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Pet Bucket Blog

August 2016

What to do when your dog has an upset stomach

 by yunus on 31 Aug 2016 |
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Dogs can develop an upset stomach for many reasons, but by far the most common cause is that Fido ate something he shouldn’t have. Like toddlers, our canine companions explore the world by putting things in their mouths, and an upset tummy, vomiting, and diarrhea are all normal signs that your dog’s body is trying to expel whatever offensive thing he ate. While some substances are dangerous and warrant an immediate trip to the vet’s, you can often treat your canine’s digestive trouble with a few simple steps at home.   Dogs tend to eat grass and other plants when their stomachs are hurting, so if your pet has suddenly taken to grazing, it’s a sign he’s having tummy troubles. Gulping air, licking lips, or licking the air or other objects can also signal that your pet is battling an upset stomach, as can salivation, loss of appetite, passing gas, and gurgling noises coming from his belly. While we hate to see our canine companions suffering, the best way to help if your dog is having these symptoms is to simply do nothing: Back off on Fido’s feeding schedule for 12 to 24 hours while his body expels whatever he ate. Keep your dog hydrated, but limit his water intake, too, as even too much liquid can exacerbate an upset stomach. If your pet is still queasy after fasting for one day, experts recommend feeding him a bland mix of two parts cooked white rice to one part white meat chicken. Try giving your dog just one tablespoon at first to see if his stomach can handle food, and then give him several small meals per day, for up to several days.   Of course, eating something rancid isn’t the thing that can cause your dog’s digestion to go haywire. An inflamed pancreas, bloated stomach, severe allergies, leaky gut syndrome, parasites, and other serious medical conditions can also leave Fido feeling nauseous. If your pet’s symptoms don’t disappear within a day or two — or if you see blood in his vomit or stools or he is vomiting continuously, has spiked a fever, or is acting lethargic— take him to the veterinarian right away. Likewise, if you discover that your pet ate a toy, chemical or something else that is potentially poisonous or could cause intestinal blockages, take him to the vet’s immediately. Afterhours, you can call a Pet Poison Helpline to find out the level of risk your dog is facing after eating something he shouldn’t have.   Remember, an occasional upset stomach is normal for dogs, but frequent problems might mean something is wrong with your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. If your canine companion experiences frequent upset stomachs, seeks your veterinarian’s advice about changing your dog’s diet and other options.

Why does my cat lick me?

 by yunus on 24 Aug 2016 |
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Dogs lavish us with kisses, but cats are often more subtle in their displays of affection. While a sandpapery tongue isn’t always the sign of love we’d imagined, grooming us is our cat’s way of showing a strong trust and bond.   Cats spend a great deal of time grooming. This is part of the social bonding between a mother and her kittens as well as between cats that aren’t related, but share a strong connection. Not only does social grooming help felines clean hard-to-reach places, such as the top of their heads, but it also allows cats to exchange scents— a key part of bonding and communication in the feline world. Mother cats mark their kittens in this way, and it is not unusual for your cat to “claim” you with a bath. When he licks you, then, Kitty is not only lavishing you with affection, but is also marking you with his scent. This may sound territorial, and it is, but this practice is just another way your cat shows you belong to his inner circle of friends.   While licking is most often a source of bonding between owners and their cats, compulsive bathing can be a sign that something’s wrong. Grooming is a soothing and comforting behavior for cats, so overly anxious felines may start bathing to relieve stress. Anything from introducing a new pet to the household to taking your cat to the vet can trigger anxiety, so if this seems to be the cause behind Kitty’s compulsive bathing, try to remedy the stressful situation and give him some extra attention. If, however, your cat suddenly starts grooming vigorously for seemingly no reason, he could be in pain. Everything from fleabites to skin infections can trigger this behavior, so keep an eye out for health problems and seek your veterinarian’s advice. Experts agree that cats that were weaned too early tend to rely on the comforting action of bathing and are more likely to lick, too.   While cats’ baths are usually a sign that your pet has accepted you into his closest circle of friends, you may not always want a sandpapery tongue greeting. To avoid your cat’s kisses, learn the signs that he is about to start bathing you and distract him with a toy or treat instead. Playing with your cat often helps you bond with him, too. Remember, if your cat is licking you, it is a sign that he feels safe and secure and is truly welcoming you as a member of his family.

