Making friends as an adult can be challenging. If that statement speaks to you, you’re not alone – there are scientific studies supporting this. The struggle to meet and connect with people has only grown and been made worse with recent events. Many pet lovers have turned to their pets for the companionship they crave. But what about your pup? Are they also struggling to connect in this modern world? A recent poll of 2000 dog owners revealed that 60% of dog parents believe their pups have a lively social life. In fact, they report their dog’s social life is more active than their own! The poll was commissioned by PetSafe, focusing on the benefits of dog parks and creating a more dog-friendly world. They found that 39% of dog parents who regularly visit a local dog park, indoor dog park, or exercise area feel more connected to their community. This introduces a new consideration for local politicians and developers as they start to see the greater impact these spaces can have on the neighbourhood beyond just offering a place for dogs to exercise. Of those surveyed, 34% reported that their dogs are better at making friends than they are. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to most of us. After all, they are called “Man’s Best Friend” for a reason. The survey didn’t stop there. The questions then focused on better understanding the type of friendship our dogs create. Of those questioned, 43% said their dog met a reliable buddy, 52% met their best friend, and 49% met their doggy “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Of course, not all reported friendships were as solid and wholesome. 62% of dog parents admitted that their dog has at least one “frenemy” at the dog park with whom their relationship can be a little complicated… Some days, they get along great, while others are a bit rocky. The best part? Studies have found that dogs who have strong social connections may live longer! But meeting friends and having that social time wasn’t the only reason dogs love spending time at the dog park. It wasn’t even the most popular reason. While 25% of dog parents said their pups loved going to meet and play with other dogs, 32% said their dog loved the experience of roaming freely off-leash more than anything else. If you’re considering establishing a dog park in your area, they also uncovered key insights from the pet parents surveyed. While 43% reported they preferred a dog park close to home, the same percentage (43%) said they would travel further to a better-maintained park. Pet owners reported that they wanted a space for their dogs that was free from loud or anxiety-causing noises (44%), more shade (28%), or a safe place away from other dogs (15%). Safety was a key concern, with 36% of dog parents saying they would travel further to visit a dog park where they felt that they (both owner and dog) were safer. Whatever your definition of the perfect dog park or exercise area is, 53% of those surveyed wanted to see their local community become even more pet-friendly. That is a stat that we can certainly get behind!
Last month, nearly 18,000 pet professionals gathered in Las Vegas for North America’s largest pet retail event – SuperZoo! Here, brands showcased their newest and most innovative product lines, new products were launched, and connections were made that would help shape the pet industry as we know it. As a member of the media, we have a unique opportunity to discover the latest trends (as well as those starting to fall from the limelight). Are you interested in learning about what you can expect to see in the coming weeks and months from your local pet stores and favourite pet brands? I’m going to break down some of the biggest pet industry trends I identified while walking the show floor at this year’s show! Let’s get started… Opening the Door to Travel for a Wide Range of PetsWe are all familiar with the many carriers, crash-tested harnesses, and other products available for travelling with our cats and dogs. This isn’t changing! Brands continue to bring new travel gear to the forefront for our furry friends, making travel safer, more convenient, and more comfortable than ever before. But this wasn’t the most exciting shift that I noticed…A growing number of brands are focused on making travel accessible for ALL pets. It was great to see backpacks and harnesses for birds, carriers designed specifically for travelling and road trips with rabbits and other smaller animals, and more. Pets are such a special part of our lives. I love that so many more opportunities are being created to embrace this and make more memories together. Of course, disclaimer: this comes with training, conditioning, time, and understanding of your pet’s personality. Not every pet, including dog and cat travellers, will be interested in heading out on a car ride or jet-setting across the country. But they make the best travel companions if they are comfortable with it. Enrichment for Pets of All Shapes and SizesAnother trend that isn’t entirely new is the push for enrichment for our pets. But I noticed two key differences in the products this year. First, there were more products for birds, small animals, and reptiles than in previous years (although I first saw this trend emerging at the show in 2022). For example, foraging toys for rabbits were once difficult to find, and when you did, they all looked the same. Now, there are a variety of different shapes, sizes, styles, and puzzle types to keep your bunny interested and engaged. This reflects our growing understanding of the importance of mental enrichment for the health and well-being of our pets. Another trend that was clear in the enrichment space was the need for new types of enrichment for our pets. Dog puzzle feeders have been around for quite a while, but this show introduced puzzle feeders with additions, interchangeable parts, or multiple challenges in a single feeder. This lets you change the puzzle from use to use, keeping mealtime interesting.
