Are People Prejudiced Against Black Pets? Understanding Black Dog Syndrome

A new condition has surfaced in the pet community, and while it may not make your pet sick, it is believed to be responsible for thousands of pet deaths.

The condition is known as Black Dog Syndrome.

What is Black Dog Syndrome?

Black-Dog-Syndrome-4 Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) is the technical term for what people working at shelters see every day — pets with lighter colored fur getting snatched up while their darker haired brethren languish in their kennel. BDS is not a joke – the numbers are there.

Petfinder lists that most pets spend around 12.5 weeks up on their site before finding a home. Black pets, on the other hand, tend to hang around up to 4x longer — up to two years!

They are not only the last to be adopted either. If you keep tugging at that thread,  not only are these darker dogs and cats having a harder time finding a home, but they are also more likely to end up being euthanized.

The idea that ANY pet can end up dying as a result of not being adopted is disheartening, but the fact that the color of their is a factor is not only surprising, but appalling. Black-Dog-Syndrome-3 In some places, BDS has gotten so out of hand that shelters are actually hosting events and running specials with the goal of finding some homes for these darker furred pets. Things like “free black pet day” or “save a black cat on Halloween” are now a common occurrence among shelters everywhere.

But why black pets?

There are plenty of reasons why a black pet may linger in a kennel while a blond one gets adopted, and they are all complete nonsense. But nonsense or not, they still exist and we cannot hope to dispel them without addressing the issue.

1. The Negative Stigma Surrounding The Color

(aka the Darth Vader Effect)

Black has long been associated with evil, nefarious doings, while white has embodied the concept of purity and justice. That dichotomy is responsible for much of how we choose to personify the concept of good and evil. It is not mere coincidence that such iconic evil figures as Darth Vader, Maleficent, and The Black Knight are all cloaked in the same inky color. Black-Dog-Syndrome-2 In much the same vein, the superstition surrounding black cats is likely not doing dark haired kittens any favors when it comes to finding a loving home.

Is there a definite causal relationship between our societies  association that dark equates to bad and the fact that black pets have a harder time finding a family? No, but it certainly isn’t helping.

2. Black Pets are Harder to Photograph

The fact that pets with darker fur are less photogenic than their lighter furred kennel mates is likely the true “man-behind-the-curtain” of why darker pets linger in shelters. Black-Dog-Syndrome-1 Thanks to websites like Petfinder, many pets are selected for adoption before the family steps foot in a shelter. The downside, however, is that many of these pets are selected based on the cuteness of their profile picture.

This gives lighter colored pets a leg up since their facial features show up better in photos, whereas black pets tend to get washed out. Because of their coloring, dark furred pets often show up as a nondescript black blob with eyes — not a great first impression.

The Takeaway

While there are numerous reasons why a person might select a lighter colored pet over a black one, most of them are subconscious, and none are valid. The goal is to now be more aware of this problem and to correct for it in the future. We must stop discriminating against any pet based on the color of their fur, or any other cosmetic feature. Most of all, we need to find a home for every pet in need.

PetPlus offers a budget-friendly way board your pets while you’re out of town. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.

Source:
PetFinder – Black Dog Syndrome
Slate – Are People Racist Against Black Dogs?
ABC News – Prospective Pet Adopters Overlook Black Dogs and Cats, Shelters Say
The Guardian – Pets with black fur: why don’t you look good on social media?

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3 Tips for Biking With Your Dog

There’s nothing quite like a leisurely cruise on a bike. And if you own a dog, you might like to take them along for the ride. It’s not as easy, however, as simply tying your dog’s leash to your handlebars and peddling off (in fact, don’t do that!) Biking with your dog requires preparation and an awareness of potential safety hazards.

So how can you get your dog ready to ride? Here are 3 tips for biking with your dog.

