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Why do cats have such good balance?

 by bora on 16 Sep 2020 |
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Cats are masters of landing on their feet, and for good reason—your pet has several physical attributes that give him great balance. Cats are known for landing on their feet, but this level of feline finesse requires some complicated physics. Thanks to their keen flexibility and a specially designed inner ear, cats are masters of landing on their feet even from the most precarious of falls. Cats have more vertebrae in their bodies than humans, allowing them to twist and turn with agility when they need to react quickly. This is especially important when your companion jumps or falls, as a cat uses his fast reflexes and flexibility to land on his feet. To do this, your pet uses his sense of sight and inner-ear balancing system to quickly determine which way is up, and then then rotates his front paws so they face downward. His lower body follows suit, allowing Kitty to quickly and seamlessly land on his feet. In addition to their flexible spines, cats have other physical traits that help them land with grace, including their small bodies, light bones, and thick fur that serves to slow falls and soften impacts. Their collarbones afford them additional flexibility, too, as these bones are free-floating in felines, unlike other mammals. If you’ve ever noticed your pet fall back-first, you probably saw him twist his front end so his paws face the ground, with his hind legs following suit. His tail helps him realign during the fall, keeping Kitty level until he makes contact with the ground. Even young kittens are adept at sticking their landings, as cats as young as seven weeks have developed an inner-ear apparatus known as the cochlea that provides a keen sense of balance. This fluid-filled feature combined with his sense of sight helps Kitty orient himself quickly when a righting reaction is needed at lightning speed. Even with their great sense of balance, however, it is important to keep cats living in upper-story apartments inside, as curious feline have been known fall out of windows attempting to chase birds or other animals. Though cats can often right their falls in less than a second, this does not mean they are immune to injuries from falling. Broken bones, missing teeth and trauma can result from a fall, sometimes with fatal results, so be sure to protect your pet by keeping windows closed. If you want to help him enjoy the outdoors safely from his home, you can invest in a perch or other accessory designed to give your pet unfettered views of his surroundings.

Five tips to stop puppies from biting

 by bora on 31 Aug 2020 |
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Nibbling can be cute in puppies, but can lead to problem behaviors down the road. Nip biting in the bud with these five tips. As puppies begin to teeth, it’s natural for them to chew on things—including your hands. As cute as this can be in young pets, it often leads to problems down the road as dogs become larger adults. Here are some tips for to nipping biting in the bud early in your pet’s life: 1. Redirect your dog’s attention. In the same way parents of human children use distraction to redirect youngsters’ unwanted behaviors, so can you use distractions to stop your puppy from nipping. If you see him moving toward your hand, quickly pull it away before he can make contract and replace it with a treat, chew toy or other acceptable object to chew on. 2. Work on training. As with any behavior, practice makes perfect when teaching your dog to stop biting. Begin teaching him commands such as “leave it” or “let go” early in life so it becomes easy to remove any object from his mouth without sparking an aggressive response. 3. Speak a language he understands. Puppies often use their mouths during play, but this can easily escalate into painful bites. When a pup bites too hard, his peers let him know by letting out a yelp. Imitate this behavior to draw clear limits for your pet. When he bites your hand too hard, let the hand go limp and imitate the yelping sound dogs make when they are in pain. Your pet should release your hand immediately. After a 10 or 20- second time out, you can resume play, showing your dog you have clear limits when it comes to nipping. Remember not to pull your hand away, as this can turn into a game of chase and exacerbate the problem. 4. Stop ankle biters. Puppies sometimes bite ankles, too, especially if they are members of a herding breed. If this happens with your youngster, keep a toy in your pocket. When he nips at your heels, stop in your tracks and wave the toy around as an alternate to latch on to. If you are caught without the toy, simply stop moving and wait calmly until your dog stops biting, then fetch his favorite toy. Offering praise and a reward will show your pet good things happen when he stops biting. 5. Provide plenty of playtime. One of the best ways to stop a mouthy companion is to provide ample opportunities for him to burn off excess energy. Play games such as tug- of-war with your pet to help satisfy his urge to bite in acceptable ways and take him to socialize him with other dogs when possible. You can also consider enrolling in an obedience class, which will strengthen the bond your share with your pet.

