What Does it Mean When a Dog Is Tilting His Head?

When your dog cocks his head from side to side, it’s not because he knows you think it’s cute — not always, anyway. He does it for a combination of reasons, but they aren’t all adorable. It could indicate an illness, so watch out for other signs of health trouble.

Poor Balance

A dog who tilts his head often could be suffering from poor balance and is trying to compensate. Your dog’s vestibular system, deep down in his inner ear, controls his balance and his ability to gauge his posture. Vestibular disease, which can be caused by conditions such as injury, nutritional deficiency, parasites or more, affects the vestibular system. Your dog’s balance suffers, and he tilts his head to try to stay level. Other symptoms include frequent falling down, nausea and poor coordination — if your dog appears to be struggling, contact your vet.

Better Hearing

Your dog may tilt his head when you speak to him as a way of trying to hear you more clearly — think of it like adjusting your earbuds when you listen to music. While dogs generally have excellent hearing, their outer ears don’t automatically adjust and hone in on sounds like yours do. He has to tilt and turn his head as a way of funneling sound into his ear. You may notice that he does the head tilt more often when you’re directly in front of him than when you’re to the side — that’s because when you’re face-to-face, the sound isn’t going straight into his ears, and he has to point them at you.

Communicating Back

Dogs don’t communicate by listening alone — they are visual communicators that rely on body language. In fact, they communicate with body language so much that the same part of the brain that controls listening to sound also controls movements of the head and face. This means that while your dog is listening to something, like you asking him for the hundredth time who a good boy is, he’s working his face and head muscles to “talk” back, and show you his reaction and/or comprehension.

Learned Behavior

Dogs learn from consistency. When it comes to getting positive attention from their people, they can learn quickly. When your dog does something cute like tilting his fuzzy little head, you can’t resist fawning a little bit — it’s OK to admit it. Once your dog gets that positive reaction from you a few times, though, he realizes that tilting his head is the key to making you gush — and he’ll milk it for all it’s worth. Dogs aren’t always too proud to perform a little, especially when affection and treats are at stake, so sometimes they just tilt their heads because they know how much you love it.

 

OTHER DOGS TILT THEIR HEADS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS

Many dogs have learned to cock their heads to the side simply because they get a reward. What is the reward? Well, remember at the beginning of this article how I mentioned that this gesture is just too cute?

Your immediate response is to say something like, “Awwwww, like at Buddy with his head turned to the side, how cute!” followed by lots of petting and soothing tones. This is a reward, and some dogs may have turned their heads to the side a few times in the beginning, but soon enough learned that this will give them lots of that lovable attention.

So if you have ever given a dog this kind of attention after it has tilted its head in a really cute way then you have just positively reinforced that behavior. And you know what? The dog will remember this and might do this more often – not to hear better, but to feel better.

HUMAN SPEECH & YOUR DOG

Dogs can understand part of our human language, but most of it is just a fuzzy blur to them. Almost like when a human hears a foreign language. Dogs cannot take in everything we say. But canines are very good at observing and becoming familiar with human tone of voice, body language as well as eye movement.

Trying To Absorb Every Sound He Can

It is when a dog notices something of interest that its ears perk up to catch all the sounds. If the sound comes from the front your dog might cock its head in the direction of the sound, but if the sound is coming from a direction to the side of him then there is not likely going to be any head tilting. Why? The ears are in the perfect spot all ready to pick up the minutest of sounds.

A dog’s ear shape and position will have something to do with how the dog perceives sound and how often a head tilt might be noticed. Even the age and experience of the dog play a role in this. A German shepherd with pricked up ears might hear better from the front than a cocker spaniel who would hear better from the side. Certainly, a long floppy eared dog would be seen tilting its head more often than a dog with open ears.

So, trying to understand why a dog tilts his head we learn it’s probably down to the dog trying to understand us or the strange noises of our world. It’s been said that a dog who tilts their head to the side is showing intelligence. A very subjective position to take. Canine intelligence is still a largely disputed area of scientific study. A clever dog is not always a dog who happens to be what we like to call ‘obedient’. However, head tilting by dogs does tend to suggest an advanced propensity to want to understand and identify an audible stimulus.