1. Know Your Dog Before Biking With Your Dog

Not all dogs are cut out for running alongside a bike. Older dogs, dogs with health conditions, dogs with short legs, and brachycephalic breeds might not be as capable as young, healthy dogs who have speed and stamina. Take your dog out for a cruise around the block and see how they do, and keep an eye on them the following day. If your dog can’t keep up or seems particularly wiped out, they might not be built for biking. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

2. Gear Up for Biking With Your Dog

If your dog takes to biking, it’s time to gear up. What will you need?

  • A body harness instead of a collar

Attaching a leash to a neck collar can be extremely dangerous for a dog running alongside a bike, and you should especially avoid using tightening collars like prongs or martingales. Instead, use a padded body harness that will evenly distribute pressure around their body.

  • A Springer leash attachment

Many people use their dog’s regular leash and simply tie it to their seat post (note: you should never tie the lead to your handlebars as it can throw off your balance). However, you may also want to consider purchasing a Springer attachment. The Springer is a steel device that connects your dog’s leash to your bike and has a special coil spring that absorbs tugs and lunges.

RELATED STORY: Get Your Cheap Pet Supplies

  • Dog booties

Running can be hard on your pal’s paw pads, so consider protecting them with dog booties. Dog booties not only offer your dog support as they run, they also protect your dog’s feet from cuts, scratches, and foreign objects stuck between the toes. Some dogs take to dog booties well while others are less easily convinced. Before heading out for a ride, have your dog wear the booties around the house, on short walks, etc., to build up their comfort level. And don’t skimp on the treats.

  • Water

Take frequent breaks to offer your dog fresh water, especially when it’s warm out. You shouldn’t let your dog drink from rivers, lakes, ponds, or other natural sources of water as they could contain harmful parasites.

3. Build Up to Biking With Your Dog

A dog running steadily alongside you on a bike won’t happen overnight, especially if the dog isn’t used to running at all. Before biking with your dog, get them in good shape with regular walks and runs (if your vet says it’s OK). Then, you can slowly introduce your dog to the bike. Start with short trips around the neighborhood then build up to longer outings. Use treats at first to keep your dog motivated and away from distractions. Eventually, you should be able to phase out treats and look down to see your dog trotting safely by your side.

Do you bike with your dog? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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How much self-grooming is right for your cat?

Most cat owners may be well aware that their cats love licking and grooming themselves. But they’re so secretive, it may be difficult to realize the extent to which they groom. Cynthia McManis, D.V.M., the owner of Just Cats Veterinary Services, told WebVet that grooming can take up around 50 percent of a cat’s time awake each day.

Why do cats groom themselves so extensively?

The reason that cats spend so much time on their grooming isn’t just to look good for you – it’s an important part of their hygiene. Experts suspect that cats ensure that their bodies are food- and odor-free by licking themselves to keep potential predators away. Although indoor cats don’t have any reason to worry about predators sniffing them out, this instinctual habit has survived.

Additionally, grooming and licking help cats regulate body temperature. McManis explained that when cats want to cool down, they need to rely on saliva evaporating from their fur because most of their body doesn’t sweat. To keep warm, they can adjust the amount of natural body oils on their skin to insulate their natural warmth. Grooming can also assist blood flow, have medicinal properties, be meditative and show friendship when done to another cats.

How much is too much?

Even though 50 percent of a cat’s day is an enormous chunk of time, it’s only an average. Some cats can go overboard with their grooming and spend even more time licking their hair. Overgrooming is a serious concern and can be a sign of several other conditions.

William Miller, V.M.D., a professor Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, explained on his school’s website that overgrooming or licking is most commonly due to itchiness or pain. While cats can’t express their feelings as articulately as humans, their licking may be revealing how they feel. Miller advised that concentrated licking, especially around the anus or spine, may be a sign of pain. On the other hand, itchiness can be spread throughout more of the body. Allergies, fleas and skin damage are common causes of feline itchiness.

