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An ongoing series of informational Pet Articles

5 Ways to Soothe Anxious Dogs

Pets can become stressed for several different reasons. From new roommates to fireworks to long travel hours, dogs react to changes in their environment similar to how we do.

Many types of canine anxiety problems exist. Separation anxiety can occur when a dog is left alone for long periods of time. When dogs become fearful of loud noises, like thunderstorms, they are experiencing noise anxiety. Motion sickness and travel anxiety are possible for dogs, too, and you may think twice before keeping your dog in a crate as their frustration can lead to confinement anxiety.

Because dogs are sensitive to their physical and emotional settings, they may engage in repetitive or displacement behavior during times of stress. Agitated dogs may stop barking, chew on furniture and shoes, eat their own poop, or be aggressive toward others.

When these behaviors happen, don't misjudge the situation and punish your dog. Punishment will not address the root cause of the problem. In fact, pain will only increase their levels of stress leading to more unwanted behavior.

Fortunately, with the right plan of action, you can help your pet overcome anxiety. Every dog responds differently to certain methods. Therefore, if your pet doesn't respond to one technique, consider trying another. Here are five possible solutions for anxiety in dogs:

1. Use Medication

First, always consult a veterinarian before administering medication. Giving your dog Benadryl is one popular option for relief. It's a light, over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative properties. Your pet can take the medicine in different ways. You can put the tablet in small pieces of food, or the liquid gel capsules can be mixed into a treat.

2. Choose a Healthy Diet

As they say, you are what you eat, and a healthy diet leads to healthy behavior. Hyperactive dogs need a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Therefore, it's in your best interest to monitor what you feed your pets (or what they randomly decide to eat). Discuss the best dietary options with your vet.

3. Exercise

Physical exercise is a great way to soothe your dog's anxiety. Schedule a daily routine for your dog to be active. If it's too cold for outdoor fun, experiment with indoor exercises and stretches. Also, make it enjoyable. Play games to associate positive emotions with typically stressful activities like car rides.

4. Give a Massage

Who said massages were just for people? Massaging is a great calming technique for an anxious dog. Not only does it heal the body, but also the mind. Connect with a certified canine massage therapist in your area. They can teach you multiple ways to relax your pet through touch.

5. Create a Predictable Environment

Dogs can sometimes get flustered, especially if their daily routine changes. Reduce stress by creating a predictable environment with fixed activities. It's important to set expectations for your dog. In return, both owner and pet will be happy.

Dogs are man's best friends; they share many of our emotions and can experience anxiety just like us. It is normal for a dog to become nervous when life changes occur. So instead of punishing innocent behavior, seek out help to relieve their stress. In the end, everyone will be grateful.

Why are cats so quirky about drinking?​

Some cats prefer running water because they think it's safer to drink.

When it comes to drinking, most dogs aren't very picky. Slimy water bowl, muddy puddle — even an open toilet bowl will do in a pinch.

But cats, on the other hand, are typically much more particular. Some won't drink out of a water bowl if it's near their food bowl. Others prefer a fountain or even the kitchen sink. Some picky kitties won't sip from plastic or metal containers. Some of these preferences harken back to their ancestors and survival instincts. But in some cases it's just cats being ... well, cats.

Here's a look at the quirkiness of feline beverage preferences and what you can do to make sure your kitty gets enough to drink.

Cats like running water

You put a lovely, fresh bowl of water in front of your cat and it just sits there untouched. But turn on the tap and your kitty laps up the dripping water. There might be several reasons that your cat won't touch unmoving water. Instinctively, your cat might know to be suspicious of still water, realizing that stagnant water isn't always safe, veterinarian Dr. Deb Greco tells VetStreet. Their wild DNA tells them that still water can be contaminated, so they know that running water is safer.

Another reason they might not like being hunched over a bowl is the precarious position it puts them in.

“It’s hard for cats to get water, because they can’t really see still water well, and they may feel vulnerable sitting at a bowl, especially if it’s in a corner, so they have their back to other cats who might jump on them,” Greco says.

The dripping or running water from the tap — or the swirling water from a kitty recirculating water fountain — probably tastes better too because it's cooler and oxygenated. Plus, the movement makes the water more attractive, as you likely notice if your cat paws or splashes at the water.

Water and food bowl location matters

Does your cat ignore the water bowl next to her food bowl?

Some cats won't touch water if it's too close to their food bowl. The theory is that in the wild, cats would keep their food far away from water sources in order to keep those water sources free of bacteria and other possible contamination. Keeping their food and water close can risk pieces of food falling into their water when they eat. Cats also have a strong sense of smell and many don't like smelling their food when they drink.

Cats don't like 'old' water

Cats are very sensitive to taste, says cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett. Be sure to refill your cat's bowl every day with fresh water or it will taste stale to your cat, she suggests. Food and dirt can accumulate in a water bowl, making your cat's daily beverage not only taste unpleasant, but also become rife with bacteria. If your kitty plays in his water, there's also the icky stuff from his paws (think litter box) that is transferred into his water.

Clean your pet's bowl once a day with gentle soap and water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. Soap residue can taste bad and even burn your cat's tongue.

