From The Vet: 5 Signs Of Lyme’s Disease In Dogs

Lyme’s disease is a well-known disease that is spread by ticks to both pets and people. Projections indicate that Lyme’s disease is an ongoing risk in endemic areas and appears to be spreading. The causative agent is a bacterium called Borrelia Burgdorferi. The organism is spread from the tick to its host during feeding. Signs of infection may not show for months after the tick bite. Endemic areas include New England, the upper Ohio River Valley, and the Pacific Northwest. Even if you do not live in these endemic areas, if your dog travels with you to these areas, he/she could be at risk.

Affected dogs can show some of the following signs:

Lameness

Lameness can be an indicator of many different things, and may not mean that your dog has Lyme’s disease. If you notice your dog seems to have difficulty moving around, discuss the possible reasons with your vet.

Polyarthritis

Inflammation of multiple joints can be an indicator of Borreliosis infection. These dogs will be lame on one or more of their limbs. Sometimes the lameness shifts from one limb to the next.

Joint Swelling

In addition to the lameness, some affected dogs may experience visible joint swelling and joints that are tender to the touch.

Fever

Clinically affected dogs will experience fevers and depression as their immune system struggles to deal with the invader. They may not want to eat and may appear lethargic.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

As the immune system rallies to attack the foreign infections, sometimes owners will notice swelling near the original tick bite.

Kidney or Heart Involvement

Some isolated cases will progress to more serious complications, but these difficulties are rare. Certain breeds, like Retrievers, seem to be slightly more likely to develop the serious sequelae.

Most cases of Lyme’s disease respond rapidly to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Sometimes the cases will become chronic for dogs, similar to the cases in humans, but not commonly. It is also encouraging to know that only a small portion of exposed dogs will become clinically ill.

There is a vaccine for Lyme’s Disease and your veterinarian can advise you if there is a benefit to your individual dog in administering it. If you think that your dog is experiencing any of the above signs, do not delay. There are many serious and important illnesses that could mimic these symptoms and you will need medical intervention to identify and treat them.

8 Symptoms of Pet Allergies

Symptoms

Allergic reaction in pets take many forms and happen for many reasons. Symptoms can range from swelling to difficulty breathing. Allergic reactions vary in severity, but should always be taken seriously. The following symptom(s) may indicate an allergic reaction:

Pet Allergies
· Rash or Hives
· Swelling
· Licking or Scratching
· Itching, Runny Eyes
· Vomiting
· Diarrhea
· Snoring
· Labored Breathing

Causes

Causes of allergic reaction vary, as well. The most common causes of an allergic reaction are (not limited to):

· Vaccinations
· Ingestion of food, plant or substance
· Insect Bites
· Flea preventative
· Medication

Recommended Treatment For Dogs

The standard Benadryl tablet is safe to give at 1 milligram per pound, and each Benadryl tablet is 25 milligrams, making it easy to calculate the correct dosage for your dog. Administer the tablets every 8 hours. Benadryl can be both short or long-term treatment for allergies. However, it’s crucial to discuss your pet’s medical history, potential causes of the allergic reaction and the best plan of care with your veterinarian.

If you think your pet may be having an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately to seek medical attention.

What Your Cat Really Wants

 

We love our cats, not only for their companionship but for their ability to help us preserve a connection with the untamed world. With three paws in our hearts and one in the wild, they connect us to nature in a way that other pets cannot.

But, despite their independent, self-reliant abilities, our cats still need us. Though not as needy as our dog friends, cats nevertheless require certain fundamentals to be happy. Without these, they can evidence behavioral and physical problems which lower their quality of life and strain our partnerships with them.

Of course, we all strive to provide a high-quality diet and ensure that Ginger gets regular veterinary care, but beyond good food and good health, there are other, less obvious, factors that contribute to her well-being.

The Cat Came Back: Territorial Stability
Space means a lot to felines, who, in the wild, covet it even more so than do their more sociable canid brethren. Territory, vital for hunting and mating success, is well-defined and defended. Your domestic cat is no different; she wants to live in a stable, predictable environment, with enough space to feel safe and in charge. Territory for your cat is a four-dimensional affair. She not only patrols the home from room to room, jumping up to stalk along refrigerators or cupboards, or slipping under beds and dressers; she will do so at varying times each day. This “time-share” phenomenon can allow multiple cats to share a finite territory; while one rests, another can patrol the same space without undue conflict. Provide your cat with a stable, safe, relatively stress-free territory. This means not creating unpredictable conditions that could traumatize or threaten her. Loud music, having the neighbor’s kids over to play tag or throwing a wild party every Saturday night could all disturb her enough to trigger backlashes such as housetraining mishaps or destructive behavior. Even redecorating your home can stress some timid cats enough to cause anxiety, so be sure to make changes in the physical environment slowly, over time.

