https://www.flickr.com/photos/27329446@N06/2672052315/ There's a pic of a golden retriever about mid-way down this page: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retriever-puppy-up-1-year/103241-4-month-old-wavy-hair.html -the owner seems to think that it's just wavy hair, but I think it might be what a zig zag looks like with long hair. That makes me think that I've probably seen this on long-furred dogs and not thought twice about it, but it is so distinct on Katie!

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  12. Here's a page that might be interesting - attributes a zig-zag as a symptom of a muscular strain.
    http://www.k9elements.co.uk/canine-massage/symptoms

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    1. That's interesting... Katie's zig zag goes all the way down her back and has been there for a while now - months at least. I hope it's not from an injury, but of course I'll never know. She seems pretty much back to normal now, and after being on joint and pain meds for her joints and arthritis her hair is still zig zagging. I think it's pretty cool, and hope it's just her normal coat. (She walked a mile yesterday - that was her longest walk since having arthritis. I hope it keeps up, nice not to bring the stroller ALL the time!) :)

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    2. Glad to hear Katie is doing well. I agree, the zig zag is very cool looking!

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  13. I have a Chihuahua mix dog that is 13 yrs old. She is black and I have seen a zig zag pattern like your dog but since all the fur is black it doesn't show as prominent as yours. My dog, Lulu, started showing this zig zag texture about a year ago. Sometimes it lays down more than others.

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  14. I have a Chihuahua mix dog that is 13 yrs old. She is black and I have seen a zig zag pattern like your dog but since all the fur is black it doesn't show as prominent as yours. My dog, Lulu, started showing this zig zag texture about a year ago. Sometimes it lays down more than others.

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  15. It's been too long since we've heard from you and Katie. How are ya'll doing? We miss you when we don't hear from you.

    Cat Lady

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    1. All's fine - just not much to post. Will post soon... Thanks, Judy! :)

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  16. Happy Christmas to you too, Barbara. Miss meeting with you and Katie. Take care.

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  17. This dog's wavy coat in the lumbar area was due to a muscular strain



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  18. It's her zipper. Otherwise, changing into her superhero costume while you're asleep would be a nightmare.

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  19. My daughter's dog also has a zig zag down her back. She is a rotwieller. My dog is husky, lab and Shepard and has swirls on both sides of her rib area. I don't know what it is...I've checked her skin and looks normal. It looks like she has a disease or something. I like zig zag better!!

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  20. My daughter's dog also has a zig zag down her back. She is a rotwieller. My dog is husky, lab and Shepard and has swirls on both sides of her rib area. I don't know what it is...I've checked her skin and looks normal. It looks like she has a disease or something. I like zig zag better!!

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