Posts Tagged ‘pheromones’

Admit it: your cat has an awesome life. And now that you’ve added food puzzles and the perfect scratching post, your cat’s life is darn near perfect.

But is it possible to improve upon perfection? Your cat says, “Yes!”

Here are 4 more ways you can improve your cat’s life today:

  1. Multiple litterboxes. This is especially important when living with several cats or other pets in the house. Cats often won’t cross a “barrier” created by another cat or pet blocking the litterbox. Having extra litterboxes in different areas of the house (including on each floor of a multi-level home) gives your cats choices and helps prevent accidents.
  2. A safe space. Cats like to hide out and nap in private spots, without worry of being harassed by pets or people. Popular hiding spots include an empty box, dark closet, beneath furniture, and high up on cabinets. If your cat doesn’t have a hiding spot, try to provide one, such as a covered cat bed.
  3. Play time. Cats are natural hunters, so look for toys they can “chase.” Pick up some cat-safe toys that require your involvement, and get silly with your cat.  Bonus: Play time helps your cat bond with you and burn calories.
  4. Calming pheromones. Cats can feel more relaxed and less territorial when they are exposed to pheromones (chemical signals) just like the ones they secrete from glands in their face (which they love to rub on you and everything in their environment.) Try Feliway plug-ins to send a chemical message to your cat that says, “Relax.”

It’s your cat’s home — you’re just living in it!

Tips for this blog post are based on advice by feline care expert Dr. Ilona Rodan, via dvm360 Magazine.

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On Tuesday, we learned about the signs and causes of anxiety in pets. Today, we will focus on treatment methods of anxiety in pets, to reduce the chances that a pet will be relinquished or euthanized due to anxiety-related behavioral problems.

The top reasons for pet relinquishment are:

  • house soiling
  • destruction of property
  • hyperactivity
  • aggression

Dogs and cats can exhibit the behaviors listed above in response to a real or perceived threat. A real threat incites fear, whereas a perceived threat causes anxiety in pets. 

Treatment of anxiety in pets is often a 3-part process:

Avoidance of fear object + behavioral modification and conditioning + anxiolytics

Anxiolytics are medications or supplements used to treat anxiety. They can be synthetic pheromones, pharmaceuticals, or nutritional supplements.

Synthetic pheromones (such as D.A.P. for dogs and Feliway for cats) mimic chemical secretions that animals produce as a way of communicating to themselves and others of their species.
Cats secrete calming pheromones from glands in their face. (By contrast, the pheromones secreted during urine spraying incite aggressive, territorial behavior.)
Dog-calming synthetic pheromones mimic pheromones found in bitches’ milk.

Pharmaceuticals (drugs) target chemicals within the brain to achieve their proper balance, which helps provide mood stability. Unfortunately, drugs can have side effects; also, most anti-anxiety drugs are labeled for human use. Although these medicines have been safely used in pets, they are not pet-specific.

Nutritional supplements use natural ingredients to achieve proper balance in brain chemicals. They do not have the side effects found in pharmaceuticals, and they are prepared and labeled specifically for pets. Zylkene and Solliquin are two pet-specific nutritional supplements used to treat anxiety in pets.

Pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements are available through your pet’s veterinarian.

Coming up in Understanding Anxiety in Pets, Part 3: a closer look at Zylkene and Solliquin and how they work to treat anxiety in pets.

If you suspect that your pet is showing signs of anxiety, Contact Us at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, so we can schedule an appointment to discuss your pet’s behavior today.

Est. 1973

 

 

 

 

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In Part II of “Why do dogs bite?” we discussed the importance of empathy when dealing with fear response in a dog. Since dogs tend to bite due to fear, the pet owner must become aware of the pet’s triggers and work with that information to promote confidence and trust, in order to lessen the likelihood of a biting incident.

Why do dogs bite? Part III
Look for signals that your dog is afraid. Speak to your pet in a calm, lowered voice. If possible, remove him from the area where the fear object is located. In some instances, especially at the veterinary office, this may not be possible. A certified professional dog trainer can work with you on techniques designed to prepare your pet for car trips, grooming appointments, and doctor visits.

What does a dog look like when it is afraid and anxious?
The signs may start out as subtle actions, which can be considered normal behaviors in another context. The subtle behaviors include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Panting

If the source of fear or anxiety is not removed, the pet may progress to more noticeable signs of fear. These include:

  • Tail tucking
  • Flattening ears against the head
  • Salivating
  • Pacing
  • Staring
  • Eyes wide
  • Stiff posture
  • Fur standing up
  • Lunging
  • Barking
  • Growling

How can you prevent dog bites?
*At mealtime: do not approach a dog, or attempt to take away its food. Feed dogs in separate rooms or at separate times, if they do not get along.

*If a pet “steals” items (socks, toys, etc.), it may try to protect the item. Behaviorists recommend trading a treat for the stolen item.

*A pet that growls aggressively from beside its owner is often thought to be protecting the owner; behaviorists see the pet responding to a fear object and hoping the owner will protect it. Respect the dog’s fear and avoid sensitizing it further.

*Don’t believe the tail. A dog may wag its tail right up until the moment it bites you. Behaviorists recommend worrying more about the biting end than the wagging end of the dog.

Behaviorists’ tricks of the trade
In conjunction with training techniques, a behaviorist or trainer may recommend the use of synthetic pheromones or aromatherapy sprays to help calm an anxious pet. Other options include:

*Supplements designed to enhance a pet’s learning ability during training

*Positive reinforcements to reward desired behavior

*Clicker training

Training aids should be used as part of an overall training program designed to enhance a pet’s confidence and ability to respond to commands. Commands can be used to provide a distraction, pulling a pet’s attention away from the fear object in order to relax the pet and prevent a biting incident.

In the case of a fearful pet, training may be best accomplished in a private setting, rather than in a group. The trainer can tailor a program to meet the needs of the dog and its owner.

Est. 1973

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Some information for this article was gleaned from “Clue in on canine anxiety cues” by Dr. Valarie Tynes, DACVB and Heather Mohan-Gibbons, RVT, CPDT, ACAAB. Firstline magazine, February 2011.

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