Pet Advice

How to Stop Your Puppy from Biting

If you have ever owned a dog or puppy, you already know that one common trait in puppyhood is biting.  Puppies bite to help relieve the irritation from teething and to learn about the world around them. When dogs and puppies play, they use their mouth and paws.

As a new puppy owner, it is necessary to determine what is and isn’t acceptable behavior from the very first day. Puppies benefit from expectations that are consistently enforced. Teething lasts from four to six months, so mouthing is quite common then. If mouthing has not gotten under control by the time the puppy enters adolescence at six months, not only will you have a less cooperative teenager to handle, but a larger, stronger jaw to deal with as well!

It is important as a pet owner to make sure that your puppy learns that biting is a ‘bad thing’ or you could end up with an adult dog that grabs and bites you. It doesn’t matter how cute your puppy is and how little it hurts or just pinches. If he’s always trying to gnaw on something or someone, it can become a problem.

Below are some tips to help you with the ‘biting’ issue.

Make sure your puppy has toys to chew

Puppies want to gnaw on things, so make sure that you have plenty of toys that he can chew on, carry around, and pull apart. If he’s bored of the ones that are currently on the floor, rotate them with some different ones. This is a good habit to get into as it always makes the toys seem new to him.



Biting Puppy Stop

This is what I should be biting!

Indestructible chew toys like large nylon bones or hard rubber Kongs’ can provide a positive outlet for mouthing. Large rawhide bones and carrots can be placed in the freezer and given to a teething puppy. Braided fiber knotted tugs dipped in chicken broth or water and then frozen are also a good option.

However, while you are trying to stop your puppies from biting, don’t ever play tug of war, wrestling or chase type games with them. This only encourages the biting and nipping as your puppy will think it’s a game.  And you can hurt your puppy by doing so.

Try to use a language that your puppy understands

When a puppy bites another puppy or dog, he is usually reprimanded with a loud yelp from the other dog and sometimes a growl. This is a clear indicator that playtime is over. It may take a few yelps to get the message and sometimes the other dog will leave the area or walk away.

When you are training your puppy, try to do the same sort of action to teach your puppy that it is not ok to bite. Try yelping in a high-pitched tone and withdraw your hand or whatever part of your body your puppy has nipped. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate your yelping to startle him. He might give you a look and stop. Use this opportunity to give him his chew toy. It’ll reinforce that it is ok to chew on the toy and not you.

If your puppy keeps biting you, just walk away

If your puppy persists on biting, simply walk away from him or her. Ignore him and do not talk or touch him for a few minutes. Expect him to cry, try to follow you, and grab your pant leg to get your attention. You can even leave the room and close the door for a few minutes. He might scratch and whimper.

When you come back into the room, you should stay calm and try to not arouse his play behavior. He may still want to play.  If this is the case, simply give him a toy. If he ignores the toy and goes for your hand or sleeve, repeat the yelping and walk away.

Just remember that it is important that your puppy sees you as his parent.  A puppy needs to understand that you’re the one who guides and teaches him.  It starts with biting and can be attributed to all puppy/dog behavior.  If you can curb this behavior early in your puppy’s life, it will only help your puppy to become a well behaved dog.


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Tips to Help Your Shy Cat or Timid Cat

If you just adopted a cat from a shelter, there is a good chance he will be shy or timid at first.  Or maybe your new kitty is just apprehensive around new people or being in a new home. We don’t want our cats to be timid or scared and sometime being shy can lead to aggressive behavior.  Below are some tips to help your shy or timid cat to come out of his or her shell.

Give your kitty a separate room or area that is just for your cat

If you just adopted a cat, your kitty is probably used to being only around other cats or in a separate cage by him or herself and a completely different environment.  Your kitty is encountering new family members, sights and/or smells, so it is best to give your cat a safe room or area for as long as needed.  And don’t be surprised if your kitty stays under the bed for several days, just coming out long enough to eat and use the litter box.

A shy kitty needs to be approached slowly and at his or her pace

Cats who are shy or have not been properly socialized or from a shelter are usually suspicious and fearful. They might communicate this fear by biting and scratching. The key is to have your kitty get used to handling so that he or she knows that nothing bad will happen when she's in your arms.  However, make sure that your kitty comes to you when he or she is ready.  Approaching your kitty directly might scare him or her.  Your kitty will come out for food and then start trying to bond with your cat.


