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12 Mistakes New Puppy Parents Make

12 Mistakes New Puppy Parents Make

Getting a new puppy is lots of fun, full of comical and cute antics, soft snuggles, and precious puppy kisses. However, when you bring home a puppy, you also bring home a lot of responsibility. If you don’t take the time to prepare for your new furry arrival properly, you could be in for more chaos than cuteness. Therefore, before you get your new pup, ensure you know the expectations so you don’t make these common mistakes puppy parents make.

 

dog in crate

Things Puppy Parents Do That They Shouldn’t

 

Get a Puppy for the Wrong Reasons

While a new dog is cute and lots of fun, it takes a lot of time and energy to raise a puppy. Before you adopt or purchase a dog, make sure you’re ready for the commitment. Getting a new pet as a gift for someone who doesn’t expect it or for your young child, without careful consideration and conversation first, is a recipe for disaster. It’s also not very fair for the dog since it often results in him having to go back to the shelter or breeder.

 

Use a Crate as Punishment

Crate training is an excellent way to get your new dog used to his surroundings, provide a sense of security, and an excellent aid for housetraining. However, it is not a way to punish your pup. Putting your puppy in his crate as punishment makes your dog associate the crate with something negative, sabotaging your crate training efforts. Plus, when it comes to training your pup, positive reinforcement is best; you should avoid any form of punishment altogether.

 

Leave the Puppy Alone for Too Long

Puppies need lots and lots of attention. It’s essential that for the first several weeks your new puppy is home, you can spend a lot of time with him. If you work long hours, you should arrange for someone to check in on your pup, or if possible, bring your puppy to work with you. When you are home, schedule adequate time for things like training, playtime, and bonding time with your dog. Otherwise, your puppy will lose out on valuable learning opportunities, engage in undesirable behavior, and end up pretty unhappy.

 

Feed the Dog Table Scraps

Yes, it’s hard to resist those big, round, adorable puppy eyes, but it’s for your dog’s own good. Not only are there quite a few human foods that are toxic to dogs, but feeding your pup these things can lead to overeating, obesity, and some items pose choking hazards. Plus, it makes your dog develop a bad begging habit.

 

Get a Puppy That Isn’t a Good Match with Kids or Other

Animals

No matter how much you fall in love with a particular pup, if he isn’t a good match with kids or other animals, it’s not fair to bring him home to a house with children or pets. You likely will end up needing to return the dog, which is heartbreaking for the pooch, not to mention you could potentially risk harm to your other pets or kids.

 

Bring Their Puppy to the Dog Park (and other places) Too Early

Dog parks are full of things that pose a risk to your pup. There are parasites, fleas, ticks, sick dogs, and other potential problems. If you bring your puppy to the park before he’s had his vaccinations, and if he isn’t on adequate heartworm prevention, you expose him to a lot of hazards with just one simple outing to the park. Yes, it’s tempting to show off your new, sweet bundle, but do so once it’s safe for your pal.

 

Shiba Inu puppy on leash

 

Things Puppy Parents Don’t Do That They Should

 

Don’t Get Puppy Vaccinations

Vaccinations deliver essential antibodies to help boost your puppy’s immune response to various diseases until his system is strong enough to do it on its own. Ignoring your pup’s shot schedule exposes him to a host of risky diseases and illnesses that can lead to severe health conditions and even death.

 

Don’t Put Their Puppy on Heartworm and Flea Prevention

Parasites can cause many issues for your dog, like Lyme Disease, Heartworm Disease, and in some cases, be fatal. Luckily, it’s easy to guard your dog against dangerous parasites like heartworms, fleas, and ticks, with monthly prevention medications.

 

Don’t Stay Positive and Consistent with Training

A trained dog is a happy and healthy dog. When you take the time to train your pup using positive reinforcement, you help ensure he stays safe and out of trouble. You can also do more things with your canine companion when he can stay on his best behavior. However, failing to train your puppy, or doing so inconsistently or negatively, can have some significant unpleasant side effects. Your dog is likely to engage in disruptive behavior, perhaps get aggressive, or be denied entry to various places that typically allow dogs.

 

Don’t Provide Ample Experiences and Socialization

Keeping your dog in a bubble doesn’t do either of you any favors. As soon as possible, start bringing your dog to various places, introducing him to a variety of people and other dogs, and letting him begin to learn what all of these things are. For example, take your dog for regular walks, so he doesn’t go berserk (in a bad way) when you try to snap on his leash. Likewise, take car rides with your pup to fun places, so he gets used to the car; don’t just use car rides to go to the vet. All this does is make your dog terrified of getting into vehicles; make sense?