It’s every pet parent’s worst nightmare – when Mother Nature rears her ugly head, and your pet is lost during a natural disaster. It’s a nightmare that Elizabeth Wilkins and her partner Tom Schwartz experienced firsthand when a glacial dam outburst flood sent record amounts of water down the Mendenhall River near Juneau, Alaska, last month. When the flood waters receded, two homes were complete losses, and several more were labelled as condemned. One of the houses lost to the flood waters was the home Wilikins and Schwartz were renting. The moment the home collapsed into the river was captured by a drone recording and shared online for millions to see. You can see the video here:
Do you have a cat that is constantly vocalizing and making themselves known around your house? Whether it is a sweet, melodic purr, a high-pitched chirp, or a loud and obnoxious meow, there is no denying that our cats have a language all their own. The only challenge? Unless you know how to “talk cat,” you’re always just outside the conversation… What exactly are they trying to say?In this post, we will take a deep dive into the world of cat communication, including understanding why your cat is so chatty, what subtle nuances you should pay attention to, and how your cat’s talkative personality can strengthen your bond.Let’s get started… 4 Possible Explanations for a Talkative CatJust like humans, your cat may be trying to have a conversation for many reasons. Think about how many times you talk or vocalize throughout the day – you may ask for attention from a family member, share your thoughts about a given situation, or use your words to ask for something you want. The same can be said for your cat.While it can be challenging to identify exactly what your cat is trying to say in some situations, it starts with understanding the most common reasons for a cat's vocalizing. They Are Asking for Something SpecificPay attention to where your cat is when making noise and what they may be staring at or pacing around. We can often identify what our cat is asking based on their behavior. A hungry cat may be very vocal while looking at an empty food dish until someone acknowledges their request and fills the bowl.Some of the more common requests and the body language that accompanies their vocalizations include:Food and Water Refills: They may be nosing at the dish, pawing at it, or pacing around where they are regularly fed.Asking for Treats: We keep our treats on a specific shelf in the kitchen, and the cats can usually be found staring up in that direction when they are asking for something special.Play Time: Our girl Pippen can often be seen walking around with a toy in her mouth while making noises to get us to take it and play fetch with her.Wanting to Go Outside: Our cats are harness-trained, and their leashes and harnesses hang near the front door. They meow while pawing at the hanging leash when they want to go outside.If you hear your cat meowing or chirping, follow the noise. Find out where they are and what they are doing, allowing the clues to help you better understand what they are trying to tell you.They Are Seeking AttentionDoes it appear that your cat is meowing relentlessly with no rhyme or reason for their actions? Do you have a cat that just walks around the house, meowing at various times throughout the day? There is a good possibility that your cat is simply trying to demand your attention.Some cats are far more social than others and need to spend quality time with you or the other pets in your home. Think of it like an introverted person versus an extroverted person. While the introverted person may be happy hanging out at home without talking to anyone for a while, the extroverted person will start to go crazy needing social interactions. We often see Jinx doing this, specifically focusing on the loft area of the home that is only accessible to our cats, making it clear that she isn’t even calling us – she’s calling for the attention of our other cat. They May Be in HeatDo you have an unaltered female cat? One of the signs that your cat is going into heat is that they will begin to make a loud, yowling sound. This is an effort to call out to a potential mate. If you suspect that your cat may be in heat, keep them safely contained indoors, away from any unaltered males, to avoid an unwanted litter.