Try not to move your cat’s litter box or food dishes around once they are in established spots. And, though you love all cats, yours may not take kindly to you adding new ones into her territory. The easiest path to peaceful multiple cat cohabitation is to get two kittens at the same time. The next easiest route is to, bring a kitten of the opposite sex into an established adult cat’s home. Keep in mind your particular cat’s personality and that too many adult cats in a small space, despite their ability to “time-share” territory, can lead to conflict and behavioural mishaps, so, if your resident cat is intolerant of other felines, you may wish to err on the side of caution and let your cat lord it over your home without competition.

Make your cat’s home territory as safe as possible. Avoid toxic houseplants, cover exposed wiring, and secure all doors and windows. Keep all chemicals and cleaning supplies locked away; even soaps or perfumes can poison a cat, so take care to cat-proof any area she inhabits.

Don’t Go Changing to Try and Please Me: Routine
Cats like routine, consistency, predictability. This harkens to the feline instinct to establish a stable, dependable environment. Like many of us, they are a bit obsessive about things and like it that way. Change the home routine too often and you’ll stress her out and invite trouble. It’s why, when cat owners move, their cats often run off in search of their old digs. Or when you return from vacation, your cat will often give you the cold shoulder for a few days. Switch from the swing shift to the morning shift and you’ll see the same reaction. Keep the timing of things as routine as possible. Feed her at the same time, play with her at the same times. Whatever your own schedule tends to be, try to stick to it. Avoid changing things such as the food dishes, the brand of litter, or even the actual litter box. If you add furnishings, do so one piece at a time. Paint one room at a time. New scratching post? Don’t toss the old one; instead, place the new one next to it.

 The bottom line is to “tiptoe” change into her life, instead of bowling her over with a sea change of modifications. As a cat, she’ll be more amenable to that type of strategy.

I Love You Just the Way You Are: Respect
Every cat has a distinct personality that must be identified and respected in order to have harmony in the home. For example, some cats revel in the attention of guests, while others slip away and hide when company calls. Take that shy cat and immerse her in a busy social environment and you may never see her again. Conversely, if your cat is a social butterfly but gets little face time with other people, she may start acting out through excess vocalization, or any manner of undesirable behaviors. It’s simply how they express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.

If she is shy and tense around company, don’t force the issue. Let her decide when she wants to interact. If she likes company, by all means, let her mix to her heart’s content. Identify what her preferences are, then encourage them, while limiting stimuli she finds scary. If she clearly likes other cats, consider getting another, but if not, don’t put her through it. Don’t force a timid cat to snuggle; rather, let her come to you, a sure sign that you can love on her. Whatever your cat’s personality, letting her initiate contact is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Lastly, remember that cats, unlike most dogs, will hold grudges with regard to behavior she deems scary or confrontational. If a child steps on Ginger’s tail, she’ll likely avoid that child for quite a while. If someone accidentally trips over her, she could hold it against that person for a long time. Accordingly, use her personality to determine what she will and will not tolerate, then stick to it.

The Eye of the Tiger: Enrichment
Though cats like the status quo, they also enjoy having their senses and intellect stimulated. It’s a function of them being effective predators; to be content, they need to have that inquisitive, hunting instinct aroused. Zookeepers hide meat around the lion and tiger enclosures in trees and shrubs; you should do the same around your house.

Provide your cat with objects, activities, and incentives that will stoke her natural curiosities. These “enrichments” can be as simple as adding a sisal scratching post to your home or leaving the radio on a classical music station.

Because You’re Mine, I Walk Feline: Cat Awareness
Last but not least, understand that your cat lives in a world defined by her needs and interpretations, not yours. She thinks of you not as a human, but as a gigantic maternal figure. She is a master of the sensory and owns a physicality that dwarfs our own. To that end, try to develop what I call effective feline empathy. Instead of humanizing your feline, try to “be the cat” as often as you can. See things through her eyes, and be in the present, as is she. Smells, sounds, light levels, temperature, body posture—whatever you think a cat might respond to, try to notice. This clarity of surroundings is what she is all about, so try to empathize with it. It will make you a better cat owner, and a better friend.

Food aggression and what to do about it

When a dog shows aggression to protect his food, it can be a serious issue. Not only is there the danger of other dogs or humans in the house being bitten, but over time it can lead to the dog becoming possessive over everything.

What is food aggression?

Food aggression is a form of resource guarding in which a dog becomes very defensive when eating, using threats to force others away. It can be directed towards other animals, humans, or both. The behavior can also extend to treats.

There are three degrees of food aggression:

  • Mild: the dog growls and may show its teeth.
  • Moderate: the dog snaps or lunges when approached.
  • Severe: the dog bites.

