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Here are Grace and Leo sharing their Valentine's Day love!

Sudden Aggression Out of Nowhere!

Why does a family pet suddenly growl or snap for no reason? The first thing to recognize is that although you may not see a cause for the aggression at first, there IS a reason for it. However, there are many different factors involved, so it may take some detective work to figure out why Rover is growling. In the meantime, manage this aggression in a non-aggressive way to keep family and friends safe.

First, let's be clear, in this article we are addressing the calm and loving family dog that out of the blue gets grumpy. We are not talking about a dog with ongoing aggression problems.

Fear - This is an extremely common reason, and it happens more often than many pet parents realize. The world can be a scary place, even for a laid-back dog. Seeing an unfamiliar dog near them, getting yelled at, new people in their home, a loud noise or unexpected touch, or even a strong leash correction can all be spooky situations. Depending on the circumstances, your dog could give a warning growl or a snap. The best thing to do is try and figure out what set your dog off and work to prevent this from happening again.

Resource Guarding - Rover loves his toys, people, food bowl, and cozy bed. Some dogs (even unexpectedly) will guard their stuff fiercely. Don't punish Rover for this - it is a completely normal canine behavior, and you could make the situation worse. If you feel comfortable with Rover, you can teach him that trading can be rewarding and help him understand that you're in his corner. When he has a toy, call him and give him a super delicious treat (real chicken or steak, maybe) in exchange for the toy. When he's done, he can have the toy back. If you're not sure of your training abilities, call in an expert to help.

Redirected Aggression - This can quickly happen, and it's why trainers tell you never to interrupt a dog fight by grabbing your dog's collar - you might inadvertently get bitten. Here is how it happens. Let's say your dog is triggered by another dog and they are growling and snapping at each other. You interrupt the fight and one of the two dogs (even your pup) bites you. In the frenzy of the fight, the aggression was redirected away from one dog to you, and this is a natural instinct with canines. You're much better off using water, a blanket, or a barrier to stop a dog fight.

Pushing The Limits - We all can get overwhelmed or frustrated with some behaviors, and your dog does too. He can't really say "back off" so he responds with a growl or a snap. This can be as simple as a child pulling his tail or hugging him. Additionally, if your training includes punishment, Rover may eventually just gets fed up with corrections - positive training works better. Teach children and adults that interact with your dog the rules of the road with Rover.

Pain - Dogs that don't feel well can react in abnormal ways and exhibit aggressive behaviors. Pain in animals can be tricky to diagnose because it isn't always obvious. Your dog may be sick, have an injury, or have age-related problems. It is always a good idea to rule out a medical problem first, many of which can be treated if your dog's behavior changes.

Speak to your vet; if they rule out a medical issue, call a qualified trainer and let's get Rover in a better headspace.

Do Cats Eat More In the Winter?

They do! A large and very thorough study that lasted four years verified that your cat does eat (or wants to) about 15% more in the winter. This brings up two good questions:

  • Why do they eat more?
  • Should we feed them more?

The cooler temperatures and shorter days are signals to your cat's system that winter is coming. And Fluffy's metabolism responds by revving up! It's her response to cooler weather - her body knows that it will need more calories to stay warm. This is true even for indoor cats; as the days get shorter, they want more food!

Now for the second question - should we oblige their desire for larger dinners? That's a tricky question. If your cat never goes outdoors, then most likely, she won't need more calories when it's cooler. Some felines get more frisky with cooler weather, so if your cat is playing more, she may need a few extra treats.

Older cats, kittens, and cats with little or no fur may need a few more calories to maintain their body temperature. However, if they are not more active, then maybe they just need a sweater or a nice toasty bed in a sunny window.

If your feline goes outside in the chilly weather, they will probably need a few extra calories to help them stay warm.

During the winter months, keep an eye on Fluffy's weight; consider having a weigh-in once a week. Be sure she is eating first-rate, wet food that contains Omega 3s, taurine, and a high-quality protein.

If Fluffy is gaining a little weight, you can cut back a tiny bit on her meal size or better yet, have a daily playtime with her so she can burn off a few calories.

Enjoy the cooler weather and spend some time having more snuggles, but be sure that Fluffy doesn't gain any weight. Invest some time in being active this winter!

Celebrate Our Best Friend In Literature

We reviewed some cat books in December; now it's time to celebrate our dogs in literature, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Clifford by Norman Bridwell
With over 80 Clifford books, the children in your life will adore his adventures with his person, Emily Elizabeth!

White Fang by Jack London
This book is a classic and told from the dog's perspective about the relationship between him and his person.

Marley and Me by John Grogan
A family decides to get a puppy, Marley, who grows up to bulldoze through life. But they figure it out and support one another.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
This is an Oprah's Book Club pick and follows the life of Edgar Sawtelle, who has to survive on his own in the wild with the help of 3 dogs.

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
This New York Times bestseller follows Bailey as he discovers his purpose in life. It's also a movie you could stream.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Katie DiCamillo
Opal Buloni finds a dog at the grocery store and their friendship changes her life for the better. Another New York Times bestseller.

Off Leash by Matthew Gilbert
This is a work of non-fiction written by a Boston Globe critic - it's all about his puppy, Toby and their adventures at the local dog park.

Oogy by Larry Levin
Yep, another New York Times bestseller! A heartwarming story about a family that falls in love with the "ugliest dog they had ever seen" after taking a trip to the animal hospital.

This list, along with the cat books we recommended in December, should keep you reading all year long! A book makes a great Valentine's gift too.

Great Pet Links!

February is:
Pet Dental Health Month
Cat Health Month
Spay & Neuter Awareness Month

Keep Your Pet Safe On Valentine's Day
Should You Spay/Neuter Your Pet
Celebrate Valentine's Day With Your Pet
How To Brush Your Cat's Teeth
How To Brush Your Dog's Teeth


February 2023 Newsletter