Do you have a cat that goes crazy when a tuna can is opened? If so, you’re not alone! The connection between cats and tuna has long been recognized – but what is it about the canned fish that lights up their eyes and excites their tastebuds? The answer may surprise you…A study published in Chemical Sense August 2023 reveals the secret behind this kitty addiction. Although both theories are often shared, it isn’t their known love of fish or the fact that it closely resembles canned cat food. Instead, it comes down to the way in which a cat’s tastebuds work and how that impacts the way that they taste their food.Your cat’s sense of taste varies considerably from your own. For example, while people are often known to suffer from a sweet tooth, cats are ambivalent about sugar. They don’t prefer that sweet taste (like we usually do) but don’t avoid it. Why? It’s simple: they can’t taste it! Experts theorize that the cat lost the ability to taste sugars because it wasn’t a necessary aspect of their survival in the wild – they didn’t NEED the sugary foods, so their sweet taste receptor gene didn’t need to continue to develop and function.“Since discovering that cats don’t have a functional sweet taste receptor, we did wonder what they would respond to instead,” explained Scott McGrane, sensory science expert at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute and the study’s lead author.They discovered that cats were particularly attracted to umami, an often-overlooked taste category alongside sweet, salty, or bitter. This taste category is better known as “savory.”Humans have dedicated receptor cells that detect the presence of the organic compound Carboxylic Acid. If the compound is present, we taste the food as savory. However, when detecting umami, a cat’s taste receptors bind to two different chemicals. These chemicals are present in high concentrations in tuna, giving it an even more robust savory flavor. The concentration is even higher in tuna than in other fish species, making it particularly tempting for our feline friends.The team conducted a taste test with 25 subjects as part of the study. To test their taste receptors and how they impacted the cats’ preferences, they set up a series of water bowls with varying amounts of organic compounds, including nucleotides and amino acids, and a control bowl of water.When allowed to explore the bowls, researchers noted that the cats were most attracted to the combinations that activated the umami receptors – the “savory bowls.”What does this development mean for your cat and the development of cat products in the future? Understanding the attraction to savory foods, especially tuna, pet food manufacturers are better able to formulate diets that will appeal to their tastebuds. This means creating foods that our cat will actually WANT to eat.This could be a powerful shift for those navigating medical conditions that trigger a loss of appetite. By offering a food they are more tempted to eat, they can encourage their cat to take in the nutrition needed for a full recovery.
With the number of pets being abandoned and turned over to rescues and animal shelters reaching new highs, there has been a lot of chatter about the importance of the “adopt, don’t shop” movement. According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter animal shelters in the United States annually – a startling and mind-blowing number.There have been many unique ways to help get these incredible animals out of the shelters. One that the average pet lover may not realize is the number of television shows and movies that bring on adoptable animals as furry co-stars on the set.You may wonder, if these animals are searching for their forever home, why was something not said to the general public?The truth, in many cases, is quite heartwarming! Many of these animals are adopted right off the set by their costars or others working on the movies. This includes adoptions involving some of our favourite celebrities! Here are a few such happy endings… Chris Evans and Dodger While on the set of his 2017 film, Gifted, Chris Evans was introduced to a high-energy and loving 1-year-old dog that was an “extra” during a scene filmed in a kennel setting. After discovering that this pup was up for adoption, it didn’t take long for Evans to know it was meant to be. Today, Evans reports that Dodger plays an essential role in his daily routine, including cuddling up together to sleep and regularly exercising together. Sophie Turner and ZunniQuite a few animals were seen on the Game of Thrones set, but one in particular had a happy ending. Her character’s direwolf Lady may have died on the show, but that certainly wasn’t the end of the bond and connection between these two. Turner convinced her parents to welcome Zunni into the family. Sylvester Stallone, Cuff, and Link Looking back a little further into the history of pets adopted off the set, Cuff and Link were adopted back in 1976 from the set of Rocky. These two have enjoyed a long, happy life in the Stallone household. While it’s unclear whether they are still alive today, Stallone did share a post in 2019 featuring the 44-year-old turtles. They also made a cameo appearance in CREED 2. Sarah Jessica Parker and LotusA more recent adoption, Lotus joined the Parker/Broderick family in April 2023, having been adopted off the set of Season 2 of And Just Like That… In the show, Lotus played Shoe, Carrie Bradshaw’s cat. Not only has Lotus been adopted to spend the rest of his life with Parker, but he will continue to start on the show alongside her. Taylor Swift and Benjamin ButtonThis may not be an example of a show or movie set, but Benjamin Button’s claim to fame was his role in Swift’s music video for ME! In 2019. When the cat was played in Swift’s arms to film the scene together, he started purring and snuggling into her. He knew right away this was his forever person, and it didn’t take long for Swift to reciprocate those feelings.
