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Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Lucifer and Willow – and their 2 cats – Pippen and...
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How Do I Know if My Dog is Afraid?

Experts often talk about the importance of reading your dog’s body language to reduce fear, stress, and anxiety. But do you sometimes struggle to identify if your dog is really scared or if you’re just reading into a situation? Many common dog behaviors can be misinterpreted – fear or calm, comfort or stress. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. We are here to help! This post dives deep into the basics of canine communication and body language. We’ll highlight some of the more subtle body language cues, behavioral changes, and vocalization that you should be looking out for. Plus, we’ll look at the most common situations that trigger fear in dogs, why these situations can be frightening, and how to comfort and support your dog moving forward. What’s the ultimate goal? Ensuring you have the information needed to build your dog’s confidence, improve your communication, and help them enjoy a world free from unnecessary fear and anxiety. Dedicate the time and energy today to set your dog up for long-term success (avoiding potential health complications from too much stress). Common Signs of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs Life as a pet parent would be much easier if our pups could speak up and tell us exactly what they think in each situation. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality we live in. Instead, we must learn to pick up on their non-verbal communication to build a strong and trusting relationship with our furry friends. Here are a few ways they may be trying to tell you that they are feeling “off” or nervous: Body Language One of the most important ways our pets communicate their feelings is through their body language. This includes the way they stand, the way they move, how they hold their ears or their tail, and so much more. Some signs will be obvious, while others will be more subtle. Here are some of the more common signs of fear and stress related to body language: Excessive panting YawningShowing teethLip-licking Puckering of the lips Whale eyes (showing the whites of the eyes)Large, dilated pupils Ears backward or pressed forward Tail up and stiff or down tucked between the legsCowering or standing with the body low to the ground Attempting to hide Displacement behaviors (sneezing, itching)Shaking or trembling Submissive urination Behavior Changes In addition to changes in how your dog stands or positions their body, you may notice some behavioral changes. You may find that your dog tries to back away or avoid their trigger. On the other hand, your dog may become reactive towards a trigger by jumping or lunging at it. Both these reactions signify stress or anxiety, highlighting the importance of getting to know your dog as an individual. For example, we have two male dogs in our house. When presented with a trigger, Lucifer will hold his ground while Indiana tends to back away or hide.You may also notice changes in how your dog reacts to objects or activities in their regular life. Many dogs, even those who are highly food-driven, will be reluctant to eat or take treats when stressed. Vocal Cues Finally, while we are focusing mainly on non-verbal communication, there are some vocalizations that could help you recognize that something is wrong. Dogs who are nervous, anxious, or afraid may bark at their trigger. They may also whine to show that they are uncomfortable.

What Size of Cage Does My Hamster Need?

Final Thoughts: The Best Hamster Cage SetupWhen setting up your hamster’s habitat, consider the floor space available. They are active and energetic creatures that need to be able to run, demanding more freedom to move than is often available in the overly hyped commercial cages. Instead, ensure the cage offers at least 24” by 12” of floor space on the main floor. Several cage styles are available, including wire cages, glass aquariums, and plastic pens. If you want to extend their habitat with a second floor, be cautious about the risk of injury. A long fall can be catastrophic. Include all necessities on the main floor of your hamster’s cage. This includes plenty of bedding to burrow into, clean hay, chew toys/enrichment opportunities, an appropriately sized exercise wheel, and access to fresh food and water. A proper habitat is the foundation for a happy, healthy life for your furry friend! Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.

What Is Pyoderma In Dogs?

