Solutions For Dog Barking

Solutions For Dog Barking

by Sandra Murphy

Does your dog explode into barking whenever someone knocks at the door or rings the bell? Here are 6 ways to help him simmer down.

Ding dong! Chaos erupts as Molly skids barking down the hallway to get to the door before her human, Pat. “She’s such a sweet dog, but why does she act like we’re under attack when someone comes to the door?” asks Pat.

To answer that question, Pat needs to think like a canine, says Eileen Proctor, dog lifestyle expert and author of Relief for the Latchkey Dog. “When a dog sees people walk down the sidewalk, he barks and the people go away. The mail carrier comes to the door, rattles the mail slot, the dog barks and he goes away. It’s a dog’s job to protect the pack. When intruders leave, he’s successful.”

“The doorway is a high intensity location,” adds dog psychologist Linda Michaels. “There’s an unseen person on the other side, a human who needs protection on this side, and often, it’s a cramped space. This is the line a stranger crosses that can increase the dog’s desire to protect.”

In other words, when your dog is barking at the door, he’s only following his natural instincts. That doesn’t make it any less nerve-wracking for you, though. Luckily, there are ways you can help train him to stop treating the doorbell or a knock as a trigger for hysterical or aggressive behavior.

1. Acknowledge his efforts

Since a dog believes barking is in his job description, praise him for doing it – but set limits. A warning bark or two is fine to let you know someone’s at the door. Extended barking is not. Retool his job description to “alert” rather than “make the stranger go away”. It’s easier than you think…read on.

2. Choose a command, and don’t shout

Yelling doesn’t help. Already in a frenzy, the dog may hear “Save me, save me!” instead of “Knock it off” or “Quiet!” when you raise your voice. Choose a verbal cue like “That’s enough” or “No bark”. Use a firm voice rather than a loud one. Eileen uses a simple, “Thank you, good dog.” That says to the dog, “Stand down while I check the threat level.” He then knows the two of you are working as a team and the responsibility is not all on him.

“Consistency is the key,” adds Eileen. “Make sure all the people in the house use the same phrase. Practice makes perfect for both the human and the dog.” Have everyone in the family work with the dog so he doesn’t think the lesson applies to only one of his humans.

3. Make it more satisfying not to bark

Barking turns into its own reward because it gets attention, good or bad. To make it more rewarding for the dog to alert and then be quiet, pick a high value treat or toy that stays by the door. Its only use is as a reward for alert/quiet. The goal is to change the meaning of the doorbell or knock from “Danger!” to “Somebody’s here! Gimme a treat.” Linda concurs: “Teach the dog: ‘I can bark at the door, or I can get cookies.’

“Safety first is always a good rule,” she adds. “To diffuse the dog’s heightened emotions, have him move away from the door to a spot where he can see what’s happening but not be between his person and the visitor.” A baby gate works well as you train for calm behavior. “A handful of tiny treats scattered over the floor will distract him from territorial guarding,” says Linda. “His guarding instincts won’t disappear. He’ll just have better control.”

4. Do some practice runs

Friends who have the willingness and patience to stand on your porch and ring the doorbell while you train are priceless. Another option could be a neighborhood kid with time on his hands. If all else fails, knock on the inside of the door yourself. When the dog rushes to see what’s going on, show the reward, use the verbal cue and take him to the chosen location where he has more space to move around and time to calm himself.

Several ten or 15-minute sessions are better than 30 minutes of continuous training. End on a successful note. If you or your dog begin to get frustrated, have him do something different, such as a few sits and downs, then reward him and take a break.

5. Open the door

Once he knows the routine – alert, move to the calm spot, get the reward – it’s time to let the person come into the house. If your dog remembers the new division of labor – he alerts, you check it out – the visitor can talk to him from a distance.

If it’s still peaceful, bring the dog closer while he’s leashed. A leash gives you control over sudden jumps, inappropriate sniffs, or a body slam greeting. If he walks nicely, let him approach the visitor. If he gets excited or pulls on the leash, stop where you are to see if he remembers that only good behavior gets a reward. Is he still overly excited? Go back and start again from the calm spot.

Watch for a wagging tail. Give your guest tiny treats too. Your dog needs to see company as a good thing. If he’s relaxed, sit down and talk to your visitor for a few minutes. Take the dog back to his calm spot, scatter treats and then escort your visitor back to the door.

6. Praise good behavior!

Whether it’s a practice run or the real thing, remember to always praise or treat your dog when he does what you want him to. “The best way is to use positive reinforcement for wanted behavior,” says Eileen. “Don’t punish bad behavior.” Friends, relatives, the UPS driver or mail carrier – the number of people who have occasion to come to your door can be legion. And each one can be a learning experience for a happy human and a well-mannered dog!


