Pet Massage – Why to do it?

Your pet’s health is no joking matter. As humans, we know all too well the benefits of massage. So, do these same principals apply to animals? Of course they do! Pet massage as practiced by a qualified professional is grounded in real science – anatomy, kinesiology and psychology – and has practical applications for a pet’s physical and mental health.

Why Dog Massage?

Just like humans and other animals, dogs feel sore and develop stiff joints due to aging, inactivity or recent exertion, according to Lola Michelin, founder of the Northwest School of Animal Massage. Massage can help alleviate these symptoms, and usually starts with petting the afflicted areas to warm the muscles. Then the therapist will gently and repeatedly compress the muscles to pump fluids through the tissues and to relieve pressure on tendons.

Michelin says “regular massage throughout the life of your pet may help prevent the stiffness and pain that contributes to arthritis.”

What About Cat Massage?

Cats, naturally, are a little pickier about their massages. Maryjean Ballner, author of Cat Massage, suggests starting with a “voice massage,” which involves repeating an “endearing phrase” using “a soothing tone.” Then you let the cat get familiar with you by sniffing you. Finally, you start the actual massage, using similar techniques to the ones you’d use for a dog.

According to Ballner, cats benefit from massage in several ways:

Physiologically, massage stimulates the body’s nerves, muscles, circulatory system and lymphatic system. It enhances range of motion, increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, relieves muscle spasms and helps to flush away toxic compounds, such as lactic acid, that cause pain.

You can learn quite a bit online, and there are even many pet massage videos on YouTube. But to be certified, you’ll need to be trained by one of the many pet massage schools.

CAN YOUR CAT’S EYES CHANGE COLOR?

If you’ve had your pet from the time they were young, it’s always fun to compare pictures of them as they age. Our pets grow so quickly in their early years, sometimes a year later they are nearly unrecognizable! In cats, however, you may notice an even bigger change than physical growth. A cat’s eye color often changes as they get older, meaning it is important to recognize the difference between an expected color change and one that may indicate health problems.

Kittens. A majority of kittens are born with blue eyes. As their sight develops, a kitten’s eyes will begin to change and take on a range of different colors, from browns and yellows to greens, oranges and ambers. This change will likely begin somewhere between three to eight weeks of age, and be complete by the time your kitten turns three months old.

Potential Complications in Adult Life. Eye color changes after “kittenhood” could be cause for concern. Watch especially for sudden color changes over a short period of time. Changing color is commonly an indicator of an eye infection, but could also be a sign of a more serious condition. One common eye condition in cats is an eyeball inflammation known as uveitis, which can do permanent damage if left untreated. Symptoms include abnormally yellow, red or orange colored eyes. If recognized, these symptoms should be shown to your vet for proper treatment.

Lost Vision. An older cat whose eyes return to their original blue color may have experienced eye damage or be going blind. Blue eyes are not a definite indication of blindness, but you should always consult your vet if the color change occurs as your cat appears to have any trouble moving around normally.

Kitten eye color changes can be gorgeous to watch occur, but don’t forget to be wary of eye color changes later in life!  If you notice any abnormal changes, please contact your veterinarian! In this case, taking pictures of your pet can be a good thing for two reasons: to make it easy to look for color changes and to hang in your office for a daily dose of cuteness!

Sources: VetInfo

Cruelty Free is the New Black

Vegan fashion designer Tom Ford opened this fall’s New York Fashion Week with a nod to both fashion past and future. The line was notably absent of modern streetwear styles, focusing instead on throwback glamorous looks of decades past. But the designer also tipped the show forward with a faux crocodile skin collection featuring synthetic leather.

The Los Angeles Times called the faux-crocodile jacket a “standout women’s look,” noting that a crocodile-textured belt was also “worthy of Wonder Woman (or, perhaps, her alter ego Diana Prince).”

“Tom Ford’s spring/summer 2019 men’s and women’s runway collection, which kicked off the season’s official slate of New York Fashion Week shows here, felt like an about-face — or at least a reset — for the designer, whose runway clothes have been deliciously and deliriously over-the-top for the last few seasons, culminating in fall/winter 2018’s cacophony of bright color, menagerie of animal prints and assortment of ‘pussy power’ purses and shoes,” the Times’ Adam Tschorn noted.