The sight of an itchy dog often raises concerns among pet parents. From parasites, like fleas and ticks, to uncomfortable skin issues and irritation, the explanation is rarely a positive one. In some cases, even finding a cause is an uphill battle. One condition you may have read about or heard your veterinarian mention is pyoderma. But what is pyoderma, and what does this mean for your best friend? In this article, we will dive deep into the world of dog skin issues, uncovering not only the warning signs and possible causes of pyoderma in dogs but also the steps you can take to offer some much-needed relief from the itch and irritation. Let’s get started… What is Pyoderma? Pyoderma is a term used to refer to a bacterial skin infection, with the word literally translating to “pus (pyo) in the skin (derma).” It is one of the most common dog skin conditions. Luckily, it is also often easy to treat once it has been diagnosed. Most dogs recover fully with the proper medication. The condition is classified into one of three types based on its location in or on the skin. They include: Surface Pyoderma: infections on top of the skin’s surfaceSuperficial Pyoderma: infections in the outermost layer of the skin, including in the hair follicles (which may be referred to as superficial bacterial folliculitis)Deep Pyoderma: infections in the deeper layers of the skinThe condition itself isn’t always visible, making it sometimes difficult to spot. This is why it is so important for dog parents to familiarize themselves with the warning signs of skin irritation and seek veterinary help. They can do the tests necessary to look beyond what is visible to the naked eye. What Causes Pyoderma in Dogs? Every healthy dog has bacteria on the surface of their skin. When a dog’s skin becomes irritated for any reason, they respond by scratching at the spot. This creates openings in the layers of the skin where the bacteria can move deeper, creating the perfect environment for them to grow and thrive. There are several potential triggers for the initial irritation, including: Environmental or seasonal allergies Food allergies Flea allergy dermatitis Chronic exposure to moisture (like skin folds)Seborrhea Impaired blood flow to the skin Endocrine disorders (Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease) It can also start when the skin is damaged due to an injury. Even a minor injury could cause just enough of an opening into the skin’s layers to begin the cycle. Is Dog Pyoderma Contagious to Humans? As this is a bacterial infection, it isn’t a risk of transmission like an airborne virus would be. Some strains of the bacteria can occasionally lead to an infection in humans or other dogs. However, the risk is incredibly low unless you have a compromised immune system. You can minimize the risk of transmission by focusing on keeping your home clean as your dog fights the infection. This includes regularly cleaning their food and water dishes as well as any bedding your dog sleeps on regularly. If you have an open wound, keep it covered when spending time with your infected dog.

Why Is My Bird Biting Me?

If you’re a bird parent, you love and cherish your feathered friend – but what do you do when your bird nips or bites? This is a behavior that can be both surprising and concerning, especially for first-time bird parents. But know, you’re not alone!If you’re wondering, “Why is my bird biting me?” This article is for you!We will explore the different factors and explanations for your pet bird’s newly developed biting tendencies, helping you understand the motivations, identify when there is a deeper problem requiring your attention, and learn how to address the behavior appropriately.Let’s look at how to set you and your bird up for a long, happy relationship by addressing problem biting today.Do Bird Bites Hurt?The short answer to this is – Maybe? Whether or not your bird’s bite will hurt depends on a few factors, including how the bird bites, their overall intention, your bird’s size, and your level of pain tolerance.Bird bites can range from a light little nibble that merely tickles to bites that have the capability of causing serious damage, especially to vulnerable areas like the eyes, ears, nose, lips, fingers, and toes.The potential for a bird bite to cause severe or lasting injuries highlights the importance of understanding your bird, why they may bite, and how to prevent this situation from happening. It’s also one of the most important reasons to consider when deciding if a bird is right for your child, elderly, or special needs family member.Even smaller birds can cause a surprising amount of pain. Often, it’s not the initial bite that causes the most pain. Instead, it’s the way that they will dig in or even grind their beaks that will lead to discomfort, stinging, and soreness.

How Much Does It Cost to Feed Your Dog Around the World?

There is no denying the fact that pet ownership can be expensive. From the expected costs of vaccinations and high-quality dog food to the increased fees associated with traveling with your dog by your side, it adds up fast! But exactly how much does it cost to feed your dog? How do these costs stack up compared to dog parents in other areas? If this question has been on your mind, you’re in luck. A recent study by CashNetUSA compares the cost of feeding a dog in 97 countries, and the findings are surprising.Let’s start with the most exciting news for American pet parents. While the cost of feeding a dog in the US didn’t make the list of the least expensive countries, it did rank as one of the most affordable countries when assessing the annual cost versus the national net income per capita. Other countries that made this list include Ireland, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, and Denmark. Of course, this value can vary depending on the quality of dog food you are feeding and the size of your dog (therefore, the amount of food they consume daily). The study collected data based on the cost of feeding a medium-sized dog 540 grams of kibble daily using the cheapest dry food available in local supermarkets. If a country didn’t have available comparable food, the price was calculated using an international supermarket that would ship to the country. The least expensive country to feed a dog was Botswana, at a cost of $163.59 USD annually. This was closely followed by Lesotho ($201.29) and Hungary ($246.38). On the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive country was Japan, with dog food costs reaching a staggering $2,056.88 USD annually. The top 3 most costly countries also included Andorra ($1854.71) and Estonia ($1518.98). What causes such a variation in cost? In addition to the living costs and average income for each country, food quality should also be considered. Countries with exceptionally low annual prices often fed dogs a diet that failed to meet their nutritional needs. “Most retail brands in Botswana and around Africa use basic formulae often resulting in dogs suffering from inflamed skin and increased scratching caused by (an) imbalance in levels of Omera 3 and 6 along with insufficient levels of essential fatty acids like DHA and FPA,” a local entrepreneur told the National Post. If you are struggling with pet food's growing cost, you’re not alone. Many pet parents are seeking ways to keep the costs down without sacrificing the quality of their dog’s diet. Here are a few tips to help keep the costs down: Bake Your Own Dog Treats Dog treats are one of the bigger costs that many dog parents spend on. After all, there are so many incredible treat options available on the shelves of our local pet stores. How do you not want to spoil your furry best friend? Making your treats is not only budget-friendly but also a great way to control the quality of what your dog is eating. Buy in Bulk If your budget allows, purchase a larger bag of dog food or buy your dog’s food in bulk. These products are designed to last surprisingly well on the shelf over time. By buying larger quantities at once, you may spend more in the moment, but the cost per meal drops considerably. If your local pet store doesn’t have a bulk discount, consider asking about purchasing a bulk order and how it could impact the price. Join Loyalty Programs or Subscriptions Many pet stores and online pet retailers offer loyalty programs or subscriptions that help reduce your costs if you continue purchasing from one location. This could mean a lower price per bag with a pre-scheduled subscription order or a loyalty points program where you are rewarded with a free bag after buying a certain number of dog food bags. Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Do Dogs Experience Grief?