While it’s easy to assume that all cases of food aggression are a show of dominance, this isn’t necessarily the case. In a dog pack, the alpha dogs always eat first after a successful hunt, and then the other dogs get what’s left according to their pack position.

For an alpha dog, showing food aggression is a form of dominance, but for dogs with a lower pack position, it can be a sign of anxiety or fearfulness. Remember, in the wild, dogs never know where or when their next meal will be, so it’s very instinctual for them to gobble up whatever food there is whenever they have it — and to protect it from anything that approaches.

How to recognize food aggression

When a dog is eating, his body will stiffen and he may keep his head down. He is using his body language to “hover” over the meal and protect it.

Other signs are that the whites of your dog’s eyes may be visible, their ears are held back, their tail is lowered, or their hackles may rise. A dog may show any or all of these signs. Finally, there are the abovementioned signs of the severity of the problem: growling, lunging, or biting.

What to do about it

The first step is to assess your dog’s overall behavior. Is she only showing possessiveness over food, or does the behavior extend to other things, like favorite toys, resting spots, or even people in the pack?

If the behavior isn’t limited to food, then your dog is showing general resource guarding, so you’ll need to use the techniques listed below as appropriate in all cases where your dog is showing aggression using the target object instead of food.

Also, assess your dog’s overall confidence and behavior. If he is naturally a dominant dog, then you will need to assert yourself as the Pack Leader in a calm and assertive way. On the other hand, if he is timid or fearful, you will need to build up his confidence and teach him that his food is safe with humans around.

Finally, determine whether your dog’s food aggression is mild, moderate, or severe. For severe cases, start off by consulting a professional until you can get the dog down to a moderate level.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to start changing the behavior. Here are some of the techniques to use.

Be consistent
If the source of your dog’s aggression is fear or anxiety over when the next meal is coming, then be sure that you are feeding your dog at the same times every single day.

Dogs have a very good internal clock, and with consistency, they quickly learn how to tell when it’s time to get up, time to go for a walk, or time for the people to come home. Mealtime should be no different. Be regular in feeding to take away the anxiety.

Must work for food
Before you even begin to prepare your dog’s food, make her sit or lie down and stay, preferably just outside of the room you feed her in. Train her to stay even after you’ve set the bowl down and, once the bowl is down, stand close to it as you release her from the stay and she begins eating, at which point you can then move away.

Always feed your dog after the walk, never before. This fulfills his instinct to hunt for food, so he’ll feel like he’s earned it when you come home. Also, exercising a dog after he eats can be dangerous, even leading to life-threatening conditions like bloat.

Pack leaders eat first
Remember, when a wild pack has a successful hunt, the alpha dogs eat first, before everyone else, and it should be no different in a human/dog pack.

Never feed your dog before or while the humans are eating. Humans eat first and then, when they’re finished, the dogs eat. This will reinforce your status as the Pack Leader.

“Win” the bowl
Food aggression can actually be made worse if you back away from the bowl, because that’s what your dog wants. For every time that you do walk away when the dog is showing food aggression, the dog “wins.” The reward is the food and this just reinforces the aggression.

Of course, you don’t want to come in aggressively yourself, especially with moderate to severe food aggression, because that is a good way to get bitten. However, you can recondition the dog until she learns that she wins when she lets you come near her while eating.

Here are some of the techniques you can use:

  • Hand feeding: Start your dog’s meal by giving him food by hand, and use your hands to put the food in the bowl, which will give it your scent. The goal is to get your dog used to eating while your hands are around his face, and to have no aggressive reaction if you stick your hands in or near the bowl while he’s eating.
  • Treat tossing: Drop your dog’s favorite treats into the bowl while she’s eating so she’ll learn that people approaching the bowl is a good thing and not a threat. You can also put treats into the bowl when you walk near it and she’s not eating. This reinforces the connection in your dog’s mind that people near her bowl is good.
  • “Trade-Up”: When your dog is eating their regular food, approach them with something better, like meat or a special treat. The goal here is to get your dog to stop eating their food to take the treat from you. This teaches your dog several things. One is that no one is going to steal his food if he looks away from it. The other is that removing his attention from his food when people come around leads to a reward.

What’s going on?

In rehabilitating a food aggressive dog, two things are happening. One is that you’re desensitizing your dog so that she will no longer become protective when anybody approaches her while she’s eating. The other is that you’re counterconditioning your dog by teaching her to associate people approaching her bowl with good things.

There are many other techniques you can use to reduce food aggression or to prevent it from happening in the first place. The key, as always, is to be calm, assertive, and consistent.

The term “food aggression” can be misleading because people can easily interpret it as dominance, and it really is better to think of it as resource guarding. As humans, we need to establish our place as Pack Leader and teach our dogs that there’s no reason to guard their food against us.

