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Exercising Your Dog is Vital for His Physical and Mental Health

We all know the importance of exercise for our own health as well as our dogs.  However, daily exercise is not only necessary for your dog’s physical attributes, but it has significant day-to-day effects on a dog's behavior. Dogs have an abundance of energy and if they don't get the chance to burn it off, they will become destructive. If you're frustrated by the holes your dog has dug or his incessant barking, your dog's probably not getting enough exercise.

Some pet parents make the mistake of assuming that if a dog has access to a yard, he or she’s getting enough exercise. But your dog doesn’t run laps by herself in your yard or do much of anything besides waiting for you to come outside or let her back inside (and feed him or her)! It’s the interaction with you that counts and it needs to be physical.

Exercise can help curb destructive behavior

Dogs can be like children. If you don’t give them something constructive to do with their energy, they’ll find something to do on their own and most of it isn’t something you will like! Some of the most common behavior problems seen in dogs who don’t get enough exercise and play are: destructive chewing, digging or scratching, investigative behaviors, like garbage raiding, hyperactivity, excitability and night-time activity, and attention-getting behaviors like barking and whining.

 

Exercise keeps me fit and well behaved!

 

Exercise provides so many great benefits

The good news is that keeping your dog healthy, happy and out of trouble with daily exercise is a lot of fun and provides many benefits, including:

  • Reduces or eliminate the common behavior problems listed above, such as digging, excessive barking, chewing and hyperactivity

 

  • Keeps dogs healthy, agile and limber

 

  • Reduces digestive problems

 

  • Builds confidence and trust for fearful or timid dogs

 

  • Dogs sleep better at night

 

  • Aids weight control in our pups

How much exercise does your dog need?

The amount of exercise that your dog needs depends on your dog's age, breed, and health. A 10-month old puppy is going to need more than a five-year old schnauzer.  A leashed walk around the block isn't going to cut it. Most dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Your canine pal needs enough that he's slowed down and tired by the time you stop.

Some general guidelines are the following:

Active breeds need a minimum of 30 minutes of hard aerobic exercise most days of the week, preferably daily.

Not all toy or small breeds get enough exercise inside the house. Pugs, for example, are prone to obesity and need much more exercise than they usually get.

It's not safe to go out in extremely hot or cold weather. During such periods, stay inside and teach tricks to engage your dog's mind, throw toys, or run up and down the stairs together.

Good exercise uses both mental and physical muscles. Exploring a new hiking trail, for example, engages your dog's mind as well as his body.  If the exercise and/or scenery is boring, your dog will be bored and unstimulated.

Where to get exercise for your pups

Like people, most dogs like both familiarity and a little variety in their exercise routines.  Many dogs get to know the neighborhood during walks and enjoy checking on their favorite spots.  

Dog parks are great places for off-leash exercise and running with other dogs, which is exactly what most dogs’ need. However, not all dogs can play nicely with others. If your dog doesn't like other dogs, the dog park is definitely not the place for him.

Doggie day care can also exercise both his mind and body. Dogs should come home from day care worn out and satisfied.

Check with your veterinarian if you are starting a new exercise program

Check with your veterinarian before starting an exercise program. He or she can check your dog for any health issues that may be aggravated by exercise and recommend safe activities. Exercise is great for energetic young dogs, but sustained jogging or running is not recommended for young dogs (under 18 months) whose bones haven’t finished growing.

Further, once a dog reaches his or her golden years, osteoarthritis can cause pain and lameness after strenuous exercise. It’s much better to discover that your once-sprightly dog’s joints can no longer handle long hikes, for example, before you hit the trail.  And larger dogs can sometimes have shoulder and limb problems, so it’s always best to check with your vet.

The benefits of exercising your dog are abundant. As in humans, we get the mind/body fulfillment as well as the health benefits.  It’s the New Year. Start exercising your dog today and you will both reap the benefits!