 

Don’t Take Care of Their Dog’s Teeth

Your dog’s dental health plays a significant role in his overall quality of life. But, many pet parents don’t think about brushing their pup’s teeth as part of regular care and grooming. If your dog puts up a struggle when it comes to brushing his teeth, you can also look into various products that can help. For example, some chews help clean your pup’s teeth, as well as special dental rinses you can simply pour into your pet’s water bowl. It’s also vital to get regular dental check-ups and cleanings for your pup.

 

Don’t Take Their Puppy to the Vet

It’s crucial when you get a new puppy to bring her to your vet as soon as possible. This is true even if you get her from a reputable breeder or shelter that has already checked her out and given her a clean bill of health. If anything else, you need to establish a relationship with a veterinarian to start out on the right, healthy foot with your new dog.

 

If you’re about to get a puppy, make sure to look over these mistakes puppy parents make before you take the step into dog ownership. You can also check out the rest of our blog for tips on adopting a new dog. In some cases, you might find that an older dog is a better fit for your lifestyle, or you might not be ready at all for a pup just yet. Remember, it’s essential to make the right choice for both you and the dog; after all, you both deserve to be happy!

  • Fernando Becattini
Homemade Dog Treats You Can Make with Ingredients Inside Every Pantry

Homemade Dog Treats You Can Make with Ingredients Inside Every Pantry

Who says delicious homemade goodies are just for people? Your precious pup can chow down on some tasty kitchen-created treats, too. The best part is, you don’t need to get any unique ingredients or hard-to-come-by items. There are bunches of simple dog treats you can whip up for your pooch in no time, with things you likely already have in your pantry. Don’t consider yourself a cook or a baker? That’s okay, too. These treats are easy-peasy to make, and your dog won’t be able to resist them!

 

Popular Ingredients in Homemade Dog Treats

 

Many DIY dog treats consist of the same basic ingredients. Some of the most popular things you’ll come across in dog treat recipes are:

 

  • Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

  • Apples (remove all seeds and core)

  • Peanut Butter*

  • Bananas

  • Oat, wheat, brown rice or rye flour

  • Chicken/Meat

  • Chicken stock

  • Cooked white rice

  • Eggs

  • Bacon

  • Carrots

 

In fact, with just these few ingredients, you can make a variety of different tidbits for your pup, including all of the mouthwatering recipes below. But, heed this warning, you might end up with one spoiled pup!

 

*Please read your peanut butter ingredients to ensure that it does not contain Xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs.

 

Lab eating donut dog treat

Sweet Homemade Dog Treats

 

Does your dog have a sweet tooth? You can always put some peanut butter into his Rolly Cannoli, but what about surprising him with something special in there? Here are a few simple dog treats that are all about the sweeter side of life.

 

Frozen Apple Treats

(Adapted from irresistiblepets.net)

 

  • 2 apples (remove all seeds and core)

  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (plain)

  • water

 

Core the apples and make sure to remove all of the seeds (apple seeds are poisonous for pups). Slice the apples into small pieces, then blend them with the yogurt and a little bit of water until liquid. Pour into an ice cube tray and let freeze for about 2 to 3 hours. This recipe should make about 16 treats. Make sure to store goodies in an airtight container in the freezer.

 

Peanut Butter Paw-fections

(Adapted from Puppy Leaks)

 

  • 2 cups of oat, wheat, brown rice or rye flour

  • ½ cup of peanut butter* (creamy)

  • 2 eggs

  • ¼ cup of water

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and mix the flour, egg, and peanut butter in a bowl, adding a little bit of water at a time. You want the dough just to be wet enough to roll out so you can cut into some fun shapes. Use cookie cutters or freestyle your designs if you want. Then place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the treats for about 15 minutes. You can store these treats in an airtight container in the pantry or on the counter for about a week. Depending on the size of the shapes you make, you’ll get about 36 treats. Therefore, you might want to freeze half so they don’t go to waste.

 *Please read your peanut butter ingredients to ensure that it does not contain Xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs.

 

Banana Peanut Butter Delights

(Adapted from allrecipes.com)

 

  • 1 cup of peanut butter*

  • 2 medium-sized bananas

  • 1 cup oat, wheat, brown rice or rye flour

 

Mash the bananas and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the bananas, peanut butter, and flour into a workable dough. Roll a section of dough to ¼” thickness on a lightly floured surface, then cut out different shapes using a knife or cookie cutters. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the shapes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, then cool before serving. You’ll end up with about 50 treats. Store them in an airtight container to preserve the freshness.

*Please read your peanut butter ingredients to ensure that it does not contain Xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs.

 

dog eating stick treat

 

Savory Homemade Dog Treats

 

When you think about homemade dog treats, you might jump to things like puppy cookies, peanut butter cakes, and other sweet bites. But, dogs love all sorts of flavors, and many of them are savory. So, here are a few recipes for some flavorful dog treats your pup is sure to love!