Anyone who has ever shared their heart and home with a dog can attest to how deep the emotional connection we form with our best friends is. It is this bond that makes saying goodbye so difficult. But are we the only ones experiencing this pain?If you have recently experienced the passing of a pet or family member and noticed your dog acting a little differently, you may be wondering – Do dogs experience grief, too?In this article, we will dig into the truth about canine emotions and canine grief. This includes understanding what grief means to your dog, learning to recognize the signs that they may be mourning and tips for helping your best friend navigate this difficult time.Do Dogs Experience Grief or Mourning?The short answer is yes, dogs do grieve the loss of a person or animal in their lives. In a 2022 study led by Dr. Federica Pirrone, a veterinary physiologist at the University of Milan, 86% of dog owners reported that they saw a change in behavior in their surviving dog after losing a companion.Our dogs form close bonds with one another and with us. This can be seen both in wild dogs, with the relationships that exist between pack members, as well as the domesticated dogs of today.While they can’t tell us how they are feeling (although we wish they could), dog parents often witness physical and behavioral changes that indicate something is “off” for their dog following a loss. This occurs when a family member (human or pet) passes or even if a family member moves away like a child moving out of the family home.Recognizing that our dogs also go through a grieving process allows us to take steps to help our beloved furry friends deal with this difficult time.

Why is My Rabbit Eating Poop and How Do I Stop It?

It’s a weird and uncomfortable habit, but if your rabbit is eating poop, it may not be a sign of health issues! In fact, for rabbits, eating poop may actually be a healthy decision (even if we’d prefer not to see it).In this article, we’re diving into the mystery of why rabbits eat poop, including why you may want to let your rabbit engage in this “cringey” habit. Plus, we’ll look at the warning signs that something is, indeed, off and when you should contact your veterinarian.Let’s get started…Is it Normal for a Rabbit to Eat Their Poop?Obviously, seeing your rabbit eating their own feces isn’t something any rabbit parent enjoys. If this is your first time seeing your rabbit engaging in this behavior, it may even cause serious concerns. What could possibly be so wrong with your rabbit’s system that they would feel tempted to do that? You may be surprised to learn that this is incredibly common and, in many cases, a regular part of their digestive process. By eating a specific type of poop, they ensure that they are getting (and keeping) all the nutrients that they need to support a healthy, happy life. The idea of chowing down on our own waste is disgusting to us. But for our furry friends, this is a normal part of their daily routine. Rabbit Poop vs Cecotropes To better understand the connection between poop eating and your rabbit’s health, we need to learn about the different types of rabbit waste. More specifically, we need to know about cecotropes. When we go to the bathroom, we have one type of solid waste – a material we couldn’t imagine getting near, let alone making into a meal. Rabbits, however, pass two different types of droppings. The first is fecal waste or poop. If your rabbit has a healthy, functioning digestive system, these will be small, round, dry, ball-like pellets that are light brown. This is often found in your rabbit’s litter box (if they are litter-trained) or the bottom of their cage.The second and the most important type of droppings are cecal pellets or cecotropes. These have the appearance of a small bunch of grapes with several round pellets clumped together. They are shiny, coated in mucus, and usually dark brown/mulberry color. The mucus is sticky, which could cause the cecotropes to pick up a layer of hay, wood shavings, or fur from their environment. While feces is the body’s way of discarding everything your body doesn’t need from your food, aka the ‘waste,’ cecotropes are a little different. These pellets contain partially digested foods that passed through your rabbit’s system without the nutrients being absorbed the first time. They are packed with nutrients as well as helpful bacteria and fungi that support a healthy gastrointestinal system. When you see a rabbit eating their waste, they are usually eating these cecotropes. This allows them to absorb the much-needed nutrients that would otherwise be lost.

