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Woof Wednesday: Canine Senility Cure?

Dogs aged 11 to 16 are most likely to develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), sort of the doggy version of Alzheimer’s Disease. CCD is a medical condition in which a starch-like waxy protein called beta amyloid collects in the brain and causes behavior changes.

There actually are some ways to treat CCD in dogs–and reverse the signs, at least temporarily. Special dog foods such as Hill’s Prescription Diet bd and Purina ProlPlan Senior 7+ Original include a mix of antioxidants that help “feed” the brain. There’s also a natural supplement called Cholodin, and a drug called Anipryl that work well for some dogs. I discuss many of these options in my Pet Care-Cutting Edge Medicine book as well as Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.

But the biggie–the easiest thing you can do for your dog–is to make them think! That old adage “use it or lose it” works for pets, too. Here’s my latest Paw Nation article with 7 tips to keep doggy brains youthful.

How do you keep your “old dog” connected to life? Do you take him with you to the park or to visit Grandma? How about practicing obedience commands or tricks and games? What if you’ve adopted a shy pooch who hates the leash–like the folks in this Ask Amy video–what other suggestions would you have for Bob?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: BOOM! Dealing With Fireworks Fears

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Fireworks

Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can turn your pets into nervous wrecks. More cats and dogs–and even livestock like horses–become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. If you start these programs when your fur-kid is a baby, it can help him stay calm during all kinds of scary noises, from thunderstorms and gunshots to fireworks fears.

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So--can you "hear" what he's saying?

My mom’s Shelties used to act like furry jello as they quivered and dove for that dark safe spot under the bed. But the Magical-Dawg could care less. Part of that, I think, has to do with the PUPPY-PARTEEEEE! WOW, WAS THAT LOUD, WHAT FUN! reactions I’d offer him each time the thunder boomed during his socialization months. Now, if a particularly loud thunder-clap startles me and I jump, he does look at me with eyebrows raised–ready to get wound up if I so much as “say” he should by my body language.

Pets do read us. You have to be a really good actor around dogs (and cats) because they read our silent language with little effort. Do you speak dog? What do all those tail wags and woofs mean? Do you know what a doggy laugh sounds like? Check out my latest puppy-licious article on dog talk, and tell me what I’ve missed. Different dogs “speak” in unique ways–how do your fur-kids tell you what they want?

How do your dogs tell you they’re scared? Do you have special ways for soothing the angst? Noise phobias can be especially tough to manage, especially when the fear has gone on for a while. For tips on how to desensitize and some neato products to help the process with puppies and dogs, check out these 11 tips for calming noise fears.

But with Independence Day right around the corner, you’ll need some immediate help. Paw Nation published my latest article 10 Tips to Prevent Fireworks Fears — for dogs, cats, even horses!

You’ll find more help for pet behavior problems including fear issues in my PETiQuette book, and it’s also addressed in the Aging Dog and Aging Cat books–old fogey pets have much less tolerance for scary stuff. Be safe and have a lovely July 4th.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways GOING OUT TOMORROW!

Woof Wednesday: Doggy Moans, Groans & Being Alone

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Dogs and cats with separation anxiety "act out" their angst in different ways.

When a dog or cat can’t bear to be left alone they may “act out” and damage your belongings, or even hurt themselves. These pets aren’t chewing up furniture, defecating on the bed, or breaking through glass windows to “get back at you.” Think of separation anxiety as a form of grief. Cats and dogs miss you so much they can’t help themselves.

Problems develop when the amount of time you spend with the pet changes, maybe due to a new job schedule or baby. Cats may not have problems for years, but often act out when owners go on vacation.

About 14 percent of pet dogs seen in veterinary clinics suffer from separation anxiety. Mixed breeds and dogs adopted from shelters or the streets are most commonly affected, and aging dogs (10 years and older) or puppies adopted before 8 weeks of age also have a higher incidence. Here are tips for soothing separation anxiety in my latest Paw Nation article.

Dogs that feel fearful often yelp, howl or otherwise cry out for help. But what about moans and groans? Do they mean the same thing–even pleasure? What sorts of sounds does your pooch make when he’s enjoying himself? Perhaps he enjoys having his ears rubbed and expresses his pleasure, as in this Ask Amy video. What other ways do your dogs have to express themselves?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy, Countertop Cruisers & Choosing Battles

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where sleeping is not allowed

Forbidden territory . . .

