Exercising Your Cat


Have you ever watched your cat exercise? Perhaps your kitty’s exercise regimen consists of a mad dash around the house – a furry bullet dashing from room to room. Or possibly it’s jumping up on horizontal (and even vertical) surfaces, tearing up the carpets and furniture, or attacking your feet in the middle of the night. Or maybe it’s stalking or pawing at some moving critter, like a fly or a lizard.

Exercise is as important to your cat as it is to you. Young cats as well as healthy adult cats need periods of exercise. Even our senior pets need regular exercise to maintain their health and well-being.
We all know that exercise affects us both physically and mentally. The same is true for your cat. Your kitty can become depressed if not sufficiently stimulated. He may keep you awake at night if he does not receive enough stimulation during the day. Cats are wonderful athletes, but they generally like to exercise for brief periods only. A vigorous playtime at night may help you both get some sleep.


Organized play is important and one of the best ways to spend quality time with your pet. Play stimulates your cat mentally. When kittens play together they pick up social skills and self-sufficiency. They refine their stalking and pouncing, as well as coordination and timing required to make a kill. They learn about their environment by exploring and climbing, and they find the best spots to hide in and lie in wait for their victims.

Adult cats, too, enjoy toys that allow them to simulate natural stalking and hunting activity. Commercially available toys are often inviting, but your kitty would probably be happy with anything that he can chase or pounce on. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Roll a table-tennis ball across the floor. Sit back and watch as your kitty chases, stalks and swats the ball.
  • Wad up a piece of paper, attach an old tie around it so that you can drag the paper around the floor. Soon your cat will launch an attack.
  • Get a tall scratching post, preferably one with “branches,” that your cat can run up and down. Scratching posts assist your cat to flex his muscles and to shed old claw sheaths.
  • Provide a large paper bag or cardboard box for your cat to explore.
  • You can also buy elaborate gymnasiums for cats, which your cat might climb and explore.


  • Never use string or yarn as a toy. Although your cat may enjoy them, these items can be deadly if swallowed and a portion becomes stuck around the tongue or in the intestinal tract.
  • Putting your cat outside is not a particularly good way to encourage exercise. In general, the most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your cat (in addition to kitten vaccinations) is to keep your cat indoors or confined within a controlled out-of-doors area. This keeps your kitty safe from injury, animals attacks, and the spread of deadly infectious diseases from stray cats.
  • Daily exercise or playtime is recommended unless there is a medical problem and your veterinarian has instructed you to limit your cat’s activity.

Exercising Your Cat

Coprophagia In Dogs

Coprophagia is the practice of eating stool (feces). There’s nothing more disgusting to a dog owner than seeing their dog eat its own or another dog’s stool, and then to have the dog saunter up, tail wagging, looking for a kiss and a few kind words.

“Why on earth would dogs do such a repulsive thing?” an owner might ask. What on earth is the attraction in this behavior? We may never know for sure but we do have an inkling about what initiates the behavior and can surmise how and why it continues.


Coprophagia is not an abnormal behavior for canines in certain situations. Bitches naturally consume their own pup’s feces – presumably, to keep the nest clean. This behavior provides a survival benefit as it prevents unhygienic conditions from developing in the nest; a state of affairs that could lead to disease. The biological drive to eat feces, which is implanted as a survival instinct, compels nursing bitches to ingest their pups’ feces.

In addition, many puppies go through an oral stage in which they explore everything with their mouths, sometimes ingesting a variety of non-food items, including feces.

As time goes by, the majority of pups eventually learn that food tastes better than feces and they swear off the stool-eating habit for the rest of their lives. Some older puppies may continue to eat feces for a few months, but most grow out of the habit after the first year.

Barring nursing bitches, the majority of “normal” adult dogs have absolutely no interest in eating feces.


Slow learners, “oral retentives,” and pups in which habits are easily ingrained may continue to engage in coprophagia well beyond the accepted “norm” and may engage in it to excess. Such hard-core coprophagics continue the behavior long after their peers have developed new interests. Dogs like this, that seem addicted to the habit, may best be described as “compulsive.”

Below is a list of possible contributing factors though more than one may be operating in any one case.