Tips to slow down a dog that eats too fast

 by bora on 13 Aug 2020 |
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Most dogs love food, but some eat so fast it is a hazard to their health. Fortunately, there are many ways to slow a speed-eating pet. It’s no secret that many of our pets love food, but some dogs eat so fast it can put their health in jeopardy. Chowing down at warp speed not only prevents proper chewing, but can lead to choking, vomiting or a condition known as gastric dilation that is potentially fatal. That is why it is crucial to slow down speed-eating pets. Colloquially called canine bloat, gastric dilation occurs when a dog’s stomach expands due to gassy build-up, to the point it can twist your dog’s abdomen and prevent gases from exiting the stomach. This serious condition can cut off circulation to the stomach, heart and other vital organs and can prove fatal within hours if left untreated. Though this is just one of the most serious outcomes of eating too quickly, it highlights the importance of slowing Fido down during mealtimes. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to stop your pet from plowing through his dinner too fast. One of the easiest ways to slow dogs down during mealtime is to change the physical structure of their food bowls. You can purchase a puzzle bowl online, with dozens of designs to choose from. The idea of these feeders is to present a food dish with irregular shapes that that slow Fido’s eating. Some pet parents may want to try their hand at an easy, do-it-yourself version of these bowls, which can be as simple as placing a smaller bowl upside down inside a large dish. By creating a narrow “moat” for food, your dog must work harder to eat his way around the dish. You can also try placing large (meaning too large to swallow!) toys in his dish to slow your pet’s eating. Other pet parents chose to scatter food in various compartments of a muffin tin, across a baking sheet, or simply around the flood so their dog has to move for each piece—although the last option works best in single-pet households, where it will not provoke competition. Other interactive objects known as treat-release toys are designed to make your dog work to extract small portions of food from a cube, Kong or other device. Some pet parents find these loud, but they can be another great option for keeping dogs occupied during the day while are you are at work. In addition to physical devices designed to slow your pet down, you can using feeding times strategically to prevent Fido from gulping his food. Turn dinner time into a game of hide and seek to provide mental and physical stimulation for your pet. If you schedule allows, you can also feed your dog more small meals throughout the day to combat his desire to inhale his dinner. Try a few of these options with your pet to see what works best to keep Fido fit and avoid the potential pitfalls of speed eating.

What your cat’s eyes say about him

 by bora on 23 Jul 2020 |
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Cats are subtle communicators, but you can learn more about what your pet is thinking by watching his eyes. Here’s how. We’ve all watched our cats attack their favorite toys, but some observant pet parents will notice their cats’ pupils grow to the size of dinner plates during playtime. This phenomenon signals your pet is excited and is just one of many ways Kitty’s eyes give us a glimpse into what he is thinking. Cats are natural predators, so tossing and catching his favorite toy—or your sock—is something Kitty does from time to time. Wide pupils indicate your cat is excited and engaged, but they can just as easily be a sign of anxiety or fear. To understand what your pet’s large pupils mean, pay attention to what is going on around him: Is there something disrupting your cat’s day-to-day routine, such as a thunderstorm or new animal in his household? Watch for other body language, such as an arched back, that indicates your pet is feeling fearful, and give him space to calm down if he appears upset. In the same way his eyes can become the size of dinner plates, so can your cat’s pupils shrink into narrow slits. If his eyes are open in this manner, it typically indicates some sort of arousal, whether it is pleasure or fear. Again, context is key in reading what your pet’s gaze means: If he is growling or hissing, he is clearly upset. But, if Kitty’s pupils are small while relaxed next to you on the couch, his eyes indicate he is enjoying himself and ready to be approached. In addition to his pupils, your cat’s eyelids speak volumes about his mood. Pets that give you a direct state may seek to threaten you and are ready for confrontation. Avoid these cats allow them time to cool down. However, cats that simply appear alert with wide eyes are showing they trust you, especially if their gaze is follow by a cheek rub or other affection behavior. The ultimate sign of feline trust, however, is the slow blink. As the name indicates, this gesture involves a cat’s eyes partially closed with a sleepy appearance. When a cats lets his guard down like this, it shows he trusts you to the fullest. Return your pet’s slow-blink with your own slow blink display to show him the trust is mutual. Cats are subtle communications, so it can be easy to miss their body language altogether. Since Kitty cannot tell you what he is thinking, however, it is worthwhile to pause to understand his body language. Combined with context, your cat’s behavior will help you get to know your his emotional and mental states, allowing you to interact in ways that improve the bond you share with your companion.

