My Mission

Pet Peeves Unmasked is a blog about dogs and cats designed to help educate pet parents


My mission is to help push you gently to become THE BEST PET PARENT POSSIBLE.

I have written a book entitled “Perfect” Pet Parenting that covers all aspects of caring for dogs and cats. It is based on my personal experience as a pet caregiver and incorporates the expertise of professionals who focus on specific areas of a companion animal’s wellbeing.

This blog contains extracts from my book. I welcome comments and suggestions so that, together, we can keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Hero dog TatorTot and the boy whose life he saved in a medical emergency
Best buddies Peyton and TatorTot dressed up to celebrate St Patrick’s Day
Highly awarded pit bull TatorTot is a hero and the best “nanny dog” ever
Rescue pit bull TatorTot saved a young boy’s life
One of many awards given to hero dog TatorTot

From time to time I will now be adding to my blog an ongoing series of stories about pets that are true heroes. They illustrate the intelligence, loyalty and compassion that companion animals show towards other animals and humans that are worthy of our admiration and respect. Here is the first one. Enjoy!

In 2013, TatorTot was a high-energy, pit bull puppy being held at a Minneapolis, MN, municipal pound. Just before he was scheduled to be put down, he was pulled by a local rescue organization and placed with a foster family to prepare him for eventual adoption.

He had only been at the Smith household for four days when Christi’s four-year-old son, Peyton, suffered a severe low-glycemic episode while he was sleeping. At around 2 AM TatorTot was running around trying to alert the family that something was wrong. When Christi got up she found the pup on Peyton’s bed, barking, pawing him and licking his face, and her son unresponsive and barely breathing. She rushed him to the ER where he was successfully revived. If the boy hadn’t received medical attention in time, he could have had a seizure, gone into a coma, or simply not have survived.

Medical-alert dogs generally undergo training but, instinctively, TatorTot knew what to do. And, for his heroic action, he was given the PETA Heroic Dog award, a Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association Hero Award and the City of Brooklyn Park Mayor’s Good Canine Award.

Until recently this amazing dog enjoyed a life filled with fun and adventure in his adopted home with the Smith family. Sadly, on May 1st 2017, aged four, he succumbed to lymphoma. However, he will forever be remember as a canine hero and an inspiration to all mankind. RIP, sweet TatorTot.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


A healthy, happy cat gets exercise and mental stimulation
Cat gets a workout playing with a feather stick

I don’t know a single person who is more knowledgeable about cat behavior than the amazing Jackson Galaxy. You probably know him from his tv show “My Cat From Hell,” his best-selling books and advocacy work.

He often uses the term “raw cat” to describe what all felines are pre-programmed to do. If you haven’t already realized this, please take note because it is fundamental for understanding what your cat does and why. Here’s the behavior cycle.

wake up

Wild And Not So Wild
Wild cats, from the biggest species (Siberian Tiger) down to the smallest (Rusty-Spotted Cat), are hunters. They hunt for survival and spend many hours, every single day, doing precisely that.

Given the opportunity, domesticated cats, also love to hunt, kill and eat tiny prey, such as lizards and mice.

Physical Activity And Energy Expenditure For Indoor Cats
You can help your feline companion satisfy its innate hunting instincts and skills with several play/workout sessions each day. Here’s what to do and why it’s so beneficial.

The Activities:
* running
* pouncing
* jumping
* chasing
* searching
* batting

The Tools:
* multi-level cat tower
* throw toys that make a noise
* wands with dangling objects
* interactive toys
* laser beam

The Benefits (Physical and Mental):
* cardiovascular health
* agility
* reflex acuity
* muscle tone
* mental stimulation

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Marketing gimmicks mislead pet parents when they buy food for their dogs and cats
This cat parent is wondering what “complete and balanced” really means

You see a word or phrase on a bag of dry food or a can of wet food and think you know what it means, but do you really? We all know that some advertising claims can be misleading and the pet food industry is no exception.

Here are the most common words you will read on a pet food label together with our guide as to what they really mean and what the use of these words actually signifies.

“Natural” leads us to believe that it is good, harmless, something that has worth. However, this word doesn’t tell us anything. Period.