Fleas: Everything You Need to Know

 

Fleas are well known as voracious feeders. They’re small, fast, and cause irritation to pets and people alike. In addition to physical discomfort, they transmit a number of diseases. If that wasn’t bad enough, the flea is forever connected with the Black Death.

What do you need to know about fleas?
If you have a dog or cat, you’ll want to be educated on fleas. These annoying parasites can carry and transmit several illnesses:

  • Tapeworms— Larval fleas may feed on the egg packets of a particular type of tapeworm. As the flea matures, the tapeworm egg develops and if that flea is swallowed by a dog or cat, the tapeworm develops in the new host.
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis— Even a single bite from a single flea can initiate a seriously itchy reaction to the saliva in some allergic dogs and cats
  • Cat Scratch Disease— This disease is caused by an organism called Bartonella. While Cat Scratch Disease usually does not affect most cats in a negative way, it puts cat guardians at risk.
  • Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis— This one isn’t even fun to say. The bacteria is transmitted mainly by ticks and fleas that have fed off of other infected animals. The disease affects red blood cells in cats and (less commonly) dogs, resulting in anemia. It’s more likely to affect dogs who have had their spleens removed.
  • Plague— Okay, this one is somewhat rare today, but can be found in prairie dog colonies in the western US. When it comes to the plague, best not to take any chances. According to the CDC, “Cats are highly susceptible to plague.”  While dogs are generally resistant to plague, an infection may occur.

Flea trivia

  • Fleas have been around for millions of years— According to livescience.com, flea ancestors were on earth during the Mesozoic era, “a chunk of geologic time extending from 250 million years ago to 65 million years.” These prehistoric predecessors of today’s fleas were five to ten times longer and had prominent mouth suckers that likely allowed them to feed on dinosaurs.
  • Fleas have a significant role in history and the arts— Fleas have been studied for over 400 yrs. The flea was first seen under magnification by Galileo and drawn in 1665 by Robert Hooke. The flea’s life cycle was known as early as the 17th century1.
  • There are over 2000 species of fleas— According to Terminix, “The most common of these are cat fleas, dog fleas, human fleas and Oriental rat fleas.”
  • Sand fleas are not fleas— Most people don’t realize that sand fleas aren’t actually insects. They’re tiny crustaceans. They leave an itchy, red welt that can be quite annoying.
  • For every flea you see there are 100 you don’t— The entire flea cycle, from egg to adult, is complete in 12 – 22 days when temperature and humidity conditions are ideal. More commonly it takes 3–4 weeks. Surprisingly, only approximately 5% of a flea infestation is made up of adult fleas. 95% is eggs, larvae, and pupae in the cocoon phase.
  • In the pupal stage, fleas can remain dormant for some time— Fleas emerge as adults in response to vibration such as carpet sweepers or even footsteps.
  • Up and away— A flea’s hind pair of legs are well developed for jumping, and enable fleas to jump up to 80 times their height. This would be the equivalent of a human jumping hundreds of feet. This is made possible by the fact that fleas have multiple joints in their jumping legs.
  • Black death—The flea has contributed to millions of deaths. The “bubonic” (Black Death) plague caused the deaths of over 75 million people, according to history.com.
  • Flea life cycle— Both female and male fleas rely on blood for their nutrition but can survive for several months without it.
  • A flea might live a year and a half under ideal conditions— These include the right temperature, food supply, and humidity. Generally speaking, though, an adult flea only lives for 2 or 3 months.
  • Female fleas cannot lay eggs until after their first blood meal— They begin to lay eggs within 36-48 hours after that meal. The female flea uses her blood to nourish developing eggs and will deposit up to 50 eggs a day or 4-5 eggs after each blood meal. Most females will lay at least 100 eggs within a life cycle of several months.

Flea control
Flea control has gotten a lot simpler and more effective. Regular, year-round use of flea control is the best way to control fleas and prevent discomfort from flea bites as well as preventing diseases carried by fleas.

8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along

Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t share the same space—they’re just going to need your help.

1. TAKE PERSONALITY—NOT BREED—INTO ACCOUNT.

Contrary to popular belief, certain breeds of cats and dogs don’t typically get along better than others. According to Galaxy and Sandor, it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.

If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them.

2. TRAIN YOUR DOG.

To set your dog up for success with cats, teach it to control its impulses. Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline.

Hold off Fido’s face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings.

3. GIVE A CAT ITS OWN TERRITORY BEFORE IT MEETS A DOG.

Cats need a protected space—a “base camp” of sorts—that’s just theirs. Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling.

Since cats are natural climbers, buy tall cat trees, install shelves, or place a cat bed atop a bookcase. This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor.

And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

Baby gates work in a pinch, but since some dogs are escape artists, prepare for worst-case scenarios by keeping the litter box uncovered and in an open space. That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat.

4. EXERCISE YOUR DOG’S BODY AND MIND.

People exercise their dogs probably 20 percent of what they should really be doing. It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties.