Cat Facts: 10 Interesting Things About Cat Ears

By Matt Soniak

Cats are fascinating creatures, and they’re built with some pretty amazing functions. As we’ve already pointed out, their “software” is pretty advanced, and they’re not lacking for cool hardware, either. A lot of attention gets paid to animals’ senses of smell and sight and their noses and eyes, but cats’ ears and hearing deserve a little praise, too. Here are 10 things you might not know about your cat’s ears and what they can do.


  1. Cats’ ears are pretty similar to those of other mammals and share the same three structural areas: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear is made up of the pinna (that’s the external triangular part you can see on top of their heads, and what we usually think of when we talk about their ears) and the ear canal. The pinna’s job is to capture sound waves and funnel them down the ear canal to the middle ear. Cats’ pinnae are mobile, and they can turn and move them independently. “Cats have a lot of muscle control over their ear,” says Dr. George Strain, a neuroscientist at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “They can actually use it like a radar unit and turn it toward the source of sound and increase their hearing sensitivity by 15 to 20 percent.”


The middle ear contains the eardrum and tiny bones called ossicles, which vibrate in response to sound waves and transmit those vibrations to the inner ear. In the inner ear, sensory cells in the organ of Corti respond to the vibrations by moving and bending, which sends electrical signals through the auditory nerve to the brain for processing.


The inner ear also contains the vestibular system, which helps provide a sense of balance and spatial orientation. Its shared location and connectivity to the sensory parts of the inner ear mean that an inner ear infection can affect both hearing and vestibular function, Strain says. “As a result, [a cat with an inner ear infection] may exhibit signs like a head tilt or a curvature of the body toward the side where the infection is.”


  1. For all their similarities to other mammalian ears, cat ears do have some anatomical differences, including one that can frustrate veterinarians. “One of the things that we struggle with in patients who have middle ear infections is that cats have a septum, like a bony shelf, that separates their middle ear into two compartments,” says Dr. Christine Cain, the section chief of dermatology and allergy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “That can make it really difficult for us to resolve their middle ear infections because there’s a compartment that you just can’t get to very easily.”


  1. You might have noticed cats have folds of skin forming what look like small slits on the outer bases of their pinnae. These little structures are formally called the cutaneous marginal pouches, but are more commonly known as Henry’s pockets. Veterinarians are unsure what purpose the pockets serve, if any.


Henry’s pocket is a pretty great anatomical term, and there’s another one for the tufts of fur that grow on the interior of cat’s pinnae—they’re called “ear furnishings” by cat fanciers and breeders.


  1. Most cat owners can tell you, anecdotally, that their pet has a very good sense of hearing. But just how good is it? “Cats hear lower frequencies and higher frequencies than dogs and people do,” Strain says. A cat’s hearing range is approximately 45hz to 64khz, compared to 67hz to 45khz in dogs. While the range of human hearing is usually pegged at 20hz to 20khz, Strain says 64hz to 23khz is a better representation.

“Among domestic animals, cats have some of the best hearing,” he says. “It helps them in that they’re predators by nature—being able to hear a wider range of sounds helps them detect a wider range of prey species, and gives them a chance of hearing and avoiding their own predators.”


  1. White cats with blue eyes have higher than normal incidences of congenital deafness due to genetic anomalies that result in the degeneration of some of the important sensory parts of the ear. “The gene that produces white hair and skin does so by suppressing pigment cells,” Strain explains, including those in the tissue of the inner ear. If those cells don’t function, he says, the tissue degenerates and the sensory cells involved in hearing die, leading to deafness.


  1. Some cats have four ears (or at least four outer ears, with extra pinnae behind their normal pinnae). The additional ears are the result of a genetic mutation. “They also have some other abnormalities,” Cain says. “Their eyes are smaller and they have a little bit of an underbite, too.”


  1. Cats’ ear canals have a self-cleaning mechanism, Cain says, and they don’t need your help keeping their ears clean. In fact, trying to clean a cat’s ears can cause ear problems to develop. “They’re sensitive creatures and susceptible to developing things like irritant reactions when we put things into their ears,” Cain says. “Unless your cat has an ear problem, for which you should go to your veterinarian, I wouldn’t do a lot of cleaning at home. Don’t try to fix it if it’s not broken.”


  1. Cats are an altricial species, which means that for some time after birth, they’re relatively immobile and not all of their sensory systems are working at their full potential. Strain says cats are born with their ear canals sealed and their auditory systems immature. “They respond to sounds as soon as the ear canal opens, and their hearing threshold will get better—that is, they can hear softer and softer sounds—in the several weeks after that,” he says.


