Monday, August 31, 2015

3 Ways to Give Your Cat a Pill Without Being "Eaten Alive"

By Dr. Becker

If you’re like the majority of people owned by a cat, pilling little Fluffy – otherwise known as trying to place a tiny, hard object into the mouth of an unwilling creature with sharp claws and teeth – is not something you look forward to.
If you’ve never had to do it, you’re probably thinking it’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s the people who’ve attempted this feat in the past that recoil in fear when their kitty’s veterinarian hands them a bottle of pills or a dietary supplement in pill form.
Fortunately, there are a few different techniques for pilling a cat, because every cat is a little different, and what works for one may not work for another.
Note: the following method works only for medications or supplements that can be given with food.

Pilling Advance Prep

The first steps in giving your kitty a pill or supplement should be taken long before she actually needs that pill or supplement. The goal is to help your cat learn to tolerate the handling that will be necessary to pill her, and also to take liquids and solids from a syringe or pill gun.
First get your cat used to being gently handled around her face and mouth, using treats to reward her for allowing the handling and to associate the activity with something pleasant. Make the initial face-and-mouth handling sessions short, and follow up with a meal, petting or playtime.
As your kitty gets more comfortable with having her face touched, you can begin using your thumb and middle finger to gently lift up slightly on her mouth, forming a C shape with your fingers. Place a special treat like a small morsel of meat that doesn’t need to be chewed into her mouth or immediately upon letting go.
The objective is to get her accustomed to the pilling motion and associate it with something positive.

Pilling in 5 Steps

Now that you’ve been fake-pilling your kitty for awhile, the day may come when you need to do it for real:
  1. Pick your cat’s favorite treat (you may need to try out a few different kinds to learn which one works best).
  2. Treat portion sizes must be small enough and soft enough so that your cat doesn’t chew, only licks and swallows. Chewing the pill can release a nasty taste into the treat; in addition, many medications must be swallowed whole to be metabolized properly.
  3. Have several treats ready before you begin, so that you can offer them in rapid succession once the fun begins.
  4. Hide the pill in one treat, and use your other hand to seal the pill in (so kitty won’t smell medication on the outside of the treat).
  5. Give a pill-free treat, followed by the treat with the pill, followed by another pill-free treat.
Since cats are extremely clever, it’s a good idea to vary the number of treats you give at each pilling session, as well as the order in which you give the treat holding the pill, so kitty doesn’t learn to predict which treat holds the pill.


Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Syringe- and Pill Gun-Training

It’s also a great idea to teach your cat early on to take things from a syringe or pill gun.
Start by rubbing a soft treat or some moist food on the outside of the device and letting her lick it clean. This will get her used to the feel of the thing in or near her mouth.
Next, place some moist food or tiny pieces of treat inside the device and gently push them into her mouth in very small amounts.
Once she’s reasonably comfortable taking solids from the device, switch to a few drops of water in the syringe (which she probably won’t enjoy) followed immediately by a syringe with a treat.
The goal is to get kitty comfortable taking liquid and swallowing the pill so the pill doesn’t get stuck in her esophagus. If she’ll take a small amount of broth, tuna juice, or soft food immediately after her pill, it can also help with proper digestion of the medication.
Warning regarding syringe dosing of liquid medication: A quite common cause of aspiration pneumonia is faulty administration of liquid medication either administered by drench (drench is when a stomach tube is passed down the back of the throat), or by a dose syringe. Any liquid that's given via syringe, whether medication or food, must not be given any faster than the animal can swallow, or the risk of aspiration pneumonia becomes very real.

What If My Cat’s Medication or Supplement Can’t Be Given with Food?

