Dogs and cats are not only loyal companions that add love and joy to our lives, they are a source of mental and physical health for their human family members. The unique bond between animal and human is one of trust and unquestioning loyalty, but for our overall health the relationship with our pets offers us so much more.
There is no question that having a four-legged companion or two gives every two-legged family member a sense of companionship and a connection to another living being. Even though they cannot speak our language, dogs and cats communicate in their own individual style. Caring for our pets and interacting with them is a constant in our lives. To them, we are not just a part of their lives, we are everything. That deep companionship is very bonding and healthy.
Dogs are like any other living animals. When their actions result in rewards, they will continue the actions. For example, if your dog gets praise, encouragement and head pats when he jumps on you or performs any other undesirable action, he will continue to do so. He thinks your positive reaction indicates that you approve of his bad behavior. On the other hand, when a dog gets rewarded for good behaviors, like sitting calmly when directed to do so, you can expect that behavior to continue as well. Teaching a dog about impulse control can take less time that you might imagine, when you use the proper tools and methods.
Assume a Position
Whether you want your dog to lie down on his mat during dinner time or you want him to sit calmly at the door before being let out, you need to first teach him how to be still. To do this, you’ll need some high quality treats like CANIDAE Grain Free PURE, a spot to work with your dog, a visual and vocal command, and a position to teach.
Take your dog to the area where you will be working. Tell your dog to sit, stay or whatever command you decide on. Use a hand motion picked just for this command, and use the hand motion and voice command at the same time. The moment your dog is in the position that you desire, reward him or her with a treat. Remember that consistency is vital.
Like most canines, my dogs aren’t big fans of baths. However, it isn’t difficult to get them in the mood with a generous amount of tasty CANIDAE treats as a reward. My biggest challenge is avoiding flying water that leaves me wetter than the dog. It only takes a few seconds for a wet dog to shake off 70% of the water in his coat – 4 seconds to be exact. Nature provided an effective way for furry animals to quickly dry off, but it is physics that explains the mechanics of a wet dog shake.
Evolution is a process of natural selection that, over time, made subtle changes to increase the survival of mammals, insects, and other creatures. Somewhere in the process, furry animals evolved to use shaking as a means of quickly drying their coat. Having the ability to quickly shake off water is a survival technique used by furry mammals from the smallest mouse, to dogs and large predators like bears to help ward off hypothermia. A wet coat loses its ability to insulate by trapping warm air next to the skin. Shaking is not only an effective way of dispelling water, it also uses less energy than waiting for the sun to evaporate all of the water in a coat. A 60 pound dog, for example, would have to use up to 20% of his caloric intake to maintain his body heat while air drying; this isn’t a practical solution for a wet, furry animal, especially in a cold environment.
Dogs are very open with their feelings and moods, including the way they express joy. Their reactions are pure, honest and often immediate. A dog may show sheer happiness with their body or their actions, but there is no mistaking an expression of joy when a dog lets it out.
Although the language of tails is more complex than simply wagging for happiness, an extremely happy dog seems to be barely able to control the expression of joy with a wildly wagging tail. Not only does the dog’s tail wag, their whole back side and even their entire body can wiggle in joy. A dog with a long and strong tail can whip it wildly back and forth in excitement, so much so that you can actually hear it as it moves.
Even though a lot of people have a difficult time identifying poison ivy, poison oak or sumac, the itchy rash that appears on the skin is well known. Wild parsnip and giant hogweed are two more toxic plants that can produce a reaction, but unlike poison ivy, these two plants contain a sap that can cause severe burn blisters on exposed skin. These are two plants pet owners should be able to identify.
Most of us haven’t the foggiest idea about the types of plants we encounter while hiking along a sunny trail or wandering through a field with a dog. Plants with pretty flowers seem safe and some people can’t resist picking a bouquet as they walk. Even if you don’t pick flowers, just walking through a patch of wild parsnip or giant hogweed can produce burns if your skin comes in contact with the sap. Pets are at risk if they run through a patch and get sap on their nose or in their eyes. It’s also possible for the juice to work its way down to the skin of short-haired dogs, and like poison ivy, if a dog or cat has sap on his coat he can transfer it to you if you pet him.
One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.
When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?
The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.
As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.