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My Dog, My Twin!

We've all seen those stories about people and dogs that look alike, but did you know that we often share personality traits as well? How does that happen; do we pick out dogs that are like us or do we (dogs and people) change to be more like each other?

Two recent studies seem to indicate the answer is both! People tend to choose dogs that are similar in personality; a laid back person tends to look for a laid back dog. A runner tends to gravitate towards a more active dog. However, some of us adopt from places like PetFinder and don't even meet the dog first. How is it that dogs and people that have never met still end up being so similar?

It turns out dogs are so perceptive that they actually model their behavior after ours. If we are laid back couch potatoes, our dog gets into TV binging on the weekend too. If our lives are stressful and filled with anxiety, we transfer that stress to our dogs.

In studies about our personalities, it didn't seem to matter the breed of dog; most still tended to mold their personalities to the humans they spend the most time with.

There were a number of other interesting findings from the studies. For example, they found that dogs, just like people, are harder to train when they're older. We're all still "trainable," of course, but just not as inclined.

Dogs often physically resemble their people. Check out these lookalikes.

Both people and dogs can shape their personalities situationally. So if we are with Grandma, we may be more quiet and calm than when we are with our besties.

Dogs that don't spend a lot of time with their humans can morph into being antisocial or depressed.

Research also showed that both dogs' and people's personalities moderated as they got older. Many are more relaxed and laid back as they age.

One personality trait they found that didn't change much with aging was dogs that are fearful and anxious. Most of them kept those traits for the rest of their lives.

They also found that some dogs with issues, housebreaking problems, barking, and destructive behavior often live in homes with higher stress levels. And while it seems more common for dogs to acquire our personality traits, we know that canines can affect our moods too (as every person with an emotional therapy dog will tell you). Our personalities are contagious!

Dogs are far more complex creatures and intelligent than we may have thought. The takeaway in all this is that our bond with our pets is more profound and stronger than ever, and the more time we spend hanging out, the better for everyone involved.

Can I Leave My Anxious Cat At Home All-Day?

Cats love their people and enjoy spending time with them, but most cats are considered independent enough that you can leave them alone for a while without any problems. However, this isn't always true - did you know that cats have separation anxiety just like some dogs? Even with their independence, cats are social animals, and they miss and often get anxious when their humans aren't around. Because so many consider cats loners, their anxiety often goes unnoticed until it's severe.

If you leave your cat alone frequently look for signs that they are anxious. Is your cat meowing a lot, especially when you're about to leave? Is kitty clingy when you get home? Or worse, hiding and won't come out? Is your cat not eating as heartily as usual? Are they knocking more things off the counters and forgetting to use their litter box? These are all signs that something is up with your kitty (although there are medical issues that maybe be causing these symptoms - always check with your vet).

Cats show worry differently than dogs; any of the above signs could mean that your pet feels neglected, anxious, depressed, or just plain lonely. Genetics does play a role in pet anxiety, but so does change, not enough stimulation, and lack of exercise. It seems that cats that are orphaned and weaned too early are more prone to anxiety.

So what can be done with a cat suffering from separation anxiety? First of all, try and give them 2 or 3 playtimes a day, which include different kinds of play (chase, catnip, a laser pointer, or puzzle toys for example). During and after play use love, treats, and petting as a reward to make the play behavior stick. Don't reward for clinging or meowing (or any other negative behavior).

Have a vertical cat tree for your cat to play and lounge on and be sure they have interesting scratching posts. Just like with dogs, don't make a big deal about leaving or arriving home. And make practice runs, pretend that you're leaving, get your coat and keys and come back in a few minutes. Try and get your cat comfy with your being away. Quiet classical music or leaving the TV on can help calm our buddies down too.

Separation anxiety is more common in cats that are left alone for a day or two. We're happy to come in and clean their box, feed them, and have an enjoyable playtime with your cat. If these ideas don't work, your vet may be able to prescribe some medications for your kitty when you go away.

Get your cat comfortable with being alone gradually and count on us to give your kitty some attention every day!

Does My Pet Have Arthritis?

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments that our adult and senior pets face. It can be a source of chronic pain and can very negatively change their quality of life. 

We often overlook it because we naturally assume that our pets will slow down as they age. The question is, are they moving less due to age, or is it really because they are in pain?

Arthritis can affect any joint, but most commonly is seen in hips, knees, and elbows. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of this disease and affects the cartilage, which leads to pain, swelling, and inflammation. It can lead to a smaller range of motion, decreased mobility, muscle loss, and limping. Here are the signs of arthritis in your pet:

  • Reluctance to go for walks or engage in playtimes
  • Limping
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Having difficulty getting up or using the stairs
  • Crying out for seemingly no reason
  • Muscle atrophy due to lack of activity
  • Licking, chewing, or biting their bodies (especially joints)

If your older pet is having any of these problems, take them to the vet and talk about what you can do to make them more comfortable. Between weight management, pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, supplements, physical therapy, acupuncture, and laser treatments, there are a lot of options to manage the pain in our older pets.

Let's be sure our pet's golden years are happy, fun, healthy, and pain-free!

Great Pet Links!

Here are some interesting pet articles, pictures, and videos we've found on the net this month.

March is:

Poison Prevention Month
March 1 - 7: Professional Pet Sitters Week

List Of The Most Common Pet Toxins
St. Patrick's Day Pet Pictures
Read About Duncan Winner Of This Year's Puppy Bowl
Handsome Cats And Their Famous Men
Low Shedding Dogs
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