Ideally, your veterinarian can prescribe medication or supplements that can be given with food, because “treating” kitty at pill time as described above is the easiest and best way to keep her stress level down.
However, if the medication has to be given away from food, I recommend you practice the steps below a few times in your mind prior to actually engaging your kitty; the more efficient you are with your cat, the smoother the process will go.
(These instructions are for right-handed people. If you’re left-handed, you’ll need to adjust them accordingly.)
  1. Place kitty on a sturdy, flat surface like a tabletop. Your cat will naturally try to back away from the pill, so you want to rest your right arm on the table and tuck him into the crook of your right elbow.
  2. Trying to approach your cat from the front will have him backing away and escaping from you and the pill. That’s why your body should be behind the cat, with both of you facing the same direction.
  3. Hold the pill in your left hand.
  4. With your right hand, place your right thumb on one side of your cat’s face on the cheek and your index finger on the other cheek and gently lift his nose toward the ceiling. This will make his mouth drop open a bit.
  5. Now use a finger of your left hand to open his lower jaw wider. This position prevents him from being able to bite because he can’t control his lower jaw.
  6. Place the pill as far back as possible into his mouth, then let go of his face, but keep him tucked into your elbow. If he licks his lips, it’s an indication the pill has gone down.
  7. Please note: It’s futile, not to mention dangerous, to try to give your cat a pill with his head in a natural position. You will likely be bitten, which is why you must position his head vertically.
  8. Many cats actually pretend they’ve swallowed the pill when they haven’t. As soon as they get free, out pops the pill and the joke’s on you.
  9. So don’t let kitty go before checking his mouth for the pill. Cats figure out pretty quickly we’re waiting for licking motions and many clever felines have been known to make the licking motion with the pill still in their mouth.
  10. If you can still see the pill in there, re-open your cat’s mouth as described above, reach a finger in and move the pill further back on the tongue if possible. If that doesn’t work, let kitty spit the pill out and start over.
  11. If possible, you can try to squirt a small amount of water into your cat’s mouth (see discussion above about teaching your cat to accept a syringe) to encourage him to swallow. This helps float the pill off the tongue and sends it on its way down to the stomach.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Vacationing with Your Pet? Great Tips to Make it Memorable!

Knowing more pet parents are choosing to bring their four legged furry family members along on vacation, more hotels and vacation destinations are welcoming pets. 

For proof of this trend in travel all you need to do is Google “traveling with pets” and see how many results pop up!

Speaking from personal experience often traveling with at least two of our three dogs, staying at hotels and vacation home rentals we have had many great experiences and some not so great experiences as well.

Often, when chain hotels offer pet friendly rooms, they are not generally the pristine rooms you see in the photos on the website. We generally find that we get tired rooms, though clean and neat, are ready for renovation. 

They also are generally on lower floors, which is a good thing for making late night and early morning potty walks easier, are not on a high floor and may not have that ocean view you were hoping for, even though you are paying the same or an even a higher room rate. 

We have had our best hotel experiences at the non chain fully pet friendly hotels, these hotels are as dedicated to making your pet’s stay as comfortable and accommodating for your pets as it is for you. It really pays to do your research and be prepared.

Here are some tips and resources to help prepare when bringing four legged family members along on vacation.

There is no doubt that sharing your vacation with your pets will make your trip even more memorable, as long as you do your research and prepare. 

All of us at Cherrybrook wish you safe and happy travels!

Claudia Loomis

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Truth Behind Your Cat's Quirky Sleep Habits

By Dr. Becker

If you share your life with a feline companion, you’re aware that cats love to sleep. They sleep a lot… as in, 16 to 18 hours a day.
And because Fluffy spends so much of her life sawing logs, as her naturally curious guardian you’ve probably found yourself asking questions like, “How can she sleep so much?” Or, “She’s sleeping again? She just woke up!” Or, “What’s with the twitching and hissing? Is she dreaming?”

But Seriously… Do Cats Dream?

Just like humans, cats cycle through multiple stages of sleep, from periods of slow wave sleep to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the stage of slumber during which most dreaming occurs
According to Matthew Wilson of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, kitties dream about their daily activities just as we do.1 The part of the brain called the hippocampus controls memory, and it is wired very similarly from one vertebrate or mammal to the next. The hippocampus of a rat contains all the same pieces as that of a dog, cat, human, and other animals.
Even more interesting is that the electrical activity pattern in a sleeping cat’s brain is remarkably similar to that of a sleeping human’s.