As a devoted bird parent, you want to give your feathered family members the best possible quality of life. This includes setting up a cozy cage with everything they need, feeding high-quality foods, and spending time building your bond together. But have you ever wondered whether your pet bird is bored in their cage? Just like humans, birds can experience moments of boredom and restlessness. When unaddressed, it can lead to behavioral issues. We’re here to help! Avoid problems and provide your bird with the entertainment and mental enrichment they need by following these 9 tips: Does a Bird Get Bored in a Cage? Yes, they definitely can! When people are introduced to raising and caring for birds, we often stress the importance of a secure, comfortable cage for them to live. While this habitat is essential, focusing specifically on the cage may have set many bird parents up for failure. Why? Because simply having a nice cage isn’t enough to keep your bird happy. For the best quality of life, you must find ways to provide mental enrichment opportunities for your bird. How Can You Tell if Your Bird is Bored? One of the best things you can do for your bird’s mental health and happiness is learn how to identify if your bird is bored. By recognizing the symptoms early, you can then make changes to your bird’s lifestyle, routine, and habitat to address the problem head-on. The sooner you eliminate the boredom, the more likely you are to prevent any potential problems that boredom may cause, such as self-destructive behaviors, aggression, or damaging your home and belongings. Ultimately, if a bird is left to feel bored or lonely for too long, it can seriously impact their overall well-being, leading to health problems and potentially loss of life. The most common signs that a pet bird is bored include: Excessive screaming and vocalization Pacing Withdrawal or uncharacteristic reluctance to be handledSudden lack of activity Weight gain and obesityBiting or lashing out Feather plucking or skin pickingLoss of appetite Appearance of stress bars on your bird’s feathersIf you notice any of these signs or any other sudden and unexplained behavioral changes, you should start with a call to your avian veterinarian. Explain your concerns and the changes that you have noticed. They can make an appointment to run tests and rule out potential medical explanations for the behavior. Once you are sure there is no medical cause for your bird’s behavior, you can focus on providing new enrichment and entertainment opportunities.
If you are new to fishkeeping, you have likely noticed that there is a lot more involved in setting up a healthy, thriving aquarium than most people realize! From the ideal tank setup to managing water levels, there is much to learn – including the basics of fish health. One topic that is often overlooked but can be incredibly important in terms of your tank health is the use of a quarantine tank. But what is a quarantine tank, and when should it be used? In this post, we will look at how a quarantine tank can improve the overall health of your existing aquarium, including how to set up, maintain, and disinfect your quarantine fish tank. What is a Quarantine Tank? Before we dig into the finer details, let’s start at the beginning – what is a quarantine tank? Quarantine fish tanks are smaller tanks set up to help limit the potential spread of illness or disease. They do this by effectively quarantining the sick (or potentially sick) fish separate from the main tank or aquarium. Think of the tank like a human hospital. If a person is suspected of possibly having an infectious disease, steps are taken to prevent that disease from spreading to anyone else. This includes removing the person from the general public, limiting access to them, and maintaining a clean and sterile environment. In the same way, your quarantine tank isn’t going to be set up as a fancy, decorative area. Instead, the focus is put on eliminating anything that could increase the transmission of disease. For this reason, they are often free from decorations and aquarium gravel or other forms of substrate. This allows you to create a clean and stress-free area for your fish – especially if they are being treated for or recovering from an illness.