 

How to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

Thanksgiving has ended and everyone knows what that means! It’s time to put up a Christmas tree! However, the very thought of putting up a tree strikes fear in the minds of many cat parents. Cats love trees – and in a cat’s mind, your tree has colorful, shiny cat toys dangling from it – just for their enjoyment! If you’ve got a kitty that’s smitten with your Christmas tree, it’s important to cat-proof it, to protect both your tree and your cat! Here are some great tips on how to keep your cat from destroying the Christmas tree:

 

Consider Getting an Artificial Tree

As much as we love the look and scent of real Christmas trees, they are more tempting – and dangerous – for our furry friends. The needles on a real tree are sharp and could injure a curious cat. Additionally, pine needles are mildly toxic if your cat chews on them, and can irritate the stomach and mouth, causing drooling and even vomiting. So, consider getting an artificial tree and then following our additional tips to keep your cat out of it.

If You Put Up a Real Tree…

If you are dead-set on putting up a real tree, be sure to also use a covered tree stand so the water tank can’t be accessed by your kitty. Often times, live trees are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers and those chemicals will leach out into the stagnant water in your Christmas tree. If your cat drinks the water, it could have deadly consequences.

 

Make Sure Your Tree is Stable

Make sure you put your tree up on a very solid tree stand. When the tree is up, it shouldn’t wobble on its base but should be firm and stable. In addition, anchor your tree to the wall or ceiling. These precautions will ensure your tree won’t topple over should your curious kitty decide to climb or pull it.

Pick a Safe Spot for Your Tree

Put your Christmas tree in an area that leaves it plenty of room on all sides. Make sure you don’t have any shelves or furniture too close to the tree that might act as a launching pad for adventurous kitties to use to jump or climb the tree. If it’s possible, put your tree in an area that can be closed off from your cat at night or while you’re away.

Try These Deterrents

If your cat is showing a lot of interest in the tree, try using deterrents to discourage him from going near it. Cats are repelled by citrus, so you could place orange peels under the tree. Or, use a spray like Bitter Apple or dilutedCitronella oil on the tree to make it unpleasant for your cat. For cats who like to climb the trunk, wrap aluminum foil around the base of the tree.

Decorate the Tree Wisely

  • Choose shatter-proof ornaments that won’t break and become a hazard if your cat does manage to knock one off the tree.
  • Never use tinsel on a tree if you have cats! Tinsel is extremely hazardous for cats and can cause an intestinal blockage if they ingest it.
  • Avoid artificial snow – it’s toxic to pets and children.
  • Many people decorate their trees with food, like popcorn garland, chocolate, and candy canes. If you share your home with a cat, avoid tempting him by hanging food from the tree you want him to avoid. And, be aware that many “people foods” are dangerous for cats.
  • Place delicate, dangly, and especially enticing ornaments higher up in your tree. Don’t hang any ornaments of interest at your cat’s eye level.

Protect The Wires

Dangling wires from your Christmas lights can prove to be as much of a temptation to your cat as a swinging ornament! Don’t leave your wires hanging around for cats to play with or, worse, to chew on. Instead, wrap wires around the base of your tree and then cover them with a tree skirt. If your cat likes to chew on wires, you can cover them with tape or run them through a piece of pipe to protect them. Decorate with lights that will automatically shut off if the wire becomes damaged. Lastly, always turn your lights off when you aren’t home!

Taking a few extra precautions will ensure both you and your cat are able to enjoy your Christmas tree – without destroying it! And, While you’re decorating this year, consider this collection of kitty Christmas ornaments to make your tree just purr-fect!

Five Ways Your Pet Helps Reduce Holiday Stress

It’s the most stressful time of the year. But it doesn’t have to be. Read on to see how your pet can reduce your holiday stress!

Once you’ve experienced enough Decembers, you know the drill. This holiday season, you’ll attend fabulous parties sporting your trademark ugly sweater, be reunited with that group of relatives you’re fine with only seeing annually, and endure enough stress to last all year long.

Yes, holiday stress is inevitable. Like overspending and overeating, it comes with the territory. As you proceed with coordinating gatherings, hanging decorations, and attempting to remain within your spending budget this holiday season, your stress level is bound to grow.

But thankfully, you have a secret (and non-alcoholic) weapon to combat stress. Enter your pet – your ever-loyal friend, confidant, and sanity-keeper. Since your dog or cat’s holiday stress level is comparatively minimal, you can balance each other out.

