Because they don’t speak our language, we often have to guess how pets feel and act the way they do. And, as you probably already know from experience, it takes time to develop a sense of what is going on inside the head of your companion dog and cat. But that’s what makes having them around so interesting and, occasionally, challenging.

Last week we introduced the topic of behavior and body language. In today’s blog we’re going to discuss a few more mood indicators and what to avoid. 

Mistakenly, a large percentage of humans believe that canine and feline behavior cues are identical. Then, after a rather painful experience, they find out—the hard way—that’s not the case.

Belly exposure is one glaring example. Read on for more tips.

If you don’t know why dogs do this, learn all about how pets feel and act the way they do
You can learn how pets feel and act by understanding why dogs sniff this part of the anatomy
A Dog
  • Food and toys: do not allow Fido to guard and prevent you from getting near what he claims is his and his alone. 

Reaction: he will almost certainly bite or even attack you.

  • Shakes toys vigorously in his mouth: this is how dogs in the wild kill their prey by breaking their neck.
  • Sniffs the rear end of other dogs: the pheromones (chemicals)  secreted by this part of the anatomy allow other dogs to know his identity.
  • What happiness looks like: happy facial expression; body relaxed; one paw tucked under his body


Kitty looks carefree but skills to know how pets feel and act a certain way help promote harmony at home
Kitty seems carefree but it’s helpful to develop skills to really know how pets feel and act a certain way
A Cat
  • Petting: many, many cats do not tolerate having their belly, tail or any of their paws touched so avoid doing this unless you know her very, very well. 

Reaction: she will lash out by scratching and injuring you.

  • Turns her back on you: it means she trusts you; and if she places her rear end in your face, she is being affectionate and wants to bond.
  • Tries to bite your ankles: this is play aggression; it’s her way of telling you to give her more attention and to play with her.
  • What happiness looks like: eyes half-closed and slow eye blinks; slow, deep breathing; quiet purring; slow walking gait; ears slightly forward.
Addressing The Issue

By taking the time to observe and analyze your companion animals, you will soon develop the ability to know why and how pets feel and act a certain way. This is really important. 

So, if you notice that your dog is starting to show signs of aggression, do not wait thinking that he’ll get over it in time. The fact is, the behavior will only worsen and the consequences can be very serious.

Last but not least, do seek the help of a professional, a dog behavior expert, to address this issue promptly. The expense is a small investment that is well worth it compared to any medical bills and legal expenses that will likely occur down the road.

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


Understanding pet behavior and body language helps pet parents avoid actions like petting a dog on the head
When you understand pet behavior and body language you will never pet a dog on the head again
When you understand pet behavior and body language you can find out why your cat is urinating on your bed
Understanding pet behavior and body language helps pet parents find out why the cat is urinating on their bed

This week’s blog is an introduction to the fascinating subject of pet behavior and body language as it related to dogs and cats. In fact, it’s one of many that I will be sharing with you over the coming months.

Some of the behaviors are in their DNA. They are passed down from generation to generation since way back when dogs and cats were wild. However, there are times when these, now, companion animals of ours can be trained to act a certain way. In addition to that, they may just acquire a particular characteristic on their own.And, another likelihood is that they will mimick what they see what other canines and felines do.

It’s All About Communicating

The body language they exhibit and the sounds they utter tell us, and other animals, what emotional state they are in. Whether they are content and relaxed, excited and playful, concerned and anxious, or defensive, fearful and in fight mode.

These visual and auditive signals may be done consciously, or otherwise, but the purpose is unquestionable. They are designed to transmit to others their intention and when the communication is successful, those other animals and humans will react accordingly. 

Here are just a few specifics to get started, with more on their way very soon.

A Dog
  • Removes food from his bowl and eats it elsewhere: he is prewired to protect his food from other animals.
  • Petting: avoid the head and rear part of the body where he cannot see you.                                    Reaction: he may move away or snap at you.
A Cat
  • Chirping is an attention-getter. Mother cats chirp to their kittens so they pay attention to what she wants them to do and follow her lead. 
  • Urinating on your belongings: it is likely she feels insecure and is attempting to bond by leaving her scent on your personal items.
To Sum Up

Watch. Listen. Learn. And, don’t forget, this is a two-way street. While you are interpreting what your pet is demonstrating to you, your pet is doing the exact same thing, to one degree or another.

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


A microchip can be scanned at any time, day or night
If you find a lost pet, take it immediately to be scanned for a microchip. Photo curtesy of Big Creek Veterinarian Hospital, Ontario, Canada

Let’s imagine that you have found a lost pet that is friendly enough for you to pick up and rescue. It has no collar so, obviously, it has no visible identification. The next thing to do is take it to be scanned and hopefully discover that it has a microchip and that it’s pet, parent and vet information is current. But where will that be done?

* a veterinary clinic – during official office hours.

* Banfield Animal Hospital – located inside all PetSmart stores, which has longer hours of operation than your normal veterinary clinic.