As pet parents and animal lovers, we often talk about the joys of road-tripping with cats and dogs, but what about the many other pets we call family? What if you share your heart (and home) with a rabbit? Great news! Whether you’re planning a family vacation and want to include your bunny in the fun, or you’re moving across the country and need to figure out how to transport a rabbit to your new home, taking your furry family member on the road IS possible. To help you plan for your next big trip, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about taking a road trip with a rabbit, including the safest way to travel with your rabbit, tips for the most enjoyable trip for both you and your rabbit, and when it’s best to leave your rabbit at home with a friend, family member, or trusted pet sitter. Let’s get started…Is it Stressful for Rabbits to Travel? One of the most important questions we must ask ourselves whenever we consider travelling with a pet is whether travel will bring more stress than it’s worth. If your rabbit is going to be stressed and anxious the entire time, they won’t be able to enjoy spending this time with you. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Instead, we each need to learn to read our rabbit’s body language and recognize when they are uncomfortable in a situation. The most common signs of stress in rabbits include: Ears flattened to their backA rigid, crouched postureThumping of hind legs TremblingRestlessnessLethargy or lower-than-normal energy levelsLoss of appetite or increased appetite Change in bathroom habitsLoudly grinding their teethWide and bulging eyes Rapid, shallow breathingMaking frustrated grunting noisesSudden, unexplained aggressive behaviorHiding or acting withdrawn Reluctance to be touched or heldLoss of interest in their favorite activities Self-mutilation habits (excessive licking, biting, etc.)For your first rabbit travel experience, start small. Introduce them first to the vehicle in your driveway, waiting to turn on the engine until they are comfortable with it off. You can then work up to a longer trip by starting with the engine going but sitting in the driveway, moving slightly up and down the driveway, and then taking a short trip around the block. Throughout the conditioning process, pay careful attention to your rabbit. If you notice any of the above signs of stress, slow down and avoid moving on to the next step. This may mean, in time, acknowledging that your rabbit isn’t comfortable travelling despite your best efforts – and that’s okay! Many rabbits are happier relaxing at home and being spoiled by a loved one while you are on vacation.
Are you a bird lover and look forward to sharing that love with your child? Has your child recently been asking to add a bird to the family? If so, there are a few critical factors that you need to consider… While a pet can be a great way to teach responsibility and respect for animals, not every pet is ideal for children – especially young children! At this early age, kids are still learning how to navigate the world around them. They are often loud and unpredictable, creating an uncomfortable situation for a new pet who doesn’t know or understand what to expect. This can lead to injuries to your child or your new pet. This brings us back to the question of the day – Do birds make good pets for children? The answer isn’t as black and white as you may have hoped… Do Pet Birds Cuddle? One of the things we often love about spending time with a pet is the love and affection that they share. Most people think of cuddly cats and dogs when they think of snuggling up with a pet. But these furry companions aren’t the only pets that enjoy curling up with their people. In fact, some bird species thrive on physical affection. But this isn’t true for all birds. If you’re looking for a cuddly bird, you will need to research the options available. Parrots are well known for their affectionate personalities. When they bond with their person, they enjoy throwing their love by spending time with you, sleeping on you, preening you, and, of course, cuddling you. However, don’t overlook the significant commitment that comes with raising a parrot! The Scarlet Macaw, for example, often lives 50-75 years, but there are reports of Macaws living longer than 100 years. They also grow considerably larger than many pet birds, requiring more space for a proper habitat.Other birds that are also known to be cuddly include: Lovebirds Canaries CockatoosCockatielsConuresParakeetsDoves