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The Tabby Cat is Not a Breed but a Pattern!

 

A lot of cat owners, including myself, will call the average domestic cat a tabby.  If you have adopted a furry feline and don’t know the breed, the tabby is sometimes used as the default name, sort of like calling a dog, a mutt.  However a Tabby is not a cat breed.  It is the pattern of a kitty's coat. And it happens to be the most common of all the feline coat patterns.

Therefore, no matter what color or markings you see on your cat, all felines possess the tabby gene. Other colors or patterns may hide those tabby markings, but they're always present.

Sammy The Best Orange Tabby Cat

This is Sammy, my favorite “tabby” cat!

Sometimes you can see those faint tabby markings on a solid-colored cat who is sitting in the bright sun. And have you ever seen a solid red or orange or cream cat without the familiar tabby markings? You won't, because the gene that makes a cat red or cream also makes the tabby markings visible.

All Tabby Cats have the common “M” on their foreheads

All tabbies have thin pencil lines on their faces, expressive markings around the eyes, and a distinct letter "M" on their foreheads. Some believe the "M" is for Mau, the word for "cat" in ancient Egypt. Others think the "M" stands for Mohammed, who loved tabbies. Still others believe it is the blessing of the Virgin Mary.  I think it stays for merriment – aren’t tabbies happy cats?

There are four distinct tabby patterns:

Although there are many variations of each, the tabby pattern falls into four basic types. A fifth includes tabby as part of another basic color pattern such as the patched tabby, which may be a calico or tortoiseshell cat with tabby patches (which is called a torbie.) Some breeds also have tabby points within their color standards. That’s why our tabbies seem omnipresent and always ready to adopt! In fact, the gene for tabby pattern can be found in all domestic cats. Look at a jet black kitty basking in the sun and you will most likely see some hidden tabby markings.

Types of Tabby Patterns

Mackerel (striped)

The Mackerel tabby pattern has vertical, gently curving stripes on the side of the body. The stripes are narrow and may be continuous or broken into bars and spots on the flanks and stomach. An "M" shape appears on the forehead along with dark lines across the cat's cheeks to the corners of its eyes. Mackerels are also called 'Fishbone tabbies' probably because they are named after the mackerel fish. Mackerel is the most common tabby pattern. Their legs and tail have dark bars as do the cat's cheeks.

Spotted

The Spotted tabby is a modifier that breaks up the Mackerel tabby pattern so that the stripes appear as spots. Similarly, the stripes of the Classic tabby pattern may be broken into larger spots. Both large spot and small spot patterns can be seen in the Australian Mist, Bengal, Egyptian Mau, Maine Coon, and Ocicat breeds.

Agouti (Ticked)

Most tabby cats will have agouti hairs as part of their pattern. If you look closely, you'll see different bands of color down the length of the cat's individual hairs. Cats with an all-ticked pattern almost shimmer in the sunlight, because of the color variation.

The Classic Tabby

This pattern usually has whorls ending in a target on the side of the cat. Many American Shorthair cats demonstrate this pattern.    The Classic (also known as "Blotched" or "Marbled") tabby tends to have a pattern of dark browns, but also occurs in grey. Classic tabbies have the "M" pattern on their foreheads but the body markings have a whirled or swirled pattern (often called a "bullseye") on the cat's sides. There is also a light colored "butterfly" pattern on the shoulders and three thin stripes (the center stripe is dark) running along its spine. Like the Mackerel tabby, Classic tabbies have dark bars on the legs, tail, and cheeks.

Now that you know the type of ‘tabby’ cat pattern that your cat might have, you will probably be interested to learn about their behavior in the following article:

Click Here:  Orange Tabby Cat Behaviors

 

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Feline Leukemia Virus – Contagious, Dangerous and Needs to be Tested!

Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV) is a horrible disease for our kittens that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats, second to trauma.The virus commonly causes anemia or lymphoma, but because it suppresses the immune system, it can also predispose cats to deadly infections.  Therefore, it is very important to have your kitty or cat tested for FLV before you bring your cat home.  Most shelters and/or rescue groups will test for FLV before you bring your kitty home.

How Do Cats Get FLV?

The FLV virus is shed in many bodily fluids, including saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and blood. FLV is most commonly transmitted through direct contact, mutual grooming and through sharing litter boxes, food and water bowls. It can also be passed in utero or through mother’s milk. Outdoor cats who get into fights with other cats can transmit the disease through bites and scratches.  However, healthy cats over three months old and vaccinated for FLV are highly unlikely to contract the virus from another cat.

How Feline Leukemia Virus Is Transmitted

Feline leukemia is a disease that only affects cats; it cannot be transmitted to people, dogs, or other animals. FLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and to some extent, urine and feces. The virus does not live long outside the cat’s body. Grooming and fighting (since it involves interaction) seem to be the most common way for infection to spread. Kittens can contract the disease in through an infected mother’s milk. The disease is often spread by apparently healthy cats, so even if a cat appears healthy, he or she might be infected and able to transmit the virus.

Your Cat’s Risk Factors

Exposure to infected cats raises your cat’s risk of contracting FLV, especially for kittens and young adult cats. Older cats are less likely to contract the infection, because resistance seems to increase with age. For indoor-only cats, the risk of contracting FLV is very low. Cats in multi-cat households or in catteries are more at risk, especially if they share water and food dishes and litter boxes.

FLV

We hate FLV!

Only about 3% of cats in single-cat households have the virus, but for cats that spend time outdoors, the rate is much higher. Still, the prevalence of FLV has decreased over the last 25 years because of vaccines and reliable tests.

The below are the symptoms of FLV:

Loss of appetite and weight loss, pale or inflamed gums, poor coat condition, fever, upper respiratory infections, diarrhea and vomiting, seizures, behavioral changes, vision problems, swollen lymph nodes, reproductive issues in female cats, jaundice, respiratory issues, and lethargy.

How is FLV Diagnosed?

There are several types of tests available to diagnose FLV. Most veterinarians and shelters use the ELISA enzyme-linked test, which detects antigen to the FELV virus in the bloodstream.

How can you help your cat with FLV?

Feed your cat a nutritionally balanced diet, one free of raw meat, eggs and unpasteurized dairy products, which can harbor bacteria and parasites and lead to infection.  It is also recommended to make a quiet place for your cat to rest indoors and away from other cats who could promote disease.  You should also bring your cat to the vet every six months for a checkup and blood tests.

Is FLV contagious?

FLV is contagious to other cats, but not to humans or other species. Other cats in the house can acquire the virus from an infected cat. Though the virus doesn’t live long outside of the body, and is easily inactivated with common disinfectants, it can be passed through shared food and water as well as common litter boxes.

Is there a treatment for FLV?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FLV, and it is estimated that less than twenty percent of clinically infected cats survive more than three years of active infection. In the case of those cats who develop cancer, chemotherapy can help prolong life, but treatment often focuses on providing the best quality of life.

Can you prevent FLV from occurring?

There is a vaccine available for cats who are at risk of contracting FLV. Like all vaccines, there are risks involved in vaccination, and the vaccine is not a 100-percent guarantee against infection. Your veterinarian can best evaluate whether this vaccine is right for your cat.

As with any infectious disease, the best prevention is eliminating sources of exposure. Routine FLV testing and keeping your cat indoors and away from cats whose FLV status is the best way to prevent your cat from becoming infected. 

You can read more articles on pet care and advice on petpav.com, our pet social network that is like Facebook for pets!

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What Does It Mean When Your Dog Barks While Sleeping?

We love how our dogs are such loving and fun companions.  They are sometimes verbal with their barking and/or they can tell us what they are thinking by just looking at them or their non-verbal cues. They will whimper or stand by the door when they want to go on a walk or nudge you to feed them.  But, what about if our dogs growl, bark or twitch when they sleep.  Usually, if this is the case, we can assume our dogs are dreaming.

