While it is easy to tell a person’s or dog’s emotional disposition — happy, sad or peeved — by looking at their facial expression, cats wear a mysterious poker face so they aren’t as easily read. But cats have several behaviors and vocal intonations by which they communicate. Once you learn to recognize and translate the behaviors, you’re on your way to great conversations with your cat through the art of communication.
Cats communicate with other cats predominately with body language and scent. They communicate with us using body language, vocalizations and scent marking (although we cannot smell most of it). Unfortunately for cats, we humans have failed to uphold our end of the communication deal. We need to better understand normal feline behavior and the cat’s communication methods. Our cats do communicate with us and we need to do our best to “listen” and understand their language. Otherwise, we may miss important messages like, “Back off!” “I’m sick,” and “You are my favorite possession in the whole wide world!”
Cats are highly intelligent beings and have mental skills equivalent to that of a human toddler. Let’s talk about the subtle and not-so-subtle art of feline communication:
The art of feline nonverbal communication with humans engages the total body, from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. Sometimes, we misinterpret nonverbal cues or interpret the cue to mean the same as a dog’s behavior — which is very often the opposite. Misinterpretations can lead to injury, scratches and bites. The best clue to nonverbal communication is to observe the total body for more accurate communication.
The eyes may be a beautiful, mysterious window to the soul, but you can think of them as your cat’s mood ring. Cats’ pupils vary in size from the narrowest slits to wide-open black pools, for different reasons from emotional to environmental. For example, pupils may widen or narrow adjusting to light levels or signifying fear or aggression. A happy kitty’s pupils are narrow, but the narrowest of slits means you’ve got an angry cat or a sleepy cat. The opposite, dilated pupils, again, may be adjusting to light or may indicate a fearful, agitated cat. Yet, it may also signal pain. The best interpretation of mood is reading the body posture in conjunction with the eyes.
Direct eye contact, or staring, is sometimes considered rude in human communication. In cat communication, a direct stare is an intimidation posture. The first to look away, blink or slink off will be considered to have ceded defeat.
Can You ‘Ear’ Me Now?
Cat ears are remarkable. Like radar dishes, cat ears hear the faintest sound, especially important for the hunter outside or inside the home. They also swivel independently, move up and down, and rotate 180 degrees thanks to 32 muscles. Ear placement indicates mood, too. An interested, relaxed cat sports upright, forward-facing ears.
An aggressive cat’s ears also stand up straight initially before moving sideways and flat. Look at the body to tell the difference. An aggressive cat’s ears rotate back and flatten, with whiskers forward. A swift paw, hissing, growling and/or spitting may accompany the posture. Hint: the flatter the ears, the angrier the cat!
Don’t Get Your Whiskers in a Twist!
Whiskers, or vibrissae, are sensitive tactile hairs, aiding the cat’s sense of touch. Whiskers are deeply embedded in muscle tissue and connect to sensitive nerve endings. Whiskers act like a cat’s barometer, transmitting information about air currents, air pressure and objects they touch. Additionally, whiskers act as a GPS system, sending back information about the cat’s surroundings. Cats have three sets of facial whiskers: the eyebrows, chin hair and the longest set, the muzzle whiskers. Muscles allow the whiskers to move forward and backward and it’s this movement that serves as a mood evaluator.
Much like body position and ears, whiskers and ears work together to indicate mood. A happy cat’s whiskers point forward while the ears are upright and forward. Whiskers pointed outward, with ears rotated back and flat, signal a cat is gathering information or agitated/aggressive. Whiskers pulled flat to the cheeks, accompanied by ears pulled to the side, indicates fear or aggression. Heed the warning.
A cat’s body posture and attitude can invite us closer or warn us away. The classic Halloween stance — back arches with raised ridge fur, raised rump, legs straight and tail fur puffed out — is a warning stance. These are physiological changes indicating extreme stress, fear, aggression or threat. Distance yourself if you come upon a cat exhibiting these characteristics.
Conversely, if a cat approaches you with a raised back and flat fur, rubbing up against you, you’ve been invited to a pet fest.
Some cats do what I call the “Stop, Flop and Roll” maneuver. The cat stops walking, flops on the floor and rolls back and forth, exposing the tummy. It’s usually right in front of you and it’s an attention-getting scheme for petting. Go ahead give the cat lots of chin scratching and head rubbing.
Careful, though. Here’s the scheme part: don’t pet the tummy! While some cats tolerate it, most don’t. A cat’s exposed tummy is not a submissive posture or invitation to a tummy rub like a dog. In cat language, it’s a strategic posture to better engage claws and teeth, even if it’s your hand that’s the possible target of attack. The more you try to pull away, the tighter the grip. Relax — yes, really — the cat will release shortly.
There is one posture or behavior that I think is an overlooked, misunderstood behavior: the defensive cat posture. The defensive cat sits curled in a tight, crouching position with the tail curled around the body, head to the side and fur flattened, trying to be as little as possible. This withdrawn posture should alert you to your cat’s nervous state. Salivating, shaking, vomiting and/or defecation may also be seen.