Grain Free
“Grain free” is good because dogs and cats do not have a digestive system that enables them to process the cellulose found in plants. However, manufacturers replace them with other substances such as soybeans and potatoes to provide the required consistency. These are not good either, but acceptable if kept to a bare minimum.

High quality meat and fish protein is good, very good. Protein that comes from sources that are potentially harmful to carnivorous pets, are definitely not good.

No By-Products
On its own, this phrase is misleading. Liver is classified as a by-product yet it is highly nutritious. Road kill and euthanized animals also fall under this heading and continue to be used in the manufacture of pet food with deadly consequences.

Scientifically Formulated
What? I would certainly hope that pet food manufacturers rely on food scientists to formulate the products they sell and that this task is not done by some amateur in their home-based kitchen. So, is “scientifically formulated” supposed to convey that the nutritional benefits claimed by a company are scientifically supported by clinical studies? I guess we’d have to ask them to find out.

Complete And Balanced
Really! According to whom? “Complete and balanced” in the eyes of the manufacturer? Or in the eyes of a nutritionist with a university degree?

Reliable Sources
No wonder most pet parents are confused. And, some are confused and angry.

It takes effort and it can be time consuming, but often the only way to be satisfied that you are doing your very best to keep your pet healthy is to do your research. From reliable sources, of course.

I’ll leave discussing unbiased publishing and news reporting for another day.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Dog parks pose risks that can be avoided
Having fun at the dog park

I must admit that, generally speaking, I am not a big fan of dog parks. The only exception I will take a canine, or two, is when it is empty! And, apparently, I am not alone. Dog behavior professionals tend to agree. Why? Because…

1. many of the dogs have not been properly trained in social behavior
2. the owners do not pay attention to what is going on
3. owners do not correct their pets quickly enough to prevent an incident from occurring
4. when a dog feels overwhelmed and stressed it is less likely to obey commands

The unacceptable behaviors a dog may exhibit are…
* over excitement
* playing rough
* rudeness (intrusion)
* bullying
* overt aggression

So, what I remind all my pet parent readers is that when you visit a dog park, you do not know all the owners there and you cannot possibly know all the dogs there, either. It is a risk, one that I, personally, as an extremely safety-conscious pet caregiver, am not willing to take. If you feel the same way, you can always come up with alternatives for safe socializing and exercising.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


CPR is one of the most valuable tools a pet parent or pet caregiver can possess
Do you know how to give your pet CPR?
Photo courtesy of Academy for Canine Educators (ACE)

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is one of the most valuable tools a pet parent or pet caregiver can possess. It will save your pet’s life before you can get to an emergency veterinary facility. Quick thinking and quick action —effective action— is what counts.

Do you know how to give your pet CPR?
Do you know when to start giving CPR?
Would you panic and freeze, wasting valuable time?
Did you know you can take an online course and learn the when and how?

If your pet has fallen in the swimming pool, or bitten an electrical cord, or been hit by a car, equipping yourself with knowledge will give you the confidence to act appropriately.

ACE Pet CPR Mini Course
Created by 30-year practicing veterinarian Dr. Jeff Grognet, and Founder of Academy for Canine Educators (ACE), the Pet CPR Mini Course is a free, two-lesson webinar that demonstrates the basic resuscitation techniques applicable for dogs and cats.

Lesson #1 Airway and Breathing, is an evaluation that covers
checking the mouth for blockage, confirming the airway is open
and breath tests.

Lesson #2 Compressions, deals with chest compressions and
mouth to nose breaths if the pet is still not breathing. It includes
ideal body and arm positions, correct pressure, timing and
sequence, and when to apply pressure to the heart in the case of
puppies, kittens, cats and small dogs.

You can check it out here: 

Also, for those interested in CPR certification, ACE offers a work
at-your-own-pace course comprising five in-depth webinars, text
documents and exam for approx $56 (CAD69)

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine/American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Pet CPR Course
This one-hour online course contains short how-to videos in situations that apply to felines and canines of different sizes and breeds. Upon completion, there is a 14-question assessment and a competency certificate is issued to individuals with a 70 percent, or higher, pass rate. At the time of writing, the cost of this course was $25.

For further information you can visit:                    

The norms for heart beats, pulse and breathing rates, and body temperature.

