Doctoral Researcher Salla Mikkola from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Center wanted to look into what causes behavior problems in cats such as fearfulness, aggression towards people and excessive grooming.
What they found out is important, and that is socialization when cats are kittens with people is very important. Cats under the age of twelve weeks who only came in contact with strange people and children a few times or more fearful than kittens who interacted with strangers on a weekly basis. Fearful cats had more litterbox, aggression and excessive grooming issues.
The researchers noted that there were less fearfulness and aggression in cats when the cat lived with another cat.
Sue’s Note: People tend to associate socialization with puppies and dogs but it is just as important to socialize cats. This should include handling all body parts, grooming, traveling in a vehicle, being put in a carrier, and exposure to noise that is not excessively loud. It is very important to make sure that the cat is not physically handicapped which can cause the cat to become frightened. For example, my cat was born with limited vision that is not detectable by a physical examination and was only apparent by observing her behavior. Many people do not realize that cats are very social and do best if there is at least one other cat in the home.
Salla Mikkola, Milla Salonen, Emma Hakanen, Hannes Lohi. Fearfulness associates with problematic behaviors and poor socialization in cats. iScience, 2022; 25 (10): 105265 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105265
Love runs deep, no matter if it is the love of a person or a pet. When we lose a beloved pet, no matter what species, it leaves a huge hole in our heart and life. For some people, getting a new pet right away helps ease the pain. Other people can never get another pet. I have owned many dogs, cats and birds, each one holds a special place in my heart. When my search dog Scout died suddenly from undetected cancer, I was numb for two weeks. I had other search dogs and pets since losing him, but I could never get another dog of his breed.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand how someone could feel so deeply about an animal. They do not offer the support that they would give if a family member passed, but the person who is heartbroken needs that support just as much.
People handle grief differently and it helps to understand their needs. A pet owner will handle their grief in the same way that someone who has lost person would. Some people need to talk about the lost pet. Others avoid talking about the pet because it is too painful. Almost everyone feels comfort by getting a sympathy card or a hand written note. In this case a hard copy is best because they may want to save it.
As a certified animal behavior consultant, I have had many clients call to tell me about the loss of their pet. They do this because they know that I will understand. Letting a friend who has lost a pet know that you understand is very important. Let them talk and be willing to listen, even if they talk about the pet frequently as they go through the grieving process.
Both the Old and New Testament have a lot to say about animals and how important they are to God. In the book of Matthew 10:29 it says that God knows even if a sparrow falls. Animals are mentioned many times in the Old Testament, illustrating how important they are to God. Knowing this may bring comfort to someone who is grieving the loss of a pet. The big question that people often have is whether or not they go to Heaven. I have explored this and many other questions regarding animals and their importance to God in my book God’s Creatures A Biblical View of Animals. Please feel free to order it on Amazon or directly through my website for an autographed copy. www.sbulanda.com This book has brought comfort to many people, especially when a beloved pet has passed.
Researchers have recently determined that separation anxiety is a symptom of various frustrations rather than a diagnosis. The key symptoms of separation anxiety are: destruction of household items, urinating or defecating indoors and excessive barking.
The team of scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK found that there are four main forms of distress when dogs are separated from their owners. These include when the dog wants to get away from something in the house, or they want to get to something outside. It can also be a reaction to external noises or events as well as simple boredom.
A combination of factors such as the dog’s temperament and the type of relationship it has with the owner will determine whether or not a dog will develop separation anxiety.
Sue’s Note: Dog owners often create separation anxiety in dogs by making dramatic arrivals and departures from their home. It helps to prevent this problem by making arrivals and departures as calm and non-specific as possible. If a dog owner notices any of the behaviors listed above, do not wait to engage the help of a certified canine behavior consultant. The longer the behavior is allowed to continue the harder it will be to cure. Cats can also suffer from separation anxiety. To find a qualified behavior consultant go to iaabc.org
Because of the unique combination of issues that contribute or cause separation anxiety, diagnosing the problem is difficult therefore a dog owner should not try to solve the problem themselves or go to a dog trainer since this is not a training issue.