Dogs also need lots of stimulation. Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. We recommend toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training.

5. LET CATS AND DOGS FOLLOW THEIR NOSES.

It’s a smart idea to let cats and dogs sniff each other’s bedding and toys before a face-to-face introduction. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles.

6. PLAN THE FIRST CAT/DOG MEETING CAREFULLY.

Just like humans, cats and dogs have just one good chance to make a great first impression. Luckily, they both love food, which might ultimately help them love each other.

Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods. They’ll begin to associate this smell with food.

Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together.

7. KEEP THEIR FOOD AND TOYS SEPARATE.

After you’ve successfully ingratiated the cat and dog using feeding exercises, keep their food bowls separate. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.

To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot.

Also, keep a close eye on the cat’s toys—competition over toys can also prompt fighting.

8. CONSIDER RAISING A DOG AND CAT TOGETHER (IF YOU CAN).

Socializing these animals at a young age can be easier than introducing them as adults—pups are easily trainable “sponges” that soak up new information and situations. Plus, dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to “assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy.

Remain watchful, though, to ensure everything goes smoothly—especially when the dog hits its rambunctious “teenage” stage before becoming a full-grown dog.

Is Your Dog Anxious? Look for These Signs

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if your dog could just talk to you and tell you how they’re feeling? Yes, of course, it would! You’d never have to ask yourself, “is my dog anxious?” But the truth is, your dog is giving you clues as to whether they’re feeling anxious, happy, or bored.

There’s just one problem: they’re communicating in a foreign language.

Most humans can only identify the most obvious signs of a dog’s feeling state. This is especially troublesome when a dog is feeling anxious—they may silently scream at the top of their lungs with their actions, but if their owners aren’t “fluent” in body language, their attempts to communicate will fail.

Brush up on your “dog speak” to figure out whether your dog is anxious, in particular, with this dog body language dictionary.

Signs of dog anxiety, decoded

Flattened ears

  • Ears pinned back against the head. Can occur when a dog is anxious, scared or excited.

Tucked tail

  • Tail curled up under the tummy. Occurs when a dog lacks confidence or is scared. How tightly the tail is tucked might indicate just how anxious or frightened your dog is.

Hunched body

  • Think of this one as a dog trying to curl in on themselves to seem smaller, or even to disappear. It often occurs in combination with a tucked tail.

Shivering

  • Shivering can indicate fear or discomfort, such as when a dog is cold.

Lip or nose licking

  • Also referred to as “tongue flicking,” this action often occurs two or three times in quick succession. Generally, you’ll see lip licking when something in the environment has changed or a new trigger has emerged. If you see your dog lip lick as you’re preparing a meal, they’re probably just hopefully anticipating food.

Yawning

  • In many contexts, yawning is a stress release. If you’re on a walk, at the dog park, or in an unfamiliar place and you see your dog yawning, their anxiety is up. If you’re at home getting ready for a nap or waking up in the morning and you see your dog yawn, they may just be tired.

Sweaty paws

  • Dogs only have the ability to sweat through their paws. Sweaty paws (which you may notice from the paw prints left as your dog moves around) are a good indication that your dog is anxious or, alternatively, that they’re too hot and need to cool down.

Whale eye

  • Whale eye is the term for when the whites of your dog’s eye show, often when they’re attempting to look at or look away from something without wanting to move their entire head (i.e., look without looking). This is a good indication that your dog is experiencing fear or high anxiety—but don’t confuse whale eye with the appearance of your dog’s third eyelid, which is often light in color.

“Fear” grimace

  • A fear grimace is easy to confuse with a dog “smiling” out of happiness or excitement. When your dog is experiencing fear, they may pull back the muscles of their lips to expose clenched teeth as far back as the molars, looking like a forced smile. Because of the tension in the face during a fear grimace, you may also see creasing of the skin around the eyes, corners of the mouth and forehead.

Panting

  • Panting helps a dog to cool down and it often occurs during or after exercise or in extreme heat. It can also occur, however, when a dog is stressed. If you haven’t recently exercised and it’s not a hot day, a panting dog is likely to be an anxious one.

Drooling

  • Drooling, an extreme fear reaction can occur in combination with panting or on its own from a slightly opened mouth. A dog may also drool if they’re anticipating food coming their way. My dog drools so much when we eat breakfast that he forms big bubbles of spit!

Turning or walking away

  • A dog that turns away from an approaching human or dog is likely trying to communicate that they are no threat. This suggests that, for whatever reason, the approaching dog or human is making them anxious. Never force your dog to interact with someone or something. If they’re anxious, they may feel as though they have to “defend” themselves from the offending dog/human by biting.