What to do if your dog hates your new partner

 by bora on 12 Jun 2020 |
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We all love our dogs, but not everyone gets along with pets. Here are some tips to help a frought relationship between your pet and partner. No one wants to think of their partner not getting along with their pet, but in reality, this happens more than we might think. Rather than choosing to leave your significant other or dog behind, there are ways you can work with both to help ease a tense situation. Loving pet parents hold their four-legged family members in high regard, but dogs are not always the victim in a frought pet-partner relationship. Often, Fido is the antagonist in these scenarios, even if his owner cannot see it. Some dogs are overly protective of their humans and will guard their esteemed owner against all others —including a significant other. Other animals engage in problem behaviors such as sitting in laps, chewing shoes, or eliminating inside, causing rifts when a new person enters the home and expects different behavior. Don’t be blinded by your love for your pet—but pets are not always to blame in difficult situations. Some people simply love animals more than others, and if you and your partner do not see eye-to-eye on this issue, it can cause a tricky relationship between him or her and your beloved canine. When pets and partners butt heads, the first thing to do is ensure humans, and then animals, are safe. If your dog has a history of biting, for example, warn anyone before they enter your home—including, but not only, your new partner. One you have ensured everyone is safe, the next step Is to stop enabling a poorly behaved pet. If Fido is overly protective of you, it may mean you need to step back and let your partner take over feeding your dog meals, taking him out for walks, and engaging in other activities your dog loves. This allows your dog to form positive associations with your significant other and learn to rely on other people. While this can a be a major challenge for any attached pet parent, it is a temporary step that can result in a bond between your partner or pet, or at least their peaceful coexistence. If the animosity in your frought pet-partner relationship is stemming from your significant other, however, you will need to talk to him or her. In a two-sided relationship, he or she should be open to this discussion and recognize your dog’s important role in your life. Even if your partner is not a “pet person,” he or she should be open to attempting to bond with your dog through the methods above, or at least coexist peacefully. Remember, any relationship takes time, so be patient with your dog and partner as you work to reconcile a tense situation.

Five tips for walking a fearful or anxious dog

 by bora on 05 Mar 2020 |
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Leash reactivity can ruin walks, but there are steps you can take to overcome Fido’s fears. Here’s how to help a leash-anxious pet. Dogs evolved alongside humans, but not all of our requested behaviors come naturally to our pets. Walking on a leash can make some pets feel vulnerable by taking away their ability to fight or flee in an emergency, leading to problem behavior known as leash reactivity. Fortunately, you can relieve your pet’s stress with a few simple changes: 1. Use tasty treats. One of the best ways to ease your dog’s leash anxiety is to use positive reinforcement. Feed Fido his favorite treat when another dog or person approaches, for example, to distract him from the anxiety trigger and help him form a positive relationship with the experience. Practice and patience are key in this type of training, so remember to be consistent and don’t give up hope if you don’t see immediate results. 2. Practice choice training. You can make walks a more positive experience by reinforcing good behavior. The goal of this type of “choice training” is to praise your dog for remaining calm in a stressful situation, such as when a strange dog approaches. As soon as you see an animal nearby, begin lavishing your pet with praise for staying cool and collected. As soon as he becomes reactive, however, withdraw your praise. This will let your dog know what type of behavior earns your coveted attention. Because dogs will often not eat when they are in a state of fear, this can be a good alternative to using treats for positive reinforcement. 3. Be consistent. Another way to relieve your dog’s anxiety is to keep habits as regular and predictable as possible. Follow the same walking route, which is ideally quiet, and try to walk at the same time each day, if possible. Keep your pet’s attention on you and away from his anxiety by incorporating a tiny unpredictable element into this routine, however. You can bring a toy along as a distraction or change your pace throughout the walk. This will help your dog tune in to you, rather than focus on his fear. 4. Teach your dog a target word: Another way to get Fido to focus on you during walks is to train him to use a target word or cue. When you see another dog or person approaching, use this signal to get your dog’s attention on you and away from the trigger. Reward him for listening with a treat and praise. 5. Choose your battles: We all like to overcome our fears, but sometimes the best way to prevent stress is to avoid the trigger itself. If you are not sure you can manage your dog in a high-stress situation, such as walking in a well-traveled area, it is best to avoid that situation altogether, until you feel comfortable. Safety comes first, so be sure you are confident in you and your dog’s ability to handle a stressful situation before you approach it. Working your way up to progressively more challenging walking environments can be a great way to boost your dog’s confidence, as long as you are patient with his progress.