Researchers studied 935 indoor/outdoor cats to determine how their hunting habits impacted local wildlife. They found that the cat’s hunting range was small, but the impact on the wildlife in their range was two to ten time more than wild predators. This is because their hunting was limited to their own property or into neighbor’s yards. It was also interesting to note that cats do more damage to wildlife in areas that have been disturbed by housing developments.
Sue’s Note: Many people think that cats need to roam outside. This is not true. Cats can be 100% happy and satisfied as a house cat if their needs are met. Different breeds of cats have different activity levels. Since many domestic short and long-haired cats have questionable parentage, their needs may have to be determined by how the cat acts. If a cat owner feels that their cat needs to go outside, there are products on the market that can confine a cat safely outdoors or in a cat designed window box. Keep in mind a cat that is allowed to roam outside freely becomes prey for other animals such as foxes, coyotes, wolves and free roaming dogs as well as other cats. If the cat is small enough, it may be snatched by birds of prey as well. Cats that eat or come in contact with wildlife are exposed to various parasites as well. For the benefit of local wildlife and for your cat’s well-being, it is better to keep them indoors or have safe access to the outdoors. Google outdoor cat enclosures to see the many products available.
Different groups of researchers are interested in learning how much wildlife cats kill for food. With this in mind researcher Roland Kays from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences decided to study how much wildlife domestic cats kill and eat to supplement the food they are fed by their owners. What they found was very surprising as well as important for cat owners.
The researchers found that they could not determine the amount of wildlife that cats eat because they were studying elements in cat food as a comparison. The reason why this study failed is because cat food manufacturers do not use consistent types and amounts of ingredients in their food. Even foods that were the same flavor and brand were inconsistent. The researchers found that the less expensive brands had more corn products and that the cat food produced in the United Kingdom had a lower amount of corn products.
Author’s Note: This information accounts for why some cats who like a certain brand and flavor of food will suddenly refuse to eat that food. Cats have a very acute sense of smell and they can detect the change in their food. Dog food is no better and dogs can suddenly reject a food that they liked previously. Changing the formula of dog or cat food can also induce loose stools and weight changes in a dog or cat.
It may be surprising to learn that veterinarians and people who volunteer to help animals may be at a higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicide.
Katherine Goldberg, DVM, LMSW, community consultation and intervention specialist at Cornell Health and Founder of Whole Animal Veterinary Geriatrics and Palliative Care Services has conducted a study to determine how and why this exists. She found that people who volunteer with animals are often confronted with the results of cruelty, and while they want to help animals, they are often faced with having to euthanize healthy animals due to a shortage of homes.
Veterinarians are faced with the same circumstances as well as high college debts, lower income and clients who may question the cost of care for their pets and be suspicious that their veterinarian is trying to push services that their pet doesn’t need.
Goldberg feels that veterinarian colleges should include courses to help veterinary students deal with the pressures of caring for animals.
Author’s Note: With the advances in veterinary care, at times it has become more difficult to determine how much intervention a pet owner should do for their pet. Like human doctors, veterinarians want to save the life of a pet and will offer all of the options available. What helps the pet owner decide is to evaluate what quality of life the pet will have after treatments. Veterinarians will help make that decision.
Note: This article is my opinion, based on my experiences with many dogs, cats and birds.
Pet owners spend a considerable amount of money on toys for their pets. Toys are important for pets; they give pets something to do and, in some cases, build the bond between the pet and owner. While I will refer mostly to dogs, this article applies to all pets.
It is important to realize that there is no regulatory body for pet toys. What that means is that manufacturers can use whatever material they choose to make pet toys. Unfortunately, many of the products that are available are not safe, either because of a chewing or a toxic substance risk.
When picking a toy for your pet, you should consider the type of animal it is and what it likes to do. Dogs like to fetch, toss and chew and shred toys. This satisfies their natural hunting instinct. Cats like to chase, pounce, carry and sometimes tear up toys.
Birds generally like to tear apart, peck and toss toys. Although many birds play with toys in various ways. I had a budgie who liked to “herd” plastic balls into a tight group.
When considering a toy for a pet, keep in mind that if there is a risk associated with the toy, the risk increases if the pet is small. This is because it takes less material to block their intestines and less toxins to make them sick or kill them. This is why a pet owner should carefully evaluate what toy they give their pet.