This excessive, irregular licking may lead to hair loss, which is a clear warning sign that your cat may need your help. In addition to whatever issue is leading your cat to lick more, the bald skin leaves your feline friend in potential danger, Miller explained.

“Bald skin is more prone to sunburn, frostbite or other environmental insults,” Miller said. “As long as the licking doesn’t break the skin’s surface, no infection will occur. If the cat gets more passionate about licking and abrades the skin surface [with its rough tongue], infection can occur. Infection will intensify the licking and a vicious cycle will be set up, resulting in a serious infection.”

Some cats don’t overgroom because of physical problems, but rather as a way to deal with emotional issues. Psychogenic alopecia is a feline psychological disorder where cats lick themselves to the point of baldness due to stress. Usually, cats feel displacement or stress and develop psychogenic alopecia because grooming releases endorphins, making it a soothing, relaxing activity. Moving, getting a new cat, death of a family member, boring or small environments, and change in litter box location are all potential causes of this psychological condition.

Some cats can be helped through environmental enrichment, cat expert Pam Johnson-Bennett explained on her website. While others may need certain medications or additional treatments that require a veterinarian visit.

Although it can be hard to keep an eye on your furry feline friend at all times, if you notice excessive licking or hair loss, you should consider a veterinary consultation. It can be a sign of anything from parasites or a urinary infection to psychological distress.

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How to Bring Your Dog to the Beach

Dog at the beach

Here’s the first, most important step to planning a beach day for your dog: find out if the beach is pet-friendly, since many prohibit dogs. If dogs are allowed, review the beach’s guidelines — dogs may be required to stay in restricted areas, or be on a leash for their visit — and follow some simple safety steps to ensure that your dog’s day of sand, waves, and sunshine is safe as well as fun.

Beware of Heatstroke

A long day in the sun poses some risks for your dog, with heatstroke and dehydration as the biggest potential problems. Watch for an inordinate amount of panting, trouble breathing, and disorientation. If the water is particularly chilly, or if your visit occurs during the wintertime, hypothermia can be a concern, particularly with smaller breeds. Keep an eye out for shivering, disorientation, slow breathing, and stiff muscles.

Related Story: How to Identify Signs of Heatstroke in Your Dog

Water Safety: Does Your Dog Need a Life Vest?

Is your dog a swimmer? Many dogs love to swim, taking to the waves confidently. If that’s not the case for your dog, be cautious about allowing your dog in the water. Some breeds are skittish by the ocean; other breeds are simply not capable of swimming. If you’re at all in doubt about how your dog will respond, put a dog life vest on your pet.

Related Story: 4 Safety Tips for Dressing Your Pet

Keep an Eye On Your Dog

While you’re at the beach, make sure you’re always watching your dog. Many beaches require pets to stay on a leash; even if the one you’re visiting does not, make sure to keep dogs on a leash if they don’t respond well to voice commands. Your dog should have a good time, but not impede the fun of other beachgoers — curtail rampages across the beach that might lead to sand being flung on sunbathers.

Shop: Leashes for Your Dog

Bring Dog-Friendly Beach Supplies

Load up your beach bag with supplies for your dog. Some of the most important things to bring to the beach for your dog’s fun and safety are:

  • A water bowl and water: Provide your dog plenty of fresh water to ensure hydration. You’ll also want to avoid having your dog slurp down salt water, which can lead to sickness.
  • An umbrella: Make sure there’s some source of shade for when your dog needs a break from the sunshine.
  • A blanket or towel: The heat of the sand can be painful on your dog’s paws. A blanket or towel will allow a break from the exposure, and a comfy place for a nap.
  • Sunscreen: Only use dog-friendly sunscreen on your pet; sunscreen intended for people may have chemicals, scents, or other problematic ingredients which dogs could easily ingest while licking their fur.
  • Toys!: Don’t forget, you’re here for fun. Safety is important, but also make sure to bring a Frisbee, floating toy, and fun toys for your dog to fetch.