The move away from crocodile skin shines a light on the cruel practice of exotic skin procurement, which can mirror the fur trade in its treatment of animals for their skins or coats. According to animal rights organization PETA UK, crocodiles can often be electroshocked and have their necks cut open while they’re still fully conscious and metal rods can be forcefully inserted into their spines. “The animals shake vigorously as this happens,” PETA UK noted in an industry exposé. “This killing method has long been shown to be inhumane, and experts have found that crocodilians remain conscious for over an hour after their spinal cord has been severed and their blood vessels cut.”

Ford’s decision to use faux crocodile skin may have to do with his evolving diet. Ford, who said he went vegan last year, explained to the LA Times earlier this year that he’s become “very conscious” about skins, aiming, for the time being, anyway, to use only skins that are food byproducts. “Because whether I’m consuming meat or not, other people are, so these are things that are collected.”

For has also removed fur from his collections, joining a growing number of fashion labels including Gucci, Versace, Donna Karan, and just last month, Burberry.

10 Training Tips for Dogs

Ok, he’s finally home. Training needs to begin immediately, considering the new pattern on the rug, not to mention the dog’s breakfast he’s made of your strappy sandals. But where should you start?
Whether you train your new puppy or dog yourself, take some basic training tips should be tackled right out of the gate. These top 10 tips from professional dog trainers at the top of their game will help get you going.

Aside: When your puppy is old enough, think about getting him or her neutered or spayed, likewise if you adopt a dog. A neutered or spayed dog is more docile, less aggressive, and may be more open to successful training.

Top 10 training tips

1 – Choose your dog’s name wisely and be respectful of it. Of course you’ll want to pick a name for your new puppy or dog that you love, but for the purposes of training it also helps to consider a short name ending with a strong consonant. This allows you to say his name so that he can always hear it clearly. A strong ending (i.e. Jasper, Jack, Ginger) perks up puppy ears—especially when you place a strong emphasize at the end.

If he’s an older dog, he’s probably used to his name; however, changing it isn’t out of the question. If he’s from a shelter, they may neglect to tell you that he has a temporary name assigned to him by staff. If he’s from a breeder, he’ll come to you with a long name, which you may want to shorten, or change. And if he’s coming out of an abusive situation, a new name may represent a fresh start. But we’re lucky: dogs are extremely adaptable. And soon enough, if you use it consistently, he will respond to his new name.

New name or old, as much as possible, associate it with pleasant, fun things, rather than negative. The goal is for him to think of his name the same way he thinks of other great stuff in his life, like “walk,” “cookie,” or “dinner!”

2 – Decide on the “house rules.” Before he comes home, decide what he can and can’t do. Is he allowed on the bed or the furniture? Are parts of the house off limits? Will he have his own chair at your dining table? If the rules are settled on early, you can avoid confusion for both of you.

3 – Set up his private den. He needs “a room of his own.” From the earliest possible moment give your pup or dog his own, private sleeping place that’s not used by anyone else in the family, or another pet. He’ll benefit from short periods left alone in the comfort and safety of his den. Reward him if he remains relaxed and quiet. His den, which is often a crate, will also be a valuable tool for housetraining.

4 – Help him relax when he comes home. When your puppy gets home, give him a warm hot water bottle and put a ticking clock near his sleeping area. This imitates the heat and heartbeat of his litter mates and will soothe him in his new environment. This may be even more important for a new dog from a busy, loud shelter who’s had a rough time early on. Whatever you can do to help him get comfortable in his new home will be good for both of you.

5 – Teach him to come when called. Come Jasper! Good boy! Teaching him to come is the command to be mastered first and foremost. And since he’ll be coming to you, your alpha status will be reinforced. Get on his level and tell him to come using his name. When he does, make a big deal using positive reinforcement. Then try it when he’s busy with something interesting. You’ll really see the benefits of perfecting this command early as he gets older.