How to stop your cat from biting

 by yunus on 17 Aug 2016 |
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As much as it may alarm you, all cats have a reason when they bite. Whether it’s a reaction to pain or a simple message to get lost, your cat is trying to communication with his biting behavior, and determining the underlying cause is key to solving Kitty’s chewing conundrum.   Kittens bite as part of rough play, which teaches them to hunt for food and protect themselves as adults. Encouraging your full-grown cat to continue this type of play, however, won’t do you any favors. Cats—especially housecats that are lonely or under-stimulated—may engage in roughhousing to alleviate their boredom and burn excess energy. Your cat may also nip at you to get your attention, so pay attention next time to see if he tries to lead you off in some direction or meows immediately after biting: He may be trying to tell you to feed him, let him outside or tidy up the litter box. If however, your cat nips without backing down or showing any playful or affectionate behavior afterwards, he is likely trying to assert his dominance. Other reasons for biting include overstimulation; fear or anxiety when dogs, children or other disturbances enter the household; or pain due to an ailment, such as arthritis or an infected tooth.   Once you’re sure your cat isn’t biting due to pain from an illness or injury, you can begin working to change his behavior. If your cat’s biting stems from play fighting, rule Number One is to never use your hand as a toy. Instead, offer your cat a mouse or bird tied to a string and engage him in playtime several times a day. This will help burn off excess energy and cure boredom. If your cat goes after your hands or feet during playtime, however, stop the game immediately and walk away. After a few attempts, he should get the memo that biting cuts play short. If your cat bites when you go to pet him, or is twitching his tail, flattening his ears or otherwise appears agitated, he is trying to tell you not to touch him at that time. Respect your pet’s boundaries by not petting your cat when he is clearly agitated. Likewise, if you know your cat becomes over-stimulated after five minutes of petting, stop at three to avoid a nipping debacle. If none of the above sounds like your pet, his biting may be due to anxiety. Cats can become fearful when new people, dogs or even noises enter their households. If the source of Kitty’s discontent isn’t temporary, such as a visit from the neighbor’s children, consider easing his tension with a pheromone diffuser such as Feliway, which releases feel-good chemicals to help Kitty feel more secure.   Remember, every cat is different, so it’s important to identify your pet’s own reasons for biting. If you’ve tried troubleshooting and still can’t find a reason for the behavior, speak to your veterinarian, who can rule out illnesses and offer suggestions for your feline friend.

Why does my dog jump and how can I stop him?

 by yunus on 09 Aug 2016 |
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It may be cute in a puppy, but when your full-grown dog jumps up to greet you, it can be a nuisance and dangerous for children and elderly friends. Because dogs jump up to say “hello,” it can be difficult to break them of the habit. With some consistent training, however, you can teach your pet a more polite way to welcome you and your guests.   When puppies greet an older dog, they often lick the adult’s muzzle as an appeasement gesture. In the same way, your canine companion tries to meet you nose-to-nose, jumping on his hind legs to do so. To break your dog of his highflying habit, it is important to show him that you will only greet pets that have all four feet on the ground. If your dog jumps, don’t acknowledge him by pushing him off, but instead look over his head and turn away if necessary. As soon as your dog’s front paws are planted, reward him verbally and with affection or a treat, withdrawing your attention immediately if he hops on his hind legs again.   It is also important to replace your dog’s jumping with another behavior, which you can do by practicing the “sit and stay” greeting. Practice this type of training on your own, or with a friend by having your friend hold your dog on a loose leash and asking him to sit. You can then walk towards the two from about a dozen feet away, stopping and returning to the starting point each time your dog hops up. This will eventually help your pet form a connection between a seated greeting and a reward— your attention. If your dog gets too excited to meet a person while seated, you can try replacing jumping with holding or playing with his favorite toy instead. Remember, if he jumps up during training, remain calm and never shout or knee your dog or cause him any other pain when he hops up on humans.   Once you’ve experimented with replacing jumping with another behavior, try greeting real guests. Crate your dog, put him on a leash, or otherwise keep him calm when company comes over until he has mastered a composed “hello.” With some time and practice, your canine companion should master the art of welcoming humans without hopping up. If, however, you are struggling with training your dog shows signs of aggression, such as growling or bearing his teeth, seek help from a certified trainer. Most importantly, remember you can’t teach your dog a behavior some of the time, so be consistent about ignoring your dog when he jumps up and reinforce acceptable behavior immediately. 

Establishing yourself as pack leader

 by lucy on 03 Aug 2016 |
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Dogs are pack animals by nature and follow a sophisticated set of rules regarding pack order. Establishing yourself as your dog’s leader, then, is important from Day One. Not only will this create structure and purpose in your dog’s life, but it also ensures you have a healthy, balanced relationship with your canine companion.   One of the best ways to assert yourself as pack later—or “alpha”—is through body language and tone of voice. Dogs respond well to calm, confident commands, so remember to stand tall and stay assertive around your pet. Dogs tend to see nervous behavior as a sign that all is not well within the pack, and may try to take charge if they perceive that the order is failing. Another key to establishing dominance is to set firm rules and boundaries. Train your dog to wait at the door and enter after you’ve given him permission, for example. Have him sit or do another trick before he receives a treat or toy, and don’t let him walk ahead of you and pull on the lead during walks. Mealtime is a great opportunity to establish pack order because, in the wild, pack leaders eat first. Practice a similar setup with your dog by eating your own breakfast before he has his, and do not allow your dog to approach the table during mealtime. Make sure your pet is calm and obedient before receiving his food.   Pack leaders generally do not approach their fellow dogs, but rather, let members of the pack come to them. In the same way, do not force your affection on your dog, but allow him to approach you when he wants attention. This will reinforce your role as alpha while still giving your companion the attention he loves and deserves. You can also shower your pet with belly rubs, since your dog’s stomach is a vulnerable spot and making it available to you shows submission. Spend quality time grooming and petting your dog, slowly working your way up to petting touchy areas. Remember, leaders are always kind, never hit, and react with praise or corrections immediately and in a straightforward way that their dogs understand.   If your dog is aggressive or dominant, remember to start asserting your alpha position slowly. A sudden display of dominance could trigger a challenge and potentially lead to aggressive behavior. Creating a plan and sticking to it over time will not only give your dog structure and control, but will also create a stronger pet-owner bond, demonstrating your affection for your dog in a way he understands best.
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