Shy Cat From Shelter

Just give me time to adjust

Try petting your kitty to introduce physical contact

Stroke your cat in areas where she enjoys being pet, such as the top of her head or around her face. Then, pick your kitty up, stroke her feet with your fingertips, move on to the belly, the tail and the back. As you touch her, speak to her softly in a calm, low voice. If your kitty becomes agitated, end the session and leave her alone.  Get to know your cat’s spots that they like to be touched.  Sometimes cats won’t let you near their bellies while other felines live it or some hate it when you scratch their rear ends!

Reward your shy kitty with treats

After a petting session, give your kitty a treat for good behavior.   Try to do many sessions each day, extending the length of the sessions as your cat grows comfortable with you.  Stroke your cat’s ears, play with her paws and always talk in a sweet soothing voice.  If your kitty starts to get aggressive during a play session, just tell her ‘no’ firmly and put her down.  Don’t ever scream or raise your voice at your cat.  It will only scare him or her more and you will lose his trust.

Playing with your kitty will incorporate her trust

Cats are predators by nature, and instinctively need to hunt and kill, even if only with a catnip mouse. Learn what your cat's favorite type of toy (with trial and error) and schedule playtimes several times daily. This can reduce the amount of misdirected predatory behavior (ankle attacks, etc.) in which your cat engages, and will help the two of you form a close bond.  If you have two cats, they usually will attack and/or play with each other.

Again, if your kitty lashes out at you during play time, simply tell her “no” and end the playing session.  No more fun for your kitty and no rewards!

Introduce your shy cat to new people, but slowly

Once your kitty seems to trust you, it is then time to introduce your cat to new people and/or other cats.  However, before you let other people handle your cat, make sure they know to keep their voices low and calm, at least until the cat is comfortable with them.  And it’s better if your kitty comes to them, and don't force interaction. It may take a couple of visits before your cat is comfortable with people he or she doesn't know.

With time, love and patience, you can get your cat to come out of his or her shell.  However, it is important to always be understanding and patient and respect your kitty’s boundaries. Continue to reinforce good behavior and discourage unwanted behavior. Sometimes it will take years to fully complete have a shy kitty to become gregarious, but you'll be rewarded at the end with an outgoing feline for life!

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How to Handle a New Kitten or Adopted Cat

If you have just adopted a beautiful yet fearful kitten (or cat), the first thing you need to learn is how to handle and/or approach your newly beloved feline family member.  It is important for you and your family to lean how to handle your kitten or cat properly especially in the early, formative kitty years.

Give your kitty time to adjust to his or her new surroundings

Although everyone will want to hold the kitten, limit handling for the first few days while your new kitten adjusts. Set up his bed, litter box and food in a quiet room where he can be secured until he gets to know his new home. Introduce one family member at a time, allowing the kitten to come to you and learn your touch.

How To Handle Your Kitten

Be careful with me!

Be careful when you first approach your kitten


First of all, don't immediately walk up to an unfamiliar kitten or cat and pick her up.  You should get to know him or her and let your kitty smell and check you out. Pet her lightly on the back, running your hand from shoulder to tail. Pet the top of your cat’s head, and give her your hand to smell. Speak to her in calm, soothing tones. Don't let yourself get upset or excited if it's not going well; the cat can sense your alarm, and will resist you.


Use both hands when picking up a kitten


Unless the cat is a very youngkitten (in which case it's safe to pick her up by the scruff of the neck), you should pick up your kitty with both hands, first putting your hand under his or her chest just behind the front legs (using your forearm for additional support). Then support the back feet above and behind the paws with your free hand, cradling the rear of the body so that your cat is fully supported. The key is to success is making your cat feel both safe and comfortable, and keeping her limbs in check so you don't get scratched.


It can take time for your kitty to get used to being held


If your cat is resistant, spend some more time with her, perhaps sitting on a couch, and letting her come to you for petting. Work up to getting her to sit in your lap, and when she's comfortable with that, try again to pick her up.  Do this a few times so your kitty is comfortable with it.

As your cat gets older, he might like to be carried over your shoulder

Some cats prefer to be carried like a baby, facing backward with their forelegs over your shoulders, and their hind quarters supported with your free hand. This is fine once you and the cat are accustomed to each other. Initially, however, it's not a good idea. If your cat is spooked, she's likely to dig her front claws into your back, and her back claws into your chest to launch away from you.