6 – Reward his good behavior. Reward your puppy or dog’s good behavior with positive reinforcement. Use treats, toys, love, or heaps of praise. Let him know when’s he’s getting it right. Likewise, never reward bad behavior; it’ll only confuse him.

7 – Take care of the jump up. Puppies love to jump up in greeting. Don’t reprimand him, just ignore his behavior and wait ’til he settles down before giving positive reinforcement. Never encourage jumping behavior by patting or praising your dog when he’s in a “jumping up” position. Turn your back on him and pay him no attention.

8 – Teach him on “dog time.” Puppies and dogs live in the moment. Two minutes after they’ve done something, it’s forgotten about. When he’s doing something bad, try your chosen training technique right away so he has a chance to make the association between the behavior and the correction. Consistent repetition will reinforce what’s he’s learned.

9 – Discourage him from biting or nipping. Instead of scolding him, a great way to put off your mouthy canine is to pretend that you’re in great pain when he’s biting or nipping you. He’ll be so surprised he’s likely to stop immediately. If this doesn’t work, try trading a chew toy for your hand or pant leg. The swap trick also works when he’s into your favorite shoes. He’ll prefer a toy or bone anyway. If all else fails, break up the biting behavior, and then just ignore him.

10 – End training sessions on a positive note. Excellent boy! Good job, Jasper! He’s worked hard to please you throughout the training. Leave him with lots of praise, a treat, some petting, or five minutes of play. This guarantees he’ll show up at his next class with his tail wagging—ready to work!

WHAT DO DOGS AND CATS REALLY THINK ABOUT HUMANS?

You come home after a long day and are greeted by your pet. How do they say hello? Many dog owners can cite tails of dogs jumping for joy at the sight of them, while some cat owners may report a quick, affectionate brush against their ankle. These different behaviors often leave us wondering – what do our pets think when they see or hear us?

A study conducted at the University of Helsinki may tell us more about how dogs see their humans. The study presented dogs with photos of both familiar and unfamiliar human and dog faces and recorded the dogs’ responses. Participating dogs scanned familiar faces much longer than those they did not recognize, indicating that they have the ability to distinguish between faces AND that they actually enjoy it

These dogs had not been trained to recognize faces, and yet they seemed eager to complete the task. Our pups really can recognize us, and do look forward to seeing us each day!
As for cats, a study out of the University of Tokyo confirmed that our favorite felines can distinguish their owner’s voice from another human’s voice. However, the question remains as to whether or not they will react. Historically, cats have become less domesticated than dogs, which explains why they act more independent. The independent cat is less likely to respond to their owner’s call then a dog is, and may not even see their owner as a human at all.

That’s right, yet another recent study tells us that cats see their owners as, well, big cats. In his new book, Cat Sense, Dr. John Bradshaw explains that cats, though fiercely independent, connect to their owners because they see them as the “mama cat.” This is why a cat is prone to leap into freshly cleaned laundry or onto the table as you unpack groceries; as you put things down, your cat thinks you are providing them with something.

So dogs can recognize our faces, and cats think of us as big, goofy cats. In any case, we’re happy they consider us a part of the family!

6 Reasons Why You Should Start Working Out With Your Dog ASAP

1. They Motivate You

In a study by researchers at Purdue University, when subjects received emails about the benefits of taking your dog for a walk, they increased their walks from an average of 10 minutes to 80 minutes per week. What researchers found was that the participant’s own health concerns were second to their pooch’s.“When we were surveying why they increased their walking, most of them reported that it was for their dog’s benefit, instead of focusing on the health benefits they were getting themselves for increasing their activity,” head researcher Elizabeth Richards said to JConline.
Using your dog as motivation to take a walk is a great way to get outside more. Plus, it’s a win-win for both you and your pup, who will come home exhausted and ready to cuddle up for a post-walk nap.

2. They Don’t Cancel On You

Unlike your friend who you (try to) go to spinning class with on Sundays, your dog can’t call to tell you that she can’t make it this week. And having a workout buddy is another great motivator – many studies like this one have shown that having a workout buddy that relies on you to do well can influence you to push harder.

