June 2021 Newsletter
What Does Your Dog's Growling Mean?
Grrrrrrrr... often when a dog growls, it's a warning - time for you to step back and assess the situation. Growling can happen for a variety of reasons: when a dog is afraid, in pain, or needs you to back away from its territory or possessions. However, many dogs growl when they play, so let's not panic when we hear a growl. Just like barking - growling is a way for your dog to communicate.
Learning to read a dog's body language will go a long way in determining why he is growling. Signs like raised hackles, tail and ear position, eye movement, play bows, licking their chops, or panting are helpful indicators to let you know if the growl is fun or serious.
Fun Growling - This often happens when you play games, like tug of war. As long as your dog is wagging his tail, doing play bows, and brings the rope back to you when you let it go, it's a game. If your pooch takes the toy back to his bed, it's a good signal that the game is over for now.
Pleasure Growl - When some dogs are petted or getting a belly rub they quietly growl (or groan) in pleasure. His body language will be clear that he's enjoying his petting session.
Pain - If Fido has been abnormally quiet and growls when you approach him, he may not feel well. Or if touching a certain spot on his body elicits a growl, he could be in pain or hurting there. It's time for him to have a check-up.
Territorial - If your dog growls and barks at the mailperson or the UPS guy, this is a prime example of your dog being territorial. He doesn't think that strangers should be on "his" property. His hackles may be raised, and he'll be very alert. Sometimes this sort of aggression can extend to things in your house like a chair or spot on the sofa.
Possession - Often called Resource Guarding this is when your buddy protects his food or toys. Look for a snarl and ears back.
Frustration Growling - This often happens if your dog is unable to get what he wants out of a situation. For example, if he is on one side of a fence and things are going on outside the fence or if you're playing with a tennis ball but not tossing it for him. Frustration growling is usually accompanied by barking too. Just redirect their attention (throw that ball!), and he should stop.
Fight Growling - This can happen when dogs play. During play, maybe one pup bites a bit too hard, bingo a playtime can quickly turn into a disagreement, and a real fight breaks out. Again, look at body language to figure out which type of growling is taking place (hackles raised, serious growling). The best way to solve this problem is not to let it begin. If your dog is playing with another dog, keep a close eye on them to see if their body language changes; if so, remove the dogs and let them calm down (if they are friends) and if it's a real fight, don't get in between them.
The takeaway from this is that not all growls are a warning. Watch their body language; this will help you determine what your next step is. It may be just ending a play session. If it's actual aggression, change your pup's situation. Should it continue, you may want to get some expert help for your pup to feel secure.
Learn to Read Your Dog's Body Language How to break up a dog fight.
Is Your Puss in Boots?
Odds are that you know a cat with socks or boots (white feet). If you think about it - having white feet is not great camouflage if you're a hunter. And in the wild, you'll rarely see a wild cat with white feet; it makes them too easy for other animals to spot them. So, how did our domesticated felines end up with white feet?
The answer is genetics, specifically a genetic mutation that causes the socks on your cat's feet. This mutation occurred about 10,000 years ago, shortly after cats became domesticated. Once they decided to be part of our lives, the need for them to have complete camouflage wasn't as necessary. So our cats were able to have more coat variations and survive quite well - thanks to us.
To be scientific about it, it's a mutation in the KIT gene that controls piebaldism or the distribution of melanocytes, which control the pigment cells in their bodies. If the KIT gene is normal, a cat will have the same color coat all over its body. If the gene is mutated, they don't have enough pigment genes to cover their bodies, and they end up with white (or other light colors) patches or spots on their bodies, usually in the front half of a cat, meaning feet, belly, and face.
Cats are not the only animals to get these mutations. They are also seen in horses, guinea pigs, dogs, birds, and even, rarely, in humans. According to research, it happens most often in our feline friends.
Interestingly, according to Live Science, it may be that the calmest cats were those that had white spots, so they may have been selected by early man as their pets because single color cats were more wild. Not to mention that white socks are adorable, and perhaps people selected those cats to breed because they were different! Have you noticed if the cats you know with socks are calmer?
Cats just continue to amaze us! So now you can explain to family and friends how your kitty got their socks. Guess what? One of the most common names for a tuxedo cat (black with white markings including paws) is Socks!
Achoo, Spring Pet Allergies!
Just like us, many of our pets have spring allergies - they are quite common. But determining the cause of those allergies may take a little detective work. The 3 main types of allergies are flea, food, and environmental. Just like allergies in people, they may cause your buddy a lot of discomfort.
Our pets' symptoms of seasonal allergies are similar to what we experience, itchy skin with or without a rash, ear infections, watery eyes, and sneezing. If you see any of these symptoms, it's time to treat these allergies so your friend isn't uncomfortable.
If your pet's allergies are only seasonal (and not food or flea), your vet can set up a seasonal allergy plan with you so your dog or cat can stop itching. This plan may include antihistamines to mitigate the allergy symptoms. If the allergies seem severe, your vet may suggest allergy testing so she can figure out what your pet is allergic to and treat your pet accordingly.
The most common seasonal allergens are mold, mildew, dust mites, and pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Of these, pollen allergies are usually seasonal, and the others could be year-round.
Allergies are not usually serious, but our pets can get secondary infections from constantly scratching, not to mention how uncomfortable allergies can make them (and us!)
If your buddy has seasonal allergies, try to keep your windows closed during allergy season. Wipe him down with a damp cloth to remove the allergens when he comes in from playing outside. A weekly bath with an oatmeal or medicated shampoo (made especially for pets with allergies) will help. You might consider an air purifier in your home.
It may take a bit of investigating to figure out what your pet is allergic to, but once you do, with treatment, it will keep seasonal allergies from slowing your pet down!
Great Pet Links!
June is: Adopt a Shelter Cat Month National Microchipping Month National Pet Preparedness Month June 4 - Hug Your Cat Day June 21- Take Your Cat to Work Day June 25 - Take Your Dog to Work Day Should I Microchip my Pet? How to Prepare my Pet for an Emergency Best Friends - How Did They Get Them to Sit Still? More Unlikely Best Friends A Cat with Antlers?
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