Never pick up a cat by the middle without supporting the back legs

Never pick up a cat with both hands by the midsection without supporting the hind legs. This will upset most cats and leave their back paws free to scratch you.  And it puts a lot of pressure on your cat’s midsection.

Take extra caution with feral or injured cats

If it's necessary to handle a feral cat, an injured cat or a cat who seems prone to biting or scratching, wear heavy duty gloves and a long sleeved shirt or jacket.  If you are unaccustomed to handling cats, you should not attempt to pick up feral or injured cats yourself if it's possible to find someone more experienced to help you.  Injured cats should not be moved unless it's to move them out of harm's way (the middle of a street, for example). Then contact a veterinarian to determine whether the cat should be moved, and how best to do so.

Young toddlers should not interact with a young kitten

Children under five should not interact with kittens; many shelters and rescue groups will not allow families with very young children to adopt kittens because children can be rough, sometimes tragically, with kittens. They should be taught never to grab a kitten's tail or ears, or pick it up by its scruff. Show children how to gently pet a cat's head and back. Remind them to always wash their hands after being around kitty. Always supervise children's interaction with kittens, especially if they have friends visiting.

Each cat is different and some kittens (and cats) just don't like to be handled. While gentle petting andtreatsmay help you gain their trust, don't assume every cat can be picked up safely on the first attempt. Give it time and chances are that your kitty will eventually come around!



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Does Your Cat Have a Cold?

It is difficult for cat owners to tell when our cats aren’t feeling well because they sleep a lot!  And, of course, our brave felines are very good at hiding and/or masking their feelings and sometimes we just don’t know if they are feeling unwell or just want to be left alone!  However, there are some ways in which you can tell if your kitty has a cold.  And, not to worry, if you have a cold, you can’t pass a human cold on to your cat and vice versa.

If your cat has a cold, it can be extremely contagious (infection can be passed through an airborne contagion or through casual contact) and it is very common for all cats within a household to become infected quickly.  Even though most of the agents that caused the cold only survive for a few hours in the environment, they can last a very long time in your cat’s respiratory tract in a latent or potent form.  Some cats hang onto the cold a lot longer than others.


Cat is Old

I don’t feel so great!

Cats can get a cold for a variety of reasons just as we, humans, do such as: a bacteria or virus, a parasitic worm infection, and/or an allergic reaction.

Below are some symptoms that your cat will exhibit if he has a cold:

Sneezing, runny nose, coughing and/or wheezing, discharge from your cat’s the nose or mouth, respiratory problems, oral ulcers and/or conjunctivitis (discharge from the eye).

Treatment for your cat’s cold

If you suspect your cat has any sort of cold, call and take your cat to your vet immediately for an examination.  Although a cold is not serious, your cat can get secondary infections during this time period which could be more serious and can lead to chronic illnesses. Many cats with a cold will also have their appetites suppressed (which is another way to tell if your kitty is sick). Cats who don’t eat for even just a day or two can be at risk for hepatic lipidosis, which can be a very serious illness. Therefore, even though a cold itself is not terribly serious, if it is left untreated, it can turn into a serious illness.

Medication is often prescribed for a cat cold

Most cases of a kitty’s cold are taken care of with a course of drug therapy (antibiotics, decongestants, antiviral medication), rest, lots of food and liquids. Humidification of your kitty’s nasal passages may also help your cat.  You can do this by purchasing a humidifier for the room or bringing your kitty in with you for a nice steaming in the bathroom. However, do not allow your cat to catch a ‘chill’ if you do get him/her wet.

If your cat still has a cold after taking medication, X-rays might help

If you do have a cat that has been on medication for a few weeks and is still not feeling better, or if your cat has finished his/her course of medication and is still ill your vet may have him/her in for another visit to do some more tests. These may include X-rays of the skull which allow you to see the nasal cavity and frontal sinuses. This can help you determine what, if any damage the infection has done to the nasal passages. A nasal flush can also be performed to collect matter from the nasal cavity. This matter can then be analyzed to better determine what is causing your cat to be ill.

How to prevent your cat from getting a cold

Try to keep your cat indoors and away from other sick animals.  Make sure to keep your cat in a clean environment which includes clean food and water bowls (filtered water is best) and a clean home. Keep your home above 70 degrees and if your cat gets wet either dry him off or make sure he stays warm while he dries off. You can also talk to your vet about yearly vaccinations to ward off such infections.