In general, use your common sense; like you, your dog should avoid too much time in the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day, hydrate frequently, reapply sunscreen after being in the water, and take breaks in the shade.

Shop: Balls and Other Fetching Toys

 Be Respectful of the Beach

Don’t leave any of your dog’s waste behind — it could be an unpleasant surprise for other beach-goers. Prevent dogs from entering areas that are marked as off limits, which may often be environmentally protected areas.

When it’s time to take off for the day, use an outdoor shower, or a bucket or bottle of fresh water, to rinse off the sand, sunscreen, and saltwater from your dog. Use a towel (or the sunshine!) to dry off your dog. If you’re traveling by car, put down a blanket in the backseat to keep the car dry and tidy.

What are your tips for a trip to the beach with your dog? Try PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more, for all your doggy beach supply needs.  

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Why Your Dog Can Hear So Much Better Than You

Any pet parents who have tried to secretly whisper about taking a walk only to have their dog come running in with her tail wagging are well aware that dogs have stupendous hearing. After their fantastic sense of smell, hearing is the second most powerful sense that dogs possess.

Although many dog owners know that their furry friend can hear great, many don’t know how well or why. It turns out that there are several interesting reasons why dogs can hear great.

Dogs have a larger range

Dogs can hear distances four times farther away than humans can. This allows them to not just hear a creature or sound that’s farther away but also more sounds at most times. Their radius is expanded and can encompass more noises than that of a human.

The Daily Puppy explained how dogs can also outhear humans when it comes to various frequencies.

“Sparky’s hearing range is quite different from ours, reaching a much higher frequency than we can hear. Hz, or Hertz, refers to sound frequency, the number of sound wave cycles per second. Humans hear between the frequencies of 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz; 2,000 Hz is the level we hear best. Sparky can’t hear quite as low as we can – his range begins at around 40 Hz – but he can hear up to 60,000 Hz. His best hearing occurs at 8,000 Hz.”

Hearing at such higher frequencies, dogs can react to certain sounds that humans can’t even hear, such as dog whistles. Many dog owners advise against their use, but silent dog whistles are a perfect example of a noise occurring at a frequency that dogs can hear and humans can’t.

Although dogs’ sound range starts at a higher frequency than ours, a Louisiana State University study on canine and animal hearing found that dogs respond to low intensity sounds better than humans as well. Although, cats beat out dogs in this category.

It’s likely an evolutionary advantage 

Better hearing may be beneficial to your dog now so that she can hear you the minute you start pouring kibble into her bowl or getting the leash ready, but before domestication, better hearing may have been critical to survival. Improved hearing simply means better hunting.

Dogs would be able to hear the high pitched noises and squeals of rodents, which are suspected to have made up a significant amount of their diet, Pet Advisor explained. While hearing higher frequencies may have made finding prey simpler, hearing such great distances may have made escaping from potentially predators easier. Dogs could hear a larger animal approaching from far away. There’s evidence to suggest that wolves use their hearing this way to this day and humans have continued to breed dogs with great hearing for hunting purposes.

Their ears are built better 

Dogs ears are completely different than human ears. Rather than being stationary appendages, like ears are on humans, dogs can move and angle their ears to better receive sound. Dogs have 18 ear muscles compared to the six that humans have. These allow dogs more control over their own hearing.

When a dog hears something, she’s able to perk her ears up, tilt her head and shift the ear itself to better receive the sound waves. Inside the ear, the canal is also longer, funneling sound into the ear drum, The Daily Puppy explained. The inner ear cochlea also is more effective than a human’s, making 3 1/4 turns rather than the 2 1/2 humans make.

Keep your dog’s ears clean

Your dog has an incredible pair of ears on her head, but she needs your help to keep them clean. Proper ear care is critical to your dog’s health and hearing ability. Keep an eye out for swelling or more scratching than usual. These can be signs of an issue.

