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Monday, June 1

Much surprising advice for dog and cat caretakers

This article by Michelle Crouch in Reader's Digest is a year old but it's the first time I've come across it: 50 Secrets Your Pet Won’t Tell You: "We asked animal behaviorists, nutritionists, veterinarians, and pet groomers to shed some light on what your furry friends would tell you if they could."

The 50 pieces of advice are presented in slide-show format but can be viewed in a single page format. Some of the advice is easy to figure out with close observation but I think much of it will come as a surprise. It really took people who do nothing but study dogs and cats to figure these things out.

Below, a few items of the advice but if you have a cat or dog or both the entire article is a must read.

As a matter of fact, it's a must read for everyone who knows people who have a cat or dog. Please pass along the article. Several items of the advice are critically important to the animal's physical health and others are big peacemakers.

Cats

Remember, I see the world as vertical, not horizontal

So instead of getting mad when I knock things off the mantel, build me a cat superhighway around the room. Put up a shelf that leads up to a bookcase that leads to a mantel that leads to a chair that gets me down.

Just because I’m purring doesn’t mean I’m happy and content.
I also purr when I’m in pain or mortally afraid because it’s a self-soothing mechanism.

Dogs 

Remember, my digestive system is very different from yours.

Raisins and grapes can shut down a dog’s kidneys. Other dangerous foods include chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts, and avocado.

Every bag of pet food has an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the label...

...although you might need a magnifying glass to read it. Look for one that says the food has undergone animal feeding trials rather than one that’s been “formulated” by a computer. The trials are expensive, but they indicate that real dogs actually ate the food for six months with good results.
Check with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist before giving me a homemade-food diet.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, who examined 200 recipes last year for home-prepared dog food found that 95 percent had some serious nutritional deficiencies.

Please don’t rush me when I’m going to the bathroom.

There’s a reason dogs circle around before getting down to business: We have an instinct to be aligned with the earth’s magnetic field before we poop. In fact, researchers watched 70 of us engage in 1,893 defecations over a two-year period just to figure this out.

You may think it’s nice to let me sleep all day, but too much nap time can affect my personality.

A lot of behavioral problems can be solved by just taking your dog on a daily walk or by playing with your cat for 20 minutes every day.

You say I’m great with kids, but...

...if I’m licking, pulling my ears back, turning my head away, or yawning (all signs of anxiety) while they play with me, I’m probably just barely tolerating them. If you keep letting them pull my tail, one of these days, I might lose it.

Hold those clippers!

No matter how high the mercury climbs or how long my hair is, I don’t need to be shaved. My undercoat actually insulates me from heat, so it helps me stay cool. Just make sure you keep my coat brushed and mat-free to promote good air circulation.

If you leave me in the backyard when you’re not home...

...don’t fool yourself that I’m going to run around and have fun. The truth is, I’m probably going to sit in one spot and wait for you to return. Dogs are den animals, and many of us prefer to be inside, ideally with you.

Want me to learn to walk by your side on a leash?

Well, give me some incentive. As soon as I start to pull ahead, stop walking. When I turn and look back, offer me a treat right next to your leg. I’ll quickly figure out I need to stay next to you in order to keep doing what I love most: moving and exploring.

If I’m a dog who is scared of thunderstorms or loud noises, get me a snug-fitting Thundershirt.
Or you can make your own. Wrap an Ace bandage across my chest, cross it over the top of my body and then back under, going over and under until it’s midway down my back, and then secure it. The constant pressure against the middle of my body will help ease my anxiety and calm me down.

Cats and Dogs

Did you hear the hype about grain-free cat and dog food?

That’s what it is: hype. There’s nothing wrong with feeding me grains—they can actually be an important part of a balanced diet. Before you make any change, talk to your vet.

If you switch me to a raw diet, I may end up with cracked teeth or a bacterial infection.

Also, exposure to my feces could put anyone with a weakened immune system at risk. That’s why the ASPCA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutions all strongly discourage raw diets. [I'm assuming this applies to both cats and dogs]

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By the way I think we could all do with a Thundershirt on occasion -- when there's nobody near during an alarming situation to give reassuring hugs.


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