* an emergency animal clinic – will be open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, during the hours your normal veterinary clinic is not.

* your local privately-run animal rescue organization or municipal shelter (also known as a pound).

Please beware that once you surrender a lost pet to the municipal shelter, the animal’s future will be uncertain. The pound is supposed to comply with a mandatory hold for a certain number of days in order to give the animal’s owner time to claim it. If it is not claimed within that time period, it may be put up for adoption. 

PET PEEVE – However, there are reports every single day, of pounds across the country that do not put a pet’s welfare first. They ignore these laws and have even destroyed the animal within hours of it being dropped off.

PEP TALK – Lesson to be learned: be responsible and do everything in your power to keep your pet(s) safe…not some time, not most of the time, but ALL of the time.

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


The purity of the water we and our pets drink is essential to stay healthy
Is the water that you and your pets drink safe?

No doubt you take precautions to drink water that is safe, but where does your pet’s water come from? Among the options are tap water, purified water and more…

More likely than not, water straight from the tap is not the best option but that depends on where you live and where your water supply comes from.  It may also depend on whether your water has been tested, and by whom, and if you can depend on the accuracy of the results you are given.

Many people have a filter installed on their kitchen sink. Others use a refillable jug that has a replaceable filter to remove any impurities that way, including fluoride which, in excessive amounts, is known to be one of the causes of bone cancer.

Then there are those who prefer to buy one-gallon containers of “drinking” water, purified water or spring water from the local store. And, a number of us choose to avoid the bother of shopping for water altogether and would rather have it delivered to the doorstep.

Another option to consider is distilled water. A growing number of consumers are making the switch because its purity is practically guaranteed.

Finally, all I ask is that whatever is best for you, taste-wise and expense-wise, you provide the very same for your pets. They don’t deserve anything less.    

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


Feeding bowls made from stainless steel, the preferred material for dogs
Metal food and water bowls on a stand for a rather long-legged dog
Feeding bowls made from stainless steel, the preferred material for cats
Cat enjoys drinking and feeding out of metal bowls raised off the ground

Have you ever thought that the material a food bowl is made of can make a difference? “What kind of difference?” you might ask. Well, let’s find out!


This may come as a surprise but plastic is certainly not the best. Some pets are allergic to it and anything made from that material can cause a health episode. 

However, allergic or not, plastic is likely to break down over time causing harmful chemicals—Bisphenal A (BPA) and Phthalates— to seep into the food or water in a plastic bowl. Even traces of lead have been found by some researchers.


I once cared for a family of four cats and one of the white ones suffered from skin allergies caused by anything made from plastic. Yes, anything. Plastic bags, plastic containers, you name it, needed to be kept out of reach. I had to be extremely careful what it could come into contact with and never bring anything into the home myself that could be potentially harmful. 


This material is stable and can be sterilized but there is always the possibility that it could break. If you do choose glass, avoid products made in developing countries that often contain lead.


Generally this is a reliable material. Just make sure the label says “lead-free.” The reason being that the colors used in glazed items produced in some countries could contain lead and cadmium.

Stainless Steel

This is definitely the preferred material of choice since it doesn’t react to foods and liquids, is strong, and can be sterilized. Nevertheless, if the bowl were to become severely scratched or damaged, metals could seep out over a long period of time.

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!


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!


Never let your dog or cat chew these

It remains a mystery to me why adults who have young children are very focused on keeping them out of harm’s way and yet, when it comes to the companion animals in their life, their safety is often regarded in a different light.

Indoors is generally believed to be a safer environment than the outdoors, but there are still areas of concern that need to be considered. Human food waste, medications, indoor plants, are just some examples.

Inside Your Home
Canines are usually highly food-motivated and if anything edible is within reach, they are unlikely to resist the temptation. They also love to chew (and swallow) stuff, especially when they are ignored or left alone for extended periods, and get into mischief when they happen to be bored.

Felines are naturally curious and find weird hiding places. Many are attracted to feathers and tinsel as well as plants and flowers, and nibbling any part of them must definitely be discouraged.

What To Watch Out For – Consequences To Prevent
Chew, rip open and possibly ingest: these consequences can cause intestinal obstruction; if whatever it is cannot be removed by inducing vomiting or elimination via the rear end, surgery may be necessary.
* remove all soft, stuffed toys that have been ripped open
* remove all rubber, plastic and bone items that have had bits chewed off
* remove all bedding that has been chewed leaving the stuffing exposed
* put away toys with feathers and tinsel after supervised use
A seasonal note: Given the chance, some cats will play havoc with Christmas trees and decorations, so be prepared!

Chew: electrical cords: they can cause a fatal electrical shock.
* wrap the cord with tape or aluminum foil to discourage your pet it if has shown a tendency towards this type of behavior

Eat: indoor plants and flowers in a vase: cats seem to be attracted to them but some are toxic.
* put them in an area of the home where your kitty doesn’t have access

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