Rolling onto the back

  • Rolling over doesn’t necessarily indicate “submission” as most people think, but your dog may be trying to communicate that they’re no threat. Rolling over can occur in times of stress but it is also a natural, healthy part of play behavior and can be a cue that they want a belly rub.

Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle?

Those moments when our dogs choose to be right next to us, the times when our dogs initiate closeness. So why do dogs like to cuddle?

Dogs Like Cuddling Because It Provides Warmth

The biggest clues when it comes to figuring out why dogs love to cuddle with us is the definition itself: ‘to cuddle is to hold close for warmth or comfort or in affection.’

If you’ve ever seen a puppy pile you know how adorable it is. But besides being the cutest thing ever it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Puppies snuggle with one another to keep warm. When you get cold you can snuggle up under a blanket or put on some extra layer, for our dogs it’s not that easy.

Cuddling with humans was an important part of canine domestication. Early dogs helped us hunt and alerted us to danger, but we also helped each other out by cuddling and keeping each other warm. In fact, the term “three dog night” refers to those really cold nights when humans had to cuddle up with 3 dogs to keep from freezing to death.

Cuddling Provides Affection

But cuddling isn’t just about warmth – it’s also a way to show affection. Cuddling, and showing affection in general, is one way in which our dogs strengthen their bond with us. Researchers have even found that bonding with their owners is more important to dogs than it is to other pets. (sorry cat lovers)

The long evolutionary relationship we’ve had with dogs has reinforced many of the traits we see today in our pet dogs. We have a very intimate bond with our dogs, and that feeling seems to be mutual. There’s a special bond between humans and dogs, and it’s demonstrated by the amount of affection we show one another.

The Science Behind Dogs Cuddling

Cuddling is also a great stress reliever. Petting and talking to a dog for just a few minutes has been shown to increase oxytocin levels in both dogs and humans. Oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, is associated with social bonding and trust. New research found that human-dog interactions can elicit the same positive hormonal response that mothers have with their infants.

Researchers suggest that the strong ability of dogs to bond with humans played a crucial role in their domestication. The theory is that in the wild the dogs that were able to bond with humans were the ones that received human care and protection. And yes, much of that bonding surely included cuddles.

Why Do Some Dogs Cuddle More Than Others?

So why do some dogs like to cuddle more than others? Well, genetics is certainly one part of it. Some dogs have been bred to be independent and less affectionate, while others are bred for the opposite.

Certain breeds such as the Maltese, Pomeranian and Yorkshire Terrier have been bred to be lap dogs. Lap dogs are small enough to be held in our lap and to have a temperament predisposed to do so.

But there’s more than just genetics at work. Some dogs are just more affectionate than others. Some dogs don’t cuddle much, if at all. My previous dog Carter had a funny way of showing affection. He was a total velcro dog (followed me around everywhere), yet he wasn’t fond of cuddling. At least not when touching was involved.

He’d get up on the couch with me, but he’d stay a few inches away. I called it his ‘personal space’ issue. Now when bad weather was on the way? He’d jump into my lap in a heartbeat. So he’d still come to me for comfort when he was afraid, but daily cuddles weren’t his thing.

Dogs have their own unique personalities, and not all of them are super cuddly or affectionate. Dogs are just like people in that way; some people love hugs, and others are a little more standoffish.

Why Your Dog Cuddles Less in the Summer

Some dogs don’t like to cuddle because of the heat. Laika loves to cuddle, but there’s a definite slow down on cuddle time in the summer. Our dogs have a higher body temperature than we do, and it’s harder for them to cool down. Cuddling produces a lot of heat, so when it’s really hot out your dog might not cuddle because they’re just trying to keep cool.

 

 

Safety Tips for Using Flea and Tick Product on Dogs

Proper Application of Dog Products

An important part of basic health care for dogs is providing preventive products to avoid infestations of fleas and ticks. Keeping your dog free of infestations not only prevents discomfort, it can also prevent some of the illnesses that can be acquired from these blood-sucking parasites. Choosing the proper products and using them in a proper fashion is very important. Here we will discuss ways to keep your dog, yourself, and others safe when using these products.

When deciding which flea and tick products to use on your dog, you need to carefully read the labels on all products. It’s very important you purchase the correct dosage for your dog, and that you use only approved products for your dog’s particular age, weight, health status, and species. Use special care if your dog is very young, very old, pregnant, nursing, sick or debilitated, or if it has had a previous sensitivity to any of these products.

Dogs should only be given flea and tick products designed for use on dogs. While they may not be harmful, products made for cats may not be as effective on dogs. If you also have a cat, do not use your dog products on your cat, as they can be harmful to a cat’s health. Always ask your veterinarian’s advice, even when you are planning to purchase your flea and tick products from a pet store or online supplier.