Dogs bark or whimper in their sleep because they are dreaming

The reason why dogs bark in their sleep is because they have dreams just like humans do. Dogs go through a dream stage of the sleep cycle every time they go to sleep. You can tell when your dog is slipping into this stage by watching their eyes. Dreaming occurs in a stage of sleep known as REM (which stands for rapid eye movement), just as is in humans.

During this stage, you will notice that your dog’s eyelids are twitching rapidly as his eyes move beneath them. It is during this stage of sleep that your dog is likely to bark or make other noises such as growling or whimpering.

Dog Barks While Sleeping

 

What do dogs dream about?

There is really no way of knowing what dogs dream about as they obviously can’t tell us.  You can probably assume that our dogs’ dreams are related to an activity that happened in the day.  Could be as simple as a nice walk or how much they enjoyed their bone.   However, when your dog is barking or growling, it usually means that he or she is reliving a memory that caused him to bark or growl in real life. Dreaming is an important way for dogs and humans to process their experiences and learn from them.

Don’t wake up your dog if he is barking in his sleep

Just because a dog is barking, you cannot be sure that he is having a bad dream; he could simply be excited about eating his favorite bone or missing his dog pal.  But, even if you think your dog is having a nightmare, waking him up in the middle of the dream could be even more frightening than letting the dream continue.  Being woken up in the middle of REM sleep can be very shocking and disorienting, which could cause your dog to snap at you, so it is best to leave him alone.

Dogs need their uninterrupted sleep

Dogs, just like humans, need all the rest they can get. Dogs’ bodies and brains are often very active during the day as they run around and take on new experiences. Getting enough sleep is vital to allow your pooch to recharge his batteries and stay physically and mentally healthy. 

If you wake your dog up in the middle of a sleep cycle, he will not get the maximum benefit from that sleep, and he made find it difficult to drift off again. It is better to leave him be until he wakes naturally. Just like you, your dog depends on his beauty sleep to recharge. A good amount of uninterrupted sleep is essential for his healthy mental activity. Also, consider that if your dog is having a bad dream, waking him up may startle him and potentially lead to a defensive reaction and he could bite you.

Make sure your dog is sleeping when he barks

Dogs who bark in their sleep can be a nuisance, but it is better to let them lie. If your dog’s dreaming is disturbing your sleep, try moving its bed into a room further away from your bedroom. Also, check that your dog is actually sleeping when he barks during the night. It might be that he is in fact awake and trying to attract your attention. He could be bored, restless, lonely, thirsty, or too hot or too cold.

Your dog could be barking during his sleep due to change in his environment

If you find that your dog is in fact not dreaming but lying awake at night calling for you, then make sure that your dog’s sleeping environment is comfortable and he has access to fresh drinking water.  Try out a new bed or room to see if that helps minimize the barking while sleeping. Did his environment change at all which is causing your dog to whimper or notice?  Did you stop your daily exercise routine?  Exercise is the most vital component in getting your dog to sleep well at night.

Barking while sleeping is normal doggy behavior. When you hear your pooch dreaming loudly, don’t panic and don’t wake him up. Dreamy barking doesn’t necessarily mean that he is unhappy. It could simply be that your dog is dreaming about playing a game or exploring a new park. Help your dog to sleep calmly by making sure he gets plenty of exercise and playtime during his waking hours.  He will sleep more soundly and then you will also.

 

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It’s Amazing How Much Cats Sleep!

Anyone who has owned a cat is dumbfounded, at first, by the amount of time our cats’ spend sleeping.  In fact, cats sleep about twice as much as humans. Though their sleep hours may vary depending on their age, size and temperament, the average cats sleep about 13 – 16 hours per day or about two-thirds of their lives. The only other animals that sleep more than cats are bats and opossums.