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Transition Your Dog From Crate to Free Roaming

Your dog’s crate fulfills a number of important functions. It’s an excellent house breaking tool, it can be made into a cozy den, and it can serve as a comfortable means of confinement if you need to be out of the house and don’t trust your dog to do their own thing.

However at some point, you may want to kick the crate to the curb. Maybe it’s taking up too much space (have you ever seen a crate intended for a Great Dane? Think: zoo enclosure) or maybe you just want your dog to have the freedom to curl up wherever they please, gaze out the window, and drink from their regular water bowl when you’re not home.

Of course, the prospect of giving your dog that freedom can be a daunting one if you’re used to the crate being their babysitter. And it can be daunting for your dog as well, as they are probably used to the comfort and security that the crate offers them in your absence. So how can you ensure that your dog’s transition from crate to free roaming is a smooth one? Follow these steps.

1. Create a Transition Space

One of the most common reasons people crate their dog when they leave the house is because they are worried about the dog destroying their belongs. And indeed, some dogs do chew when left alone, usually because they are feeling anxious. Set your dog up for success by creating a designated area for them to transition from the crate to free roaming. Maybe it’s the kitchen or a spacious spare room. Clear the area of any furniture you want to protect (bye-bye, Grandma’s rocker) as well as any items that could harm your dog, such as unsecure trash bins, wires, and food. Close windows to reduce outside noises that could scare your dog or send them into a barking frenzy, then put a gate up that blocks access to the rest of the house.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dog Safety Around the Home

2. Leave Your Dog With a Distraction

You know that face your dog makes when you are getting ready to leave the house? Heartbreaking, right? To reduce the chances of separation anxiety (which can lead to destructive behavior), offer your dog a distraction before you leave, such as a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or kibble. Just be sure that whatever you leave your dog can’t be chewed up into little pieces and swallowed.

RELATED STORY: The Top 10 Dog Training Tips

3. Take It Slow

A lot of owners learn this lesson the hard way. If your dog is used to staying in a crate when you leave the house, throwing them into a free-roaming situation out of nowhere is likely to result in some confusion and anxiety, which can result in a gutted living room. Start by letting your dog be alone in their designated area when you go outside to water the garden for five minutes. Over time, build up to longer outings: a quick run to the store or a visit with a neighbor. Then, start giving your dog access to different areas of the house, but take it slow. Pushing your dog too quickly will not only make the process harder in the long run, it can also undo training that you’ve taken months or years to achieve (for example, a dog who you’ve trained not to urine mark inside may return to this behavior under stress).

Have you transitioned your dog out of their crate? Leave a comment and tell us how you did it, and consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

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Dog Digging Up The Yard? Here’s How to Stop It

If your dog likes to dig, you may have long given up on having a presentable yard. Dirt holes, shredded grass, destroyed plants — it’s not a pretty sight, and it’s definitely frustrating. But if your dog is digging, it’s not because they want to make you mad or lay waste to your hard-earned garden. The truth is that digging is a common and natural behavior in dogs, and the dog’s wild ancestors, wolves, still dig dens to find shelter, hide valuables, and raise their young.

However just because it’s a natural instinct, that doesn’t mean you should let your dog wreak havoc. If you’re ready to reclaim your yard, here’s what you can do today.

Identify Why Your Dog is Digging

Before you can stop your dog from digging, you first need to figure out why they’re doing it.

Boredom

Many dogs dig because they are bored or have excess energy. Try walking your dog for an extra 15 minutes, throw a ball in the yard, or sign up for a training class. If it’s stimulation your dog seeks, their digging may subside once you provide it.

Stress or Anxiety

Does your dog’s digging start when the neighborhood dog starts to bark, when you’re getting ready to leave the house, or when guests come over? If so, they could be digging to release anxious energy. Take steps to reduce your dog’s anxiety with exercise and behavior modification. And if you need help, contact a trainer, animal behaviorist, or your veterinarian.