TIPS FOR APPLICATION

Once you’ve read all the directions for proper application, be sure that you use only the amount required for your dog. Do not use more flea and tick product than indicated and do not use more than one product at one time. One flea and tick product (spot-on or spray, etc.) should be all that is necessary to kill or repel fleas and/or ticks for the time period indicated on the package.

To prevent accidental contact with topical products during application, disposable gloves can be worn to protect your skin. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after application can also reduce exposure to the chemicals. Keep children from touching or playing with the dog after application to allow the product time to absorb or dry, and read the instructions for proper disposal of empty product containers after use.

In households with multiple animals, it may be necessary to keep the animals apart for a time while the product dries to prevent them from grooming each other and ingesting the chemicals.

MONITOR FOR ADVERSE EFFECTS

For the several hours following application of a flea and tick preventive product, keep an eye on your dog for any reactions or sensitivity to the product. This is especially important when using a particular flea and tick product for the first time on your dog.

Keep the packaging for the product for at least a day after application so that you have information on the kind of ingredients used, as well as contact information for the company that manufactured the product.

Signs of sensitivity to pesticides include:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Stumbling or incoordination (ataxia)
  • Drooling excessively or foaming at the mouth
  • Trembling (seizures)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Severe depression

If you notice any unusual behavior shortly after applying a preventive product, call your veterinarian immediately. Bathe your dog completely in soapy water and rinse its coat with copious amounts of water.

REPORTING PROBLEMS

Due to increased incidents of reactions to spot-on products in dogs and cats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about their use in 2009. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to improve safety and reduce adverse effects in pets. In order to do this, the EPA is working to address certain aspects of safety, such as improving labeling and simplifying instructions on the packaging. They are monitoring any reports of adverse effects and keeping track of incidence reports.

If you believe your dog has had an adverse reaction to a flea or tick preventive product, call your veterinarian and report the problem right away. Your veterinarian has access to a national reporting center that will inform the EPA. You may also wish to inform the company that manufactured the product. All manufacturers are required to report any incidents to the EPA. Contact information should be clearly indicated on the packaging for the product

Working with your veterinarian and carefully reading labels will help you to reduce the incidence of reactions to flea and tick preventive products. Make sure you know your dog’s correct weight and the proper application technique. If you are careful, the possibility is much lower that your dog will experience any adverse effects.

10 Things to Consider Before Bringing a New Pet Home

Some of the greatest moments in life include the day we met our pets for the first time, and the day we adopted them and they came home with us. Here are 10 things to consider before bringing a new dog or cat home.

 

#1 Can You Commit?

Will you have the time to walk your dog three times a day? Will you remember to exercise your cat every evening? If the answer is no, and you have no one who can perform those essential tasks, you should stop right here and consider a fish or a parakeet as a low-demand animal companion.

 

#2 Will Your Pet Fit Your Lifestyle?

Choosing a pet based on how popular or cute it is, is probably one of the worst decisions people make. Too often these pets are unceremoniously dropped at an animal shelter when they show themselves to be too high energy, too needy, too intolerant … the list is endless.

Get to know the breed you are interested in and be open to changing your mind if it doesn’t fit your ability to provide for its temperament. Ask lots of questions from the people adopting the animal out, maybe even find a breed specific group to ask questions of some of the members. A great example is the recent Chihuahua craze. Sure, they’re adorable and can live in any size home, and they’re very low maintenance. The catch is that they are not usually very tolerant of children and are one of the breeds that are known for biting children without much provocation. A pet cat should also match your personality. Some cats, for instance, require a lot of attention and interaction while others are mostly independent. Do your research and choose wisely.

 

#3 Interview Veterinarians Before the Adoption

Before you have settled on the type of pet that will suit you, ask your friends for their veterinary recommendations. A veterinarian can be an excellent source of information to help you choose the best pet to suit your lifestyle and needs. Not all vets are the same, and you want a veterinarian that best matches your needs. This will be a lifelong relationship and as such, the choice is very important. Again, do your research. Read online reviews of the vets in your community (with a grain of salt), ask groomers in your area who they recommend, and make interview appointments with them.

Our tip: Don’t rely entirely on a vet’s friendliness toward humans (i.e., you). A good veterinarian often has better skills relating to animals than to people. It is also your prerogative to ask the vet if she/he can provide a few references.

 

#4 Make Your Home Pet-Friendly

Did you know that something as simple as chewing gum can be deadly for dogs, or that ibuprofen is toxic to cats? It is highly important to go through your home now, before you bring a new pet home, to search out hazards and get them out of the way or out of the house. This includes cabinets at pet level, counter tops, bottles of chemical on the floor, small toys, electric cords and curtain cords.

