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The Truth about 10 Common Pet Behavior Myths

There are a ton of myths about pet behavior out there. Unfortunately, not all of them are true, and some of them can even be dangerous to your pet's health! Get the facts about commonly held, but not always true, pet myths.

  1. Nervous or skittish dogs and cats were abused when they were young. While abuse as a puppy or kitten can lead to nervous or anxious behavior later in life, it does not always. Furthermore, countless companion animals that have been in loving, caring homes since shortly after birth have anxiety problems. Making broad assumptions about the cause of a skittish animal's behavior can be quite misleading. The importance of socialization before the age of six months should not be discounted, but even well-socialized individuals can still suffer from anxiety. If you hesitate to adopt a dog or cat from a shelter for fear of coming home with a nervous pet, keep in mind that most animals will respond beautifully to lots of love and the security of a dependable guardian. Dogs and cats thrive on routine, and given a month or two to acclimate will typically ease into their forever home and relax.

    For those animals who do have anxiety issues the proper training (yes, cats respond to training, too) and support through calming remedies can provide a solution. Only Natural Pet Phero-Soothe is a great way to provide a calming atmosphere in the home. In addition there are many herbal, homeopathic or flower essence remedies to address an individual's needs (view our full selection). Finding the best remedy for your companion can take some trial and error, but is worth the effort.

  2. Eating grass is a sign that a dog or cat has an upset stomach.  Well, maybe - but not usually. While it is true that dogs and cats will sometimes seek out and chew grass to ease an upset tummy, a perfectly healthy animal is just as likely to graze on fresh green grass. There are a wide variety of theories about why some companions like to nibble on grasses, no one has a definitive answer. Some feel it may be a craving for fresh food containing live enzymes. Others think this behavior may result from a craving for the tripe, or digestive tract contents, that dogs and cats would enjoy when consuming prey in the wild.

    Whatever the reason, there is no need to deny your furry friend's craving as long as they are grazing on clean, untreated pastures. If you do not know if the lawn or park grass has been treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, then find a better source for their greens. Only Natural Pet Super Daily Greens may satisfy your companion's needs. You can also grow your own with the Kitty's Garden Kit.

  3. It is fine for dogs and cats to eat each other's food.  While there are a few canned formulas available that meet the needs of both species, most foods are designed specifically for cats or dogs. Cats require a higher percentage of protein and fat than most dogs and they have specific requirements for additional taurine. Dogs that eat too much cat food are at risk of weight gain and even pancreatitis. Cats that eat dog food are at risk of weight gain when the food is high in carbohydrates, as well as deficiencies of important amino acids.

    If Fido and Fluffy insist on sharing, try a canned food formulated to meet both their needs such as Nature's Variety Instinct CannedCat and Dog Diets.

  4. Animals lick their wounds to promote healing.  Dogs and cats will lick any area that irritates them - whether it be a wound, bug bite or itchy spot. Some animals will tend to lick more than others, and this does not promote healing. A wound or hot-spot that is over-licked can heal more slowly or become infected. It is best to discourage your companion from fussing over it's sore spot.  Bandaging the area will be enough to discourage some animals, but not all. Try our Herbal Ointment to soothe irritation and speed healing.

  5. Dogs eat their own poop naturally, and they just need to be trained not to.  At times there are behavioral issues involved, although usually Coprophagia (the technical name), is related to nutritional issues rather than behavior. If your dog is not getting enough nutrients from their food, they may be attracted to their feces in search of these missing nutrients. It can also be caused by poor digestion, so that the feces still smells like food to your dog. The best bet is to start with a natural food that has all the necessary nutrients for your dog (conventional food often contains a lot of empty calories in the form of grains and fillers). If you suspect digestion issues, try supplementing with Vital Digest to help the digestive process.

    Regarding behavior, some puppies are just attracted to feces by the strong smell and their natural sense of curiosity. Other dogs may be simply trying to keep their space clean, especially if they are in a small yard or confined space. Anxiety can play an issue to, as stool eating could be a reaction to stress in your dog's life. If your dog is eating natural food and seems to be digesting it well, one way to prevent them from eating their own feces is with a product like Only Natural Pet Stool Eating Deterrent.

  6. Cats who pee outside the box are always spraying or marking their territory.  Not always true! The most common reason for a cat to urinate outside the litter box is a medical problem. Often times cats associate the pain of urination (if they have a urinary tract infection. Bladder crystals, etc.) with their litter box and seek to find a place they can eliminate without pain. Occasionally cats do have territorial issues and spray to mark, but it is much less common. You should check for urinary tract conditions if your cat is not using the litter box appropriately. If so, we have plenty of natural remedies to help.

  7. A wagging tail is the sign of a happy, friendly dog.  Not always! Canine body language is a study unto itself, but some basics are very helpful to know when approached by a dog you are not familiar with. Check out the rest of the dog's posture; walking stiffly with the head and tail raised high and wagging slightly or twitching can be an aggressive stance - be especially cautious if the dog's hackles are raised. If the dog's head and front legs are lowered in a play-bow style, then she is being friendly. Recent studies have also shown that dogs wag their tails asymmetrically depending on how they are feeling about the person approaching. Wagging more strongly to the right indicates positive feelings and curiosity, wagging more to the left indicates negative feelings or apprehension.

    Anxious dogs are frequently more likely to show aggression. Help your furry friend relax with new friends by supporting her emotional well-being. Only Natural Pet Relaxi-Herb is an excellent remedy for those occasions when you know your companion will be faced with stressful circumstances or will be meeting new friends. For the those animals struggling with aggression, try Only Natural Pet Let's Be Friends Flower Essences.

  8. Spaying & neutering will cause weight gain & will change my pet's personality.  Spaying and neutering pets may change hormone levels, but it will not cause weight gain. Over-feeding & not enough exercise will cause weight gain. Regarding behavior, neutered animals are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems when compared to intact animals, but it will not change their feelings toward their owner nor will it change the overall unique personality of the pet. Neutering may decrease unwanted behaviors, such as spraying/marking, aggression, yowling, and roaming. Overall, neutering will improve your pet's health and they will live longer, as neutered animals are less likely to develop cancer of the mammary glands & prostate. And of course, spaying and neutering decreases the amount of unwanted and homeless animals, and that is a good thing!

  9. Only male dogs "hump" other dogs or lift their legs to urinate. Male dogs will exhibit these behaviors more consistently than others, but even female dogs will lift their legs and urinate to mark territory, or hump another dog to establish dominance. Some dogs can become downright obnoxious about it and may begin humping its human companions or even pillows or furniture. Others are so determined to be "top dog" they are continually marking and posturing for dominance. Overly-assertive behaviors can be quelled through proper training and behavior modification techniques. A remedy may help as well like Only Natural Pet Let's Be Friends Flower Essences.

  10. My hairy dog is really hot so I need to have him shaved for the summer.  This is often not true at all! While shaving a single or curly coated dog is acceptable, and may provide some relief, shaving a double coated dog will actually do the opposite of what you want. A double coated dog that has been shaved for the summer will actually be hotter, and they run the risk of sunburn. Double coats are very insulating both from the cold, and from the heat. If you shave a double coated dog, you are removing their insulation and allowing the sun to directly contact the skin. They will be much hotter without their undercoat. There is also a good chance that over time a shaved double coat may stop growing back, and you will be very unhappy with the situation, not to mention, your dog will have lost their insulation. If you really want to shave something to help with temperature control, just shave the belly from the armpits back. This will allow the dog to find a cool surface to lie on and soak up the coolness without the risk of sun exposure, and the rest of their body will still have its insulation.

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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

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