Cats Probably Dream About Daily Life Just as People Do

Dreams in the non-REM stage involve brief snapshots of the day’s happenings. During deeper REM sleep, dreams last much longer and can revolve around experiences that happened days, weeks, months, and even years ago.
Humans enter REM sleep about every 90 minutes; for cats it’s about every 25 minutes.
When your kitty enters REM sleep, his body knows to “turn off” the large muscles that control his arms and legs to prevent him from acting out his dreams while sleeping.
However, the off switch in the brain doesn’t function perfectly 100 percent of the time, which is why animals occasionally twitch or thrash around in their sleep.
Your kitty in REM sleep may display a range of body movements and sounds that indicate he’s dreaming about his day. He may twitch his tail, wiggle his whiskers, extend and retract his claws, raise his lip in a bit of a snarl, and murmur, chatter or hiss. With a little imagination, you may even be able to guess what he’s dreaming about by observing the way his body moves.
As pets age, the off switch becomes less effective, resulting in more physical movement during sleep.2 Sometimes the movements are so sudden they wake the animal up, causing him to be momentarily startled and confused.
In an attempt to interpret cat dreams, researchers have tinkered with the suppression mechanism (the off switch) so that motor activity was possible during REM sleep.
The result was “sleepwalking” cats that acted out behaviors they’d normally perform while awake, such as walking, swatting at objects with their front paws, and pouncing on prey.

Rats Replay Memories in Their Head as They Go About Their Day

Several years ago, MIT’s Wilson used electrodes to record the brain activity of rats as they ran around a track, and also as they slept. He observed that while the rats were in REM sleep, they appeared to be running the track in their dreams. About half the time, the rats’ REM-sleep brain activity repeated the same pattern as their brain activity when they ran.
According to Wilson, the rats’ brain activity in both situations was so similar he could determine the location of the dreaming rats on the track, and whether they were standing still or running.3 He assumes the same thing occurs in pets.
"My guess is -- unless there is something special about rats and humans -- that cats and dogs are doing exactly the same thing," Wilson said.
More recently, Wilson has examined what goes on inside a rat’s brain during waking hours. He discovered that the rodents appear to replay memories in their head as they go about their daily life, whether they’re eating or just resting quietly. He believes the rats are thinking about the past, and possibly contemplating the future.
"The idea that rats may actually be thinking — just as humans think when they're sitting, appearing not to be doing anything — suggests the full range of cognitive abilities that we have," said Wilson.

Cats Waking Up Slowly from Deep Sleep Act Out a Specific Sequence of Movements

According to animal behavior consultant and cat expert Amy Shojai, a cat’s sense of hearing and smell remain active during 70 percent of her sleep time. This is so that she can react quickly to “the squeak of a mouse or smell of a rat.”4
The other 30 percent of the time, she’s likely to wake up more slowly and with predictable sequential movements that include blinking, yawning, and stretching, followed by first flexing the front legs, then the back, and finally the rear legs. Most cats also do a bit of grooming when they first awake.
Typically, geriatric cats and very young kittens sleep more than healthy adult cats
However, all cats tend to sleep more when the weather is cold, overcast, or rainy.
As you’ve probably noticed if you spend any time around cats, dawn and dusk tend to be party time for felines. Fortunately, most pet cats adapt to their human’s sleep schedule. Many older kitties, however, start prowling the house again in the wee hours as they get up in years.

Sources & References:

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Born to Run: 12 of the Best Canine Companions to Run With

By Dr. Becker

If you’re looking for a canine workout partner, look no further than these 12 dogs that were born to run. (And look first at your local shelter or rescue organization for a breed or breed mix that loves to run).
Before you start exercising with your dog, have your veterinarian check him out to ensure he’s in good enough condition to run with you.
Always keep an eye on your dog for signs of extreme fatigue, limping, excessive panting, heaving sides, and other signs she’s overdoing it.
Don’t push your luck by running in extreme heat, cold, or high humidity; when the air quality is poor; or where road conditions are hazardous.