The defensive posture denotes stress, which may be from a larger problem of intimidation, bullying or harassment from another pet in the home, or, sadly, maybe even a human.
A cat’s tail clearly telegraphs the feline’s emotional state of mind. Learn the signs and remember the condition can change in a quick flick:
• Tail swishing side to side indicates a slightly irritated cat. But because some cats express joy with a swishy tail, you should know your cat’s disposition and personality. If not, be sure to look at other body indicators.
• Swiftly slapping tail means agitation. Leave this cat alone. Unlike a dog’s rapid, happy, wagging tail, approaching a cat with this tail movement often results in pain — yours.
• Tail thumping, similar to a drum beat, signals frustration or a warning.
• Tail up and fully fluffed means the cat feels threatened. If that fluffed tail moves over the top of the back, and the cat looks mad as well, stand back. Attack is imminent.
• Tucked tail is the universal sign of submissiveness.
• Low horizontal tail position says, “I’m cool, calm and collected.” • Upright, erect tail with a slight hook indicates a jaunty swagger and means your cat is interested in you or the surroundings.
• Straight up with a quiver is a great sign. Your cat is shaking with delight.
Feline Signs of Affection
Cats show us many signs of love and affection using body language. They sit near us, on us or follow us from room to room. They lick us, give us head butts and give us cheek rubs, all as love signs. Here are some common love signs and their translations:
• Head butts, known as bunting, involve cats rubbing against us gently with their forehead as a happy greeting and sign of affection.
• Eye blinks are “kitty kisses: in feline parlance. Direct eye contact is confrontation, but slow eye blinks express love and trust. Be sure to blink back.
• Licking, the pillar of cat grooming, health care and cleanliness learned way back in kittenhood, is lavished on us when they consider us a member of their family.
• Nose kisses are a sweet, gentle, nose-to-nose greeting between cat friends (and humans when we’re lucky).
Once you learn the basic forms of feline communication, it’s important to learn your cat’s quirks or dialect. Learn feline signs of affection and reciprocate them for a loving relationship. Learn the warning signs before they escalate to aggression, and then heed the warning.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Think of the anger and concern that wells up inside you when you spot an unattended dog tethered on a short leash to a parking meter or worse, trapped inside a locked, parked car. I'm betting that you do your best to find the owner and if necessary, rescue a dog from a hot car before he succumbs to heat stroke.
Now imagine if their was a solution to these unsafe canine scenarios. One innovative company thinks it has the answer. When a person wants to dash inside for a cup of coffee or grab a few grocery items while out walking their dog, they can usher their dog inside a modern-looking, climate-controlled dog house located just outside the establishment.
Welcome to the latest in inventions catering to the needs and wants of the 21st century dog: the DogSpot. Branded as a "smart sidewalk sanctuary," this housing unit began appearing in New York City with ambitious plans to expand to more than a dozen more cities within a year.
"New York has been a great place for us to test this service," says Chelsea Brownridge, founder/CEO of DogSpot in an interview with Pet Prodcut News. "For the last two years, we've had people beg us to come to their city next. I'm thrilled to say, 'We're ready.'"
He says that DogSpot is working with city planners as well as businesses and pet advocates to ensure a smooth expansion to these cities: Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.; Boston; San Hose, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Jersey City, N.J.; Charleston, S.C.; Columbia, S.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; South Hampton, N.Y.; and New Rochelle, N.Y.
These DogSpots feature an in-app Puppy Cam, 24/7 customer service, air-circulating heat and air conditioning (depending on the weather), auto-sanitizing UV lights and have been deemed legal and have earned approval by dozens of veterinarians. Brownridge touts them as a "safe and cozy home away from home while you briefly go somewhere your dog is not allowed."
In this age of rent-a-bikes and rent-a-scooters that are now littering sidewalks and parkways in major cities, there will be these canine housing units also taking up space on sidewalks. Time will tell if DogSpot is a doggone great solution or creates new problems – such as a dog trapped inside by an owner who forgot he was there or who intentionally abandons this dog. Stay tuned.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Who hasn’t visited a cat lover’s home and inhaled a lungful of ammonia? Ah, Eau de Toilette Feline. Your friend holds out a World War II gas mask, saying, “You might want to put this on before you come inside. I’m having a little trouble with my cat.”
Getting rid of the cat isn’t the answer. The problem will persist long after the perpetrator has left your home. Imperceptible pee clings to surfaces, posting an invisible olfactory signal that instructs any new pet (both cat and dog) to, “Pee here.”
There is hope. You can reform your cat and rid your home of the odor of cat pee. Even the most odoriferous home can be restored to a pollution-free zone.
I’ll walk you through the process of regaining your home and help you rekindle your love affair with your kitty. Take a deep breath. I smell fresh air in your future.