Shelter

If the weather is particularly hot or cold, a dog may dig a hole to escape it. If you find your dog lying in their hole, this may be the situation. Rather than leaving your dog in the yard without shelter, offer them a cool or warm place to rest, like a doghouse. And when you’re home, bring them inside for relief.

RELATED STORY: Is My Dog Weird? 5 Strange Dog Behaviors Explained

Thrill of the Hunt

Some dogs dig because they’ve sniffed out prey, and they’re trying to reach it. If your dog seems to be focusing on a single spot in the yard — especially near roots or along a path — check for signs of burrowing animals or other wildlife. If you suspect that a creature may be posting up in your yard, contact your local animal control to safely remove it, then take steps to make your yard less desirable.

Escape

Is your dog digging a hole under a fence? If so, they may be trying to escape. A dog who is happy and well cared for shouldn’t want to leave their home, so take time to evaluate their environment and living situation. Are they getting enough to eat? Are they being treated well? Are they getting regular attention and exercise?

To keep your dog from escaping, block off vulnerable areas with buried chicken wire, buried chain link, or partially buried large rocks.

What Not To Do

If you catch your dog in the act of digging, you can give them a firm “No!” and then bring them inside. However, if you find a hole after the fact, don’t yell at or otherwise punish your dog; they won’t understand, and if their digging is a result of anxiety, it could actually make the problem worse.

RELATED STORY: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About How to Talk to Your Dog

Give Your Dog a Digging Zone

If all else fails — or if you wish to let your dog dig to their heart’s content — consider creating a digging zone. A digging zone is a special area in the yard where your dog will have carte blanche to play excavator.

To encourage your dog to dig in their special zone, create a physical border around it (for example with rocks or bricks) and bury treats or toys just below the surface. Praise your dog when they dig them up, and replenish the goodies over to time to keep your dog going back. If your dog tries to dig elsewhere, get their attention and lead them over to their zone. Eventually, they should learn to focus only on their sweet spot.

Does your dog dig? Leave a comment and tell us how you deal with it, and consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

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5 Triggers For Dog Anxiety & 4 Ways to Deal With Them

Many dogs find certain situations overwhelming, but for some dogs overwhelmed is an understatement. Dog anxiety is a real problem that many dogs and dog parents confront every day. Whether it stems from loud noises, strange locations, or just being left alone, many dogs find specific situations so stressful that they can become physically ill.

You could have a pooch that seems cool as a cucumber or one that is hanging on by a thread. Either way, it helps to know what to watch out for in terms of high-pressure situations. It also helps to have some handy coping mechanisms in your tool belt to deal with them, because even the coolest pooch can snap under the right circumstances.

Common Causes of Dog Anxiety

Separation

dog-anxiety-1

One of the most common causes of dog anxiety, being left alone can run even the most level headed dog up a wall. Dogs are our companions, and without us, they can get a little stir crazy — chewing up furniture, whining so loud the neighbors can hear, or scratching at the doors.

It is so common, in fact, that we already wrote up an article with some super handy tips on how to deal with separation anxiety specifically.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Top 5 Dog Separation Anxiety Tips

Loud Noises

dog-anxiety-2

Another common stressor for dogs, loud noises like thunder or fireworks can often send dogs running for the hills. It is easy to forget how finely tuned a dog’s hearing is until we turn on the vacuum cleaner. Dogs can hear things nearly twice as high pitched as a person. So when it comes to dog anxiety, a loud noise can often be the culprit.

Crowdsdog-anxiety-3

Dogs, just like people, can find a room full of strangers to be a bit intimidating. Some tend to revel in all the new smells and sounds, but for a select few, large gatherings can lead to over-stimulation and an eventual meltdown.

Travel

dog-anxiety-5

Dogs are, by and large, creatures of habit – they like their meals on time, a solid walking routine, and a place full of familiar smells. Traveling is an experience that affords next to none of those amenities.