Cats become pests with their determination to stay above it all. They cruise kitchen countertops, lounge atop doors and leap to refrigerator tops to ambush treats. The urge to be the top cat seems a universal cat vice. By understanding why cats scale the heights, cat owners can provide legal outlets that keep both their cats happy and out of the butter dish. Here’s the straight kitty-truth on the latest Paw Nation article.

The Ask Amy video, below, has LOTS of bling–and more info about cats and countertops. What else have I missed? Any great tips y’all can share with readers? What has worked with you and what hasn’t? And…have any of y’all “given up” the battle like one reader, and simply wipe down all counters and tables before you prepare food and eat?

12-26 seren & red on tree 2

Too much to do? Take a nap!

Choosing battles strikes close to home these days for me. Life pulls in so many directions that the clock ticks away the hours before half of my to-do list gets finished. Or even started. The furry writing projects howl out to me–puppies.About.com, Paw Nation, PETiQuette newspaper column and Pet Peeves Newsletter (I really need to get that sent this weekend!) and now Huffington Post; social networking stuff like this blog, Twitter and Facebook; then there’s the KXII TV spots, Pet Peeves radio and the Ask Amy videos–I’m getting lots of questions and topic requests (FUN!); and my performance stuff–cello, piano, singing–is brain candy for my emotional health.

The thriller fiction WIP looks like a lost, neglected puppy that wags hopefully from the bottom of the stack. *whimper*

cat on railing

Balancing to-do stuff can be a challenge.

Don’t get me started on the overgrown roses outside, cobwebs and dust bunnies in the corners of my house, and stack-‘o-filing in the office. That’s the one good thing about aging eyes–everything takes on a soft focus. I toss dog treats under the bed now and then and send Magical-Dawg squirming under to “pseudo-dust” the hard to reach places, and Seren hits the high spots.

Which brings me back to countertop cruising kitties. See, there ARE advantages to choosing your battles! How do you manage your to-do list? Please reassure me I’m not an awful purr-son for letting some things slide! With the long weekend, my get-er-done garden and home-care stuff moves to the front of the list. Right after I post this blog. Oh, and write my newspaper column. And … oh, it’s hopeless!

What are your Memorial Day plans?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Coyotes, Frisbees and Annoying Dogs

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Frisbee fetch is nirvana to the Magical-dawg.

 

My Magical-Dawg loves to run. I’ve lost weight since we got him, just trying to keep up. We have 13+ acres in N Texas, most of it pasture but about four acres in trees and scrubby “schtuff” that can’t be mowed. Every morning we patrol the spread and the dawg-type turns into a nose-with-legs to inhale every bit of nuance he can.

Throughout the day, we take Frisbee-Breaks but stick to the front pasture. He heads out before me and waits for the first throw, dancing doggy joy until he can snatch it from flight. I run Magic up and down the length of the property as many as a dozen times until his tongue drags in the dirt—so I can work without interruption for another brief stint. We’ve got it down to a science. I take three Frisbees, and he must bring the thrown one back before the next gets lobbed—and on the final pass, he brings ‘em back while I hold the two reserves down with my foot. While he’s shoveling them into hi mouth, I can get the leash back on.

He’s not a fan of the leash, but it’s necessary.

The property was nicknamed “Rabbit Hill” by the old timers, and still fosters cottontails by the dozens. I’ve seen wild turkeys, lots of armadillos, aka ginormous pill bugs, and even a few bobcats. But coyotes rule. They especially rule early mornings, and dusk.

Yesterday late afternoon when we headed out for our Frisbee-Break, Magical-dawg raced away before I got out of the doorway. A coyote had DARED to stomp on his pasture! Off he went to give the cheeky devil what-for. . . and as Magic’s black tail disappeared into the scrubby “sctuff” beyond the pasture, a second coyote appeared and raced after him. Oh. My. Heavens.

Now, Magic loves his Frisbee. About the only thing that trumps Frisbee-Fetch is a car ride–honk the horn and he’ll come running from anywhere. But chasing a coyote trumps all. I didn’t bother trying to call him back, just gathered up the remaining toys and trotted after, listening for howls, snarls, or other doggy celebratory shindigs.

After one call at the edge of the property, here came the oh-so-proud Magical-Dawg (GOOD boy!), tongue dragging the dirt and tail wagging with satisfaction. I handed him his Frisbees, and clipped on the leash. And then he dragged me back over the rest of the 13 acres to track where the coyotes had been, all the while toting those precious toys.