  1. A cat’s ear temperature can help you tell if he is stressed out. Cats’ responses to fear and stress include increased adrenaline and other physiological changes that lead to energy generation in the body. Part of that energy is released as heat, increasing a cat’s body temperature in several areas. Scientists have found that the temperature of a cat’s right ear (but not the left ear) is related to the level of certain hormones released in response to stress, and could be a reliable indicator of psychological stress.


  1. Giving a hearing test to a cat is sometimes tricky, but it can be done. Behavioral tests where veterinarians make a noise and look for responses have several problems, Strain says. They can’t detect unilateral deafness, for example, and it’s not uncommon for cats to be stressed out and unresponsive during the tests.


“The most objective test we have available to us is the BAER test, which stands for brainstem auditory evoked response,” Strain says. In these tests, he explains, electrodes are placed under the skin on the top of a cat’s head and in front of each ear. A sound is then played into each ear, and the electrodes detect electrical activity in the auditory pathway.


“It’s like a TV antennae picking up a signal deep in the brain,” he says. A series of peaks in activity indicates the ear heard the noise, while a lack of activity peaks suggests the ear is deaf.


Dealing With Chronic Stress

CHRONIC STRESS is one of the foundations of disease in dogs. Adverse stress-related behaviors, such as destructiveness and self-injury, arise because their needs are not being met. Veterinarians and pet owners are often challenged in their efforts to help dogs with behavior issues that arise from anxiety, fears and phobias because these conditions have many causes. Treatment and support requires great patience, teamwork, and often multiple therapeutic strategies:

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9): Deficiency can induce irritability, behavior disorders, reduced appetite, weight loss, and weakness.

Cyanocobalamine (Vitamin B12): Maintains normal brain and CNS functioning. Deficiency can lead to severe and irreversible CNS damage.

Magnesium: Essential for basic cellular life. Deficiency can aggravate sleep disturbance, irritability and depression.

Selenium: Helps regulate the thyroid gland; deficiency is rare in pets, but can cause muscle weakness, increased susceptibility to infection, cancer, and heart disease.

DL-Phenylalanine: Comprised of a combination of the D and L isomers of the amino acid phenylalanine. Acts as a natural pain reliever by blocking the enzymes responsible for endorphin and enkephalin breakdown.

Eleuthero powder (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Also known as Siberian ginseng, it’s an adaptogen that helps the body adapt more effectively to stress. Enhances immune function, and reduces cortisol levels, inflammatory response, and the depletion of stress-reducing hormones.

Inositol: Plays an important role as a component of several cellular messengers, including some lipids such as phosphatidylinositol phosphate.

L-Tyrosine: Necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis, such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, each of which can regulate mood. Assists in the synthesis of enkephalins (pain-relieving effects). Research suggests tyrosine acts as an adaptogen, helping the body adapt and cope with the effects of stress. It is a building block for norepinephrine and epinephrine, two of the body’s primary stress hormones.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): Reduces anxiety and stress, and is used in dogs to help alleviate mild anxiety, fears, and phobias. It acts via a mechanism similar to opiates such as morphine.

Passion Flower (Passiflora) Extract: Its flavonoids have relaxing and anti-anxiety effects. Can help with sleep problems and restlessness. May also be effective in reducing neuralgia, including (theoretically) neuralgia in cats infected with FHV. The herb of choice for chronic insomnia.

L-5-hydroxytryptophan (Griffonia simplicifolia botanical): Has a documented sleep-inducing effect. It is a direct precursor to serotonin, which has a calming effect and regulates sleep. Griffonia seed has been shown to raise serotonin levels in the brain, relieving anxiety and improving sleep patterns.

All 11 of the natural and complementary ingredients above are contained in Serenin Vet™. This product down-regulates the triggers that over-stimulate a dog’s brain, and is formulated to help dogs suffering from separation anxiety, hyperactivity, noise phobias, sleep disturbances, etc. Any of these conditions can seriously affect the quality of your patients’ lives, and that of their owners.

Dr. Terri McCalla is a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist and a member of Animal HealthQuest, LLC.


5 Fall Dangers for Dogs

By: Jill Fanslau comments by Diane Weinmann


During the hot summer months, you’ve learned how to keep your dog cool, hydrated, and happy. But what about when the chillier fall season rolls in, and brings its own set of unique challenges? How do we prep our pooches for the change in atmosphere and the possible dangers that befall them? Here are five ways to keep your dog safe when the temperature changes from warm to crisp.



As the weather gets cooler, you’ll stay indoors more often. Unfortunately, mice and rats will follow your lead, coming inside shelters to find warmth and food.

You may be tempted to put out pesticides or rodenticides—otherwise known as rat poison—to get rid of unwanted visitors. “But these rodent control chemicals can be toxic for pets if ingested,” says Len Donata, VMD, Radnor Veterinary Hospital in Pennsylvania.