What Do I Do if My Dog Has a Chipped Tooth?

Discovering that your dog is hurt or in pain is a concerning moment for any pet parent, regardless of the injury. But dental injuries can be particularly stressful. If you have ever experienced a toothache, you understand!Whether your pup chipped a tooth during a rough play session with their best furry friend or while gnawing on a hard chew like a bone or antler, any dental damage must be addressed promptly.Read on to learn how to prioritize your dog’s dental health, including identifying if they may be suffering from a broken or chipped tooth, how to address dental damage and tips for preventing a broken tooth before it happens. Your pup will thank you!Common Signs of a Broken or Chipped ToothThe first step to caring for dental problems is to identify that your dog is experiencing an issue. The signs of dental problems vary considerably. While some dogs won’t show any discomfort, others may demonstrate considerable pain. This is due not only to the difference in a dog’s personality and pain threshold but also the spectrum of injuries that fall under the heading of “dental problems.”Broken teeth can be categorized into three groups:Enamel Fractures: Damage only to the enamel of the tooth.Crown Fractures: Damage extends deeper into the tooth, breaking the crown and exposing the pulp.Root Fractures: The root of the tooth has been broken.Unless you inspect your dog’s teeth regularly and spot a problem, we often have to rely on body language and behavioral changes to know there’s a problem. Unfortunately, dogs are very good at hiding pain, so they may be suffering from a problem for a while before we’re aware that there is an issue.Some of the more common signs of a broken or chipped tooth include:Excessive droolingBloody salivaPawing at their muzzleChewing on one side of the mouthReluctancy to eat and kibble or harder-to-chew itemsRefusal to eat at allAvoiding drinking cold waterGrinding teethSwelling in the faceDiscomfort or reluctance to have muzzle touchedWhining or whimpering Not playing as they would normally Sudden or out-of-character aggressive or anxious behaviorTrembling or shaking

What is the Best Dog Harness for Senior Dogs?

Final Thoughts – The Best Harness for Senior Dogs Many veterinarians and experts on the health and care of senior dogs will recommend using a harness. However, not all harnesses are created to meet the needs of every life stage. When selecting a harness for an older dog, there are unique factors to consider. This includes the weight and bulkiness of the harness, how easy it is to put it on/take it off, and the padding inside the harness for their comfort. Pay careful attention to ensure the design or fit doesn’t limit or impact movement. There are many great harness options on the market, including those made for regular wear and specialized lift support harnesses with convenient shoulder straps. If possible, visit your local pet store with your senior dog to check out your options firsthand. This will help you better assess the size needed and whether the design suits your dog’s unique needs. Most importantly, remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. You may find that you are using two different harnesses with two senior dogs in your home. That’s okay! The goal is to find the option that supports all your dog’s needs and helps you give them the best possible quality of life. Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Scientists Uncover Secrets of Extinct "Wooly Dog" Breed

Throughout history, dogs have played several key roles in the lives of people globally. They have hunted, worked, and provided for us, forever weaving them into the fabric of human existence. We often use this knowledge to better understand our modern dogs by reflecting on their original purpose as a breed. Unfortunately, not every breed continues to thrive among us today.The Coast Salish wooly dog was a unique breed, kept by the First Nations people throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver Island, for its fleece-like coat. A new study reveals insights into the history of the now-extinct breed.Unlike most animals at that time in history, the dog was kept in pens and longhouses. This was done to prevent the dogs from mixing with village and hunting dogs, preserving the breed and the fleece it provided.“They were sheared like sheep, and the wool was woven into blankets,” recounted Eliot White-Hill of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. “Blankets were like currency in our economy prior to contact and some of the most important things you could own and give away as gifts.”The dogs were fed a diet of fish and elk and were seen as beloved family members.“It’s not just a dog – it’s a relative. It has enormous spiritual power, conveyed in its wool,” explained Michael Pavel, an elder of the Skokomish-Twana tribe and one of the study's authors. “Imagine being able to receive the gift of wool fiber, being able to learn to weave that into yarn, into an entity, or a blanket or robe that you could wrap yourself in the coldest of winter and feel the warmth of those prayers. That’s how we look at it, and we can now enjoy a scientific view, as well.”Unfortunately, the breed did not survive colonization. It’s not clear exactly what caused the demise of the Coast Salish wooly dog – the introduction of European dog breeds, rules enforced on First Nations people during assimilation and displacement, or smallpox epidemics being a few of the hypothesized factors.But thanks to the preserved pelt of a wooly dog named Mutton, who died in 1859, researchers can now learn a little more about the unique DNA of the dog, its lineage, and insight into the breeding practices of local Indigenous communities.Researchers compared DNA from Mutton’s pelt to that of a separate non-wooly village dog that lived and died in the same region at approximately the same time.While the information gathered from the study did not offer any conclusive answers about the disappearance of the breed, it did hypothesize that the Indian Act of 1876 played a critical role as it would have directly impacted the ability of Indigenous women to pass on valuable knowledge about caring for the dogs and weaving necessary to its survival.On a positive note, the study did support historical facts shared by First Nations people in that area – a valuable piece of the puzzle as many work to reclaim the traditions of their ancestors.“It brought a large group of people together that reaffirmed for us the history we know,” stated Violet Elliott, also of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. “It was a gift of collaboration with other nations.”