 

Meaty Pup Bites

(Adapted from Kol’s Notes)

 

  • Silicone molds of your choice (pawprints, doggy bones, or holiday-themed options, like hearts, pumpkins, Easter bunnies, etc.)

  • 1 cup cooked chicken (or your pup’s favorite meat)

  • ½ cup cooked white rice

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil

 

Finely chop all of the chicken. Then, mix all of the ingredients together in a blender, pour into the molds, and freeze! Store the bites in an airtight container in the freezer.

 

Easy-Bake Savory Nibbles

(Adapted from Food52)

 

  • ½ cup of chicken stock

  • 1 egg

  • ½ cup of carrots

  • 2 pieces of bacon

  • 2 ¼ cup oat, wheat, brown rice or rye flour

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, finely chop the bacon, and shred the carrots. Whisk together the chicken stock and egg, then add in the carrots and bacon pieces. Ensure it’s all well-mixed, then add in the flour until you have a workable dough. Roll out the dough to about ¼” thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out desired shapes and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 40 minutes, then let cool thoroughly before serving. Keep treats in an airtight container and serve within the week or freeze.

 

Chicken Jerky

(Adapted from Dog Treat Kitchen)

 

  • Chicken breast fillets

 

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with a non-stick spray. Cut the chicken into very thin strips (about ⅛”), ensuring you remove all of the fat. Place the strips onto the baking sheet and bake for about two hours until they are firm. Let the treats cool, then cut into the desired size with kitchen scissors. Store the jerky in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks, or freeze for up to 8 months.

 

Time for Treats!

 

Making dog treats at home comes with lots of benefits. You know exactly what’s going into your pup’s food, you can cater the flavors to your furry friend’s faves, and you get to pretend to have your own doggy cooking show (why not, right). Plus, you can save money and always have yummy training treats at the ready. Your kitchen will smell good, too (which will send your dog into frenzied fits of delight).

 

No matter what types of treats you decide to mix up for your canine companion, always ensure you use quality, fresh ingredients. If anything seems spoiled or expired, toss it. Also, if your dog suffers from allergies, ensure you choose recipes that won’t cause a reaction; otherwise, make the proper substitutions. For example, if your pup is allergic to wheat flour, try rice flour instead.

 

Store anything you make properly to ensure it stays healthy for our pup, and don’t let your pooch overeat. Your pup should only have about one or two full-sized treats a day, not filling up his dog bowl. After all, you can always have too much of a good thing, and just like you probably shouldn’t sit down with a whole bag of potato chips, your pup needs a limit on his daily treats. Basically, your pup’s treats should only make up about 10% of his daily calories. If you prefer to spread out the treats throughout the day, break them up into smaller pieces for your pooch.

 

For more fun tips and resources to be a super pet parent, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find everything you need to ensure your pup stays happy, healthy, and well-fed. Don't worry — we won't tell if you take a taste.

  • Fernando Becattini
14 Super Affectionate Dog Breeds

14 Super Affectionate Dog Breeds

Just like people, some dogs love to cozy up and cuddle, while others are a bit more aloof. If you're looking for a pup that likes to snuggle, certain breeds tend to enjoy it more than others. Of course, each dog is unique, and there are always exceptions to every rule, but a good starting point is to scope out the most affectionate dog breeds.

 

While you might assume small dogs are the biggest cuddlers, that's not necessarily the case. Even a big, 100-pound pooch could consider himself the perfect lap dog. It's all about your dog’s nature and personality. In fact, there are quite a few large dog breeds that are all about curling up for a good snuggle.

 

Here’s a closer look at some large and small pups that are eager to be as close to you as possible.

 

Young girl and Lab cuddling

 

Large Dogs That Are Super Affectionate

 

These medium to large-sized breeds are full of affection and unconditional love. Some of them might surprise you, while some you might have already guessed. Of course, with any dog, proper socialization and training are always essential to ensure a well-behaved and happy pooch. If you’re looking for a larger dog to add to your family, check out these big teddy bears at heart.

 

Great Dane

One of the most lovable TV pooches of all time, Scooby-Doo, is a Great Dane. If you want to go really big, you can’t get much larger than this gentle giant. Despite this pup’s imposing stature, he’s friendly and patient with a heart just as big as the rest of him. The Great Dane loves to make friends, both canine and human alike. However, he’s also a loyal guardian to his family and will stand up to any threat.

 

Labrador

Perhaps one of the most popular family dogs, this super affectionate pup simply adores his family. He loves to play, snuggle, and nuzzle everyone and is super sweet. But, don’t mistake his eagerness to cuddle as laziness; this pup also needs lots of exercise to burn off his boundless energy, so keep the leash handy.

 

Golden Retriever

These beautiful, friendly dogs are one of America’s most famous breeds, and they love their families and anyone else they happen to meet. These playful furballs never seem to get rid of their puppyhood, always wanting to romp and play, and of course, eager to cuddle up with those they love.