  • The opportunity to observe the dam eating stool
  • High protein, low residue, puppy food
  • Irregular feeding schedule
  • Feeding inadequate amounts of food
  • Under-stimulating environment
  • Constant opportunity to ingest feces
  • Inadequate attention/supervision



Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of factors, coprophagy rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that some long-suffering dog owners seem fated to endure. There are several different forms of coprophagy but, whatever form it takes, there are probably similar drives and predilections operating. Variations on the theme include:

  • Dogs that are partial only to their own stool
  • Dogs that eat only other dogs’ stool
  • Dogs that eat stool only in the winter if it is frozen solid (“poopsicles”)
  • Dogs that eat only the stool of various other species, often cats


There are some “home” remedies that have been practiced, but they rarely work. Here are a few:

  • Adding Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer® or Forbid®, commercially available preparations of pancreatic enzymes, to the dog’s food
  • Adding crushed breath mints to the diet
  • “Doctoring” each stool with Tabasco® in the hopes of discouraging the dog from the habit
    The following strategies have met with more success, though it is important to note that results vary:
  • Picking up all available stools (i.e. denying access)
  • Escorting the dog into a “picked up” area and walking him back inside the house immediately after he has successfully passed a bowel movement and before he even has a chance to investigate the fruits of his labor
  • Some dogs try to circumvent their owner’s control by eating the stool as it emerges and for these incorrigible few a muzzle may be necessary
  • Changing the dog’s diet and feeding schedule so that high fiber rations are fed frequently and perhaps by free choice. A diet that contains 10 percent fiber is a good option. It may work by allowing the dog to eat to satiation without gaining weight, or it may alter the texture of the dog’s stool, making it less palatable. Dry food seems more effective than wet food in curtailing coprophagia
  • Lifestyle enrichment is also helpful. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and spends plenty of quality time with you each day. Some dogs respond when a “Get a job program” is implemented. Such a program is designed to encourage the dog to exercise his natural tendencies by means of activities like chasing, fetching, walking, pseudo-hunting, fly ball, agility training, etc.
  • Teach the LEAVE IT command
    Although some of the above measures have occasionally been found effective on their own, it best to apply a whole program of prevention for at least six months to nip the behavior in the bud. If during this time, if the dog gets access to stool and ingests it, some ground will be lost. Hopefully, though, progress will eventually be made, even if it’s one step back for every two forward.

Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases respond to the judicious use of human anti-depressants.

Although controversial, the obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis seems to fill the bill, on occasion at least, and it meets a couple of the scientific criteria for diagnosis.

  • Face validity: The dog appears obsessed with eating stool and compelled to ingest it.
  • Predictive validity: Extreme, refractory, coprophagy should follow a genetic predilection, occurring more frequently in anxious breeds of dog. The latter appears to be true, as the condition seems to be more common in certain breeds (e.g. retrievers). Also, the condition should, and often does, respond to therapy with anti-obsessional drugs.


In the majority of cases, coprophagy can be successfully treated at home by means of a combination of management changes (exercise, diet, and supervised outdoor excursions) and environmental measures, but be wary of the occasional medical condition that masquerades the same way (your vet can help rule out such conditions).

Coprophagia In Dogs

Brushing Pets Teeth

The most common disease in pets is dental disease, especially periodontal disease. The good thing is that it is one of the most preventable and treatable as well. Aside from brushing your pet’s teeth, we can reduce and even prevent dental disease by giving the appropriate chew treats and toys, and feeding a crunchy diet. Use these steps as a guide to assist you in brushing your pet’s teeth:

  • In order to keep your pet’s mouth free of disease, the first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth. Begin with either a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums, or once your pet has had a dental cleaning done professionally by your veterinarian.
  • To begin your regimen, you will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and pet toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems and can be very toxic. Also, pet toothpastes come in flavors that will appeal to your pet. Below the gum line is a very important place to brush, so you must use a bristled tooth brush to reach that area.
  • There are numerous vital facts about your pet’s mouths that tell us how, when, and where to brush. The upper and back teeth are usually affected first and mostly by periodontal disease. Like our mouths, plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth daily, particularly just under the gum line. This plaque can harden into tartar, or calculus, in less than 36 hours! After it hardens it can’t be removed with a brush, only a professional cleaning. This is why brushing should be done daily to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
  • It’s best to pick a time of day that is convenient for you and your pet and easily fits into both your routines. Be patient and stick to it. It may take a few days in order for you and your pet to get used to the habit. If you always follow the brushing with a walk or an enjoyable dental treat, your pet may actually start looking forward to getting their teeth brushed.
  • If you feel your pet may not adjust to teeth brushing, start slow. Offer them a taste of the paste, then next time use the paste and run your finger along their gums. Repeat the process with the tooth brush. If you can, make sure to angle the brush slightly up to get under the gum line, work from back to front, and make small circles. Brush their teeth for, at the most, 30 seconds. It’s all right if you can’t brush the entire mouth at first, but the outside of the upper teeth are the most important to clean to prevent periodontal disease. Eventually, if you’re patient and persistent, your pet may allow you to brush their entire mouth.
  • If your pet is cooperative and you stick to the routine, it’s still possible they would need a professional cleaning eventually, just like us. But as long as you reduce the regularity and complexity of their dental cleanings, your goal of giving your pet a healthier grin, and a healthier life, is met.

brushing pet teeth



A dog barks for many reasons, some good and some bad. Barking can communicate things from a greeting, to a warning. A dog that barks every now and then is tolerable, but the problem lies in those who just won’t quit.

Some breeds were bred to bark, like beagles and Shetland sheepdogs. Dogs that rarely ever bark are greyhounds and basenjis. Barking is a form of communication that serves various purposes. It can be used to keep away, attract, share distress, and warn. Even people who are inexperienced with dogs can notice the difference between a muted woof of acknowledgement and a series of angry, aggressive barks.

Barking is most appreciated by owners when its purpose is to alarm. Dogs can be like a warning system, not just to warn us about possible harm, but to warn those who are potentially dangerous to us to keep away. The key is training your pet to bark when appropriate and turn it off when the threat has passed. Barking can become a huge problem to owners, friends, family, and neighbors when it is inappropriate.


You first need to understand why your dog is barking in order to figure out how to deal with the situation.


Some dogs will bark as a way to get whatever they want from you. These individuals are pushy, spoiled dogs who persist on getting their way, insisting the spotlight and all the attention possible. The dog is usually acting up to be played with, sit on someone’s lap, be given food from the table, etc. Either way, it can be tough to ignore these barkers and easy to get irritated with them.

What makes a dog like this? In a nutshell, it’s conditioning. Everything our dogs do, we react to, even if it’s with disregard. This means we are training our dogs constantly through our actions. No dog will continue with an approach that doesn’t work, whether that tactic is crying, whining, or barking. Whatever produces the goods is what is reinforced. An attention-seeking barker is just that because their behavior has been praised with casual irregular support. There are tips to help eliminate this behavior, but it’s very important to remember that a dog barking for attention will usually try their absolute hardest before quitting. This means they will become louder and more intense before they realize it’s not going to pay off.

Withdraw attention. To the attention-seeking dog, any notice is better than no notice. Even scolding can be more appealing than being ignored. Pay no attention to the “bad” behavior and only respond with interest and praise when the dog is calm and quiet. Don’t make eye contact, touch, or speak to the dog when they are barking.
Bridging stimulus. A bridging stimulus can be used to hasten progress if the above strategy becomes tedious. This would be a neutral sound, like a clicker, that is done right when the dog begins with an outburst. It is an indication that you’re about to refuse to give them attention. With this sound, the dog will focus its attention on the consequences of its actions and, hopefully, speed up the realization that the negative behavior will get them nowhere.
Audible Punishment. Sometimes an audible punishment technique may work as a deterrent, but only with dogs that are not very sensitive. You can issue a simple command such as “No bark!” If that fails you can blast an air horn or use a “shake can” (a can with stones in it) to startle them.
Counter conditioning. Counter conditioning is training the dog to do something that is unsuited with his former conditioned behavior, such as barking. For instance, whenever the stimulus that previously caused barking occurs, like mealtime or relaxing on the couch, you can train your dog to lie down in their bed. There they will be given praise from you and possibly a food treat that is long-lasting. If the strategy works, the old, bad behavior is replaced by the new, calm behavior.