“When a dog eats mouse or rat bait, a clotting factor gets blocked,” he explains. “Your pet will start to bleed.” This bleeding can start anywhere—internally or externally, from a small bump on their skin to inside their lungs. You may never even see it.” Symptoms can include rapid breathing, blood in their vomit, weakness, or seizures. “If you notice something wrong, immediately call your vet’s emergency line,” Donata urges.

Another thing to remember: some traps can be just that to a dog and they may face injuries as a result. “A mousetrap with cheese or peanut butter may look like an appetizer to an inquisitive dog,” says Teoti Anderson, CPTA-KA, KPA-CTP, owner of Pawsitive Results in Lexington, South Carolina.

Make sure your pets have no access to areas containing bait or traps. Keep doors locked and regularly check the areas to determine children or pets haven’t disturbed them.

I have an life and death personal experience with this very topic with my dog Cocoa.  He at rat poison and went into seizures.  I thought we were going to lose him but he pulled through (thank the Lord!).  All caused from putting poison in a chipmunk hole by my husband!




Along with the beautiful fall foliage, unfortunately, comes mold, ragweed, and pollen. For many people, those seasonal allergens can lead to sneezing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes for both you and your dog. Sure, you can pop an allergy medicine—but what about your pooch?

“When your dog comes in from outside, wipe him down with some gentle baby wipes,” says Anderson. This will help remove any microscopic allergens from his fur so he’s not carrying them around all day long.

“If your pup continues to have symptoms—like scratching, shaking his head, or constantly tearing up—see a vet,” says Dr. Donato. “Depending on how severe the symptoms are, treatments range from simple antihistamines to more aggressive medications.”

My husky Neko has been coughing after he smells crushed leaves and when he smells the base of trees where the mold grows.  I gave him Benadryl based on the vet’s recommendation and it cleared up.



“You might only think of ticks as a danger during the summer, but they can pose a big problem to your dog in the fall, too,” Dr. Donato explains.  That’s because many animals limit their times outdoors or hibernate when the temps start to drop.  The result: fewer victims for ticks to latch on to. If your dog hangs out in the backyard or goes on walks near woods, he’s now an easy target for ticks.

“Ticks have heat sensors and can detect heat up to 30 feet away,” he says. “They can hang out on a branch or tall grass, and then latch on to the creature when they walk by.” Your dog can contract Lyme disease or other nasty infections from a tick after only 24 hours of the bug attaching.

“If a tick does attach to your pet, remove it immediately,” says Anderson. First, wipe the bite site and a pair of fine-point tweezers with rubbing alcohol. (Regular tweezers may squeeze germs from the tick’s body into your pet’s body.) Then grab the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, and pull slowly upward with constant pressure until the tick pops out. “Clean the area again with rubbing alcohol,” she adds.

If there’s a bit of the tick still in the skin, don’t worry—it’ll eventually work itself out. But you may want to drop the tick in a small bottle full of alcohol and then take a photo of it on your phone. “That way you can show your vet if he or she needs to identify it later on,” Anderson recommends, adding, “Keep an eye on your dog’s health for the next two weeks.”

Still don’t want to attempt remove the bug yourself? No problem. Just call your vet!

I continue to give my dog his flea and tick meds but I also use essential oils called AWAY from Dr. Melissa Shelton DVM.  Shown below is more info on the product and where you can purchase it:


Ingredients:  Essential Oils of Eucalyptus citriodora, Catnip, Citronella, Lemon Tea Tree, White Cypress

Away was created for many purposes, but all are encompassed in the word “Away”.  Bugs go “Away”, smells go “Away”, and stale energy can also go “Away”!  I put it on my dog any time we are going into the woods or open field for a walk.Petting Technique The petting technique is a way to apply the oils to your pet. This technique is well tolerated by almost every form of animal. The technique can be modified for small rodents, amphibians, or animals that may be difficult to handle, simply by having the oils absorbed into your hands, and then “cupping” and holding the animal within your hands.

Petting Technique The petting technique is a way to apply the oils to your pet. This technique is well tolerated by almost every form of animal. The technique can be modified for small rodents, amphibians, or animals that may be difficult to handle, simply by having the oils absorbed into your hands, and then “cupping” and holding the animal within your hands.

s the body to find a natural way to cure itself and improve immune response.

Dogs:  Away can also be applied to most dogs topically using the “Petting Technique.”  Place 1-3 drops into your hands, rub them together until a light coating remains, then pet onto areas of need.  For insect repellent; rubbing down the legs, neck, shoulders, and back are good locations to concentrate on.  I especially focus on the “ankle” area of my dogs, since ticks will often contact this area first, as they start to climb up the legs.

