two cats

Shift your focus away from correcting this bad behavior. Your cat needs to defecate on fabric? You can make peace and live without poop! Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, October 15 for my Facebook Live on healthy management of feline fecal soiling. I’ll be ready for questions.

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dogs dominance

You need to establish dominance over your dog so he’ll know that you’re in charge. Ah, no, you don’t. Dogs are not man’s and woman’s best friends because they fear us. In fact, they love us when our leadership inspires trust and security. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, October 1 for…

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panicked puppy

Crying, scratching at the door, chewing furniture and woodwork – these are not the behaviors you were looking for when you fell in love with that cute, wriggling puppy. You’ll need to practice kindness and patience to get through this. You also need a plan.

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photo of a cat sleeping in a bed

Yowling, urinating, maybe even some in-the-crate defecating: Are we having fun yet? The anxiety and misery our traveling cats feel, often on the way to the veterinary clinic, needs to light-up. Opting-out of medical care shortens lives. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, September 10 for my Facebook Live. I’ll be ready…

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Chronic arthritis, surgery, bad teeth, back and neck pain – lots of cats and dogs suffer. There are safe, modern treatments that can make a big difference. Know what to look for and how to help. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, September 3 for my Facebook Live. I’ll share an update…

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competing dogs

Can’t you just share some love or a snack without all the pushing, shoving, or maybe even a growl or worse? You can but your canine leadership will need some refinement. Keep your dogs in line without hurting anyone’s feelings. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time for my Facebook Live. I’ll be ready for…

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aging dogs video

By the time they’re reached their golden years most dogs have pretty good bathroom etiquette. If they start leaving urine and stool around the house, it’s a problem. Tune-in to my Facebook Live to find out what to do about these unplanned deposits.

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dog looking through fence

Tunneling, climbing, running off – OMG! Raise the fence? Electric wire? Let’s figure out why this is happening and help your good dog stay home and succeed. Serious anxiety needs serious care.

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Do you live in a litter pan? OK, not really – but does it feel that way when you find cat urine around the house? I feel your pain; one of my cats is prone to this odious behavior. Nobody’s happy. Let’s get serious.

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video dogs who bite

It’s so upsetting getting bitten by a dog you love. Should you punish? What happens when the trust is lost? Maybe another home would be better – or not? Don’t make a final decision until you understand the facts. I’ll share some strategies.  

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canine anxiety

Panting, pacing, licking, pesky – you’re not alone. Our dogs do the same things when they get wiggy. Anxiety is more than miserable; left uncontrolled it causes internal physical disease. A great dog who panics can become defensive. You can help both of you feel better.

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More than miserable, blistering summer days can bring dangerous hot spots and a failure of normal panting to release body heat. Keeping our dogs safe and comfortable is about more than ventilation and air conditioning. It’s not hard if you understand the problems.

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canine aggression video

A great friendship can go bad. Aggression between family dogs is common. And the person in-charge doing their best to break it up and make it work can make it worse and get hurt. We can help most of these angry dogs but not with reprimands and punishment.

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COVID19 doesn’t scare our cats but they might get wiggy when we return to work. They thought we were home for good. Finding themselves without us all day could trigger some rather stressful and messy separation behaviors.

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When dog people return to work some pets will wig-out. Anxious before stay-at-home orders they’ve now become accustomed to our secure presence. Your returning to work may cause a dog with separation distress to destabilize and lose control. You can get ahead of this now. It isn’t hard to do.  

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two cats

Cats can be cranky, pesky, and a bit snarky with other pets. Scolding and water spraying doesn’t teach them better behavior. Instead of reacting badly, kitties can have fun with their people by working for clicks and food.

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leash aggression

Out-of-control lunging, barking, and growling! OMG! You’re doing your best to control the mayhem but nothing changes. And besides, punishment is no fun for anybody. Dogs need to do something else instead – like working for their leader. They can change. And we can make it fun.

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aggression on leash video

A dog who obeys fast and reliably can overcome the urge to lunge and bark and lose its mind on leash walks. What if your dog automatically looked to you – instead of reacting aggressively to people and other dogs? Let’s get you both educated.