I feel that toys for dogs pose the most risks because dogs tend to chew and eat pieces of their toys more than other pets. Know how your dog likes to play with a toy before you pick one out for him. Some dogs will totally destroy a stuffed toy or a plastic one. Other dogs like to carry a toy around and will not destroy it. Many dogs are obsessed with getting the squeaker out of a toy that has one. My Parsons Russell Terrier is a squeaker killer. He will work on a toy almost endlessly until he gets the squeaker out. Then for the most part, he loses interest in the toy.
Puppies almost always chew a toy until it is destroyed and they are more likely to eat the pieces of the toy. For this reason, plastic toys are a higher risk for puppies. Regardless if your dog is a puppy or an adult, plastic toys in general are the highest risk.
Because dogs like to chew and destroy toys, they are less likely to play with the chew-proof variety of toy. Some of the nylon toys are coated with a scent and when the coating wears off, the dog loses interest in the toy. Stuffed toys pose a problem because the stuffing, which can be ingested and not digested. The stuffing in most dog and cat toys are fiber fill which is a form of plastic.
If a dog owner is going to give their dog one of the many products on the market designed to clean the dog’s teeth while they chew the toy, be sure to check the ingredients. Most dental chews for dogs are only 96% digestible. What is the other 4%? Some of these products have plastic in them to make them last longer.
Those chew products that are designed to be eaten, should break down in five to ten minutes when placed in water, if not, it is a high risk for your dog. These types of products can block a dog’s intestines. Because of a dog’s short digestive tract, these products do not have enough time to break down if they can break down at all.
This is also true of any rawhide product. I personally do not approve of any animal product such as cow hooves, pig’s ears and rawhide. These products are often treated with formaldehyde as a preservative. Many people think that rawhide comes from a butcher, but in reality, rawhide comes from a tannery. Also, keep in mind that any wild domestic canine does not eat bones, skin or hooves.
This is evident when you see a dead deer along the roadside. After everything, animal, bird and insect are finished feeding on the carcass, the things left are hide, hooves and bones. The main risks for letting a dog eat rawhide are contamination, choking hazard, and intestinal blockage. A number of pet related organization discourage giving dogs rawhide. However, dried chicken feet and antlers are a better alternative than rawhide, pig’s ears and cow hooves.
Rope toys are acceptable if your dog does not chew them and swallow the threads. The safest rope toy is one made of cotton instead of nylon. Cotton has a better chance of breaking down if it is ingested whereas the nylon will not.
It is never a good idea to give a dog old shoes or slippers because of the chemicals used to make them. It is especially difficult for a puppy to understand that old shoes and slippers, and rawhide products are OK to play with but new shoes and slippers are not. Keep in mind that rawhide comes from a tannery and dogs have a very sophisticated sense of smell. Therefore, a dog of any age can smell the similarity between rawhide and other leather products, which include furniture, gloves, jackets and briefcases.
Bones are not a good choice for dogs either. Again, it is not natural for dogs to eat bones. Many of the “natural” bones have bacteria on them that can harm both dogs and people who handle them. Some of the stuffed bones that are treated can be safer for a dog who likes bones. The danger associated with bones are splinters from the bone and bacteria.
The bottom line is knowing your dog. If a toy becomes small enough to swallow it should be taken away from the dog. By knowing your dog’s play habits you will be able to decide what toy is safe for them to play with. The best toy is one that allows you to interact with your dog, playing fetch games, chase games or whatever your dog likes. If you understand your dog’s breed, it will guide you to selecting the right toy for your dog. All dogs can benefit from puzzle toys and treat dispensing toys. Also think outside the box, you never know what a dog will take a fancy to as illustrated by our dog Ness.
The weather is cooling, and although most four-legged creatures enjoy a break from summer’s heat just as much as us two-legged creatures do, fall and winter can also pose certain dangers to our furry friends. Not all animals are equally equipped for cool temperatures, and your pet might need a little extra help to stay healthy and comfortable.
While a great fitting jacket or cozy pjs can be a great start on cold weather comfort, there is often more to it than that. With that in mind, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant Susan Bulanda presents some tips for giving them what they need without breaking the bank:
Stock Up on Basics
One important step towards keeping your furry friends safe in the cooler season is to stock up on basic supplies like food and any medications your pet needs. If you wind up stuck in inclimate weather, having a stockpile set aside can keep your pet happy and your stress levels low. Moreover, buying in bulk might cost more up front, but it can save you money in the long run.