Whether you are planning to bring home your first rabbit or changing things up with a new habitat for your bunny, choosing, planning out, and designing a cage can be a fun experience. But it can also be a costly one… One way to give your rabbit the best possible habitat without breaking the bank is to take on a rabbit cage DIY project – making alterations to a store-bought cage or building one yourself from scratch.To help you get started, I have compiled a basic guide to setting up your own homemade rabbit cage, including some basic rabbit habitat information, a few commonly asked questions about a rabbit’s ideal environment, and step-by-step instructions to build your own DIY rabbit cage.Can Rabbits Be Kept Without a Cage?One of the first supplies most people purchase before bringing home a rabbit is a cage, but is a traditional cage necessary? As rabbit lovers and experts have learned more about the basic needs of their furry friends, new approaches to raising a rabbit have emerged. In fact, most of the standard rabbit cages you will see in your local pet stores are too small to provide the space needed for a happy, healthy life.Free roaming refers to giving your rabbit access to your home or apartment so they can wander freely, even if you aren’t present. This is similar to how most people raise a dog or cat.One way to do this effectively while still maintaining a clean and sanitary home is by litter training your rabbit. Just like cats, rabbits can be trained to do their business in a designated box or area. This keeps the mess contained, making it easier to clean up. But, of course, it requires putting the work into training and being prepared to deal with any accidents that may occur during that process.Additionally, you must consider rabbit-proofing your home to prevent unwanted or potentially dangerous bad habits like chewing on your furniture or, even worse, chewing electrical cords.This all takes time, money, and patience. If you aren’t prepared to take on this level of commitment to maintaining a safe, free-roaming environment, it is in the best interest of everyone involved (including you and your rabbit) to keep your rabbit safely contained in a suitable cage or pen.
Are you newer to fish keeping or considering setting up your first aquarium? If so, you likely already have many questions - there is much to consider! However, unlike adopting a dog or a cat, most pet stores will sell fish without offering too much information about how to set up the best tank or aquarium for their long-term health and well-being. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused, you’re not alone. When I decided to set up my first fish aquarium, I had very little information to go on. Until that point in my life, the only fish I cared for were goldfish in a less-than-ideal goldfish bowl setup. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know better. However, having researched and learned more about their needs and the ideal environment, I was committed to creating the best environment for my new fish friends. The problem was, I wasn’t sure what that meant… One product that I saw everywhere I looked was aquarium gravel, but I quickly realized that not all gravel is created equal. Even more perplexing, not all aquariums had gravel or SHOULD have gravel. To help you navigate the many options available and get started with your aquarium on the right foot, I wanted to share some vital information about the use of gravel in fish tanks and aquariums, including the answer to whether you need gravel in your fish tank, the best gravel substrate to use, and some basic care tips for maintaining the gravel in your tank moving forward. What is Aquarium Gravel?Aquarium gravel refers to the small rocks or pebbles at the bottom of a fish tank or aquarium. They can vary significantly in size and color. Colourful gravel, as you often see in beginner fish tank sets or children’s fish tanks, can add a fun element to the visual appearance of the tank. However, many experts warn that the bright colors, while appealing to children, may be distracting or upsetting for the fish. For this reason, these experts often recommend a more neutral color or natural-looking gravel option. How much truth is in that statement is still unknown. What we do know is that many of the more ornamental and popular fish, like goldfish, don’t appear to be bothered by the vibrant stones. But we do know that the quality of your gravel, regardless of its appearance, is important. Cheaply made and mass-produced aquarium gravels often flake off bits of paint over time, adding toxins and particles to the water that could make your fish sick. When choosing aquarium gravel, try to avoid the cheapest products available. Instead, look for a well-known and trusted brand. Rinse off the gravel before using it, removing any flakes that may have come off during transport. Finally, as you’re cleaning your fish tank or aquarium, pay attention to signs of wear that may indicate it’s time to replace your substrate.