 

Newfoundland

These giant, fluffy pups present a powerful appearance but possess a sweet disposition. One of the most famous Newfies is the dog Nana from Peter Pan, who watches over the family children like a genuine nanny. This dog is an excellent companion, and one of the standout qualities of this breed is its affectionate nature.

 

Boxer

This active, playful pup is also super affectionate with a heart of gold. Boxers make excellent companions and playmates for children. They also are alert and consider themselves to be the guardians of their families.

 

American Pit Bull (Staffordshire) Terrier

The Pit Bull tends to get a bad rap with so many different media stories about dog attacks and dog-fighting rings. Unfortunately, while these sad stories are true, it paints a skewed picture of this breed. The American Pit is actually one of the most loyal, lovable dogs there is. However, if you decide to go with this pup, it’s vital to find a responsible and reputable breeder.

 

Collie

Collies have become an iconic American dog breed, thanks to one of the country’s most beloved celebrity pups of all time, Lassie. This breed is very loyal, affectionate, and courageous. Collies absolutely love snuggling, making them fantastic dogs for families with children.

 

Bulldog

While this rather gruff, stocky pup might come across as a little “ruff,” he’s actually a lovable bundle of sweetness and muscle. Bulldogs are loyal and brave and make excellent companions thanks to their calm and affectionate natures.

 

Pug sleeping in bed

 

Small Dogs That Love to Snuggle

 

If you’d prefer a smaller pup, there are plenty of cuddlers in the bunch. In fact, some of these smaller breeds are perfectly content to sit on your lap all day if you’d let them.

 

Bichon Frise

This happy-go-lucky pup is full of personality and ready to make friends with anyone and everything he meets. Bichons are highly intelligent and curious dogs, as well as natural-born comedians.

 

Jack Russell Terrier

Playful and curious, and equally lovable, this pup is always ready to play and very active. So, while he loves to get and give affection, he also needs lots of exercise and stimulation to stay on his best behavior. Early socialization and training are also important, and plenty of engaging, interactive toys, like the Rolly Cannoli, for days when outdoor play isn’t possible.

 

Dachshund

These popular, spritely dogs love to play and spend time with their families, but they also have strong hunting instincts. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure you take the time to socialize and train your Doxie properly.

 

Shih Tzu

This pup was born to love. She’s perfectly content to spend her life on your lap, looking at you with her big, adorable eyes. Shih Tzu are also very playful and make a wonderful pet and companion for children.

 

American Eskimo Dog

This fluffy, beautiful pup is so loving he almost demands affection. In fact, he wants nothing more than to be with his family, and if you don’t have a lot of time for him, he can develop some bad habits. Therefore, make sure you’re ready to put in the time and effort necessary to train this pup and give him all the love and attention he deserves. He’ll be more than happy to return the favor with lots of cuddles.

 

Pug

This precious pup possesses a charming nature, with a touch of playful mischief. Pugs always look like they’re smiling, making them an endearing companion. They love to play, but their favorite pastime is spending time with their family and showing lots of love.

 

Cuddly Mixed-Breeds

 

When it comes to some of the most affectionate dogs on the planet, don’t underestimate the love and affection of a mixed-breed pup. There’s a reason for the phrase, lovable old mutt. Mixed-breed dogs can be some of the sweetest and most loving pups around. If you’re ready to add a canine companion to your life, then check out various shelters and rescues.

 

Make an appointment to meet-and-greet with adoptees and spend some time with your potential future furball. You might just find the absolute perfect dog, plus you’ll help an animal in need. It’s a win-win.

 

No matter what size pooch you’re looking for, there are numerous options for affectionate pals, both big and small. Carefully consider your lifestyle and what it is you’re looking for in a dog. While affection is very important, ensure you pay attention to other qualities, like grooming needs, underlying health issues, trainability, and any other factors that are important to you.

 

Plus, remember, every dog is unique, so try to avoid making any assumptions based solely on breed. It’s always advisable to meet your new-pup-to-be in person. For more helpful and fun pet tips, check out the rest of our blog! Here’s hoping you find your new furry friend soon, and it’s a case of “puppy” love at first sight.

  • Fernando Becattini
Dog Body Language: What Is My Dog Saying to Me?

Dog Body Language: What Is My Dog Saying to Me?

Ever wish you could know what your dog was trying to tell you when he runs in circles, holds up his paw, or stares straight ahead without moving (like he thinks it makes him invisible)? If you’re a dog owner, then you’ve no doubt seen all of these gestures and positions, but you might not know what they mean. While a dog tells you a lot with its vocal sounds, like barks, growls, yips, and howls, a lot of your pet’s communication happens through body language and facial expressions.