What you need to know about stomatitis in cats

 by bora on 03 Feb 2020 |
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Stomatitis is a painful swelling of your cat’s mouth and gums. Here’s everything you need to know to treat this serious condition. We’ve all heard of “cat breath,” but your pet’s malodourous mouth can be a serious cause for concern when something is wrong. In some cases, bacteria and other oral maladies can cause stomatitis, a painful inflammation of a cat’s mouth and gums. Here is what you need to know about this serious condition. Stomatitis is a severe inflammation of the mouth that in most cases leads to ulcers on the gums, tongue, lips or throat. Pets of any age can suffer from stomatitis, which if left untreated, can cause serious bleeding or infections. In most cases, veterinarians suspect dental disease to be the cause behind this condition— particularly periodontal disease, which occurs when plaque and bacteria accumulate around the teeth and cause swelling. The ulcers accompanying stomatitis may form as the cat’s immune system attacks its own, infected tissue. Other medical conditions linked to stomatitis include viral infections such as leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and bartonellosis, a bacterial infection carried by fleas. Inspecting your pet’s mouth for signs of stomatitis can be tricky, as cats are reluctant to let anyone open their mouths. However, there are other signs that may indicate your pet is suffering from this painful condition. Cats with an inflamed mouth often struggle to eat or even open their mouths. Other symptoms include drooling, especially if mixed with blood; an unkempt coat; bad breath; weight loss; and pawing at the mouth or face. If you suspect your cat is suffering from stomatitis, take him to the veterinarian for diagnosis. Your vet may recommend sedation so he can complete a comprehensive examination. Basic blood work, such as a chemistry panel and complete blood count, will general show up normal in cases of stomatitis, but your veterinarian may want to check for other diseases such as FIV and bartonellosis that can cause the condition. A biopsy may be required, and dental X-rays can help your vet further explore the cause of Kitty’s dental disease. Treating stomatitis involves initial pain management as well as treatment for the underlying cause behind the condition. Because inflamed and ulcerated gums and mouth can be very painful, most veterinarians will administer medication to treat pain and swelling, as well as an antibiotic to begin fighting any infection. If periodontal disease is causing the condition, your vet will likely recommend a tooth cleaning or even removal of some teeth, as the teeth provide surfaces on which bacteria can attach and proliferate. Other underlying illnesses causing stomatitis such as bartonellosis should be treated, when possible. While Kitty is healing, feed him soft foods. In some cases, you may even need to puree canned food while your pet’s mouth is on the mend. Many cats require longer-term care that includes anti-inflammatory medications to control their condition. An at-home routine of brushing Kitty’s teeth is also recommended to reduce plaque accumulation that can cause stomatitis.

Five questions to ask yourself before adopting a pet

 by bora on 28 Jan 2020 |
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Adopting a pet is a big commitment. Before you bring one home, ask yourself these questions to be sure you’re ready to be a pet parent. The term “pet parent” exists for a reason: Just like human children, pets require a lifetime commitment of time, financial resources, and affection. Before you bring a new cat or dog home, it is important to assess whether you are truly ready for a four-legged family member. Here are a few questions to help you decide. 1. How long will my pet live? Pets’ life spans vary based on type, breed, size and other factors. Some small dogs can live up to 20 years, so it is important to not only evaluate your current living situation, but any changes that may arise throughout the course of your pet’s life. Likewise, if you have young children, you will need to consider whether your pet of choice is sturdy enough to handle rough play. 2. How much free time do I have? Some pets requires more attention than others. While cats tend to be more independent, dogs—and especially puppies—require a substantial amount of time devoted to training, socializing, and other daily activities. If you do not have enough time to devote to a dog, consider bringing home a cat, or even lower-maintenance pet such as fish, until you are ready for a bigger commitment. If you enjoy traveling, this should also be a factor when considering whether you are ready to for a new pet. 3. Where does my disposable income stand? Pets may initially seem inexpensive, but vet bills and other expenses can add up quickly—especially when unexpected emergencies arise. Be sure you have plenty of money to give your new pet the care he deserves, from purchasing food and toys to medicine and emergency care. 4. What does my home look like? Pets can require a lifestyle shift for some new owners. For dogs in particular, smaller spaces will mean you need to devote more time to taking your pet outside for adequate exercise. If you are a proud plant parent, you may need to reassess your home before bringing in a curious feline, who can eat poisonous houseplants when left unattended. 5. How much do I exercise? While cats require little more than regular play with a fishing pole or other toy, dogs will need daily walks or other exercise. This varies hugely depending on breed, so consider your own activity levels carefully before committing to a high-energy pet. Even if you choose a cat or small dog, be sure you are willing to spend time each day engaging in play or exercise with your pet to ensure he receives the physical and mental stimulation he needs. Though pets can be hard work, the rewards of caring for a four-legged companion are immense, as long as you ensure you are ready to provide plenty of care for the specific companion you choose to bring home.