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dog on leash

The leash walk – you’re only way of getting the heck out of the house – can be maddening and maybe even unsafe. Just seeing another creature causes your dog to growl and lurch, risking a human face plant. Jerk the leash and yell? There’s no future in it. You’re miserable, your dog is stressed,…

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anxious dog

We love our pets like little people in furry suits – that’s the way I feel about mine. But if we’re going to get the calm behavior we want we need to speak their language. That includes predictability. If your dog has an anxiety problem – like so many people do right now, that pupster…

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cat in a box

Good cats can go bad when petted. Yell at him? Hose him? Just give up on sharing affection with a kitty you love? Much better – find out why a sweet cat would do such a thing and manage the cause. It may not be behavioral – or it might.

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child with dogs

Kids and pets – What a great way of bringing out the best in children with emotional or behavioral challenges! But there may be stresses to the dog and risks to the child. You can get it right for everybody but you’ll need to recognize the clues.

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You’ve found the perfect pet for someone really special. In your mind you can already see them together! Watching the wriggling box get unwrapped and that look of astonishment and glee – well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Pets can change lives – but not every surprise goes well. Everybody’s needs matter. Let’s…

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large breed dog by the water

A twisted stomach, filling with gas is a painful medical and surgical emergency. If you have a large breed, deep chested dog you need the facts on bloat, also called gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV).

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Our pets bring us so much joy when they’re active and playful. When these characters are at peace, I am too. But if they have pain or if they struggle with anxiety when home alone something needs to be done to help them feel better. We now have what it takes – and we can…

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Cat urine on the rug (yuck), on the sofa (eewww), on your bed (OMG!!!) How about a kitty who howls and yowls when she can’t find you? Beyond the urine messes your cat may be seriously wigged-out when you’re gone. Separation anxiety is a beastly problem for cats.

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Pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs and their short-faced brethren have strong bonds with their people. That’s a good thing for everybody in part because these dogs can face physical challenges. Give them the right care and they can breathe well and enjoy healthy skin. And they’ll still be mighty cute.

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Anxiety can be crippling. If one of us doesn’t have a major problem with intense worry we know someone who does. It’s the most common behavior disorder of humans – and pets too. Anxiety is overwhelming; it can drive a pet and its people crazy. But there is safe help. Nobody should have to live…

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Does your cat hate kids? Can you turn that around – safely? You can teach your kids how to stay safe and how to set a cat up for success. Should they approach quietly or wait for the kitty to come to them? I’ll share the do’s and don’ts.

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Adoption Isn’t for Everybody. Some dogs with feral backgrounds are so terrified that defensive aggression is easily triggered. Others try to hide or escape. There are undomesticated dogs who can learn that good things come from people they trust.

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Normal Aging? Dementia? Barking, pacing, clingy, soiling? Older dogs and cats who cry, act lost, and stare at walls are not normal. We can help but our best improvements are in early cases. Learn to notice the first signs in dogs and cats over age 10. Advanced senility can improve.

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More commonly seen in young, often female dogs, they roll onto their sides, may raise one rear leg, and dribble. You, the pet parent, are the Grand Poobah for your dog. Excitement/submissive urine soiling occurs only when you make your grand entrance.

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Snuggle Bunnies? Predators? If they’re close to losing impulse control they might actually communicate. Hissing, growling, spitting, ears back, pupils dilated – Cats in this mindset need space. Keep all interactions slow and gentle.

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dog on leash

Dogs need Good Manners Some dogs follow their person’s lead and happily go along with just about anything. Others struggle to do the right thing, needing a bit more hands-on management. A lot of them are anxious or afraid but many are just not clear on the concept. They don’t get it. A reliable structure,…

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Vitamin D recall

Check with FDA Mistakes happen. Multiple dog food brands have been found to contain excessive levels of the essential nutrient vitamin D. Some have 70 times the correct amount. Don’t panic. So far only a handful of dogs have gotten seriously ill. No cat foods have been suspected. The FDA web page, where the recalled…

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dog listening to commands

They’re good listeners too Why do dogs follow commands like sit and stay if they don’t understand English? When we speak are they processing the words we’re saying or the tone we’re using? The answer to these questions from a middle schooler with a science project is that pet dogs can learn to recognize our…

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They’re good listeners too Why do dogs follow commands like sit and stay if they don’t understand English? When we speak are dogs processing the words we are saying, or the tone we are using? Our dogs don’t miss anything, even though they don’t understand everything.