Plus, some of the things a dog does, for example, yawning, have a whole different meaning from when humans do it. Therefore, it’s essential to realize you can’t assume your pup feels the same way you do when you perform the same action. You and your dog speak two different languages, but with some patience and effort, you can come to understand each other. This goes a long way in strengthening your bond and how you interact together.

 

The “Talkative” Tail

 

A wagging tail isn’t always a sign of happiness. Your pup says a lot with every little wiggle and pose, whether it’s that he’s nervous, scared, or ready-to-rumble. A lot depends on how fast your pup is wagging his tail, which direction, and if his tail is stiff or relaxed.


Think about the speed of your dog's tail as kind of an intensity indicator. The faster your dog wags his tail, the more intense his emotion. When it comes to tail direction, a right-wagging tail typically signals that the dog has positive feelings about whatever he sees. For example, when you come home from work, and your pup greets you with a sweeping, relaxed tail wag to the right, he’s happy to see you. However, a tail wagging to the left (especially faster, short wags) more likely signals that your pup has some negative, or at least, cautious feelings.

 

You probably already guessed that a tail tucked between the legs is a sign of fear. Your pup could be scared or stressed out if he’s holding his tail this way. If your pup’s tail is upright, he’s likely feeling sure of himself, or in some cases, this tail position can also be a sign of aggression

 

Keep It in Neutral

As you get to know your dog, learn his typical tail position. In other words, where does his tail usually rest when he’s feeling calm and relaxed? Different breeds hold their tails in different ways, and curly-tailed dogs, like Akitas and Pugs, can be a challenging read when it comes to their tails alone. So it’s important to know what’s the standard for your pup, so you can tell when he’s holding his tail higher or lower than usual.

 

Dog licking their nose

Your Dog’s Facial Expressions and Habits

When you’re happy, you smile, and when you’re nervous, you might furrow your brow. People express themselves in all sorts of ways through their various facial expressions. Dogs also have their unique way of communicating through their facial expressions and habits. For example, when a pup yawns, she’s trying to calm herself (or even you or another dog).

 

If your dog is licking excessively, she likely is anxious or stressed (unless she’s found something super tasty); licking is a form of self-soothing for dogs. This is why things like lick-mats help pups that get worked up about stressful situations like fireworks, bath time, or vet visits.

 

When your dog pants, it’s often a way for him to cool himself off. If the panting is overly heavy and excessive, it could be a potential sign of heat exhaustion, so make sure to monitor your pup closely. However, if your dog’s panting is a bit more relaxed and accompanied by an equally casual attitude, then she might be telling you she’s ready to play.

 

Finally, a little bit about the doggy smile: dogs can smile, but a typical doggy smile is an open mouth that exposes a bit of the front teeth, and it usually coincides with a happy attitude. If your pup pulls her lips back tightly to where you can see most of her teeth, especially if the rest of her seems a bit tense; this is not a smile; this is more likely a warning.

 

The “Eyes” Have It

 

A big part of anyone’s facial expressions is the eyes. Eyes can give away a lot about what a person is feeling, and the same holds true for your canine companion. Pay attention to whether your dog’s eyes appear relaxed, almost like she’s squinting. This is an indication that your pup is content and feeling good. However, if your dog’s stare is more of a glare or super intense, this signals the opposite emotion. Your pup is probably anxious about something or on high alert and possibly ready to attack if provoked.

 

Instead of an intense stare, if your dog looks away or avoids making eye contact, then he likely feels nervous or uncomfortable. Looking away could be a way for him to diffuse a tense situation or try to calm himself down. Your dog also probably feels stressed out if you see the whites of his eyes, often referred to as “whale eye.”

 

Beagle wanting to play

Reading Your Dog’s Posture

 

Perhaps one of the most famous, easy-to-read doggy poses is the play-bow. This is when your pup lowers his head and the front part of his body closer to the floor while his hindquarters stay raised. Basically, your dog is saying, “Come on, let’s play!” Or, when you grab your pup’s leash, and he starts happily bouncing around in circles, he’s letting you know he’s super-excited about what’s about to happen.

 

If your pup raises a paw or tilts his head to the side, this often signals uncertainty or confusion. However, some hunting breeds might lift a paw if they sense prey. In some cases, your pup might lift his paw if he’s waiting for you to toss a ball or other toy.

 

If your dog stands tall, shifts his weight forward, and has an overall stillness, he is likely on alert or about to engage in aggressive behavior. Pay attention to all of your pup’s body language and cues. However, if he's doing the opposite and crouching close to the ground, he might be scared. This is a sign of submission in dogs, rolling onto the back and exposing the belly. However, if all of the rest of your dog’s cues are relaxed and he rolls onto his back, he might just want a belly rub.