12 Dog Breeds That Were Born to Run

Jack Russell Terrier

Small in body but with oodles of energy to burn, the Jack Russell can run for surprisingly long intervals. And he’s fast, reaching speeds up to 25 mph in short bursts.
Brittany Spaniel
The blazing fast Brittany is often called “the breeze.” She’s a medium-size sporting dog with high energy and a light build perfect for running.
Dalmatians were actually bred to run alongside carriages and horseback riders, so a love of running side-by-side with their humans is in their genes.
With their long legs and sleek bodies, Greyhounds are built for speed and have been clocked at 45 mph. In between energetic bursts of speed-running, Greyhounds can be found napping on the couch.
The Whippet is thought to be a blend of Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, and terrier. With that lineage, it’s no wonder they’re sometimes called “the poor man’s racehorse.” Believe it or not, a Whippet can run 200 yards in under 12 seconds!
German Shorthaired Pointer
This breed is athletic, with tremendous endurance, and those muscular hindquarters are custom-built for running. Since he requires exercise every day, he’s the perfect companion for a long run or bike ride.
Standard Poodle

Don’t let the hairdo fool you – the Standard Poodle is loaded with energy and was originally bred as a gun dog and water retriever, making her an excellent partner for long runs.
Australian Cattle Dog
This dog was bred to herd livestock on ranches in Australia, so a love of running is in her blood. She can go for miles, and she doesn’t like to skip a day, so she’s an excellent choice if you need occasional prodding to lace up your running shoes.
Airedale Terrier
Airedales do well in hotter climates thanks to their short, wiry coats. This isn’t a large or heavily muscled dog, so shorter runs (10K or less) are well suited to his energy level and stamina.
Border Collie
Better known for their incredible intelligence and skill at flyball and agility events, Border Collies are also great runners and have been clocked at speeds up to 30 mph.
The agile “grey ghost” is adaptable to all types of running. She excels at short, quick bursts of speed and can cover long distances just as easily. Her short coat makes running in warm weather a breeze, and she’s also confident on rough terrain and trails.
Siberian Husky
If you live in a cold climate, a Husky is the perfect running companion. This dog was bred to pull sleds, so endurance running is in his blood.

  Sources and References

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, June 8, 2015

12 Signs Your Pet Is Too Hot: Can You Recognize Them All?

By Dr. Becker
Sunday, June 21st is the first day of summer this year, and after a particularly long cold winter in many parts of the US, I know we’re all looking forward to sunshine, warmer temperatures, and getting outdoors. As enjoyable as this time of year is though, it’s important to play it safe when it comes to fun in the sun for furry family members.
Our dogs have a higher body temp than we do, and less ability to cool down. Humans are covered with sweat glands, but a dog's are confined to her nose and the pads of her feet.
An overheating dog can only regulate her body temperature through panting, which isn’t terribly efficient in hot weather. In a very short period of time, an overheated dog can suffer critical damage to her brain, heart, liver and nervous system.

Recognizing the Signs of Overheating in Your Pet

Heatstroke -- the ultimate and often deadly result of overheating -- is caused by a dangerous elevation in an animal's body temperature. While it most often occurs in dogs left in cars during the summer months, it can also happen in late spring and the first weeks of summer if a pet is exposed to high temperatures before he or she has acclimated to the heat.
Symptoms of overheating include:
Heavy panting or rapid breathing Elevated body temperature
Excessive thirst Weakness, collapse
Glazed eyes Increased pulse and heartbeat
Vomiting, bloody diarrhea Seizures
Bright or dark red tongue, gums Excessive drooling
Staggering, stumbling Unconsciousness
In addition to hot vehicles, other contributors to pet overheating include humid conditions, lack of drinking water, obesity, and overexertion. Some pets are at higher risk for heat-related illness than others, including brachycephalic breeds (dogs and cats with flat faces and short noses), older pets, puppies and kittens, animals that are ill or have a chronic health condition, pets not used to warm weather, and any pet left outside in hot weather.