Here are five ways your pet can help you remain as happy and carefree as a gift-awaiting child this holiday season.

How Your Pet Can Reduce Your Holiday Stress

1. Constant Companionship

As you scramble around the house completing holiday preparations, your pet will be right there with you, operating as your secondary shadow. Your dog or cat will keep you company whether you’re wrapping gifts in the living room or baking up a holiday storm in the kitchen. Always aiming to please, your pet is by your side, adapting to your hectic schedule. You can confide in your pet regarding the true source of your stress, or simply talk to him in order to relieve loneliness.

2. Warm Bedmate

Achieving ample sleep is key to controlling holiday stress. When it comes to your dog or cat, you have a furry, snuggly sleeping aid. Those cold holiday nights will be much cozier when you have your pet’s warm body producing heat nearby. And your dog or cat’s mere presence – and gentle snoring – will help soothe you to sleep. Why let the stressful obligations of the upcoming day race through your head when you should be enjoying pet-aided rest?

3. Exercise Partner

When you worry about holiday weight gain, you get stressed. And when you cope with stress by eating, you gain weight. It’s a vicious cycle that your dog can help you avoid. Twice-daily walks in the morning and evening can bolster both your sanity level and your pooch’s well-being. The stress-relieving powers of adequate exercise are well-documented. Escape your holiday anxiety by stepping outside into the crisp air for 15 minutes. Your dog will be thrilled to partake, even if it’s snowy and cold.

4. Comic Relief

Sometimes you just need a good laugh to stave off holiday stress. When your fully-decorated Christmas tree topples over or you accidentally regift that malfunctioning blender to Aunt Jackie, there’s not much else you can do. As luck would have it, your pet is a king of unintentional comedy. Whether he’s creating mischief by carrying a stocking around the room or wearing a gift bow as a hat, your dog or cat’s antics are sure to induce a chuckle or two. Hearty laughter will vanquish your stress, whether it’s attributable to your pet’s natural hilariousness or to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

5. Therapeutic Presence

The cost for an hour of private counseling to treat your anxiety can exceed $200. Save that money to find the perfect holiday gift for your spouse, and instead rely on your dog or cat to be your living stress ball. Your pet is blessed with a naturally therapeutic presence. Oodles of research indicate that simply petting your dog or communicating with your cat can relax you and lower your blood pressure. With your dog or cat serving as your loving therapist (and only charging mealtime + attention), your holiday stress doesn’t stand a chance.

Put Your Pet on The Path to Perfect Health

There is no doubt that a healthy diet is the best way for your dog or cat to get the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining health and warding off illness and disease. But unfortunately, our hectic lifestyles prevent most of us from making dog and cat food from scratch with fresh, natural whole foods. Even if you feed your pet a natural, high-quality commercial food, chances are it still does not provide all the natural vitamins and minerals that an animal needs to stay healthy and strong.

A high-quality daily vitamin can supplement your dog or cat with the optimal level of nutrients that may be missing from their food.

Extensive research has shown that modern-day ailments are caused by nutrient deficiencies and exposure to environmental toxins. Luckily, there is something we can do to support the health and the normal growth and development of our cats and dogs. Enhancing your pet’s diet with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids, we can help make up for nutritional deficiencies…which means your best friend will stay healthier longer.

So stack the odds in your pet’s favor. Start today by giving your pet, or friends pets the nutrients they need for a balanced health.

Give the gift of NuVet “Your Pet’s Best Friend.”

NuVet Labs spent more than eight years to create a product designed to provide the best immune system support possible. NuVet products are made in an FDA registered lab with natural, human-grade ingredients compounded to deliver the most effective nutritional health benefits. It is their pledge to the millions of pets, and to their human families, “To continually produce the most powerful nutritional supplements that support pet’s health and keep them that way for a lifetime.”

Try NuVet or give NuVet to a loved one’s pet and decide for yourself!

 

7 Summer Dangers for Your Outdoor Cat

Summer is in full swing across the U.S., and the heat has come with it.

If you have an outdoor cat, you know she likes her independence and, other than some basic tick and flea prevention, you might think she’s OK on her own during the summer.

