Dear Tabby, We’re hoping you can solve a mystery for us: why does our dog kick her leg when we scratch her back and belly? Is she ticklish? Does she enjoy it? Curious About Kicking in The Heights Dear Curious About Kicking, Anyone who has spent any time around a dog has probably witnessed this bizarre behavior. Picture it: you’re scratching your dog’s back and all of the sudden, one (or sometimes both) of her legs start frantically kicking. So weird, right? This is actually a mystery that I hadn’t ever even considered, so I’m happy that you’ve given me this opportunity to dive deep and find out why dogs do this. It’s Called the “Scratch Reflex” As it turns out, dogs have what is called a, “scratch reflex,” which is an involuntary reaction to being petted or scratched in certain … [Read more...] about Why does my dog kick when having belly scratched?
Dear Tabby, We got a puppy! We love him so, but he’s teething and chewing on everything (and everyone) in the house. How do we deal with puppy teething? Teething woes in Woodland Heights Dear Teething Woes, You’re experiencing one of the least-charming aspects of new puppy ownership: the teething phase. There are a number of reasons puppies nip, bite and chew. This behavior starts before puppies even leave the litter. As soon as they start to develop teeth, they begin receiving feedback on their bite strength from their mothers and littermates. Another reason puppies bite is because it makes exciting things happen-- biting earns attention! Physical functions of chewing Aside from the social aspects of chewing, chewing serves a physical function as well. As adult teeth are … [Read more...] about Tips for dealing with teething puppies
Dear Tabby, I have a kitten who won’t stop scratching on my furniture. I’m considering getting her declawed. I hate the idea of it, but I don’t like her destroying my stuff! Is declawing my only option? Frustrated with ratty furniture in Cottage Grove Dear Frustrated, The short answer is no -- declawing your cat isn’t your only option, nor is it a kind or humane option. Scratching behaviors are normal for all cats, wild and domesticated. Not only does scratching a tree (or a sofa!) sharpen a cat’s claws, it is a marking behavior as well as an opportunity to stretch. And most cat owners can vouch for their cat’s yoga-loving tendencies. New York leads charge against declawing Until recently, declawing an indoor-only cat was an accepted practice in the United States. However, in … [Read more...] about Claws come out over declawing
Dear Tabby, My dog is always licking his lips! Why does he do this? It doesn’t seem to just happen at feeding time either--he does it all day, every day (and even in his sleep). Licking Lips in Lazybrook Dear Licking Lips, What an interesting question! This is something that many of us notice our dogs doing, but never really question why they do it. Thanks to your query, I did some digging around and found a few potential answers to your question. Form of communication and affection According to many dog experts, they use their tongues, mouths and lips to communicate much like humans do. The difference is that, while humans use their mouths to communicate via speech, dogs use their mouths to communicate via biting and licking. When you see your dog obsessively licking his … [Read more...] about Here’s why your dog licks lips excessively
Dear Tabby, We have an elderly cat and sometimes I worry that he’s in pain. How can I tell if she’s experiencing any pain and what can I do about it? Concerned About Kitty in Shepherd Park Plaza Dear Concerned About Kitty, This is a very timely question because Animal Pain Awareness Month is coming up next month. The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) launched Animal Pain Awareness Month in the hopes that more pet guardians learn about and recognize pain in their pets. Hiding pain is cats' instinct Unlike other companions, it is hard for a cat to show their pain. Evolution is working against well-meaning guardians. According to the Okaw Veterinary Clinic, as both predators and prey, disguising pain can save a cat’s life: “The easiest prey for a predator to … [Read more...] about How to know if your cat is in pain