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Heat

  1. Never, ever leave your pet alone in a parked car on a warm day. Not even for a minute. On a warm day, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise quickly into the danger zone. For example, on an 85-degree day it takes only 10 minutes for the temperature inside your parked car to climb to 102 degrees. In a half hour, it can hit 120 degrees. Leaving windows cracked doesn’t drop the temperature inside the vehicle. Leaving your car running with the air conditioner on is dangerous for a whole host of reasons.
  2. Leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle in extreme heat or cold is a criminal act in several states and municipalities. Most statutes have rescue provisions that allow certain individuals – for example police officers, firefighters, animal control officers, store employees -- to do whatever is necessary to rescue an animal trapped in a vehicle in extreme temperatures.
    On summer days, it’s best to leave your pet home where she can stay cool, hydrated, and safe.
  1. Don't walk or exercise your pet on hot pavement. This can be a tricky one to remember (unless you’re in the habit of walking your dog barefoot), but it’s extremely important. Not only can pavement on a hot day burn your dog’s paws, but the heat rising from concrete or asphalt can quickly overheat an animal that lives close to the ground. Also don't allow your pet to stand, walk or rest on hot outdoor surfaces like sidewalks or parking lots. 
  1. Exercise your dog during the coolest parts of the day. In most locations, this means early in the morning or after sunset. Try to stay in the shade during daylight hours, and no matter the time of day, don't overdo outdoor exercise or play sessions. Even on an overcast day or in the evening, a long period of physical exertion in hot weather can cause heatstroke in your dog.
  2. A good rule of thumb is if outdoor temps hit 90 degrees, your pet should be indoors where it's cool.
  1. Provide plenty of fresh clean drinking water at all times. In addition to overheating, your pet can become dehydrated very rapidly in warm weather. A good general guideline is that a healthy dog should drink between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. And if she’ll be outside for any length of time, she should have access to complete shade. Periodically encourage her to play in the sprinkler or gently hose her down with cool water to prevent overheating.

Attention City Dwellers with Cats: Beware of Feline High Rise Syndrome

While overheating is less of a problem for cats than dogs (because kitties tend to find a nice cool napping spot on hot days), during the warmer months of the year more than a few city dwelling cats fall from open windows and fire escapes to the ground below. This is known as Feline High Rise Syndrome, and it can have devastating consequences.
Well-intentioned cat guardians who live in tall buildings often allow their kitties to sun themselves in open windows and on fire escapes. It sounds safe enough, however, the feline prey drive can lead a cat to try to pounce on moving birds or insects. Falls from tall buildings often result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs, and even death.
A few facts about High Rise Syndrome:
  • When a cat falls from a high perch it's unintentional, not deliberate. Cats are smart. They don't leap from high places because they know it's dangerous. 
  • The reason cats fall is usually because they are intensely focused on something outside, perhaps a bird, and either lose their balance or their prey instinct sends them out the window before they realize what they're doing. Another cause of falls is normal muscle twitching and other movement during deep sleep. A kitty can roll off a windowsill while changing sleep positions. 
  • While cats won't intentionally jump from a high perch, they also don't realize they can't dig their claws into brick, concrete, or steel surfaces to help prevent a fall if they lose their balance. 
  • When a cat falls from a high perch, he doesn't land squarely on all fours. He lands with his feet slightly apart, which is how serious head and pelvic injuries occur. And falling shorter distances can actually be more dangerous, because kitty doesn't have enough time to adjust his body to land correctly. 
  • Even if your cat survives a fall in relatively good condition, she'll land in an unfamiliar, frightening place on a sidewalk or street and can easily run away before you can get to her.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

