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Close Encounters With Wildlife

Going for a walk or hike with your dog is a great way to get some exercise and experience nature up close. However, close encounters with wildlife can be scary. You may be thinking, "There are no bears (wolves, coyotes, or puma) in my area." However, every part of our country has wildlife that is best to avoid.

There are plenty of critters to steer clear of besides bears and wildcats! Consider small animals like raccoons, opossums, porcupines, or skunks. Venomous animals like snakes, spiders, or scorpions. In some areas of the country, bees can be a problem.

These general tips will work for avoiding many close encounters:

Keep your dog on a leash. Many hiking areas have leash laws for dogs to ensure they don't disturb wildlife and other hikers - so follow the rules. Many wild animals will chase and possibly attack a running dog. If you are hiking in an area that allows off-leash dogs, don't let your dog run until he has an excellent recall. If Rover only comes when he feels like it, keep him safe and on a leash.

Stay on the trail. Most wild animals prefer to avoid running into people, and you have less of a chance of startling an animal if you stick to the trails.

Add a collar bear bell. It will alert critters in your immediate area that you're coming (before they see you), and most will head in the opposite direction.

Don't wear headphones in the woods. You won't hear an animal approaching or someone warning you about a problem ahead. It's also a good idea to keep your ears open around your neighborhood too.

Walk with a group. Noise and talking (like the bear bell) let creatures know you're coming, but a group of people will scare off most wild animals.

Don't run on trails that are known for animal encounters. If you have heard of wildlife problems in your hiking area, don't go jogging there. Many large wild animals will chase if you're running; it's just their instinct.

Let people know where you're going. Let someone know where you are hiking, when you're leaving, and when you expect to return.

Carry a first aid kit, water, and a cell phone. These items can be a lifesaver even if there are no wild animals in your walking area. You could fall, your dog could cut his foot, or you could both overheat.

Do your research. Be familiar with the threats native to your area. If you are traveling, do some research on the wildlife in the area you're vacationing in.

Be smart, stay very alert, look for signs of wildlife (tracks or scat), and make noise, and you'll most likely be fine. You can't anticipate what you'll encounter outdoors, but you can be prepared. Please go over the links below and if you are traveling, do some research on the wildlife in the area you're vacationing in. 

Hiking Safety
Wild Animal Encounters

How Important Is Play?

We all know how much fun our pets are! When Fido chases a tennis ball or Fluffy goes after a feather wand, it's fun for everyone involved. But is playing more important than just hanging out? You bet it is! Here is the low-down on why playing with our furry friends is beneficial for all of us.

All mammals play when they are young. Many scientists feel it teaches them about hunting, escape tactics, getting along, and even self-defense. Not to mention it's just a doggone good time! For most mammals, play decreases as they mature. However, this isn't the case for dogs, cats, and people; we all seem to get lifelong enjoyment out of play!

Play, of course, is good exercise. It's a great way to keep everyone moving. Exercise is good for your heart, builds muscles, helps maintain a healthy weight, and fights off chronic disease. So try and get a dose of play every day to keep the doctor away!

Playing games that require a bit of thought is great for brain health. Conceal a toy or treat and have Fido find it by following the scent trail. Teach your cat or dog to play hide and seek by hiding and treating them when they find you. Try the "shell game" using a treat and three plastic cups; it will keep both you and your buddy thinking!

Games are great mood boosters for pets and people. Play will make you laugh, which will help relieve stress and alleviate boredom for both you and your pet. Even a quick 10-minute game can turn your day around.

Play may lead to better-behaved pets. It relieves pent-up energy and can help teach good manners. Tug with a rope, for example, can teach your dog to "leave it" by telling Fido to drop the rope when he brings it to you. Play can teach your pet to take turns, or if your dog or cat gets a little too aggressive in play, you can pause the game and help your buddy calm down.

Spending time playing with your pet will strengthen your bond and build trust with them. So go ahead and spend a few minutes playing with your best friend.

Your Cat Kneads You!

If you've spent time around cats, you know all about cat kneading. Some people call it making biscuits or bread because that's what it looks like. It's a typical feline behavior, but not all cats are kneaders. If your kitty isn't, don't worry, that's normal too.

Many cats have their own kneading techniques. Some only knead with their front paws, but some "kneady" cats use all four feet! We've seen cats knead lying down, and some do it only while standing. Other cats knead with their claws out (ouch); others keep them sheathed.

Most cat behaviorists say that kneading is an instinctual kitten behavior that stimulates milk production. If you watch kittens nursing, you'll see they are all kneading on their mama. But that doesn't answer why adult cats continue to knead. Most behaviorists feel it reminds your cat of kittenhood and feeling safe and loved. "Making biscuits" allows your adult cat to feel calm and relaxed.

Cats knead in all sorts of spots, some only knead on their beds, some only on a soft blanket, and other cats will knead on you! Try and make it more comfortable for you by keeping Fluffy's claws short and having a small blanket near your favorite chair so you can slide it under her paws when she kneads on you. If your cat hurts you when kneading, don't scold her since this is a natural cat behavior.

There are a few more reasons for kneading. First, to scent mark what is theirs. Cats have scent glands in their paws and can leave their scent by kneading. Plus, kneading is like cat yoga; it stretches their muscles and keeps them limber. It also expresses their contentment and love. Lastly, some cats use kneading to settle into a nap.

So if you have a kneady cat, enjoy it. Fluffy is just telling you she cares and feels safe with you. Maybe you should take a video of kneading behavior; they are some of the most popular cat videos!

Here is a 3-minute video of many cats being kneady; enjoy!

Great Pet Links!

May is:

Chip Your Pet Month
Pet Cancer Awareness Month
Lyme Disease Prevention Month

May 1 - National Purebred Dog Day
May 4 - Bird Day
May 8 - Mother's Day
May 23 - World Turtle Day
May 30 - Memorial Day

A Guide To Turtle Care
Pet Microchipping FAQ
Don't Leave Your Drinks Unattended
Warning Signs of Pet Cancer


May 2022 Newsletter