Separation anxiety barking happens when you are not around, leaving the pet, or are about to leave. Here are the two types of separation anxiety barking:

The first type is an acute type of barking that sounds hysterical. It usually occurs within minutes of the owner leaving and it signifies panic, or a cry for help. Sometimes it’s broken up by bursts of whining. The purpose is to attract attention from the owner, or anyone, so that their misery is recognized, and hopefully, alleviated.
The second type is a more chronic, monotonous barking. This is conveyed by dogs that have all but given up on solving their dilemma.
The treatment for the problem of the acute variety is the same as the treatment of separation anxiety because it is the source of the problem. As neighbors complain of the disturbance, owners only think of the behavior as their problem, not their dog’s problem. Chastisement of such behavior is a common and mistaken answer. Physical punishment, particularly after the behavior, is not only useless but is unproductive and inhumane.
When a dog’s barking simply becomes a release of anxious energy – a displacement behavior – it becomes the chronic, monotonous type of barking. This type usually indicates that a dog has been left alone for extended periods of time for years, and barely believes in its capability to call anyone’s attention to its crisis. Because of this, chronic displacement barking is a barometer of long-term suffering. The humane resolution for these dogs is to prevent them from having to experience such isolation and futility in the future by making arrangements. Training them to stop barking will usually not work and misses the point. Punishment is inhumane. Much more basic issues need to be addressed in order to fix the problem in dogs with this type of issue.


Since one of a dog’s main duties is to protect their home, having one in the house is as good, if not better, than having an electronic alarm system. It becomes an issue, however, when dogs who are particularly enthusiastic continue to bark far longer than needed to inform their owners.

There’s a trick in training your dog to stop barking by acknowledging their warning. Saying “thank you” or “good dog” lets the dog know that you’re aware of their signal. If barking continues after you have verbally recognized it and thanked your dog, a command like “cease!”, “enough!”, or “stop it!” should be used afterwards to call an end to it.

Positive reinforcement should be carried out when training with the “stop it!” command. Treat or praise your dog immediately after, but only when, the barking has stopped for 3 seconds. This type of training may take a lot of patience until your dog will get the message. It’s a good idea to practice this training with a “volunteer visitor” who can ring the bell or knock, but doesn’t mind waiting outside for however long it takes as you go through the training.

A big problem owners face when attempting to train their dogs not to bark at the is that they are trying to juggle too many things at once; opening the door, greeting the stranger, and ushering them in at the same time as trying to control the dog. The only way to train correctly is to have a volunteer help you in training sessions so you are able to completely focus on handling your dog.


Have the volunteer approach and ring the bell or knock. Your dog will bark and you reply with “Good dog, thank you.”
If the dog continues to bark, say “Enough!”
If the dog continues to bark, remain motionless and ignore the behavior. Your volunteer is to wait outside. This is where patience from you and your volunteer comes in.
When the dog finally stops barking, as they all do eventually, say “Good dog!” and present them with a food treat as a reward.
The volunteer will ring the bell or knock again, and the sequence is repeated until the dog is responding more promptly.
Remember to always finish a training session on a good note with a reward for behaving quietly. These training sessions should be repeated every day for many days until the dog stops their barking quickly (less than 3 seconds) and stays quiet as the visitor comes in.
If this method fails, your dog may need a slightly more direct approach. The recommended technique is using a Gentle Leader® head halter.

Initially, you need to train the dog to cooperate when wearing the head halter and not struggle. Plan a visit with your volunteer and have your dog wear the halter and attach a 10-foot training lead. When you’re in your training session and your dog starts to bark as usual, praise the barking then say the command “enough”. If the barking continues, apply a gentle, steady, upward grip to the lead. This causes the dog’s nose to elevate and transmit slight pressure to the dog’s muzzle and nape of the neck. Keep up the tension until your dog is relaxed and quiet, then release the tension. Even though you made the quiet behavior happen, praise your dog for it.