Please note that the norms for canines and felines differ.
Also note that rates outside these ranges could signal a medical emergency.

American Red Cross – Dog First Aid Norms
Normal Heart and Pulse Rates
Puppy (less than 1 year old):
120-160 beats per minute
Small, miniature or toy breed (30 pounds or less):
100-140 beats per minute
Medium to large breed (greater than 30 pounds):
60-100 beats per minute

Normal Breathing Rates
10-30 breaths per minute
Up to 200 pants per minute (breathing with its mouth open and tongue out)

Normal Temperatures
A temperature of 100º-102.5ºF is normal
A temperature lower than 100ºF or greater than 104ºF is an emergency

American Red Cross – Cat First Aid Norms
Normal Heart and Pulse Rates
160-220 beats per minute

Normal Breathing Rates
20-30 breaths per minute

Normal Temperatures
100º-102.5ºF is normal
A temperature lower than100ºF or greater than 104ºF is an emergency

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Spanish town is world’s first to enact Bill of Rights for pets
A protected “citizen” of Trigueros del Valle

At the end of 2015, a tiny town in Spain became the first municipality in the world to enact a Bill of Rights for pets. With a population of just 300 people, Trigueros del Valle in the province of Valladolid in the northwest of the country gave the town’s “animal citizens” the same basic rights as its human citizens.

The document includes statements like “all residents are born equal and have the same right to existence” and “no non-human resident should be exploited for the pleasure or recreation of man.” “Non-human residents” is defined as dogs and cats, at least for now, but could apply to other animals in the future.

At the time the Bill was passed, Mayor Pedro J Pérez Espinosa commented, “Dogs and cats have been living among us for over a thousand years.” He added that his responsibility was to dignify the lives of dogs and cats and represent not just the human residents but also be there for the others.

Centuries Ago This Happened
Giving a voice to the less powerful and less fortunate members of society is not new. Signed in England in 1215, the Magna Carta promised fair laws, gave everyone, even the poorest, access to the courts, and held the monarchy accountable for its actions.

Then, a few centuries on, we have the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. Enacted in 1791, it granted freedom of religion, speech and the press, protection from unreasonable search and seizure of property, rights of the accused in criminal cases, and forbad excessive bails, fines or cruel and unusual punishments.

Spaniards declare this town their Animal Capital
Proud Spanish advocates award themselves the Animal Capital Prize

We Have An Obligation
When children are at risk because they have no voice and cannot defend themselves, in many countries there are laws in place to help protect them. But this is not always so when it comes to companion animals. Even when laws do exist, often they are poorly enforced and the penalties handed down by the courts are too lenient.

Domesticated Animals Deserve No Less                                                                                            * The basic right to exist                                                                                                                       * The right to a life of dignity and compassion                                                                                 * To be given food, shelter and medical attention                                                                           * To be allowed to be the creature that nature intended                                                                * To be recognized as a sentient being that has needs, feelings, emotions and intelligence, each with a unique personalty.

It is my hope that other communities will replicate this historic achievement and give all companion animals the place in society that is rightfully theirs.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Don’t despair and give up looking too soon
FB page run by local volunteers in Florida

These are the most important basics that pet parents should adhere to when getting the word out they have lost a pet.

Go In Person To Your Local Municipal Shelter
* Your pet may have been found and taken there by a member of the public or Animal Services.

* Go in person and verify if your pet has been surrendered there. Do not rely on making a phone call or looking at their website.

* Take a recent photo of your pet, a copy of a flyer you may have already printed, and proof of ownership.

* Check the shelter’s website for postings but remember that descriptions are not necessarily accurate and a photo taken by the staff may be deceptive.

* You must visit the shelter personally every two days at the very least, preferably daily. Do not rely solely on the shelter’s website. You are the only person who can truly identify your pet.

* Each shelter is operated differently and hold times vary. After a certain number of days, a pet can be put up for adoption or, sadly, it may be put down (destroyed). Typically, kittens, cats and seniors, as well as sick and injured pets, have a very low survival rate.

Put Up Flyers
* Immediately make some flyers and put them up in your neighborhood.

* Make an extra big one and display it in your own yard so people know where the pet lives.