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aggressive dog

The doorbell rings and your dog attacks the door. Then it’s WWE action as you struggle to get the door open without a takedown of your unsuspecting visitor. Or maybe you have a dog who watches from a distance, with her ears back and her tail low, as you invite your guest inside. All seems…

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puppy

Fufu’s sharp teeth and nails had scratched and scraped his people enough times that they were reluctant to handle the little guy. It was painful for them. They needed the step-by-step of getting their wild child under control but first we had to set him up for success. Treatment of behavior disorders can be a…

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puppy

Fufu, the assertive and overconfident baby dog, arrived woefully unprepared for life in his new home. He was just 7 weeks old when he confused his new pet parents, Melissa and Jeremy, with 4 legged fuzzy playmates. He started nipping and rough-housing and treating them like his buds on day one. Showing a lack of…

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puppy

Facebook Live Do your pets crack under holiday pressure? You can ask me anything or just listen in during my Facebook Live event, called “Pet Angst: Naughty or Nice?” at 6 PM on Wednesday, December 19. Go to Facebook.com/drjeffnichol. Invite your friends. Together we’ll reach peace on earth. Taking a puppy into your life is…

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You’re invited to my Facebook Live event called Holiday Worries for Jangled Pets. I’ll share valuable methods for keeping pets peaceful and avoiding hazards on Wednesday, December 19 at 6 PM MDT. You’ll have lots of time to ask me questions. Go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol   JP would scratch and bite his person anytime she tried…

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Jack was a 2 year old female dog, a Heinz 57. This kid was as sweet as they come, adapting pretty well to her second family except for one really annoying problem. When her folks walked in the door she displayed her feelings by rolling onto her side, raising one rear leg, and draining her…

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scared puppy

Do you have a great dog who is everything you’ve ever wanted in man’s or woman’s best friend – except for one really annoying problem? Some dogs wag when greeting their people, others may jump around and bark but your dog flops on her side and dribbles, and I don’t mean with a basketball. It…

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Prior to JP’s stretch in animal control, where his new person Esther found him, this feline waif had already been through two homes. This good lady wanted to learn how she could give her new kitty the love he needed. He just wouldn’t let her touch him. Esther knew that being touched appropriately as a…

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Petting cat head

Do you know anybody whose adult life could have been easier and a whole lot happier if they’d been treated better as a child? Not only do I know people like that, I’m one of them. In my work I’m fortunate to meet pets and humans with broken and battered pasts. We are not alone.…

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Dogs are man’s and woman’s best friends but there are differences. Unlike most of us they walk on all 4s and they’re somewhat hairier. But like us they’re genetically programmed to look after each other. My dog, Miss America is always on duty. When things go wrong in an animal’s brain it can be difficult…

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As Lily headed toward the bedroom she glanced at her cat as a way of getting a read on his mood. She loved Omar but he could be impetuous. At times he was a sweetheart but he could bite – hard. His history included violent reactions when his person brushed him.

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I was just 8 years old when I made my first trip to the animal hospital with my new puppy. I felt inspired by the doctor who examined him. He was kind to me and my new dog. I was fascinated with his work and I was taken with his professionalism. I was hooked. Practicing…

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As Lily headed toward the bedroom she glanced at her cat as a way of getting a read on his mood. She loved Omar but he could be impetuous. At times he was a sweetheart but he could bite – hard. His history included violent reactions when his person brushed him.

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cat bites when petted

Lily had just finished putting away her groceries when she walked past Omar, her 2 year old Ragdoll cat. This good lady relied on her fuzzy house mate for more than she might readily admit. They lived alone together in a normal house on a normal street. She seldom went out; Omar never did. As…

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During Luna’s first weeks she missed out on gentle social exposures, causing her to be afraid when approached by anyone. Well-meaning human attempts to make friends triggered defensive lunging and snapping. You can side-step fearful encounters for your puppy by providing the kid with choices. Let your puppy choose to interact when he is ready.…

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puppy panic

Reactive Adult Dogs can still Learn Luna’s life with Hope and Brian began with great promise. But it wasn’t long before her freak-out moments began to consume their lives. When well-meaning dog lovers approached or reached for her she trembled, growled, and dribbled urine. Setting Luna up for success would be the most important priority…

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puppy panic

Reactive Adult Dogs can still Learn Luna’s life with Hope and Brian began with great promise. This busy couple wasn’t ready to start a human family but they loved pets. Apartment living made a small dog a good choice. They’re socially conscious people who wanted to make a difference so off they went to the…