Cats:  Diffusion of Away in a water-based diffuser is also recommended for cat households.  Away is wonderful for eliminating pet odors from the household, and litter box areas.


Closed Pools


If you’re a pool owner, chances are you’ve already covered your pool for the winter. “Even though the pool is closed up, you still need to keep your pooch away from it,” says Dr. Donato.

The reason? Water can collect in puddles on top of solid covers. If your dog slides out on the cover, he may have trouble getting back to solid ground. “He can get stranded, and quickly get hypothermia if temperatures are low enough,” says Dr. Donato.

This can also occur with mesh covers and if the water isn’t low enough, your pet can walk across and get wet.


Holiday Treats


October brings a bunch of trick-or-treating superheroes, goblins, and Frozen Elsa’s to your front door. It also brings a ton of chocolate into your house. Most dog owners know to keep chocolate away from their dogs, but if your pup gets his paws on those sweets, bring them to the vet right away to induce vomiting. Too much chocolate can be toxic.

“You’ll want to keep your Thanksgiving leftovers to yourself, too,” says Anderson. Onions, grapes, and raisons can be toxic to dogs, and “turkey skin is very fatty and can lead to pancreatitis in your pet,” she explains. Dr. Donato warns that feeding Thanksgiving table scraps causes a lot of gastroenteritis issues in dogs. “I know it’s a way for people to bond with their pets, but it’s a big reason why we’re kept busy.”

In other words, more leftovers for you.

Cats and Urine Accidents

Cats and Urine Accidents

By Dr. Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

On occasion (and in some cases, more than occasionally), cat urine winds up somewhere other than the litterbox — usually on a soft absorbent surface like carpeting, an area rug, a pile of clothes or even your bed.

Obviously, this is a problem that must be tackled from a few different angles, the most important of which is to sort out why little Fluffy isn’t confining her potty habits to her litterbox. There are a number of reasons she might relieve herself outside the box. Here are a few of the most common:

• The box isn’t scooped and/or disinfected often enough. Cats are fastidious creatures who don’t enjoy a dirty, stinky bathroom any more than we do. That’s why you must be extremely disciplined about scooping the box. As in, once or twice a day scooping of all poop and urine clumps.

Also remove any litter stuck to the sides or bottom of the box with a damp paper towel. Dry the area thoroughly before scooping dry litter back over it. Keeping the sides and floor of the box clean and dry may help extend the time between full box clean-outs. Dispose of all used litter and clean the box at least weekly.

It’s important to wash the litterbox thoroughly to remove as much odor as possible so your cat doesn’t get turned off by the smell and decide not to use it. Wash the box using hot water and fragrance-free soap. Avoid scented cleaners and products containing potential toxins.

• Your cat doesn’t like your choice of litter or the box is in a high-traffic area or is difficult to get into or out of

• She has a medical condition like FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), or another chronic illness

• Your kitty is a senior citizen or is experiencing cognitive decline

If your cat suddenly starts peeing outside her well-maintained litterbox and you haven’t moved the box or changed the type of litter she prefers, I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian to check for an underlying physical or cognitive issue that may be contributing to the problem.

How to Pinpoint Where Your Cat’s Been Peeing

The next thing you’ll want to do is to get rid of urine odors for your own sanity, and so your kitty won’t continually return to the scene of the crime and reoffend. Some people tend to believe cat urine smells worse or is harder to extinguish than the urine of other animals, but I’m not convinced.

Often when a cat urinates outside the litterbox, no one notices right away because it’s a small spot that dries quickly or it’s somewhat hidden. As the bacteria in the urine decomposes, it gives off that telltale ammonia-like odor we all know and don’t love. Older kitties whose kidneys aren’t working at 100 percent efficiency can have more potent-smelling urine than younger cats, as well as intact males whose urine contains testosterone.

If you discover your cat has been peeing in a spot outside his litterbox, it’s a good idea to find out if he’s doing it in other areas of the house as well. The quickest way to do this is with a black light. Urine stains appear in a lovely shade of neon green when illuminated with a black light, so darken your house and walk around shining the light on floors, baseboards and anywhere there are suspicious stains or smells.

Once you find he definitely is urinating outside his box you need to determine why.  A vet visit may be in order or you may have a kitty with an emotional issue.  If this is the case, you can call Diane Weinmann, an animal communicator to obtain info from your cat as to why a change has occurred. Contact Diane at

Removing Urine Stains and Smells

For dried urine spots, treatment will depend on the type of surface you’re dealing with. Hard materials such as tile, wood flooring and baseboards can be cleaned using a safe, natural solution like 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water, or undiluted white vinegar. Liberally spray the solution on the urine stain, wipe and repeat as often as necessary to eliminate any lingering odor. If the smell remains despite your best efforts, I recommend purchasing an enzyme-based cleaner as described below and re-treating the area(s).