3 Signs a Dog Is About to Bite... And 5 Things to Stop It

By Dr. Becker

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which serves as a reminder each year that dog bites can and do happen… and most are preventable. An estimated 70 million dogs live in family homes across the US, and millions of people, primarily children, are bitten each year.
From the American Veterinary Medical Association:1
  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog bites were the 11th leading cause of non-fatal injury to children ages 1 to 4, 9th for ages 5 to 9, and 10th for ages 10 to 14 from 2003 to 2012.
  • The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid just under $500 million in dog bite claims.
  • According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 27,000 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • The US Postal Service reports that over 5,500 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • The American Humane Association reports that 66 percent of bites among children occur on the head and neck.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Becoming a Biter

  • Research the type of dog that might be best suited to your family and lifestyle before selecting a pet. Impulse adoptions or purchases are very often a bad idea. If this is your first dog, also consider talking with a veterinarian, a well-informed shelter or rescue employee, a reputable breeder, or other knowledgeable person.
  • Insure your dog is well-socialized and trained to respond consistently to basic obedience commands like sit, stay, no, and come. Proper and ongoing socialization is the most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of behavior problems.
  • Provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to exercise. Not only is regular, heart-thumping aerobic exercise necessary for physical conditioning, it also provides the mental stimulation every dog needs to be well-balanced.
  • Playtime is important, but you should avoid games that are over-stimulating to your dog or that pit him against you, like wrestling or tug-of-war. And never put your dog in a situation where he feels taunted or threatened.
  • Always use a leash when you’re out in public with your pet. And remember that it’s not enough to simply put a leash or harness on a large dog with unpredictable behavior. You must be able to control him regardless of who or what he encounters. If you can’t, it’s time for additional obedience training, and in the meantime, dog-walking duties should go to the person in your household who can successfully maintain control of your pet in public.
  • If you allow your dog out alone in a fenced yard, make sure gates are secure and there are no other escape routes available. If she’s a jumper, your fence must be higher than she can jump. If she’s a digger or chewer, you’ll need to take whatever precautions are necessary to insure she isn’t able to tunnel her way out of your yard.
  • Take proactive care of your pet’s health. Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet, make sure she is well-exercised, brush her teeth, bathe, and groom her regularly, and take her for annual wellness visits with your veterinarian.
  • Proceed with caution when it comes to vaccinating your pet. Evidence is mounting that the rabies vaccine in particular is contributing to aggression in some dogs. Since rabies vaccines are required by law, insist on the 3-year vaccine and avoid the 1-year shot. I recommend you ask your holistic vet for the homeopathic rabies vaccine detox Lyssin after each rabies vaccine.
  • Also, discuss with your vet the best time to spay or neuter your dog. Beyond reproductive concerns, intact pets are sometimes more aggressive than animals that have been neutered. I do not recommend leaving a dog with aggressive tendencies intact, but I also don’t advocate a cookie-cutter approach to neutering all puppies. Timing of this procedure is critical, and should be decided upon based on each dog’s health status and personality.
  • Teach children – yours and any others who come around your dog – how to behave with an animal. Children are by far the most frequent victims of dog bites. They must learn to be both cautious and respectful in the presence of any dog, including their own. And never under any circumstances leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

More Pointers for Dog Guardians

Just as a child’s behavior is different than an adult’s, your puppy’s behavior will change as he matures. As he develops physically and socially, his conduct will also transform in subtle and perhaps not-so-subtle ways. Don’t assume, even if you’ve done an excellent job socializing and training him, that he is a “finished product.” Lifelong learning, socialization, and mental stimulation are essential if your pet is to become and remain a balanced individual.
Ongoing training and proactive behavior modification when a problem might be developing will prevent any burgeoning issues of aggressiveness.
Dogs often need a refresher obedience or socialization course between 2-3 years of age. If you aren’t completely pleased with any of your dog’s behaviors, stick with training until she gets there.

If you adopt a dog, especially a puppy, during the colder months of the year, he’ll need to be socialized once warm weather arrives to all the sights, sounds, and other stimuli of summer.
Dog bites are more common in hot weather. This is probably because more children are outdoors playing with their pets, coupled with dogs becoming irritable and aggressive in the heat.

