5 Signs Your Dog Isn’t Feeling Well

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs cannot verbally tell us when they are not feeling well. They show it in altered behavior or physical cues. As we get to know the normal ways they act, any changes in their actions and reactions may be a sign that something is wrong. Here are five things to watch for.

Physical Symptoms

The most obvious signs that your dog is not feeling well may be a visible injury, infection or vomiting, but other signs take observation skills on your part. Skin lesions or irritating rashes, coughing, difficulty breathing, lumps, discolored eyes, excessive scratching, abnormal drooling or bad breath are all possible signs that can mean your dog is not feeling up to par. They may be signs of a simple condition that is easily treated, or of something more serious. If you have doubts or you can’t easily figure out what is actually wrong, go see your vet.

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12 Songs Inspired by Cats and Dogs

cat dog songs lizBy Linda Cole

In Roman and Greek mythology, the nine Muses were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Each goddess presided over the different arts and sciences, symbolizing artistic inspiration in writing, poetry and song. Some musicians found their muse in their pets. Below are 12 songs inspired by cats and dogs; each title links to the song on YouTube, so grab yourself a snack and have a listen!

Delilah – by Queen

Freddie Mercury, front man for the band Queen, adored cats. Most of his kitties were adopted from shelters. Mercury would call home when on tour to talk to each cat. His felines played an important role in his life and inspired his music. “Delilah” was written by Mercury as a tribute to one of his favorite cats, a tortoiseshell with an assertive personality. She was without a doubt the most famous Mercury cat. Album: “Innuendo” 1991.

CATcerto – by Mindaugas Piecaitis

If you are a fan of Nora the Piano Cat, you will love this piano piece for chamber orchestra composed and conducted by Mindaugas Piecaitis, featuring Nora on the keyboard. CATcerto was performed in 2009 by the Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra with conductor Piecaitis, who composed the piece for Nora.

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Backyard Fun and Games with Your Dog

backyard fun GordonBy Langley Cornwell

Do you ever have days when you feel like no one appreciates you? If so, you’re probably smart enough to go out and do something for yourself so that you at least show yourself some appreciation. Likewise, you’re able to go out and find something fun to do when you are bored or lonely. In other words, you can make things happen. Unfortunately, your dog doesn’t have this same ability, and it’s up to you to make life exciting for him.

Let’s face it—dogs are loyal even when you don’t appreciate them. Sure, they tend to get in trouble when they are bored, but that’s just because they’re trying to find a way to amuse themselves. Since that might be anything from digging in the trash can, ripping up the couch cushions or chewing on your book, this can be problematic.

Not only that, but a bored dog is a sad dog. Dogs literally try to sleep through their loneliness; when you are away they spend their time snoozing off and on, and living for nothing more than the time when you come home.

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5 Things City Dogs Need to Know to Stay Safe

city dog luluBy Linda Cole

I’ve always lived in a small town, and though I can see the appeal a big city has for many people, I’ve never wanted to live in one. Dogs really don’t care what your preference is when it comes to rural or urban living, but city dogs need to have some specific skills to stay safe.

My dogs are used to a laid back and quiet environment, and we rarely meet other people walking their dogs when we’re out for a stroll. The only distractions include an occasional rabbit, deer or squirrel. If we take the dogs with us to a city, they’re excited and act like a tourist trying to take in everything at once. But they are also unsure and a bit uncomfortable as well. Big cities are full of life and activities that can take a little time for dogs to get used to.

Staying Calm in a Sea of People

Crowds of people fill the city sidewalks, all heading to their own destinations. Some are wearing uniforms or dressed like clowns or other characters a dog may not recognize. It’s important to help your pet feel comfortable and calm in a more chaotic environment. There may be people who want to pet your dog, and it’s up to you to make sure he knows how to politely greet people and when you should tell someone no. The last thing you want do is force your dog to do something he’s not comfortable doing. Some dogs are wary of strangers by nature.