Cleaning carpeting, upholstery or another absorbent surface requires a bit more effort. Cat urine is composed of several different chemicals, strains of bacteria and other substances. And while natural cleaners like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda can deal with some urine odors, they don’t deal with them all.

That’s why it’s important to have an enzyme cleaner on hand to deal with the uric acid in cat urine stains. Take these steps to thoroughly clean urine stains and odors from carpets, rugs and other absorbent surfaces:

1. If the spot is still wet, use paper towels or another absorbent material like a rag or cloth and blot up as much of the urine as possible before moving to step 2.

2. Pour plain water over the spot and soak up the moisture, again using clean, white cloths or paper towels — continue blotting until no yellow appears on the towels.

3. Saturate the spot with a commercially available enzyme-based “digester” solution and let it sit for the prescribed amount of time. Thoroughly saturate the soiled areas, including carpet padding, if you suspect the urine has soaked all the way through.

4. Use more clean paper towels to blot up as much moisture as you can and then allow the spot to air-dry. Protecting the just-treated area is a good idea to prevent humans from walking through it and kitty from finding it and re-soiling. You can place aluminum foil loosely over the spots or use upside-down laundry baskets, bowls, baking sheets or similar items.

If the urine spot has been there awhile, you may need to repeat the last two steps at least once. Depending on the scope of the problem, be prepared to make this a multi-week project as you soak the spots, blot them, allow them to dry and then repeat the process as many times as necessary to completely remove stains and odor.

Additional Suggestions

Do yourself a favor and DO NOT make the mistake of using any old carpet-cleaning product you have on hand instead of a specialized pet formula. The products sold specifically for pet messes contain bacteria and enzyme digesters that are extremely effectively at eliminating stains and odor in both carpet and padding, without damaging or discoloring most flooring materials.

If you try something else on the spot first, then use a specialized pet formula, you may not get the same good result you can achieve using the pet product only. Also, no matter how bad the stain may look or smell when you discover it, resist the urge to use a harsh scrubbing motion to remove the spot, as this can quickly destroy the texture of your carpet or rug, and scrubbing really isn’t necessary.

If you’re patient and follow the steps listed above for stain removal, even if you have to repeat the process a few times to get all the stain out, there’s a very good chance you won’t notice the spot after it dries thoroughly. Even light-colored carpeting and rugs can be returned to good condition with the right cleaning agent and technique.

Once the urine is completely removed from a spot your cat has repeatedly soiled, try applying a few drops of a pure essential oil (I’ve used lemon, tangerine and lavender) on the area as a deterrent.

Unfortunately, urine occasionally soaks all the way through carpet and padding into the subfloor. If you can’t get rid the smell despite all your best cleaning efforts, you’ll need to remove that area of carpet and padding, neutralize the odor with an oil-based, stain-blocking primer on the subfloor and then replace the padding and carpet.


Cats and Holistic Décor!

By Dr. Becker and comment by Diane Weinmann

Himalayan salt lamps are very popular these days. They’re used in homes to help beautify and refresh the indoor air and provide an attractive, soothing light. They come in a range of calming colors and interesting shapes. Unfortunately, these lovely lamps may pose an attractive nuisance in homes with pets, especially cats. Kitties, as we know, can jump or climb onto tabletops, dressers, nightstands, kitchen and bathroom counters, bookshelves … you get the idea.

Anywhere you might place a salt lamp around your home is probably accessible to your cat, and apparently there are kitties who enjoy licking the lamps. I have absolutely no idea how widespread this problem might be. Some cats seem to completely ignore the salt lamps in their homes, while others find them irresistible.

I have salt lamps everywhere in my house but my kitty has been in heaven for the past 2 years so I am not concerned.  I had them when he was in the home and he never seemed interested in them.  Thank goodness!   I know he will be coming back to me so I am glad to know this information and I will redecorate when that happens.

Salt Toxicity in Cats

The problem if your pet licks a salt lamp is that too much salt is toxic to cats (and dogs). In fact, the use of salt to induce vomiting in pets is no longer the standard of care and is absolutely not a recommended approach for either pet parents or veterinarians. Symptoms of salt poisoning include:

✓ Vomiting ✓ Walking drunk ✓ Tremors
Diarrhea ✓ Abnormal fluid accumulation in the body ✓ Seizures
✓ Lack of appetite ✓ Excessive thirst or urination ✓ Coma
✓ Lethargy ✓ Potential kidney damage ✓ Death

Treatment for salt poisoning in pets includes administration of intravenous (IV) fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling and supportive care.1