Cat colds, just as in human colds, are not serious but uncomfortable for your kitty.  And, if you don’t take your kitty to the vet, it could turn into something more serious.  Therefore, it is always better be on the safe side and if you see any cold symptoms or lack of an appetite, call and schedule an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible.

Although there is no way to completely prevent a cat from getting a cold, you can help boost his immune system so he is better able to fight off cold by keeping your cat’s living space clean.  Make sure to wash your cat's food bowl and water dish daily.  By keeping your cat properly vaccinated and limiting his or her exposure to the outside also helps.

Your kitty will get over his cold and if you watch for the signs, you can prevent it from turning into anything serious.  


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Moving to A New Home Is Stressful for You and Your Pets!

Moving to a new home can be one of the most stressful life events you’ll ever have to encounter. However, in all the chaos and things to do including hauling boxes, packing tape and organizing moving trucks, you might not realize how stressed your pets feel, too.  They may feel unsure about their new environment, which can lead to behavior issues that were not a problem in the past.

Cats, especially, aren’t big fans of change. You can help your cats and frightened dogs adjust to the moving process by bringing in moving boxes early and by keeping your furry friends in a familiar room that you will pack up last. On moving day, keep your pets in a quiet room with the door shut or at a friend’s house. This will ensure that your cat or dog won’t get scared and try to make a quick getaway while the movers load up the truck.

There are many ways to make the transition as safe and easy as possible for your furry friends.

During the packing stage, plan ahead for your cat or dog

During the packing stage, the actual move and the transition in your new home, plan for your cat or dog's safety. Some pets will be upset and scared once the boxes and suitcases take over. They may hide or run away. Set aside a safe place where they can't get lost or hurt. Make sure your cat or dog has identification and your contact information and that you have copies of veterinarian records. Learn about any structural risks in the home or yard such as a working fence or gate. 

Moving To A New Home

Give us time to adjust!


Try to settle in by using one room at a time

When you arrive at your new home, it will be tempting to set your dog or cat loose in the house to explore. However, a new and unfamiliar space can be overwhelming to your pets. Start by allowing them to adjust to one room, which should include their favorite toys, treats, water and food bowls, and litter box for cats. When they seem comfortable, gradually introduce them to other rooms in the house, while keeping some doors shut. You can slowly move your cat’s litter box to a different room too.

Bring your cat or dog’s favorite items along with you

You may be tempted to get your cat or dog some new bowls or toys, but this is not a good time to introduce new items. Instead, bring your pet's favorite bed, crate, toys, food and water dishes, treats and other familiar items. Put them in similar places as they were in your previous home. If you have the familiar bowls and toys, it will help your cat or dog feel in control and more at home.

Maintain your daily routine including walks and feeding times

Keep your routine and schedule for feeding, walks, playtime, cuddling and bedtime. If a dog is used to using a doggy door, set one up in your new place. If your cat is accustomed to outdoor time, arrange for that, even if you have to use a leash initially for safety purposes to keep your kitty from running away.  The key is to help your cat or dog feel secure by having the same prior schedule.

You can minimize anxiety by watching your cat or dog to see how they are doing

Think of ways to ease your cat or dog’s transition. Some will feel best being near you no matter what you're doing. Others will do better in a crate or away from the moving madness. Or perhaps it's better for your cat or dog to stay at a friend or family member's home during the actual move; joining you once you've unpacked. The more secure they feel, the better they'll adjust to the change.

Flourish your dog or cat with extra attention

Give your cat or dog the attention he is used to. As stressed as you are about the move, a bit of extra loving will go a long way as they come to feel at home in their new surroundings. Remember that difficult behaviors are a result of their discomfort with the change and a sense of not feeling in control.  The more love and affection, the more easily your cat or dog will transition.

Be patient as you all transition together

Allow your pets to take their time sniffing around their new digs. Let them explore and if they decide to hide for a while, that's OK as long as they know where the doggy door or litter box is. Allow them to come out when they are ready. Their behavior may change for some time and include “accidents” or missing the litter box, barking, pacing or other behavioral issues. They need time to get used to their new home, just as you do, and will pick up on your anxiety as well. So, relax, giver your pets some extra affection and you can all enjoy your new home together.



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