Study Reveals a Link Between Mental Health and an Attachment to Pets

We have all been told at one time or another that our pets are good for our mental health. But have you ever stopped to consider how your mental health could also impact the attachment bond you form with your pet? Could your attachment to your pet hurt your mental health?These questions and more were the inspiration behind a new study out of the University of Helsinki.Rather than focusing solely on the benefits of dogs and cats to our mental well-being, researchers went a step better. The goal was to better understand how the relationship we form with our pets could have an impact both on us as well as on the pets themselves. They also dug into how an owner’s attachment style could impact the care they provide and our pet’s behaviors.The research team collected information from approximately 2,500 pet owners and 3,300 pets to gather the necessary data. This included:Personality traits (of owners, dogs, and cats)Owner mental well-being ratingsUnwanted behavior traitsOther potential influences, like children in the householdAttachment stylesIn terms of the relationship, they looked specifically at two types of insecure attachment – anxious and avoidant. Anxious attachment refers to owners who desire to have their pets nearby and are concerned about the risk of losing their pets. On the other end of the spectrum, avoidant attachment refers to pet owners concerned about losing their personal autonomy and, as such, seeking a higher level of independence.The study found that cat owners with lower mental health ratings demonstrated anxious attachment to their feline friends. However, dog owners with similar mental health ratings were split between anxious attachment and avoidant attachment.Interestingly enough, there was a clear division between the attachment styles when categorizing the relationships based on a dog’s mental well-being and potentially “unwanted” or “problem” behaviors. Dogs who demonstrated aggression or ADHD-like behavior were more likely to have avoidantly attached owners, while dogs who demonstrated fear-related behaviors were often connected to anxiously attached owners.What does all this mean? By recognizing the connection, we can better understand how personality and attachment styles can influence one another.For example, if a dog owner demonstrates avoidant attachment, they may not provide the security a dog desires in a potentially threatening situation. As a result, the dog may develop aggression. However, it is also possible that a dog’s aggressive response may contribute to an owner’s need for space and independence from the behavior and its impact on their daily activities.“What made this project unique was that it involved dogs, cats, and owners alike,” explained Professor Hannes Lohi. “We need a deeper understanding of the connections between owners and pets and the associated factors so we can, for example, help people make better decisions when obtaining a pet. It’s important to acknowledge that obtaining a pet while experiencing poor mental well-being may not necessarily meet the expectations of improving it.”Not only is this a big step forward in helping people make educated decisions about pet ownership, but it could also provide valuable guidance for trainers and behaviorists when dealing with unwanted behaviors.

Can I Muzzle My Dog to Stop Barking?

Final Thoughts - Can I Muzzle My Dog to Stop Barking?Excessive barking can be frustrating and, if left unaddressed, can put you, as the owner, in a difficult situation. In some places, this can lead to fines or even eviction due to noise complaints. Unfortunately, the process of training a dog to stop barking isn’t one that is usually solved overnight – but it can be done! While you might have seen it recommended to use an “anti-bark” muzzle to stop your dog’s barking, it is not recommended for anything more than a 10 to 15-minute quick fix. Not only does it not teach your dog not to bark in the future, but the muzzle's design could create a dangerous situation. Instead, start by identifying the cause. Is your dog overly excited? Is there a trigger that makes them feel fearful and stressed? Are they trying to protect you when someone walks onto your property? Knowing the trigger will help you not only stop it but also manage your dog’s barking in the short term. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to contact a professional trainer or certified behaviorist to offer guidance and direction. Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.