Why do cats kick with their hind legs?

 by bora on 08 Jan 2020 |
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Does your cat kick with his hind legs? Bunny kicking can be both a sign of play and aggression. Here’s how to tell the difference.

 Cats sometimes “bunny kick” with their hind legs during play, but this can also be an aggressive or defensive behavior. Here are a few ways to tell the difference between your companion’s playful kicking and fighting moves.

 For those unfamiliar with the term “bunny kick,” it refers to the movement cats make when they are lying on their backs or sides and begin kicking with their hind legs. Often, pets direct these kicks at a toy during play wrestling, but in some cases, cats can also kick their owners’ hands, feet or legs. Even though it is a playful act, bunny kicking can leave us with scratches due to our lack of protective fur. It is important, then, to let your cat know you are not a play object from the start of the behavior. When he tries to kick your arm or hand, replace it with one of your cat’s toys immediately. This will teach him what is and is not an acceptable play thing, and help you avoid some unwanted scratches down the road.

 Though bunny kicks are often a part of feline play, they can also be an aggressive act. Kittens use play to develop skills they will need as adults, and this includes behavior necessary in fights. Though it may initially seem counterintuitive for a cat to roll onto his back during an attack, the position allows him to use all four sets of claws and his teeth at the same time, inflicting maximum damage on his opponent. In this posture, he can grab his adversary with his front paws, using his hind legs to kick at the exposed stomach of the other cat. Cats intended to deal a swift blow with this technique, ending the fight quickly.

 It may seem easy to tell the difference between play kicking and aggressive behavior, but it can require some careful observation on your part. If your cat bunny kicks when you go to pet him, it may mean he is trying to play. However, cats use this same behavior when feeling defensive or they want to be left alone. To tell the difference, it is important to watch your companion’s other body language. If his ears are pinned back, pupils are dilated, and tail is twitching, he is likely agitated and in need of some space. In this case, it is best to leave your cat alone for some time to calm down. If, on the other hand, Kitty seems relaxed, he is likely engaging in playful behavior and showing he is comfortable around you by exposing his vulnerable stomach. Do not take advantage of this display of comfort by reaching for a belly rub, however. Instead, give him a pat along his chin or some other, less vulnerable spot. 


Why are dogs loyal to humans?

 by bora on 24 Dec 2019 |
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Dogs are famous for their loyalty to humans, which evolved over thousands of years. Here’s how evolution nurtured our unique bond. Dogs are famous for their loyalty, but what truly makes them man’s best friend? Thanks to animal researchers, we are improving our understanding of our shared history and this unique bond. Studies have shown that dogs and humans began their shared existence anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago. While a deeper dive into the topic is necessary to better understand how dogs departed from their wolf ancestors, research indicates that dogs had already become a separate species by this time. Several factors contributed to our shared past, which may have started as humans realized dogs provided them with protection or gave them an advantage during the hunt. Dogs and people share a natural affinity for group bonding, so this proximity lent itself easily to the ties we share today. A dog’s survival depends on his ability to be part of the pack, after all, and in the modern setting, your family becomes his social group. Trusting his pack leader and cooperating for the good of the group is innate to dogs, explaining their unwavering loyalty to their humans. Sharing close quarters with people also allowed dogs to refine the ways they communicate with humans. Studies have shown that dogs have a profound ability to read verbal and physical cues from humans, which helps them understand what we are feeling. While it is certainly in your pet’s self-interest to understand when you are in a good mood, and therefore more amenable to doling out treats, research has found that our four-legged companions can actually express empathy for humans. One study, for example, showed that compared to strangers and even food, dogs reacted stronger to the smell of their owners, which triggered the part of their brains associated with positive emotions and enjoyment. This ability to bond is unique in the animal kingdom, truly earning your dog his position as man’s best friend. The bond a pet and owner share depends on the individuals involved, and in some cases, this can lead to a codependent relationship in which a dog grows too attached to one person. This can lead to separation anxiety when you are away from home or your pet distancing himself from other members of the family, so you should work to treat codependence as soon as you notice an unhealthy pattern. If your dog’s attachment is too intense to fix on your own, seek the advice of a canine behaviorist. Though the relationship varies from pet-to-pet, one thing is clear: Dogs evolved alongside humans, establishing a special connection. What started as a reciprocal relationship in which humans fed canines in return for protection has evolved to be one of the closest cross-species bonds in the animal kingdom, thanks to thousands of years.
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