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Cats fighting

Cats are a unique species. They’re not 10# people in furry suits and they’re certainly not dogs with short ears. Despite those differences, or maybe because of them, their presence is essential to my wellbeing and maybe to yours too. In fact, I love cats so much I’d adopt more of them but I know…

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Some dogs can be pushy, pesky, and demanding of attention. It’s an annoying problem, often related to anxiety. What begins as attention-seeking can end up as play-related aggression. This causes anxiety for some dogs; others may believe their person is just playing. If the dog has a lot of pent-up energy like this one she…

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Avoid the Mess: Set your Cats Up for Success – The scent of urine in all the wrong places is a drag on everybody’s wellbeing – your cats’ and yours too. They need easy access to clean litter pans because they really hate stepping around in a stinky soggy mess, holding their little noses to…

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Happy cat

There are a lot of different reasons for nefarious urinating. Cats don’t stink up our homes because they secretly hate our guts. They’re not spiting their people as retribution for some off-color joke made at their expense. Most cats who are guilty of this crime suffer serious stress. Getting your arms around the feline bathroom…

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dogs

A peaceful existence is difficult for a lot of us in today’s world. Strife and acrimony should be rare. For a canine senior called Grace, getting up and around is becoming increasingly difficult; she has a bad back and structurally incorrect knees. But she runs and sniffs and eats and plays with the other free-ranging…

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A peaceful existence is difficult for a lot of us in today’s world. There is so much conflict, office politics, lack of acceptance, isolation. It’s almost everywhere you look. Aren’t we considered a “developed” nation? Maybe not. It’s a good thing we have pets. I know a place where strife and acrimony are rare. I’ve…

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Kitten stuck in tree

Lifelines come when they are needed the most Surprises happen on the Rio Grande irrigation system. Gaston had already been watching us when he called out for help. He had to take a chance. Frank and I might be his only shot at survival, especially in his current state: wet, cold, thirsty, hungry, and a…

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kitten

Lifelines come when they are needed the most Gaston had already been watching us when he called out for help. Rather than panicking and running toward us with abandon he held back a bit, knowing it was a gamble. Still, he had to take a chance. Frank and I and our relaxed but active dog…

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puppy house training video

Housetraining can feel like such a challenge that many people just give up and mop up. You can get so completely flummoxed and frustrated that you lose their patience. You can teach your spiffy new puppy – in just one day – where to find the dog bathroom. He’ll learn that all good things come…

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prong collar

Download a .pdf version of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) position statement on The Use of Punishment. Giving dogs and other creatures a clear reason not to engage in bad behavior would seem like a quick and simple way of solving a problem. But when a dog or cat gets a painful…

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Puppy on a leash

Puppies are great fun. They run and play and live in the moment, completely uninhibited – including when they get the urge to eliminate. Housetraining can feel like such a challenge that many people just give up and mop up. Others, so completely flummoxed and frustrated that they lose their patience, have resorted to yelling…

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choose the best kitten

Is this possible? Can you choose the great feline friend who will be the faithful excellent companion you have always wanted? I think you can but there are many “ifs” involved. This is an issue that is both simple and rather complicated all at once. I’d like to start by asking whether you are a…

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So what can you do if the dog who’s stolen your heart damages your house while you’re away-often? If you have a dog like this you can feel desperate. Dogs with separation anxiety can actually look forward to their alone time because that will be their chance to engage their innate survival instincts. I hope…

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dog damages property

What can you do if the dog who has stolen your heart damages your house while you’re away-often? More than frustrating, separation anxiety can damage the bond that makes these special pets our best friends. This disorder is nobody’s fault. And it’s common. Many affected dogs, beside themselves with angst house soil, dig, scratch, chew,…

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separation anxiety dogs

Why it Happens; What to Do Dogs are our best friends for some really strong reasons. They’re always delighted to see us, they’ll follow us anywhere, and they’ll never run off with somebody else. Those traits are hard to find in another human. Most everybody I know does their best but, in some ways, dogs…

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Cats scratching furniture

It would seem logical to correct or punish a destructive cat but these apparently nefarious acts are actually part of the normal feline behavioral repertoire. Feliscratch is a synthetic analogue of the scratching pheromone that cats feel compelled to spread around their territories. Applying liquid Feliscratch, where you want your cat to scratch, will communicate…