If you are consistent in applying tension to the lead, in turn pressure to the muzzle and neck, your dog will eventually learn that it’s pretty much hopeless to ignore your “enough” command. Using this powerful, yet gentle, training tool, you will intercede and take control of your dog’s behavior.

There is also a counter conditioning technique you can use with or without the head halter. As mentioned earlier, you can train your dog to do something that’s not compatible with the negative behavior. For example, you could train them to go to an out-of-the-way part of your yard or home and relax whenever a stranger appears. Don’t forget to reward them extremely well for this behavior.

If your dog is territorial and also reacting out of fear, some of the above measures may still help, but chances of success are more limited. These dogs can be so anxious and fearful towards strangers that they may never settle down, even after you have greeted the guest. These types of dogs should be put on a “total package” program where they are desensitized to strangers. It’s a good idea to start this kind of exercise on neutral ground so your dog will be less territorial.


Some dogs will bark at anything that moves. It doesn’t have to be a stranger or even something living. These dogs will bark at passing cars, falling leaves, or icicles breaking off. They are on constant “red alert” and can be very hard to live with, especially if the degree of protection you need is very low to begin with. These dogs, perhaps by nature or nurture, trust nothing and no one and will view any environmental change as a threat.
The bad news is that we can’t persuade these dogs that their mission is pointless. The best thing you can do, with your vet, is address any medial contributions to hyperactivity, make sure they are on an appropriate diet, provide the right amount of exercise, and attempt to use the best physical control possible. This treatment is not unlike what needs to be done to control territorial barking. The only difference is that the application of this training may need to be more intense.

If the barking is partly due to a medical condition like hypothyroidism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might be able to fix it easily with your vets help. If it is not, however, you will have your work cut out for you. Always remember to try to enrich the lives of these reactive barkers so they are more likely to understand what is worth barking at, and what should be ignored. A natural, genetic drive for a dog to bark combined with our own mismanagement can create a very difficult situation. Such a dog may need medication along with behavior modification therapy to even make slight improvement. It’s best to act early to prevent such behavior development.


10 Ways To Prepare Your Pet For Boarding


Boarding a pet can be nerve-racking for both the owner and the animal. Here are ten simple tips to help keep things smooth and simple:

  1. Interview the Facility – Call the boarding facility and ask them questions like how long they have been in business and what their references are. Kennels will let you tour them as well. Pay a surprise visit to one before you schedule your pet for boarding. Make mental notes on whether the place is clean, if there are any bad odors, and if there are messes left in the cages. Remember to ask to see where the animals are walked and look for signs that they seem happy and comfortable.
  2. Ask for Recommendations – Call around and talk to different places. Don’t just go for the cheapest kennel. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Ask friends and family if they’ve even boarded their pets, their experiences, and what they think of the one they go to.
  3. Find Out Kennel Requirements – Be prepared and ask about any vaccines required for boarding and if they need a copy of vaccine records. Also find out if they allow you bring your own treats or food. See if they allow you to leave any personal items like a favorite bed or blanket, or toys.
  4. Learn About the Kennel Staff – Find out if the attendant is the same one that will be seeing your pet for most of their stay and see what experience they have with animals. Are they just doing a job or do they care about your pet?
  5. The Kennel Schedule – Ask the staff how often pets are normally walked, fed, or played with. See if your pet will have any kind of interaction with other animals. You may or may not want that.
  6. Feeding Options – It may be a good idea to bring in your pets regular food and request that the staff feed the usual amount you feed them. A sudden change in diet may upset your pet’s stomach, causing diarrhea or vomiting. Being boarded can already cause stress enough to create a bit of gastrointestinal upset. It’s good to make sure you don’t change anything else you don’t have to.
  7. Your Contact Information – Plan for the unexpected. Make sure the facility has the most accurate information to be able to get in contact with you in case of an emergency.
  8. Emergency Instructions – Give the kennel the appropriate instructions in case an emergency does occur. Some kennels will bring pets to certain veterinarians or hospitals in an emergency situation. If you want them to use your regular veterinarian, you need to let them know and give them the proper information to get in contact with your vet, such as name, hours, and phone number. If care is required and the kennel can’t get in contact with you, make sure they have the authorization to make charges if necessary. You don’t want your pet “waiting” for emergency medical attention because the doctor requires credit card authorization.
  9. Medical History – Get a copy of your pets past medical records, such as shots, medications, medical problems, diagnosed conditions, tags and microchip numbers. It’s also good to let the staff know of any personality issues like cage aggression, dog/cat aggression, and a tendency to bolt.
  10. Special Instructions – If your pet has any special instructions, such as medical treatment when boarding and dietary restrictions, make sure you communicate this clearly with the staff. Leave written instructions as well to avoid any confusion. As always, give them your most updated contact information so you can be reached for any questions regarding your pets care.