 

#5 Choose an Age and Breed Appropriate Food

Not all pet foods are alike. Some are better than others, and some make claims that are not always backed by facts. It would be easy to just grab the pet food bag or can with the nicest design on the cover, but that is not what is going to guarantee our pets’ long-term health. Choose the best food for your dog or cat and always look for a diet labeled complete and balanced. From the time they are young until the time they are seniors, your pet food choices should be guided by the pet’s specific needs, life stage, and lifestyle. You can do some cursory research to get a good idea of why it is important and what to look for, but for the best advice, consult your veterinarian.

 

#6 Be Prepared for an Adjustment Period

If it’s a puppy you’ll be adopting into your home, be prepared for crying. Yes, just as with human babies, baby dogs cry during the night in their first days in their new home. But unlike human babies, it is not a good idea to take your puppy to your bed to soothe him. The best thing you can do before bringing the puppy home is set up a quiet, enclosed space with a comfortable bed, or a kennel that can be closed, keeping your puppy secure from wandering. Choose the spot that will be your dog’s permanent spot. During the day, let your puppy have free, supervised privileges to roam around the house to smell everything. This will also be a good way to spot any hazards you might have missed on the first go ‘round.

Bedtime for cats is a bit easier. Arrange the kitten’s sleeping area in a secure area close to his litter box so that he doesn’t get lost looking for it, and then leave him to romp around in his area until he drops off to sleep.

Things get a little bit trickier when you are bringing a new pet into a home with pets. You will need to make sure that your resident pet does not feel threatened enough to strike out at the newcomer.

 

#7 Train Your Pet

If your happy home is going to remain a happy home, the housetraining will need to start immediately after bringing your pet home. If you are adopting a kitten, introduce him to his litterbox as soon as you get him inside. If it is a puppy, leash him up and take him outside to start getting to know his neighborhood. Most puppies will be intimidated by their new surrounding, and you don’t want to put a fright into your puppy. A very short walk on the first outing is all that is needed. Begin training on that first outing. When the puppy relieves himself outside, while he is doing it say, “Go now.” Repetition of this command will eventually make it so that you will be able to take your dog out in any kind of weather without worrying about how long your dog will take to relieve himself.

 

#8 Select Appropriate Pet Treats and Toys

The right treats are essential, especially for puppies. Treats are one of the best tools for behavior training when used sensibly. Experiment with a few different dog treats and stick with the one that has the highest value for your puppy. That will be the treat he will do anything for, including staying by your side even when a clowder of cats goes by. Stay practical when giving treats. It is tempting to be liberal when it comes to treating our “little babies,” and just like giving candy to a human child, too many snacks can lead to an unhealthy body; even healthy snacks can add up in excess weight. Do always keep a back of treats in your pocket for training opportunities. Be careful with rawhide; it can be torn into pieces and swallowed in large chunks, potentially leading to choking or intestinal blockages. Toys should be free of buttons, strings, and anything that can be bitten off and swallowed.  Stick with rubber balls made for dogs (the harder to tear apart), nylon-bones, non-toxic stuffed toys, and ask other dog “parents” for advice on toys that hold up under puppy pressure.

For cats, feather wands are always popular, and a lot of cats are responsive to laser light devices. And don’t forget the old standbys: the catnip stuffed mouse toy and the old boxes. Cats love treats too, so go with the same advices as above and treat sensibly.

 

#9 Consider Spaying and Neutering

Neutering, a term that can refer to spay or castration surgery, can typically be done as early as eight weeks of age. Generally, the neutering procedure is performed around four to six months, plenty of time before the animal has reached the age of reproduction. Some people choose not to based on the feeling that the animal will lose its sense of identity (male), that the animal will be missing out on the life milestone of giving birth (female), or that the animal will lose its ability to be protective. None of these reasons are based in fact.

The best thing you can do for your pet’s health is to have him or her neutered. Yes, neutering does decrease aggression in most instances, but it does not make a dog any less protective of his or her human family. And your female animal will not feel less-than for not giving birth. It would be worse for her to have her babies taken from her than to have never given birth at all. She will not know the difference. She will also be less prone to cancer of the mammaries and ovaries. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

 

#10 Outfit Your Pet with Proper ID

Finally, ensure that your puppy or kitten is properly outfitted with ID so that if he should ever get loose — and it does happen to most everyone eventually — you will have him returned safely to you. Have your contact information on your pet’s collar, either on a tag or printed directly onto the collar (the latter can be custom ordered or made by you). Also, keep photos on hand. This is a good reason to track your pet’s growth, but you may need those images when it comes time to post them around town or to leave with the local shelter in case your pet is delivered to them. A GPS device that attaches to the collar is a clever way to track your pet, but it loses its efficacy when the collar gets lost.

Microchips are the best assurance for identification and need to be used in combination with a collar for the best chance of finding a lost pet. Make a point now of remembering to update your contact information with the company that keeps records for the microchip every time there is a change in your contact information. It can make the difference between your pet being returned to you or staying lost to you forever.