Cats need wet food

Canned food helps hydrate your kitty.

Because today's domestic cat evolved from desert-dwelling ancestors, they have a low thirst drive, according to WebMD.

“We know that a cat’s sensitivity to thirst is blunted compared to a dog,” Linda P. Case, M.S., author of "The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health," tells the website. “They don't voluntarily drink water like a dog would.” And because they don't drink enough and they naturally produce very concentrated urine “we're setting them up for urinary tract problems when their diet is low in liquids.”

The experts recommend preventing problems by feeding at least some canned cat food.

In the wild, cats eat prey like mice, which are made of about 70 percent water, says Donna Solomon, D.V.M. Most canned foods contain at least 75 percent water, while dry foods contain only about 10 percent. Eating canned food does the double duty of giving your cat nutrition while keeping him hydrated.

Cats fed canned food also have a lower risk of illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, constipation and obesity.

Bowl size and shape matters

You may want to try different kinds of bowls to see which type your cat prefers.

Cats have very sensitive whiskers. If a bowl is too narrow, your kitty may have to unpleasantly squish her whiskers to get a drink. Try out several different sizes and shapes to see which your pet seems to prefer. You may also want to try bowls made out of different materials. It's easiest to keep ceramic and stainless steel bowls clean, but often cats seem to prefer shallow, glass bowls.

Have several water bowls for your cat

Cats can be fickle things. A little unexpected activity can keep them away from their normal hangouts. That's why it's a good idea to have water bowls in a few different spots throughout your home. Put them in out-of-the-way places and other locations where she likes to spend a lot of her time. Just make sure they're always clean and filled with fresh water.

Watch the water level

Make sure your cat's water bowls never gets too low or stay filled too high. Cats are creatures of habit, says Johnson-Bennett, and they just don't like change. Don't fill bowls to the tippy-top one day and then let them get down to the dregs the next. "Some cats begin paw dipping because they aren’t sure where the top of the water is on any given day," she says. "Cats like consistency in their daily routine."

In Home Pet Sitting vs. Pet Sitters / Pet Care Providers

Written by Kaye Queen, CPPS (Certified Pet Sitter) and Owner and Manager of Lucky Pet at Home Pet Services

There seems to be confusion in the pet care industry and among pet owners in what an in-home pet sitter does and pet care provider also known as “pet sitters “do.

First let’s start with the definition found in the Random House Dictionary.

“Pet sitting” is defined as “the act of caring for a pet in its own home while the owner is away.” Dog walking is also a form of pet sitting since it involves coming to the pet’s home to provide exercise and companionship. Caring for pets in the clients’ homes is what separates pet sitters from in-home pet sitters who keep pets in their own homes for boarding and doggie daycare.

We get phone calls weekly from people looking to board their beloved four-legged family member in someone’s home while the family is away. Our website states “Lucky Pet at Home Pet Care Services”, so people automatically assume we board dogs in our home, which we do not. In the State of Colorado in order to legally board someone’s pets in your home you must be licensed by the State as a boarding facility and follow all guidelines, rules and regulations as set forth by the Department of Agriculture’s PACFA Act. (PACFA is abbreviation for Pet Animal Care Facilities Act). We are not licensed as a “boarding facility” we are licensed as “Pet Handlers” due to one of the services we offer is a Taxi Service for the pet to groomers, vets, licensed boarding facilities / play-day resorts/spas. Which by the way anyone who transports pets in the State of Colorado must be licensed to transport said pet(s).

Pet Care Providers, as the title of my employees, and Pet Sitters are individuals and their companies set up to provide pet care services such as visits to the clients home to give the pets a potty break, take them for a walk, feed them, play with them, stay with them for a certain amount of time up to staying overnight in the client’s home with the pet. Most “pet sitters” say they are pet sitters or dog walkers in their advertising, however there are some that do not clarify in their business name if they are “pet sitters /pet care providers” or an in-home boarding facility.

In-Home Pet Sitting to a lot of pet owners means “boarding pets in someone else’s home”. There are people (clients) who do not want to take their pet to a “boarding facility” where the pets are crated/kenneled either for the whole time the pet is there or for a certain number of hours when the pet is released into a big fenced in area with pets of his/her size (or bigger and smaller than the pet) to play, run and get exercise.

When the pet client reads “in-home pet sitting” they automatically assume the person or person’s company keeps pets in their home where the pet is not kenneled and allowed to roam freely and be around a loving caring temporary family while the pet’s family is away.

There is that gray area between “in home” and “at home” wording that clearly confuses the public and I believe with some education and clarification in the name of a company it would not be so confusing. Somewhere in our advertising upfront we should specify what our specialty is: “Pet Sitting” or “In Our Home Boarding.”

I am not for or against boarding pets whether it be at an actual brick and mortar facility or in someone’s home if they are licensed by the state and follow the same rules and regulations that we do. I believe it is good for pet owners to have options, some pets cannot be trusted alone for 6-8 hours in the pet owners home and need the constant monitoring and some pet owners don’t want their pets crated or kenneled for said amount of time either so boarding their pet is a good option for them. However, there are pets that do much better in their own home/environment and that is where the “pet sitter” / “pet care provider” comes in.