Boarding Your Pet

10 Ways To Help An Arthritic Pet


Arthritis, or the inflammation or swelling in a joint, can be caused by many things; instability of the immediate ligaments and tendons, unusual bone or joint development, injury or damage to the joint, injury caused by the immune system, or an infection. While anti-inflammatory medications are common treatments for arthritis, another process involves protecting the joints cartilage and “nourishing” the joint. Here are ten tips to help keep your arthritic pet comfortable.

  1. Slip-free Flooring. Place stable rugs or carpeting in areas your pet frequents that are hardwood or tile. This makes it so they can have more sure traction and, therefore, balance. It’s very easy for your arthritic pet to lose their footing and cause injury on these slippery floors.
  2. A Soft Bed. Some beds in pet stores and online are made especially for pets with arthritis, like, hammocks, waterbeds, and beds that come with a lot of extra cushioning. This is because soft beds help support joints and bones, making your pet more comfortable. This is particularly important in lean pets in which bony prominences can continuously rub on hard surfaces.
  3. Ramps or Cubes. Specially designed ramps and cubes can be made of wood or plastic and are offered in pet catalogs, stores, and websites. Furniture and stairs can be complicated obstacles for your aging friend. Cubes and ramps can help pets securely get into or out of bed, climb stairs, or get in and out of your vehicle.
  4. Pain Management. Medication for pain management can make a big, positive difference in the life of an arthritic pet. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can suppress pain and inflammation by reducing production of the class of compounds called prostaglandins. Never treat your pet with drugs at home without seeing your veterinarian. Your vet can help you find out if medication could benefit your pet and what they can safely take.
  5. Peace & Quiet. Some pets, as they age, lose their tolerance and patience. Painful joints can make it harder for them to enjoy playing. Always supervise any playtime with children and, if you feel uncomfortable, consider restricting play from young children. Even big events like holidays can be more distressing for a pet with arthritic pain. They may really want to join in the festivities even though they are painful, injuring themselves or making things worse. It may be a good idea to limit an arthritic dogs time as the center of attention.
  6. Massage. In humans and animals, massage can increase flexibility, circulation, calmness and a general sense of wellness. You can try carefully massaging your pet yourself, but there are also professional animal massage therapists that can help provide your pet a more comprehensive treatment.
  7. Dietary Therapy and Weight Control. Obesity can make arthritis more of a problem. Weight loss will not only make your pet healthier, but it also reduces the amount of work already painful bones and joints have to do. There are also diets out there formulated just to help arthritic animals. Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate integrated into a pet’s diet have been shown to help with arthritis by maintaining weight, reducing pain and improving mobility.
  8. Exercise. Having your pet exercise can help strengthen the ligaments and muscles, reducing the probability and risk of injury. First, see your veterinarian so they can help you determine if regular exercise will help your pet, and what kind of program is best.
  9. Patience. Pets with arthritis are going to need extra time to climb stairs, walk, get in and out of vehicles, and even stand. Be patient with them and don’t rush them. Physically support them or give them extra time to get themselves around.
  10. Grooming. Pets with arthritis have a hard time keeping themselves as clean as they normally would, especially in places that are hard to reach. Make up for it and don’t neglect their grooming. You can help them out with a sanitary trim around the rear end. Also, simply brushing them regularly will keep away tangles and mats that can hurt fragile older skin.

10 ways to help an arthritic pet