Exercise Caution in These Situations

Be careful when approaching a strange dog. Don't try to pet any dog before he sees you and sniffs you.

Don't turn your back to an unfamiliar dog or try to run away. The natural instinct of many dogs will be to give chase.

Don't attempt to interact with a dog that is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy or bone, or a mother who is with her puppies.
Signs a dog is about to bite:
  • She suddenly freezes and holds her body rigid
  • She stands with her front legs splayed and her head low, looking at you
  • She curls her lip to show teeth
If you feel a dog is a threat:
  • Stand motionless with your hands at your sides
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog
  • If the dog loses interest, back away slowly
  • If the dog comes at you anyway, offer him anything you're holding – a purse or jacket, for example – or anything that may distract him
  • If you wind up on the ground, curl into a ball, put your hands over your ears and stay still – resist the urge to yell, scream, or move around

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

9 Facts About Exotic Shorthair Cats

By Dr. Becker
Persian cats, with their long soft coats and sweet personalities, are the most popular cat breed in the US – and have been for more than 30 years.1 So it’s not surprising that the number twospot goes to the exotic shorthair, Persians’ short-haired cousin.
Exotic shorthairs are just like Persians except for one distinction, their coat. While most everyone falls in love with Persians’ personalities, not every falls in love with their high-maintenance coats. Exotics nip this problem in the bud, as they have gentle, loving dispositions and a short, easy to care for coat.
If you’re considering adding an exotic to your family, Paw Nation has compiled some important (and interesting) facts you should know.2

9 Facts About Exotic Shorthair Cats

1. They’ve Only Been Around for 50 Years
The exotic shorthair breed began in the 1950s when American shorthairs were bred with Persians. Burmese and Russian blues were also bred with Persians to get the short-haired gene.
2. They Can Be Extreme or Traditional
Extreme exotic shorthairs have a very distinct appearance with flatter faces, tiny noses, and large eyes. Traditional exotic shorthairs have less flat faces and slightly longer noses.
3. Low Maintenance
Exotics are sometimes called “the lazy man’s Persian,” because they require only weekly combing (while Persians require intensive grooming). They have a dense undercoat that gives them a puffy appearance, but even still they have little to no shedding.
4. Love of Lounging
If you’re looking for a cat who loves to cuddle, exotics are it. They tend to follow their owners around the house and will jump into your lap as much as possible.
5. They Love Companionship
Exotics love the company of others, be it from their humans or other cats (and even dogs). If you’d like more than one pet, exotics are therefore a good choice as they tend to get along well with others. Exotics are also a good choice for people who are home often… but not for those who are gone for long hours each day.
6. They’re Playful
Persians are known for being lazy, but exotics enjoy playing with toys. While they’re still lap cats at heart, exotics can be quite playful as well.
7. Garfield
It’s thought that the comic-strip cat Garfield is an exotic shorthair, due to his appearance. However, most exotics are far friendlier, and not as lazy, as the cartoon cat.
8. They Need to Warm Up to Strangers
Exotics are very affectionate toward their families, but they shy away from strangers. If an exotic meets someone new, it will take a little time for him to feel comfortable around the person.
9. A Favorite Cat Breed
As mentioned, exotics are the second most popular cat breed in America, a title they’ve held for the last three years.

Are You Thinking of Adding an Exotic to Your Family?

There are a number of factors to consider when adding a cat to your family, but if you’ve fallen in love with a specific breed, like an exotic, a breeder isn’t your only option. There are purebred cat rescues located across the US where you can find the perfect exotic for your family, at a lower cost than you’d pay straight from a breeder.
For example, one purebred cat rescue in the Midwest has adoption fees of  $150-$300 for adults and $200 -$350 for kittens. A private breeder may charge $1,600 for a purebred kitten. Price is not the only factor in adopting a pet, of course, but when you adopt from a rescue organization or shelter you have the added benefit of helping out a cat in need of a home.
If you want to see an exotic kitten in action, see the video below, which shows one 2.5-month-old girl playing with her favorite toy.

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Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.