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May 2018

Why is your dog hoarding his food?

 by lucy on 17 May 2018 |
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Most dogs dive nose-first into dinner, but for some peculiar pets, carrying their kibble to a different spot becomes a habit. If your pet is part of this pack, there are several possible causes underlying his behavior:   Pack mentality: Before they were domesticated, dogs ran in packs. For more subordinate members, this meant stiff competition surrounding meals. To avoid fighting with more dominant pack members, outranked dogs would carry their food out of sight. Some domesticated pets still carry this pack mentality today, but you can help ease Fido’s food anxiety by feeding your dogs separately in multi-pet households or crating your pet during mealtime to prevent him from carrying his food away.   Separation anxiety: As pack animals, dogs are also social creatures. Some prefer to eat with their humans and, if fed in a separate room, will develop a habit of carrying their kibble to be closer to the family. To remedy this behavior, simply arrange your dog’s meals so you’ll be home during dinnertime and feed him in the same room you’ll be occupying.   Heavy metal: If you have metal food bowls, you’ve likely noticed the sound kibble makes when it hits the dish. This noise—and even the sound of his tags hitting a metal food bowl—can startle your pet and lead to anxiety about eating directly from the dish. If your dog seems to be carrying his kibble away because of these metallic clinks, try swapping his metal dish for a heavy plastic food bowl.   Creating a cache: Wild dogs couldn’t always rely on a regular meal, so your pet may be tapping into his survival instincts by creating a cache of food. If you find Fido’s kibble or treats in unusual spots, he’s probably saving them for later. To prevent this behavior, make sure you don’t overfeed your pet and keep him confined to one room or area during mealtimes.   When offered a tasty treat, many dogs will also carry it away to a different spot or room for consumption. While this may seem offensive to some owners, your pet is simply acting on his instincts. Protecting a high-value resource—in this case, a rawhide bone or other tasty morsel—helped your pet’s ancestors survive. The tastier the treat, the more likely your dog is to hide it away from competitors, so you can consider it a compliment the next time Fido runs away with his reward.

The stress-free way to trim your dog’s nails

 by lucy on 08 May 2018 |
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If you’re like many dog owners, trimming your pet’s nails is an event surrounded by anxiety and drama. Some pet parents even avoid cutting their pooch’s nails altogether for fear they’ll hurt their companion. Trimming your dog’s nails doesn’t have to be stressful, however, with the right techniques and tools.   Keeping Fido’s feet healthy is important and that begins with keeping his nails short. While some active pets wear their nails down naturally, most need a little extra help from their humans. Not only are long toenails painful for your pet as they tap against hard surfaces, but they can create serious communication problems between his body and brain. In the wild, dogs run long distances, wearing their nails down so they only touch the ground when walking uphill. Your pet’s brain is evolutionarily programed to associate toenail contact with walking uphill, then, causing a shift in his body posture when his nails grow too long. Since the hill is not real, your pet is leaning forward over his front limbs for no reason, causing him to compensate with his hind legs to stay upright. The end result is a pet with overtaxed and overtired muscles and joints, which can lead to pain in the long run. Fortunately, clipping your dog’s toenails can help restore his natural balance.   To minimize anxiety over clippers, handle your pet’s paws regularly and introduce him to the clippers, using plenty of treats and praise, before you ever cut his nails. When you’re ready to trim his toenails, use sharp, high-quality, scissor-style clippers. Purchase small clippers for the best control and hold your pet’s paw firmly, but gently while cutting at a 45-degree angle. Trim in small increments to avoid cutting the quick—the a soft cuticle in the center of your dog’s nail that contains blood vessels and nerves. If you do cut too far, you can dip your pet’s paw in corn starch to stop the bleeding. For dogs with light-colored nails, the quick is easily visible, making trimming easier. For pets with dark-colored nails, however, trim only until you see the white lining inside the nail, with a small, black center. How often you trim depends on your individual pet and his activity level, but a good rule of thumb is to trim dogs’ nails roughly every three weeks.   Because the quick grows along with your dog’s nails, skipping a few trimming sessions can cause some serious paws problems. It is not uncommon for the quick to grow almost to the tip of the nail, which can make trimming your pet’s toenails almost impossible. In this case, it may be best to take your dog to the vet or a professional groomer, who can trim the nail and, over time, help the quick recede so you can go back to regular upkeep. For a DYI approach, trim a very small piece of your pup’s nail every couple of days until the quick recedes

Is there a better way to feed your cat?

 by lucy on 01 May 2018 |
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For people, mealtime may be all about the food, but for our cats, eating is also a chance to act on their hunting instincts. According to some researchers, then, eating out of a bowl might not be the best option for your pet. Enter the puzzle feeder.   A puzzle feeder is an alternative to free-feeding your cat by presenting him with a food-dispensing game. Ranging from simple designs to more complex challenges, puzzle feeders engage your cat’s brain while he eats, turning mealtime into a challenge with a tasty reward at the end. While cats certainly don’t require a puzzle feeder to take their meals, these contraptions have been shown to add mental stimulation into your pet’s daily routine and, in some cases, can help with behavioral problems.   Your cat will need to learn the ropes for his unique new food “dish,” so start with an easy design. You may want to make a homemade puzzle feeder to ensure this feeding style works for your pet before investing in a commercial model. To do this, take an empty bottle and cut holes in it that are slightly larger than the size of your cat’s kibble. Make plenty of holes so the game is easy at first and then place some kibble in the bottle, close the lid, and place the bottle on its side on the floor. If your pet seems to enjoy this game, you can make a more challenging design with fewer holes or move on to other contraptions using materials from toilet paper tubes to egg cartons. There are DYI designs online or you can use your imagination to design a puzzle feeder, but remember, the game should be fun—not frustrating—for your pet.   Each puzzle feeder is different, so it’s important to consider your pet’s age, personality and health when finding the right fit. Before purchasing or designing a feeder, ask yourself whether your cat is an inquisitive, fast learner that would enjoy a challenge, or if he would be content with a simpler model. Once your cat figures out the movement required to get a tasty treat, eating becomes a game with a reward similar to hunting for his food. Not only does this encourage your pet to eat slower, but can also ease boredom, redirect destructive behavior and add exercise to your cat’s routine. Solo playtime can also aid overweight pets’ weight loss and help in cases of cats prone to shredding furniture, walls or carpets.   Using a puzzle feeder is just one way to enhance your cat’s daily routine. Be sure to provide your pet with plenty of playtime, both interactively and with toys he can enjoy on his own, to keep his mind and body fit, too.
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