3. They Never Complain

Aside from the occasional whimper from a tired pup who really doesn’t want to take a walk, your dog is going to be thrilled at your newfound desire to take him outside. Science proves that emotions are contagious, including your dog’s tail-wagging enthusiasm to hit the pavement.

4. You’ll Get Fresh Air

Doing lunges in a crowded, sweaty gym may be effective for your glutes, but it also makes you want to jump into the shower and never leave. Throwing the frisbee outside with your dog is not only a great way to escape the confines of the gym, but natural scents like lavender and jasmine can also reduce stress levels and elevate your mood. Plus, this is a great way to get bronze for those of us too antsy to sit still and tan.

5. It Doesn’t Feel Like A Workout

There’s no sugar coating 30 minutes on the elliptical – it looks, smells and feels like a strenuous workout. Playing catch with your dog, however, feels more like playtime than sculpting time. By distracting yourself and not thinking about working out, you won’t be constantly checking your watch to see when that 30 minutes is up. A workout with your dog just flies by like a tennis ball whooshing through the air!

6. It’s Free

What’s great about our pups is that they don’t care what you throw- a stick, a water bottle, your shoe- they’re still happy to run and retrieve it. Working out with your dog saves money on gym memberships and weekly Zumba classes. Instead of spending money, you’ll be paid in slobbery kisses!

**Before you end up dragging your dog unwillingly down the street, make sure your pup isn’t facing any health problems by increasing his activity levels.**

UNDERSTANDING CAT LANGUAGE

Cats are famously elusive creatures. Affectionate one minute and aloof the next, they have a reputation for being less transparent and harder to read than dogs. Many humans struggle to communicate with their cats, even when they have been living together for many years. Others find them indifferent and uninterested. The reality is that communicating with cats usually does not come intuitively to humans.
Each cat develops their own unique and fascinating way of speaking to their owners. Here are some ways that your kitty may be speaking to you.

Displaying tummy

When a cat rolls over on its belly, that means you’ve won its trust. This posture puts the cat in a very vulnerable position as its sensitive belly is exposed and it cannot run away as easily. It is likely your cat feels safe in your presence, but for many cats it can be a betrayal of that trust if you rub them on the belly and will result in a nip and scratch.

Blinking

You can tell a lot about a cat from how quickly it is blinking. If your cat is blinking slowly and languidly, that is often a sign she trusts you enough to let her guard down around you. That is because when cats don’t trust someone, they never let them out of their sight. To return the affection, blink back at your cat in a slow, unhurried manner. This will communicate to her that you acknowledge her presence and are not going to harm her.

Tail placement

A cat’s tail indicates its emotional state. When it is relaxed and held in an upright position, that means the cat is feeling friendly. On the other hand, a rigid tail indicates tension and caution, while one that is held low indicates fear. If you see your cat’s tail puffed up with its fur standing on end, that means she’s angry or afraid and is tying to look larger and more dominant. A cat whose tail is jerking back and forth is annoyed. Finally, a cat whose tail is lazily draped around her is feeling affectionate or relaxed.

Direct stare

Avoid looking your cat directly in the eye, as this is how cats threaten others. It could be for this reason that cats tend to be drawn to people who ignore them, rather than those who pursue them. When a cat is frightened, its pupils grow bigger. This is to allow the cat to absorb as much information as possible. When the cat is angry or aroused, its pupils narrow in order to enable it to zoom in on tiny details. Do note, however, that since cats’ pupils also change size according to the light, you should pay attention to its body language when trying to figure out how it is feeling.

Purring

The mysterious purring sound cats make can be confusing. While purring is usually associated with happiness and comfort, some cats also purr when they are hurt, hungry or tense. To be sure of how your cat is really feeling, observe her body language. If your cat seems relaxed and happy, you can probably take her purring to mean she’s please to be around you.

Cats can easily sense their owner’s mood. If you are sad or anxious, your cat most likely knows. Understanding and responding to your cat’s language can help deepen the bond you have with each other.