Why do cats need so much sleep?

Cats’ penchant for sleep is still a mystery to all of us. However, one thing that can help us explain cats’ sleeping patterns is to understand that most of the cats are crepuscular animals which means active during dawn and dusk. Many cat owners assume that their cats are active at night because they are often awaken very early in the morning. The truth is that cats actually spend most of their night time sleeping.

Cats’ crepuscular nature comes from their hunting habit. Cats are natural predators that hunt for small animals such as rodents, birds or even bugs. Their prey is most active when the sun comes up in the morning and right before it goes down in the evening. When cats are not hunting, they take plenty of naps.

cat sleep love sleep

 

Cats’ love their daily naps

The first thing you should realize is that cats are most active between dusk and dawn, which means that they sleep mostly during the day and become active around twilight. This can come as quite a shock if you're bringing a new kitty home for the first time. Your cat will waste no time investigating and getting into trouble usually while you’re fast asleep!  But as soon your cat is done with breakfast, as the rest of the world winds up for action, you'll find him winding down for a long day of slumber.

 

Cats sleep a lot to conserve energy

Cats have the physiology of a predator, meaning that they’re hardwired to chase and hunt at night. Large cats such as lions have a similar pattern of sleeping during the day and hunting at night. Although they have been domesticated for the most part, housecats still retain that wild streak. Even cats at play will display the feline primal instincts of creeping about in the shadows and, without a whisper of warning, pouncing on their target prey.  Whether your kitty is hunting for outdoor prey or tackling a catnip toy, all that sleep he gets is reserve energy for running, pouncing, climbing and stalking.

Cats sleep in short cycles

Like humans, cats either doze in a light sleep or sleep very deeply. When your cat dozes (which lasts about fifteen minutes to a half hour), he will position his body so that he can spring up and into action at a moment’s notice.

During deep sleep, cats experience rapid (or quick) brain movement. Deep sleep tends to last about five minutes, after which the cat goes back to dozing. This dozing-deep sleep pattern goes on until the cat wakes up.

Even our cats are affected by weather

It should come as no surprise that felines are affected by the weather, just like us. Cat behavior can vary greatly, depending on their breed, age, temperament and overall health. But, whatever your kitty’s usual disposition, it has been observed that cats sleep more when the weather calls for it.  Even if your kitty is an exclusive indoor-dweller, a rainy or cold day will have him (and probably you) yawning and looking for some shut-eye.

Cats are more active at night time

As mentioned above, cats are more active at night between dawn and dusk. They tend to lay low in the darker night-time and day-time hours, when other predators may be hanging about. Some cats may be active at night as well, especially when they’re kittens. But, cats are also sociable and highly adaptable. Cats will also adjust their sleep patterns to their feeding schedules, which is why an indoor cat sleeps more than a cat that roams outdoors.

Every cat has a sleep schedule that they’d like to stick with and are creatures of habit. If you have discovered a change in your cat’s sleeping habits such as sleeping excessively more or less, it may indicate a problem that needs to be checked out by a veterinarian.

Our cats do dream as they sleep

Cats are often seen to twitch their paws and whiskers, move their eyes as if they are running and pouncing on small critters in their dream. Cats also go through both Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep where during non-REM sleep, they repair themselves and allow their body to grow.

Cats usually sleep wherever they want or are comfortable

Cats sleep in any places they feel fit or comfortable. The criteria they are looking for in a perfect napping spot is usually a soft, warm, comfortable and safe place. However, if the temperature is high, they prefer sleeping all stretched out. If the weather is cold, they will curl up, cover their face with their paws or even lie nearby a heat source. That explains why love leaning by a computer or anything that generates warmth during the winter time.

If you are a new cat owner and are worried that your cat sleeps all day, you can rest assured that this is normal.  These adorable felines just love their sleep and certainly need it and when they are awake, watch out!

 

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