 

Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Hair

 

If you suddenly see all the hair on your pup’s back stand on end (raising his hackles), it could mean he’s scared, on alert, or just excited. When this happens, it’s essential to observe the other signs that your dog is exhibiting.

 

Dog Body Language: Putting It All Together

 

Companies like FluentPet have come up with a unique way to help your dog communicate with you: speech buttons. Basically, you train your pup to use various buttons that represent different needs, words, etc. If you’re feeling particularly motivated, you could give it a shot. However, it’s still a good idea to know what your pup’s body language means. After all, if he’s feeling particularly stubborn one day, he probably won't be up for pushing buttons (except maybe for yours).

 

Therefore, once you know the basics, reading your dog’s body language is kind of like putting together a puzzle. Each piece plays its part, and when you put them all together, you can decipher what exactly your dog is feeling.

 

Understanding and good communication is a critical part of any relationship, and knowing what your faithful friend is trying to tell you makes a significant difference. For more helpful tips like these, make sure to check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find everything from the low-down on useful products to important resources and fun ideas of how to spend quality time with your precious pets.

  • Fernando Becattini
Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Pets

Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Pets

It’s estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects roughly 10 million people each year in the United States. Depression affects people with a range of symptoms in conjunction with the altered environment and weather that accompanies the changing seasons. However, although doctors have known that SAD can affect humans for a while now, there isn’t as much study into pets’ mental conditions. But, since it’s also believed that animals and humans can feel the same emotions, then it stands to reason that your beloved pet’s sudden changes in behavior could be due to SAD.

 

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder typically affects people in the winter, when days are shorter, grayer, and colder. It’s a lot more than just “feeling the blues.” It can cause feelings of depression, extreme fatigue, and many other severe symptoms.


Although there is not much research into the possibility of SAD affecting animals, there is no reason to believe that your furry friends can’t experience the disorder. The changing seasons can have an adverse effect on your pet, just like it can on you. Therefore, it pays to know the signs.

 

Dog laying on pillow


Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Pets

There are numerous signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, including decreased appetite and energy. In humans, symptoms can range from trouble sleeping to depression and sadness to significant swings in appetite, mood, and weight. Although most common in the fall and winter, some people experience SAD in the spring and summer months.


Still, when it comes to your pet, animals believed to have SAD exhibit signs similar to humans. When the days start to bring less sunlight, this can have several negative effects on your pets, including:


SAD Symptoms in Dogs and Cats:

 

  • Lethargy and a general lack of energy or sleeping more than usual

  • Appetite changes, usually eating less or not at all

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Hiding 

  • Excessive licking (dogs often lick as a way to soothe themselves, so this can be a sign that your pup is agitated or stressed)

  • Bathroom accidents

 

Of course, if you notice any of these signs in your pet, it’s worth a call to your vet. While they might be attributed to SAD, it could be something else. You can try different things to help alleviate your pet’s symptoms; however, if they don’t work, definitely see your vet ASAP.

 

Woman playing with cat


Tips for Treating Your Pet’s Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

If your pet is feeling down in the dumps, here are a few ways you can help boost her mood.


Let There Be Light

 

One of the most significant steps you can take to improve your pal’s mood is to increase her exposure to natural light. In fact, this is worth keeping in mind year-round. If possible, position your pet’s bed near a window, and on sunny days make sure to pull back the curtains and roll up the shades.


On days when sunlight is in short supply, opt for a lightbox or a full-spectrum sunlight therapy lamp. People that suffer from depression and SAD use these lamps to help combat the effects of the disorder.


For the lamp to work, the light needs to enter your pet’s pupils, so make sure your pet is awake when using it. The idea is the light helps alter brain chemistry, helping alleviate feelings of sadness and boost your mood. Typically, a person uses a sunlight lamp for about 45 minutes to over an hour a day. It’s best to discuss this with your vet to determine the proper amount of time for your dog or cat.


Get Active

 

Just like exercise helps you pep up, staying active helps your pets stay happy and healthy. Plus, it’s great for maintaining their weight and muscle tone. To get a double bonus, start your day with a walk in the sunshine with your canine companion. You’ll feel better, too, and your furry pal will get in some much-needed exercise and become less likely to get bored.


If it’s chilly outside, the odds are good that your dog won’t be bothered too much by the cold, but if he is, you can always get him a snazzy doggy coat. For your cat, bring some of her favorite toys out on the porch to play, or have some fun bonding time near a sunny window. Keep your pup stimulated and engaged indoors, too, with interactive toys like the Rolly Cannoli, and your cat will love hunting games. You can place several treats or toys throughout the house for her to find, or try some fun treat puzzles.

 

Look at it this way, when you don’t have anything to do, are lonely, and it’s kind of blah outside, you probably start to feel blue. Your pet could be feeling the same way, so give him opportunities to socialize, play, and move. You could even make a fun winter trip with your pal. All of these activities can help improve your pet’s mood and physical health, not to mention keep him from getting bored.