Use The Internet, Social Media And Other Tools
* Post a description with photo of your missing pet and your contact information. Re-post daily until it is found.

* Check the section that contains postings of missing pets that are looking for their owner. Do so multiple times a day.

Suggested sites and tools include:
* private, locally-run pet lost and found
* Craig’s List
* FaceBook
* Local newspapers, online AND print versions (lost and found ads are usually free).
* Your Home Owners Association, country club, school, church…

Word Of Mouth
Inform as many people as possible who live or work in your area, including veterinarians, emergency vet clinics and privately-run rescue organizations.

Stay Strong And Positive
The volunteers who run a Lost and Found FB page for pets in my area do a wonderful job. They also encourage owners who feel helpless and desperate and are starting to lose hope.
* They will tell you not to despair.
* They will tell you not to give up too soon.
* They will urge you to keep searching actively for at least 8-12 weeks.
The reward will be worth it.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Year-end celebrations and desires

At this time of year we celebrate faith, spirituality, health, happiness and prosperity.

We also reaffirm our desire for peace and the wellbeing of humanity and all creatures on Earth.

My special thoughts go out to those who care for companion animals around the world.

May you keep your precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Humans celebrate but pets react with fear

Here in the USA, this proven fact is repeated over and over again…more companion animals are reported missing the day after July the 4th and New Year’s Eve than at any other time of year. The reason: fire crackers and fireworks.

The noise of fireworks is absolutely terrifying to pets whose sensitivity to sound is far greater than ours. Cats will run as fast as possible and look frantically for the nearest hiding spot that is dark and as far away from the noise as possible. A dog’s reaction can vary from freezing, howling and urinating to flight mode, during which time they can seriously injure themselves.

What Pets Do When They Feel Threatened
Felines – Once a cat is well hidden from view, it will likely remain invisible for up to 24 or 36 hours and not leave her safe place, even for food.

Canines – They are a lot more complicated and react in a variety of ways. For example:
* escape a yard by digging under, or jumping over, a fence
* chew restraints and enclosures
* crash through windows and glass doors
* look for his guardian/protector
* ignore commands if the owner is present
* get spooked and run away if he is being leash-walked at the time

Safety First
– Keep your pets inside, close all windows and doors, until you are certain the threat is over.
– Ensure they have a visible tag, as well as a microchip or a digital I.D. tag.
– Give your dog a bathroom break well before the celebration begins.
– Prepare a space indoors where Fido and Fluffy feel safe…laundry room, covered crate, with their favorite blanket and toy.

Try This
Give your dog a good exercise session. When he is both physically and mentally exhausted, his anxiety level will drop.
Similarly, your cat will be less stressed if you give her a physically and mentally challenging play session.

More Tips To Share
If you’d like me to share more tips (white noise, pheromones, pressure wraps…), please send me a comment.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!


Choosing a pet sitter is a task that should be undertaken with extreme care
New Jersey Pro, Lori Genstein

Most pet parents I know have tried out several different kinds of arrangements for their pets when they go away. Their choices are based on convenience, cost, reliability, safety and how their pets react to the experience.

One of these options is 24/7 care by a professional (or not so professional) petsitter.

Regardless of who the individual is that you designate to take care of your companion animals while you are away, you need to ensure that they are capable of handling all aspects of their care. It is also wise to have a backup plan in place, just in case that designated person is suddenly unable to do their job.

Before you hire someone, ask yourself these questions and if you are doubtful, do the necessary research or move on.

Do they have positive interaction with your pet and does your pet feel comfortable in their presence?

Are they punctual or do they make excuses for showing up late?

Are they reliable or do they tend to be forgetful?
Do they fully understand what your pet’s needs are or are they likely to improvise?

Are they in good health or do they have any physical limitations?

Do they smoke or drink?

Are they safety and security conscious or are they dismissive and take risks?

Do they know basic Pet First Aid including how to give CPR?

Are they licensed, insured and bonded?

Do they have impeccable references?

Sometimes pet parents even do a background check just as they would/or should before hiring a babysitter.

YOUR EXPERIENCE – Did your petsitter make multiple daily visits or provide around-the-clock care? How would you rate the quality of your experience?

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!