Being Attentive to His Owner

With a lot more traffic and other distractions in a big city, a dog needs to pay attention to his owner, and it’s a must to keep him under control at all times. Retractable and long leashes can put a dog at risk of being injured if he steps out into traffic or rushes out of an elevator when the door opens. City dogs need to know and obey basic commands Dog-Animated-no-offerregardless of any distractions around him, especially when meeting other dogs while out walking. The “watch me” or “look at me” commands get your dog to focus on you and can be crucial if you need to get your pet’s attention.

Leave It and Drop It Commands

A city dog is more likely to find litter and garbage lying on the street or sidewalk, and it only takes an instant for a canine to grab something up. The “leave it” and “drop it” commands can save a dog’s life and save you money at the vet when you can prevent your pet from eating something he shouldn’t have. Since dogs are closer to the ground than you are, it’s not difficult for them to find a wrapper with part of a sandwich inside, cigarette butts, bones, cups, plastic bags or plastic utensils with bits of food on them. You may not see him grab something off the ground before you can tell him to leave it, but you can at least get him to spit it out by telling him to drop it.

Acclimating to Distractions and Noise

Larger cities have a variety of scents, distractions and street noise – people on skateboards, skates or bikes, someone pulling a wagon, in a wheelchair, pushing a shopping cart, jackhammers and other loud construction equipment. If a dog hasn’t been exposed to these sights and sounds, it can cause him to be nervous or scared of the noise and movement. Cities also have a lot more car and truck traffic on the noisy streets. Dogs that aren’t used to hearing the sound of garbage trucks, blaring sirens or honking horns may be bothered or scared by sudden loud noises.

Walking on Different Surfaces

city dog stephenCity dogs will encounter different types of surfaces they need to feel comfortable walking on. If they live in an apartment it could be a slippery hallway, stairway or lobby floor. Elevators, automatic or revolving doors can also be confusing for a dog that isn’t used to being around them.

The American Kennel Club recently added a new title to their Canine Good Citizen certification program. The Urban Canine Good Citizen tests dogs in specific skills they need to know in a big city environment, skills that help you keep your pet safe and under control.

A well mannered dog that’s comfortable and relaxed makes life easier for his owner, whether it’s in a large city or a small town.

Top photo by Lulu Hoeller/Flickr
Bottom photo by Stephen/Flickr

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5 Tips for Litter Box Training a Kitten

cat box abbamouseBy Julia Williams

Teaching a young kitten to use its litter box is generally not a long or complicated process. For starters, learning to use the box is largely instinctive for a feline. Further, if the kitten lived indoors with Mom for its first few weeks, it may have already been “shown the ropes” and will adjust to a new box in a new home almost immediately.

That being said, there are some things you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Make no mistake, proper litter box training is very important, because establishing good habits early on is the best way to avoid future issues.

The Box

Most litter boxes are made from heavy duty plastic, which is easy to clean and very durable. I recently also came across a disposable litter box made from recycled paper. It was on the small side and had a low entrance, which is perfect for a little kitten to be able to enter and exit comfortably. A small cat box is fine for a kitten, but just be aware that they will outgrow it and you’ll eventually need to get a larger one for your adult cat. The cat box will need to be big enough for your cat to turn around in and scratch around in it comfortably.

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How to Help Your Dog Overcome a Fear of Strangers

By Langley Cornwell

As friendly as your dog normally is with you, does he sometimes act skittish when it comes to new people? In some cases, dogs do this because they may have been abused before you got them. In other cases, the dog might just be naturally skittish. It may take some effort on your part, but you can do a lot to help your dog overcome his anxiety when it comes to strangers. Remember that an anxious dog is one that is on full alert. This is a situation that has the potential to end badly, so you need to take care of this issue, for the mental and emotional health of your dog as well as for the safety of others.

Create a Safe Zone

The fastest way to reduce anxiety is to establish an area where your dog will have a complete feeling of safety. To do this, create a place that is just for your dog. It may be the dog’s crate, a specific chair, or some other area that is just for him. Make it a practice not to let anyone other than you or the dog enter his special safety zone. This will help your dog understand that this is a safe place where no one can disturb him.

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