A bizarre trend that sees TikTokers pretend to eat their dog has alarmed animal welfare experts.
The trend, known as the 'eat your dog challenge' sees pet owners film themselves as they pretend to chomp on their dog's paws or ears over the sound of someone eating, often leaving the pooch looking visibly distressed and confused.
Some of the videos hack racked-up more than 2 million likes and hundreds and thousands of views.
See for yourself below:
Clinical Animal Behaviourist Rachel Rodgers from Nose to Trail who specialise in pet behaviour called the trend "very concerning."
Some of the dogs in the TikTok videos are showing the whites of their eyes which is known as "whale eye". Rachel says this is an indicator of stress and suggests the dog is "highly uncomfortable" with the situation.
She said: "These TikTok trends that normalise stressed pet body language as being "funny" really worry me - if we normalise this body language as being amusing, I suspect we will have a further increase in dog bites in the months, years, decade to come as people are ignoring the dogs' ways of communicating with us and saying 'I'm uncomfortable! Please stop'".
Rachel predicts more dogs may show signs of aggressive behaviour - such as biting or snapping - as a result of TikTok trends like this. "Alongside the negative effects happening right there in the moment, I would not be surprised if the dog then became reluctant to having their paws handled, making nail clipping hard."
Some dog owners may defend the trend by stating that their dog did not feel uncomfortable and they would never bite back. However Rachel srgues: "There is only so much each dog can take and these dogs are being pushed unnecessarily to tolerate things that we wouldn't expect a human to tolerate.
"From a welfare perspective I worry for these dogs that it will lead to anxiety problems in the future."
Rachel, who is a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC), also discussed why owners should avoid putting their dog's paws and ears in their mouths due to health risks to humans. "Dogs don't wear shoes they walk through s**t literally and figuratively so I dread to think what these people are exposing themselves too by putting their dog's feet in their mouths!"
Caroline Reay, Head of Veterinary Services at national pet charity Blue Cross, added: "Basically putting a dog's paw in your mouth is the equivalent of licking the pavement."
"It's not clear if he really puts the paw in his mouth but he's certainly making the dog uncomfortable by pulling on his leg."
The Blue Cross has further expressed their concern about the TikTok trends involving dogs following the popularity of the 'eat your dog' challenge.
Caroline added: "As an animal welfare charity we're concerned about the increase in people using their pets as props to boost their social media presence. This is just one of many worrying examples we've been made aware of.
"Pets are not toys to be exploited, humiliated or objectified for our own entertainment and these pranks can cause distress and confusion to our pets and could even lead to illness or serious behaviour issues."
In other words, please stop pretending to eat your dog.
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