Eat a Healthy Diet

 

One of the best things you can do for your pet is to ensure you fill her food bowl with a nutritious diet no matter what time of year it is. Find pet foods that have wholesome ingredients without lots of artificial flavors, preservatives, and fillers. Limit treats and avoid feeding your pet table food.


Never give your pet any kind of medication or supplement to help with her mood unless you have thoroughly discussed it with your veterinarian. While specific vitamins might be beneficial for humans to take during the winter, like Vitamin D, they can cause some significant issues for your pets. On the other hand, some supplements could prove to be very helpful for your cat and dog, like Omega-3’s and probiotics, but always check with your vet first.


“It’s Not You; It’s Me”


You probably already know that your pet can pick up on your emotions, including depression. Your pet might sense when you’re nervous, upset, or excited. Well, it’s also very possible that your depressed pet is picking up on your moodiness.


If you’re experiencing SAD symptoms, and you’re depressed, bored, tired, or just feeling down, your constant companion is likely picking up on these feelings and mirroring them. In this case, it’s not necessarily the changing seasons directly affecting your pet, but your changing moods. Plus, if you’re less active in the winter, maybe you’re not taking your dog on as many walks or playing with your cat as often as you usually do. By default, your pet doesn’t get as much exercise as he’s used to and feels the effects.


Therefore, as hard as it may be, grab the leash and take your pup for a walk. Shake the fake mouse and start a play session with your kitty. If you’re really struggling, it’s worth a trip to your doctor. However, try to keep your pet’s routine the same, despite the changing weather.


If you’re worried your pet’s behavior has changed along with the changing seasons, give some of these tips a try. But, no matter what, talk to your vet just in case there’s anything else going on; your vet can rule out other potential issues, plus give you some extra suggestions for your pal. For more helpful resources on how to care for your pet, check out the rest of our blog! Now, go cuddle up with your companion and have some fun!

  • Fernando Becattini
Cat Communication: What Is My Cat Saying?

Cat Communication: What Is My Cat Saying?

Do you ever get the feeling your cat is trying to tell you something? Of course you do, because your furry friend is speaking to you with every purr, stretch, and twitch. But, since you’re a human, you likely have no clue what your cat is trying to communicate, and if you guess wrong, you might end up with one frustrated feline. Therefore, read on for some of the most common types of cat communication. You may have already noticed some of them from your curious kitty.

 

A cat hissing


What Your Cat Is Saying with Her Body

Cats communicate mostly through their bodies and gestures. They have tons of absolutely adorable antics, from the upside-down glance as they roll onto their backs to the playful swats at irresistible laser pointers. But, they also have several gestures and positions they don’t mean to be cute, like a bristled tail or a stiff stance with an arched back.


For example, if your cat arches her back but is standing to the side, she’s likely nervous or scared. Although she might be willing to fight, she’s more likely to flee to somewhere she feels safe in this situation. However, if your cat arches her back and is standing face to face with another cat (or someone or something else), she’s saying she’s ready to fight.

Conversely, if your kitty relaxes her body or rolls on her back, she’s telling you she trusts you and feels at ease. Also, if she starts kneading her paws on your lap, she’s saying she’s perfectly content. Of course, you might not feel the same if your cat has sharp claws, so make sure to give her plenty of ways to keep them in good shape.


If you’re really feeling motivated to up your communication with your feline friend, you could give speech buttons a try. This recent tool involves a series of buttons, each representing something different, that you train your cat to press when she wants something. Amazing, right


If buttons aren’t your thing, here’s a look at what your cat is trying to say with all of her different poses and positions.


Talking with the Tail

Your cat’s tail might be one of the best ways to read what she’s thinking and feeling. In fact, she uses it so much, that if you notice her suddenly not moving it at all, something could be wrong. If your cat stops wagging or moving her tail, ensure she doesn’t have any tail injuries.


Here are a few common tail positions and motions and what they mean:

 

  • Low Tail -- If your cat is holding her tail low, she is likely telling you she is feeling scared or wary of something. 

  • Bristled Tail -- Your cat bristles her tail to tell you she’s scared or ready to fight. The best way to tell which is the case is to pay attention to what the rest of her body is doing. Often, cat communication involves several different body parts doing certain things. For example, an upright, bristled tail along with an arched back and exposed claws is your cat’s way of saying, “You better get out of here, right now.”

  • Trailing Tail -- If your cat simply trails her tail behind her, not holding it high or low, she is most likely feeling relaxed. 

  • Tucked Tail -- When your cat tucks her tail between her legs or below her body, she’s trying to tell you she feels anxious or worried. 

  • High-held Tail -- If your cat holds her tail high, but it’s relaxed and not stiff, she’s feeling confident, just like when you tell a friend to hold her head up high.