Besides salt lamps, other sources of salt around the house include table salt, rock salt (used in de-icers), seawater, homemade play dough, paint balls and enemas containing sodium phosphate. If you suspect your cat has been poisoned by salt, call your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

5 More Surprising Cat Toxins

  1. Topical Pain Medications Containing Flurbiprofen

Flurbiprofen is a human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) applied to the skin to relieve muscle, joint or other pain. Cats are extremely sensitive to NSAIDs, and reports of five kitties who became ill after their owners applied the medications to their neck or feet prompted an FDA safety alert on these products.2

The medications the five cats ingested contained flurbiprofen and a variety of other active ingredients. Two cats in one family developed kidney failure but recovered with veterinary care. Three cats in another household weren’t so lucky. Two of the three developed symptoms that included lack of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, bloody stools, anemia and dilute urine. Sadly, all three ultimately died despite veterinary care.

Veterinarians performed necropsies on all three kitties and found evidence of NSAID toxicity. Since the pet owners applied the medicated cream or lotion to their own bodies and not directly to their cats, it’s reasonable to assume one of three likely scenarios occurred:

  • The owners applied their medications and then handled their cats without washing their hands
  • The kitties licked the medication off their owners’ skin
  • The cats rubbed up against their owners, transferring the medication to their fur, and then ingested it during grooming.
  1. Flea/Tick Spot-on Products for Dogs

Never, ever use a canine flea/tick product on your cat. Depending on the ingredients in the product, just a drop has the potential to kill a cat within hours. A few years ago, a newspaper in the Pittsburgh area told the heartbreaking story of four family cats who died over a four-week period because their owners treated them with spot-on products intended for dogs.3

In one tragic case, the owners noticed fleas on both their cats, so they applied “just a drop” of a topical spot-on flea treatment on each kitty. Within hours both cats were very sick and one was having convulsions. The owners immediately took both kitties to a veterinary clinic, but neither survived. In this case, the owners knew the flea treatment was intended for dogs, but figured a small amount would be safe for cats.

  1. Glow Sticks and Glow Jewelry

For reasons known only to them, many kitties enjoying gnawing on glow sticks and glow jewelry. So many, in fact that these items routinely appear on yearly top 10 cat toxin lists. The liquid inside glow sticks has a foul taste and may cause your cat to salivate excessively. More importantly, they also contain dibutyl phthalate, a chemical that can leak out and burn your cat’s fur and tongue. The plastic casing also poses a choking hazard.

  1. Detergent Pods

Most detergents and soaps contain ionic and anionic surfactants. When ingested in small amounts, these chemicals can cause GI upset in a pet, such as excessive drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Fortunately, it’s unlikely your cat would have the opportunity or desire to ingest a large amount of bottled detergent.

Of more concern are those little brightly colored laundry detergent pods that smell good and look like candy or some other type of yummy treat to a small child or a pet. It’s conceivable that a pet might eat enough pods to cause an obstruction in the GI tract, but the greater danger of laundry and also dish detergent pods is actually the potential for a pet to bite into them and inhale the detergent.

The reason pods are more dangerous for pets than simply licking a bit of spilled detergent off the floor or their fur is the product formulation. The detergent in the pods is both highly concentrated and under pressure. If your kitty bites down on the pod, it can cause the liquid to be forcefully expelled and easily aspirated or swallowed, often in large amounts.

So even if you are using natural detergents in pods, there are still substantial risks. Detergent is foamy, and when an animal ingests it and then vomits, the foam can be pulled into the lungs. In a worst-case scenario, the detergent coats the airways and hampers oxygen exchange in the lungs, which causes suffocation.

  1. Plants, Specifically Oleanders This Time of Year

Many pet parents don’t realize how deadly the oleander plant can be if ingested by humans, dogs, cats, birds, horses, cows and other animals. The plant only grows in certain regions of the U.S. and isn’t especially attractive to animals, which is probably why many people are unaware of the danger it poses.

The common oleander is the prevalent species in the U.S., and is found primarily in warm regions of the south and southwest, California and Hawaii. Every part of the oleander plant, including the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, sap and nectar, contains naturally-occurring cardiac glycosides, which are toxins that directly affect the electrolyte balance within the heart muscle.

Even water in which oleander leaves are floating contains these toxins. The roots and stems of the plant contain the highest amount of cardiac glycosides, followed by the leaves and flowers. The most toxic oleanders are thought to be the plants with red flowers. Oleandrin is the most widely recognized of as many as 30 different cardiac glycosides found in oleanders. Oleandrin acts similarly to the human and veterinary drug digoxin, which is used in the treatment of a variety of heart conditions.


Personally I had no idea all these items could be potential problems for cat households!  Please take precautions to keep your furry loved one safe!


Are European Dogs Born Well-Behaved?