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Declawing is so ‘90s (actually ‘60s) There is a definite calming influence that comes with having a cat sharing my home. They are delightful creatures but even the best-behaved kitty isn’t perfect, though, is she? When I list the reasons for this love affair, like companionship, affection, entertainment, and a great example of living in…

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Teach her that good things come from the man in her life Some dogs are genetically programmed with low-status personalities. They can lose the heebie jeebies if a man ignores them as he drops a few small bits of tasty food. After he repeats this dozens of times he can reach down with a tender…

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Aggressive cat in veterinary clinic

This is the story of Sherman, a well-loved cat with long-standing defensive-aggression in veterinary clinics. It was so bad that his people quit taking him for routine wellness exams. As a result his kidney failure wasn’t diagnosed until its advanced stage. It wasn’t that Sherman’s people didn’t feel that medical care was important; he just…

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Angry cat

When I met Sherman he was a sporty little black and white feline youth of about 8 weeks. During my first exam room encounter with him he stood up for himself. I respected his strength of character. I vaccinated and neutered Sherman, events that left our professional relationship unscathed. His family consisted of Bonnie and…

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Thanksgiving hazards for pets

Thanksgiving is great fun, isn’t it? Family, football, turkey, pie, beer. Hey – let the good times roll. Well, for you and me, sure, but maybe not for everybody. Badly unsettled dogs and cats may carry out some unhealthy behaviors. Watch for tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with…

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Dogs Lightening Phobia

Dogs who freak-out during storms, fireworks, and airborne events like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta have true phobias. There’s nothing logical about these fears. Just like humans with unfounded anxieties, these pets need special consideration. Hiding, trembling, and nervous panting indicate serious misery. Kindness is called for in big doses. These poor dogs are in survival…

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Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs Halloween is great, isn’t it? You can go incognito and so can your dog. And the snacks, oooh, they’re to die for, aren’t they? But if it’s a dog who indulges – even a little- chocolate can be fatal. Of the vast array of goodies consumed in mass quantities during…

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Sharing your life with a great dog is a lot like any important relationship. Social skills matter.  Behavioral research understands this. Puppies do better in life if they stay with their mothers and litter mates until the age of 5-7 weeks. Picking the right breed is important too but remember that everybody is a unique…

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The Mind-Body Connection is Big Lulu is a really sweet female Australian cattle dog and she’s mighty cute too. She’s 2 years old and she’s a big girl, weighing in at 50 pounds. Lulu lives with a very committed pet parent who will do whatever it takes for her dog’s well-being. That’s a good thing…

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Kindness – on everybody’s part – is a key ingredient. In my work I see life lessons on the power of kindness every day. A few months ago a little girl and her big scared dog were students and they were teachers. The story of Buster the boxer, and the little girl who loves him,…

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Panic is No Fun for Anybody Buddy was a really cute 2 year old dog when we met. Her problem was that she lost her composure and released a bladder full of urine with almost any hint of excitement. She didn’t show up alone, though, but with her Mom in tow. Buddy may be an…

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Our dogs are special to us. None of us wants there to be any problem. They need to stay well and enjoy a great long life with us. If you learn to examine your own dog at home and you’ll be able to uncover concerns early so they can be checked out by your veterinarian.…

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Pets who eat nonfood items can pay a big price for their curiosity. Swallowed linear foreign material, like yarn, ribbon, or dental floss, can saw holes in the intestinal wall leading to septic peritonitis. We can protect these little guys by cat–proofing the house. Keep an eye out for innocent but potentially harmful household items.…

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Pets who age gracefully bring comfort to their doting pet parents. But not all of them do well in their golden years. Some get dementia that their families mistake for normal aging. Alzheimer’s disease is pretty common in older people. The symptoms of dementia and the unhealthy brain changes seen in some older dogs are…

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There are important reasons to keep a close eye on our cats. They tend to hide their illnesses and injuries. It’s just who they are. Their genetically programmed reality puts the responsibility for their well-being on their people. Cats are wonderful pets but in many respects they are very different than we are. Unlike people…

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Jumping up can be an annoying behavior. It can also be dangerous if a big dog jumps up on children or elderly people. You can punish, reprimand, or correct a dog who does this but you can damage the relationship. And some dogs think that people are playing with them when they are pushed off.…

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