Look for discounts online like a Chewy promo code to build a budget-friendly pet supply stockpile. Keep extra food somewhere cool and dry so it stays fresh for your pal. If your pet takes any medications, talk to your vet about getting extra before the cold season hits.
Stay On Top of Grooming
Many animals go through a cool-season shed. This allows them to grow out their thick winter coats. Although this is a vital tool for keeping them warm and cozy, it can be tough on them without proper grooming. Long-hair pets in particular can develop mats and hairballs, both of which are uncomfortable and have the potential to cause serious problems.
Some animals will need professional grooming once a season to remove blown-out coats. Look for affordable groomers in your area to find a good fit for your budget. If your buddy gets anxious at the groomers, try a natural relaxation technique like massage or essential oils to help them calm down for their big salon day.
Dress Your Pet for the Weather
Dogs in sweaters aren’t just extremely adorable – they’re also well-prepped for harsh temps. If your dog isn’t a cool-weather breed, it’s important to make sure they’re properly dressed for cold weather when you take them out for walks. This means doggy jackets and well-fitting boots. The dog-lovers over at Cuteness remind us that dogs can easily get frostbite on their paws if they’re not properly protected – after all, you wouldn’t want to walk barefoot in the snow, would you?
If you have a very young or senior pet, it’s especially important to get them something cozy when it’s cold. According to Dogster, these animals don’t have the ability to regulate body temperature their counterparts have, so their body temperature can drop dangerously in chilly conditions. If you have the skills, a great way to save money on pet clothes is to DIY your own designs. There are a ton of knitting, crocheting, and sewing patterns out there for the interested crafter.
If you want to give your pet a little extra coziness this winter, an indoor dog house may do just the trick. Just make sure you read up on the different available products to ensure you’re getting one suited to your dog’s size and temperament. The last thing you want is to spend money on something your pet will destroy in a matter of days.
Get a Checkup
Finally, consider scheduling your pet’s yearly check up for the start of fall. This will give you the chance to make sure they’re in good shape for the winter, as well as an opportunity to ask your vet if there are any other steps you can take to keep them healthy over the cooler months. Regular checkups keep your pet (and your wallet) safe by catching issues before they’re too serious, and more expensive to treat.
Keeping your furry friend healthy during winter is just one way to show them how much you love them. Think ahead before the weather gets rough so you have a plan for any possibility. You and your pet deserve to have a wonderful winter together!
A study in the Veterinary Record, has reported a few cases of dogs and cats contracting the SARS-CoV-2 variant in England. In these cases, the pets caught the variant from their owners who had shown symptoms several weeks before the pets became ill. Heart problems were manifested in the pets who contracted the variant.
While this is not widespread and actually rare, it is a good idea for pet owners to be aware of the possibility since COVID-19 is so widespread. At this point the research does not indicate that people can catch the variant from pets.
We all know that some dogs seem to be more stressed than other dogs. Part of the reason is the genetics of the dog. Certain breeds tend to be more noise sensitive than others. But all dogs can be stressed by certain types of noise. Researchers at the University of California found that dogs are often stressed by common household noise. Particularly noises that are high frequency or very loud. Examples are smoke detectors, microwave ovens, and vacuum cleaners.
Many loud and high pitches noises actually hurt a dog’s ears. Most owners recognize obvious signs of fear or stress, such as trembling, hiding, howling, barking and running away. However, owners often miss a dog’s more subtle signs and therefore do not help their dog when stressed. Some of the subtle signs are panting, licking their lips, turning their head away, a rigid body, ears turned back or flattened against the head, and lowering their head below their shoulders.
By watching your dog or cat carefully you can learn to recognize their relaxed body language. This will help you recognize when your pet is not relaxed.
Whenever a stressful noise occurs, a concerned owner will remove the dog from the area. It is important to watch the dog’s body language to see how far away the dog needs to be to avoid being stressed.
Cats are also stressed by noises therefore cat owners should also be aware if noise bothers their cat.