Confinement

dog-anxiety-4

Being cooped up in a kennel or in the kitchen all day often ends with a dog going nuts. A dog’s instinctive reaction to feeling trapped is to try to break free, and if they cannot, then dog anxiety can be a result.

How to Deal With Dog Anxiety

Now that you know what might be setting your dog off, here are a few tips to help them overcome their dog anxiety.

Desensitize

Slowly introduce your dog to the trigger in question and show them that it is not so bad. If it is separation, leave them alone for short bursts of time, eventually building to leaving them alone for a few hours. For loud noises, try giving your dog a treat anytime the sound in question comes on.

Same thing with travel, crowds, or confinement. Hopefully they learn to associate the thing they once feared with the joy of getting a reward, thereby removing the fear altogether.

Calm Space

A place where a dog can go and be left alone can be huge in helping them calm down. A room or a corner with a soft place to lay down and all of their favorite toys can work wonders. Also, adhering to a set schedule can alleviate a lot of dog anxiety. Regular feeding and walking times can correct for a lot of the uncertainty at the root of dog anxiety.

Calming things

There are plenty of OTC treats, supplements, and products (like the Thundershirt) that advertise a calming effect. Whether or not they work for your dog is something you need to find out on your own.

Aside from that, always having a favorite toy on hand is a great way to distract your anxious pooch. Also, some people have had good results with playing some classical music.

Meds

If all else fails, it could be that your dog is not just reacting to external stimuli, but is actually suffering from full on dog anxiety. In that case, it is best to take your dog to the vet and get them prescribed an actual anti-anxiety medication.

Source:
Shiba Shake – Dog Anxiety Problems – How to Deal with an Anxious Dog

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4 Ways to Slow Down Your Cat’s Eating

Some cats get a little too excited when dinner time rolls around and devour their food at lightening fast speed. This is sometimes a problem in multi-cat homes; one cat inhales their food and then moves on to their sibling’s share. It’s not only a frustrating situation, it can also result in tummy upset for your little speed-eater. In fact, fast eating is one of the most common causes of cat vomiting. And a cat who sucks in air while gobbling may suffer from hiccups, too.

So how can you get your cat to hit the brakes when their bowl hits the floor?

Tip #1: Put a Ball in Their Bowl

Put a golf ball, ping-pong ball, or some other type of ball into your cat’s food bowl. The cat will have to eat around the ball, which will force them to slow down. Just make sure that the ball you choose is a large enough size that it can’t be swallowed, and wash it regularly to avoid bacterial growth.

RELATED STORY: Is My Cat Weird? 5 Freaky Feline Behaviors

Tip #2: Use a Muffin Tin

Separate your cat’s portion into the cups of a muffin or cupcake tin. Your cat will have to move from cup to cup and take their time to get the food out of each individual space.

Tip #3: Stuff a Puzzle Toy

Stuff a puzzle toy like the Kong Wobbler with your cat’s portion (keep in mind that this only works with dry food). Your cat will have to knock, spin, or drop the toy in order for it to dispense pieces of food. Using a puzzle toy not only slows your cat’s eating, it also provides them with some exercise (which most cats don’t get enough of).

RELATED STORY: Is Your Cat a Picky Eater?

Tip #4: Make a Scavenger Hunt

Another way to slow down your cat’s eating? Tap into their natural desires to hunt and explore. Hide food in different places around the house and then send your cat off to track it down. Your cat will feel like they’re on a mission, and you’ll feel good knowing that your furry friend’s meal will go down easy.

Is your cat a speed-eater? Leave a comment and tell us about it. And to get members-only savings on pet food, prescriptions, vet visits, and more, consider signing up for PetPlus. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

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Steven the Dog Survives Coyote Attack

Helena Lazaro didn’t think she had any reason to be concerned when she heard her dog Steven barking from her hillside yard back in July 2012.