Did I mention the leash really hisses him off?

We adore dogs even though we whine about their behavior. After all, we’re “perfect” owners so why do Max and Fluffy bark at all hours, gnaw the kid’s new shoes, or (gasp!) hump the Pastor’s leg?

While aggravating dog habits make owners show their teeth, clueless humans also raise the dog’s blood pressure. Here’s my latest Paw Nation article about 7 common things you do that make your dog howl. By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she’s bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room’s authors. 

Okay, I told you mine now you tell me yours—what hisses off your pets?

Woofs & wags,

amy

To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Annoying Cat Owner Habits

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Wow, two blogs in one day? Who’d a-thunk-it? *s* Hope y’all will read the earlier Tuesday Tips, Part 1 (on writing), but meanwhile I’ve an update for you on the kitty behavior front.  Actually, it’s on OWNER’S BEHAVING BADLY, LOL!

We love our cats but still complain about their annoying behavior problems. Why do they scratch furniture and caterwaul all night when we are perfect kitty parents? The problem is that while we are worrying about their behavior issues, we might be better off focusing on our behavior instead. My latest Paw Nation article describes eight common things owners do to “hiss off” the cat.

One of those kitty complaints is being JAILED inside! Cats kept inside for their own safety sometimes attempt the great cat escape, and practice door dashing. There is a saying, that a cat is always on the wrong side of a door. Seren used to do this when younger-and then stood frozen with wide eyes, as if to say, ‘Oh @#$%^! How do I get back inside?’ If you have a great kitty escape artist, you’ll benefit from reading 8 Tips to Stop Door-Dashing Cats for help in preventing your own cats’ Houdini escapes.

cat on apartment stairs

By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she’s bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room’s authors.

Check back tomorrow for Woof Wednesday with some canine-icity content.

Purrs,

amy

To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Dog Communication and Pet Connection

 magic w red roses

This past Friday, the blog covered cat talk, with 12 ways cats communicate over at Paw Nation. It’s only fair that dogs get equal time, don’t you think? After all, when our pets try to talk to us, they’re doing more than a “Monday mention” and literally throw their whole body into the effort. (By the way, that’s my Magical-dawg in the picture—can you tell what he’s “saying?”)

People who love dogs want to understand canine communication. But growls mixed with tail wags can be confusing. Though people rely on words, dog talk combines vocalizations, body language and smells. It goes beyond woofs and wags. Here are 12 ways your dog tells you what he thinks.

Thanks so much to Red Room’s Gina Misiroglu, my connection with the kitty and doggy people at Paw Nation. She’s been sniffing out opportunities to send readers to Red Room and its authors—paws-itively awesome! 

Another Monday Mention shout out goes to my friends over at Pet Connection—there’s a whole team that offers fantastic pet care and animal news including my buddy and co-author Dr. Marty Becker and colleagues Gina Spadafori, Kim Thornton, Arden More, Christie Keith…a whole slew of ‘em! I know that I’ll miss some…so just go over and check out the blog and see for yourself!

Purrs & Wags,

amy

To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Cat Behavior, Felinese and Saving Shelter Cats

 Persian kittens on chair

It’s Feline Friday, and I have some kitty-talk tips for you! Ever wonder what goes on between your cat’s furry lil’ ears, especially when they look like airplane wings? Does a kitty’s wagging tail mean the same thing as the dog’s bottom-wiggles? And what’s with all the loud-mouth cats—just what do all the meows, chirps, hisses and growls really mean?

We love our cats but don’t always understand cat communication. Our feline friends use a combination of vocalizations, body language and smells to talk with each other and their special people. I call cat language felinese, and my latest Paw Nation article explains 12 ways cats communicate.

Thanks once again to my Red Room buddy Gina Misiroglu who connected me with the fine folks at Paw Nation (wonder if she used felinese?). That’s one way she’s sending readers to Red Room and its authors—meeeWOW! 

There are many additional weird and wonderful ways our cats “talk” to us, too, and some of them don’t make a whole lot of sense. For instance, does your cat indulge in elevator butt—you know, when the front goes down and the tail elevates, especially when you scritch-scritch-scritch the base of the cat’s tail? And Just what is Sheba thinking when she sticks her butt in your face, how rude! Actually, butt-presentation means just the opposite, as explained in this article. 