By Dr. Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

If you’ve ever visited Europe, you might have noticed that European pets, generally speaking, are quite well-behaved — maybe more so than dogs born and raised in the U.S.

One couple who moved from Dallas to London found that perhaps their dogs weren’t quite “ready for prime time” in comparison with the dogs that had been raised in their new country. They wondered if it was just their imagination. Determined to get to the bottom of their growing suspicion that their pups might need a little more tweaking in the behavioral department, they asked a friend, who happened to be a professional dog trainer, to give them some pointers.

Throughout Belgium, France and other places throughout the United Kingdom, Kama Brown, a certified professional dog trainer-knowledge assessed (CPDT-KA), kept her eye peeled for any wisdom she could glean regarding European dogs, as well as their owners.1

Is It Me or Is It My Dog?

One of the first things Brown noticed was the freedom most dogs enjoyed, but well-deserved. She was intrigued to see that most dogs were off leash, even when they visited museums, toy stores and markets and rode on trains, trolleys and elevators. Only when waterfowl were present were European dogs leashed.

She also noticed that when children wanted to approach dogs on the street, they were told to “avoid distracting them,” and that admonition was consistent everywhere. Dogs weren’t asked to wait while their owners went inside stores or eateries, or to lie under tables on the train or tram. The dogs did so without being told. Still, Brown observed:

“Young dogs in Europe did the same things as young dogs in America. A [9]-month-old black Labrador jumped onto a counter to sniff the cheese selection at the market. A small mixed breed stopped to sniff each interesting spot.

When a young Bulldog resisted going down the stairs to the Underground, the owner coaxed him down each new step. A man with a very young puppy walked quickly to keep the puppy from picking up objects he found along the way. Nothing I saw made me think that European dogs were born well behaved.”2

Another of her observations was that dogs were basically ignored. No one fawned over them, asked owners if they could give their pets food morsels or even pet them. The non-interaction extended to other dogs; owners avoided letting their dogs sniff, stand near or play with other dogs.

How Dogs in Europe Are Trained to Behave

The more Brown found herself in areas where dogs were plentiful, the more she realized what she was seeing was very close to the way service dogs are trained and treated in the U.S. Owners do their best to maintain a calm, comfortable environment, which encourages them to be calm and quiet, as well.

When service dogs in the U.S. walk through crowds or encounter people, their owners and trainers are always pleased when no one approaches them to pet them, talk to them or get in their dogs’ space. Strangers, when wise, don’t encourage interaction at all with dogs they’re not familiar with, and that’s how owners of service dogs typically like it.

The simple reason for this is that such interaction does distract dogs. It puts them in conflict, even in the presence of their owners, because the signals aren’t consistent. Brown explains:

“We treat service dogs this way because we understand that interacting with them makes training harder for their handler. When strangers frequently offer treats and attention, or allow their dogs to rush into another dog’s space, it produces specific emotional responses, which will arise each time a new person or a strange dog approaches. Sometimes, this emotion is pleasure, but more often, anxiety, over-exuberance or defensive behavior is manifested.”3

Strangers’ Interaction With Dogs Distracts and Confuses Them

One of the most interesting phenomena on this side of the pond is how little most people, including dog owners, understand that lavishing praise and conversation on any and all dogs is setting those dogs and owners up for failure, Brown asserts. Further, the fact that dogs aren’t restricted from many areas helps them become more acclimated to different environments, which helps them remain calm rather than unsure of what’s happening and how to respond. Brown says:

“If being taken to new places were a regular occurrence, it would not excite a dog into lunging through doorways. If barking and pulling were consistently ignored in young dogs, those behaviors could never become a game or a way to get attention. Unlike the restrictions put on U.S. dog owners, Europeans are able to consistently expose their dogs to new sounds, sights and smells, which mentally enriches the dogs without overstimulating them.”4

Determining not to acknowledge a dog you (or your children) are not familiar with may be one of the best things you can do for them. Owners don’t have to calm or reassure dogs that become overexcited when strangers don’t approach or engage them. Brown says that lack of distraction allows dogs to relax and focus on their owners.

The upshot for Brown’s newly planted London dwellers was that they could relax, too. Just living in a European city would be three-quarters of the way toward success because their dogs would be ignored! The key to socialization was their dogs’ simple presence — not constant attention. Other than bonding with their pup or pups and teaching basic manners, nothing else would be needed. Except perhaps a little “schooling” for over-attentive dog lovers.

I can tell you that when I was on Santa Margarita (wonderful place in Italy) I wandered into a non-descript church but was completely amazed at the interior that was breath-taking!  As I stayed to enjoy the mass and the ambience I realized that there were dogs all over in the church just laying at the owner’s feet.  I thought this was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I highly recommend that our beloved USA get a clue!