“He always barked at other animals and dogs that passed by,” says Helena. “So, when I heard him and another animal barking, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Following her usual routine, she called Steven back inside after several minutes, and when he didn’t come right away, she decided to give him some extra time.stevencrosspaws

“Lots of times when he would go out, he would ignore me and not come back. That night, when I went out and called him back in, he wouldn’t come,” Helena says. “Thinking that he was just ignoring me again, I decided to give him more time–something I’ll never forgive myself for.”

After a little while Helena became frustrated and went outside with a flashlight to find Steven and bring him back inside. But rather than finding her dog exploring the hillside terrain, she discovered him in a terrible state.

“[He was] torn to shreds and barely alive, leaning against a tree,” Helena says. “I’ll never forget his face as he turned to look at me, like he had really been doing his best to try to listen to me and come home, but couldn’t.”

Steven had been attacked by a coyote. He had broken eight of his ribs, his body was torn open in three places, and he had a piece of tree bark embedded in his hind leg.

“The vet said that during the attack, the coyote had probably picked Steve up from overhead, shaken him several times, and thrown him into the tree with such force that the bark became embedded in his leg,” Helena says. “They were not hopeful for his survival and recommended we let him go, but I wasn’t prepared to do that.”stevenbandaged

It was the 4th of July weekend, and Helena had a difficult time finding facilities that could offer the life support services that Steven needed until surgeons became available. But with persistence and determination she was able to locate a suitable place for Steven to rest and begin to recover, and once a surgeon became available, Steven underwent several operations.

“All with a very bleak prognosis,” Helena adds.

It was a stressful time for Helena, as it would be for any pet parent. Steven’s recovery was difficult, and he required around-the-clock care for over a month. Helena stayed home from work to care for Steven during that time and when her sister returned from her bartending job each morning, she would take over so that Helena could get some sleep. The sisters alternated this way throughout Steven’s long rehabilitation.

Though the time commitment and worry about Steven’s prognosis were already a lot to handle, Steven’s medical bills also loomed in the background. His treatments cost nearly $5,000.

Helena depleted her savings account, applied for a grant through RedRover, and her sister set up a tip jar at work.stevenhome

“But the real saving grace was the fundraising page,” Helena says.

This was before fundraising sites had become as popular as they are now, and Helena was amazed to see the response from the animal-loving community who saw the page she set up on FundRazr.

“Money poured in from family, friends, and total strangers,” Helena says. “Their messages of hope were deeply inspiring and their support made it possible to bring Steven home, get the medication he needed, and make sure we didn’t go into debt.”

Ultimately, Steven recovered and regained his ability to walk. And when he began disobeying Helena again, she knew everything was going to be OK.

Helena and her sister clearly went above and beyond to save Steven’s life. But for Helena — who has a history of depression — she was simply doing for Steven what Steven had done for her so many times.

“Steven saved my life on more than one occasion,” Helena says. “In my times of deepest despair, he gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He made sure I got sunshine and exercise, and that I felt loved. Taking care of him mattered even when I had stopped taking care of myself, and so it was that he pulled me through the years-long chronic depression that no medicine could remedy.”

Today both Helena and Steven are doing well. Several of Steven’s ribs were not able to be put back into place, so his midsection is misshapen and he walks a little funny. But despite those issues, Helena says that he is as bold and as spirited as ever.

“This June, we went for a picnic at the Santa Fe Dam and he saw a horse for the first time. He actually dragged me across the ground with his force as he tried to take down an animal twenty times his size,” Helena says. “He hasn’t learned his lesson at all. But now I know it’s my job to make sure he stays out of danger, to make sure I have a plan in case of emergencies, and to always exercise caution in areas with unfamiliar animals.”

To thank Helena for all that she’s done for Steven, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus so that she can save on Steven’s medications, food, supplies, vet visits, and more.

Thanks, Helena!

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