Here’s another one—does your kitty drop-and-roll like she’s trying to trip you, or put out a fire? I call it flipping, and there’s a very good explanation for the behavior here.

I’m sure a number of y’all either got your cat friend from a shelter, support a shelter, or possibly even work with shelters and rescues. So this next tip goes out to you and the tireless human angels helping feline waifs find forever homes. About 4 million cats pass through United States shelters annually, and most never make it out alive. A top killer of cats in shelters might surprise you—it’s kitty colds! My latest Pet Peeves radio show guest, Dr. Kate Hurley, from University of California–Davis shares the latest results of shelter cat studies that can not only save cat lives, but also save shelters $3 million a year! Here’s the link to listen to Shelter Cats & Kitty Colds: Saving Lives & Money.

Purrs and trills,

amy

Furry Friday: How Pets Show Love

Puppies define love--but any age fuzz-bucket makes my heart go thump!

 

Happy Furry Friday! Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Have you been shopping yet for your pet? Yesterday’s blog makes some gift suggestions for the dog and cat in your life—or the humans who love them. And this article offers tips on ways to love cats (it applies to dogs, too!). 

But what about the pets returning the favor? Don’t we deserve something in return? I mean, we feed them, buy toys, open the door, mop up messes, scritch their itchy spots and rub tummies. Is that sloppy smooch or adoring kitty glance all there is? 

There’s no doubt we love our pets — but do our cats and dogs love us back? The answer is yes. But cats and dogs show affections in ways that aren’t always what humans expect. In fact, a pet’s Valentine wishes might instead puzzle, aggravate or even offend some people. AOL’s Paw Nation asked me to address the question, and here are 13 ways dogs and cats show love.

Incidentally, purrs and wags to my Red Room colleague Gina Misiroglu who put me in touch with the Paw Nation folks, a terrific way she’s bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room’s authors.

What are some other ways your dogs and cats show love? Maybe they love you by bringing owners gifts. Canines offer toys to invite play, and cats sometimes catch and deliver live presents—mousies on the pillow are a particularly attractive love gift from cats.

Cats also perform the elevator butt behavior, as well as presenting their butt for a sniff—ewwww! But it’s all done with the very best intentions! Read about elevator butt and kitty butt presentation in these fun articles.

By the way, you can subscribe to my Pet Peeves E-newsletter here. It includes links to the latest Pet Peeves radio shows and some of my favorite articles and videos about cat and dog care and behavior—oh, and book give-aways, too! The Valentine’s issue goes out later today.

I’m blogging two or three times a week now, so hope you’ll subscribe so you don’t miss any Monday Mentions, Woof Wednesdays, or Feline/Furry Fridays. Until then, show your fur-kids some Valentine love.

Purrs and wags,

amy

Solving Cat Aggression

Cat play mimics kitty aggression.

Yes, it’s not yet Feline Friday but my latest Paw Nation article just posted and I wanted to share. By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she’s bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room’s authors.

Do you have a growl-kitty? When a snuggle-puss turns into a snarling ball of claws, owners are at a loss to understand or deal with kitty aggression. Besides hurt feelings, cat aggression can cause injuries or cause the cat to lose a loving home.

Aggression can be the result of health issues, including pain or hyperthyroidism, so any sudden personality change demands a veterinary exam. But cats don’t aggress because they’re mean — they always have a good reason, whether it makes sense to humans or not. Recognizing the four common types of aggression will help you learn to keep the peace. Learn how to cope with petting aggression, kitten play aggression, fear aggression, and redirected aggression in this Paw Nation article.

 Actually there are at least 8 kinds of cat aggression, and cats are nothing if not creative in finding new ways to angst. And there are even more reasons for cats to get hissy. It’s important to know the cause in order to figure out a way to calm the upset.

 If your cats are constantly at odds, some of these tips for solving intercat aggression may help. One of the more common and frustrating situations happens when two or more “best friends” cats suddenly have a falling out after one or more of them come home from the vet. What’s up with that? Well, you’ll find more answers here.

Remember that these tips are to help you with your cats but oftentimes, the individual circumstances vary. A cat behavior professional able to visit and offer specific advice is a great choice. Check out the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants to find someone in your feline neck of the woods. (Hint: they do dogs, horses and parrots, too!)

Be thankful for the times when kitty is the angel-cat she’s meant to be, and cherish all the sweet snuggles.

Purrs & Trills,

amy