It is true that cats are pretty resilient, but summer provides dangers for all pets that she might not be prepared to handle. From heat stroke to poisons introduced by landscaping, there are new outdoor hazards all around her.

Here are seven common summer dangers our veterinarians see. Know these exist to help you make a plan to keep your cat from getting sick this summer.

1. Heat stroke and dehydration
You know your cat is highly intelligent, and she is pretty good at keeping cool on her own, but she needs resources from you to protect herself on the hottest days.

While she can likely find her own shade, it’s best if you provide ample cool and covered areas near your home where she can find a breeze. Additionally, leave out plenty of water for her. Some cat owners will leave out two water dishes — one with water and the other with ice that will melt as the day goes on to provide cool water later in the day.

If possible, consider bringing your outdoor cat indoors during the hottest parts of the day (10 am – 4 pm). Keep an eye on the weather forecast to see spikes in heat. If you see your cat panting, make sure to bring her inside and, if it continues, consult your veterinarian.

One note for all pets in the summer: If you need to take them somewhere, do not leave them inside the car. A car’s temperature can reach 104 degrees in less than 15 minutes on a hot summer day. This is a formula for heat stroke.

2. Cars
This is obvious in all seasons, but in the summer there is more traffic and people tend to speed a bit more. We’ve covered this in the past, but in general outdoor cats have a shorter life expectancy than indoor cats. Car injuries are one of the leading reasons for this. You obviously cannot keep your cat safe all hours of the day, but try to give her safe shelter and play areas near the back of your home, away from traffic areas. Again, if you can bring her indoors, try to do so when the traffic near your home or apartment is highest.

3. Asphalt and Sidewalks (They get Hot!)
On hot days, it’s not uncommon to see the road steam. It’s likely you would never think to walk barefoot on such a hot surface, but your cat doesn’t really have a choice. Sure, as an outdoor cat she’s a little more accustomed to the rough surfaces than you are, but it can still be too hot for her. Remember that she is much closer to the ground than you are, meaning that she really feels heat radiating off surfaces.

She likely knows how to avoid the hottest surfaces, but again, if possible, help your cat by either bringing her indoors or providing an outdoor shelter area that will keep her cool. If there are paths to her food or water that require her to go over hot asphalt or concrete, try to give those areas some cover or shade to help protect her.

4. Fleas, Bees and Ticks
Warm summer weather means pests galore – and they are on the lookout for cats and dogs. Be prepared to manage summertime pet pests like fleas, ticks and even mosquitoes. In most cases, there are safe, effective ways to prevent or eradicate pest infestations that don’t involve dosing your pet with toxic chemicals. Always read the labels on any pest prevention tools you use to make sure they are pet safe.

Additionally, the buzzing of bees can seem quite attractive to your cat, which can get her stung. If there is a lot of swelling, call your veterinarian, who can suggest an office visit or prescribe an over-the-counter medicine. Watch how your cat responds to any swelling. She may scratch the stung area or pull at her fur. Bring your cat to the vet right away if you notice any abnormal behavior or swelling.

5. Cookouts and Parties
The warmer months are the time for block parties, picnics and family gatherings. Everyone loves a cookout, especially your pet, who can find all kinds of table scraps and, if she’s social, make lots of new friends. Some cats avoid parties and others love them!

Food that’s left out, fed or dropped at a cookout can be dangerous for cats. Staples of a BBQ, like onions and garlic, are dangerous for cats.

Even worse, some guests think it’s OK to give scraps to animals at a party. Talk to your guests about what your cat can have. Politely remind them if your pet has a special diet, is allergic to anything or if there are any foods on the table that could cause a health problem. You want to enjoy the party too, not worrying about a cat that’s vomiting.

6. Water
Domesticated cats, even outdoor ones, tend to avoid water. That doesn’t mean they can’t swim, but most of them are not accustomed to it. Still, summer pool parties or parties at the lake can attract your outdoor cat and, if they are mesmerized by the water or chasing something near the water, they may end up taking an unexpected dip. Keep an eye on them, as many will be able to swim, but may be shocked to be submerged in water.

If for some reason you have one of those rare cats that likes to swim, always rinse them off afterward. Chlorine in pools and bacteria in lakes can be harmful. Always offer them fresh drinking water when they’re done.

Written by the staff at petplace.com