 

Talking with the Ears

 

As a human, you have many ways to communicate, but it’s a pretty good assumption that you don’t do so with your ears. However, when it comes to your cat, she can actually tell you quite a bit with her ears.


  • Ears Pricked Forward -- Your cat is telling you that something has caught her attention. Whatever it is, she is on alert and ready to investigate. 

  • Ears Relaxed Forward -- Your cat is saying she’s on alert but feeling relaxed.

  • Ears Held Back -- In some cases, this could be as simple as your cat heard something behind her, but it usually means she’s anxious or feels threatened.

  • Ears Held Back and Flat Against the Head -- Basically, your cat is saying, “back off.” She feels scared or angry, and if she feels threatened, she is likely to scratch or get aggressive to get out of the situation.

  • Ears Held Down and to the Side -- Your feline friend is telling you that she’s happy and content. Especially if she’s also purring and her eyes look sleepy.

 

 Talking with the Eyes

 

The eyes are how many different animals, including humans, express their emotions and communicate various messages. Your cat is no exception. Here are a few popular ways that your cat speaks with her eyes.


  • Wide Eyes -- Wide eyes mean your cat is on alert. Pay attention to the rest of her body language to decide if she’s alert and relaxed or if she’s feeling antsy or threatened. 

  • Narrowed Eyes -- If your cat’s eyes are narrowed, she is on alert but likely scared, or she can potentially get aggressive. Again, it’s vital to assess all of her different body cues to determine the case.

  • Sleepy Eyes -- If your cat’s eyes are closed or barely open, she’s telling you she is feeling super relaxed.

  • Dilated Pupils -- Your cat’s pupils can dilate if she’s excited or if she’s scared. However, narrow pupils can signal a mad kitty. Of course, her eyes could also merely be responding to the light in the room, which is why considering her overall body language is so essential.


Talking with the Whiskers


Yes, even your cat’s whiskers are trying to tell you something. Here are the most common ways your cat tells it like it is with her whiskers.


  • Bristled Whiskers -- Typically, bristled whiskers signal that your cat is scared or about to fight. However, she would usually give off some other signs as well, like a stiff, upright tail and arched back.

  • Forward Whiskers -- Your cat is telling you that she sees something that has her on alert, whether it’s food or a threat. 

  • Whiskers Held Back -- Your cat is saying she feels relaxed and calm.

 

In addition to this popular cat lingo, your cat also has numerous ways to tell you she loves you. Unfortunately, not all of them might feel too good. For example, she might gently bite you (like a cat does when it grooms a kitten). Other ways your cat shows affection is by butting her head against you, and if she rubs her nose or cheek against you, she’s claiming you. Yep, that’s right; she’s marking her territory and saying, “This human is mine!”

 

Cat against wall

Cat Chat: Get the Message?

 

Just like humans, your cat also talks with her voice, although perhaps not as much as with her body; you just need to learn her language. Cats communicate with various sounds, including meows, purrs, hisses, and other interesting noises. Each trill, rumble, and mew means something, and many pair with different body positions and gestures to expand your cat’s communication skills.


What’s in a Meow? -- Cats basically meow to tell their humans they want or need something. Typically, this is more food or water in their dish, affection, or they want to play. You won’t usually hear cats meowing to each other in conversation, although they use other sounds to talk to their feline friends.


Warning Words -- When your cat hisses, it’s exactly what you expect, a warning. However, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. If your curious kitty is up to something she shouldn’t be, give her a hiss. You’ll likely distract her, and she’ll stop the undesired behavior.


If you come across a cat you don’t know and receive a hiss, don’t push the issue. One scratch from a feral cat could lead to rabies and other issues.


If your cat emits a loud, rising yowl sound that seems to go up and down in intensity, she’s ready to fight. However, if it sounds more subdued, your cat might be trying to tell you she’s uncomfortable or not feeling well...or about to cough up a hairball.


Pleasant Purrs -- Although your cat might produce a type of raspy sounding purr if she’s injured, usually, a purr signals ultimate trust and satisfaction. Your cat will purr when she’s relaxed, happy, and perfectly content with how things are going in her world. In fact, she might be so peaceful; she’ll fall asleep.


You might sometimes hear your cat give a short little purr, often to another cat. This is the equivalent of you telling a good friend hello. Your kitty also may use this sound as a reply when you speak to her.


Of course, every cat is unique and will have her unique ways of telling you how she feels, but most cats follow this basic cat code. Once you know what your furry friend is trying to say to you, your relationship can get even better. (Now, if only she could scoop her litter box). For more ways to help be the best pet parent you can be, make sure to check out the rest of our blog. You’ll always find something useful and interesting to learn about your precious pets.

  • Fernando Becattini