Inappropriate elimination is more complicated than a congressional health-care bill. To arrive at a fresh-smelling home, you’ll need to:
• Figure out who’s making the mess if you have a multi-pet home. • Take your kitty to the vet.
• Determine if he’s marking or going to the bathroom.
• Find out what’s upsetting your cat.
• Fix it.
• Retrain him.
• Find all the soiled spots.
• Remove the smell of pee from the floors and walls.
• Make the target area unattractive.
• Enjoy the new feeling of calm.
Let’s focus on cleanup strategies:
As soon as you notice the mess, clean it up. Removing all traces of ammonia and pheromones from the carpet is the first step in persuading the cat to return to the litter box. After all, if it smells like a toilet, Fluffy will use it as a toilet.
Cat pee and poop in a carpet contains pheromones that continue to attract cats to the soiled areas. It is as if the cat has posted an olfactory sign saying, “Bathroom.” If you simply mask the pee odors, you may be able to fool your nose, but Fluffy, with his superior sense of smell, will be able to find his alternate potty every time.
Completely banishing the odor requires treating the entire affected area, including the carpet pad and subflooring. Here are your needed cleanup supplies:
• Ultraviolet light
• Masking tape
• Odor neutralizer
• Old sponges
• White towels or paper towels
• Spatula or putty knife
• Cheap, large crystal silica gel cat litter
Before you can clean up the cat pee, you’ve got to find the pee spots — all of them. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Hydrogen sulfide, a gas emitted by poop and pee, deadens the nerve endings in your nose. You may be able to smell ammonia, but your nose, confused by locations, can’t pinpoint them. Fortunately, those inconspicuous pee spots are visible under the right conditions.
The soiled area in the carpet resembles an iceberg. You are only seeing the tip. If the surface stain appears to be the size of a silver dollar, it has likely spread to dinner plate diameter beneath the pad. You must clean all the layers. Even the best odor eliminator won’t work if it doesn’t fully saturate the soiled layers. You may want to use a large medical or cooking syringe (a needle is not necessary) to inject sufficient quantities of chemicals deep into the carpet pad.
When the ammonia odor persists or your cat returns to the spot, pull the carpet up and treat the wood or concrete subflooring. When the subfloor has dried, seal it, then saturate the carpet with odor removers. Failing that, you may need to replace floor boards, in addition to carpeting and padding. Don’t forget to scrub the walls and baseboards. You may have to treat the carpet multiple times in order to pass the feline muster.
You can safely and cheaply remove cat pee from your concrete slab by steeping it with hydrogen peroxide. It will bubble on contact. Repeat the process until you can apply the peroxide without a bubbling reaction. It may take a week of repeated treatments to thoroughly purge the odor. Once the odor has been removed from the foundation, apply a concrete sealer. This creates a vapor barrier.
When cleaning up a fresh mistake (translation: still wet), place a white cloth or paper towel over the spot and blot it by pressing down. Do this until you pull no more moisture from the carpet. Avoid printed designs or borders because the dye could bleed into a light-colored carpet. Also, don’t rub the carpet with the cloth, as this will only force the pee farther from the original spot and deeper into the pad. Left untreated, cat pee will eventually fade the color of the carpet — another reason to clean a pee spot as soon as you find it.
Before you buy a cleanup product, find out how it works. Read the label warnings. These cautions list a cleaner’s wide range of potential injuries, from irritation of the gastrointestinal tract to chemical burns in mouth, esophagus and stomach. While the warnings are alarming, the more frightening part is they are intended for people. Your cat is more at risk.
Next, look at the ingredient list. Look for ingredients ending in “-ol” or “-ene,” which typically indicates toxic solvents. “Chlor” usually includes chlorine. “Glycols” contain petroleum-based ether. “Phenols” can include coal tar derivatives. None of these things are good for your cat.
Never allow your cat into areas where you use or store cleaners. Clean up spills of concentrated chemicals immediately so your cat doesn’t walk across it and later ingest it while licking his paws.
When you think the site is clean, rinse again. The same logic should be used whether you are cleaning carpets or mopping the floor. Avoid cleaners containing ammonia. Because cat pee contains ammonia, cleaning a pee stain with ammonia is basically inviting your cat to refresh the spot with his own ammonia — pee.
Most products are safe for use around cats when you follow the directions. Three factors determine the dosage of what is toxic to cats:
• Concentration: Is the concentration of the chemical 2 percent or 98 percent?
• Quantity: Did the cat get one or two licks or two tablespoons?
• Size of the cat: Is he a 2-pound kitten or a 14-pound adult? Size makes a difference.
You may turn to “natural” cleaners to protect your cat, but just because the active ingredient comes from a natural source doesn’t ensure its safety.
Here is a rundown of odor neutralizers, how they work and the advantages and disadvantages of each:
Molecular odor eliminators: This class of product bonds with odor molecules, permanently converting an odor molecule into a non-odor molecule. They aren’t affected by chemicals previously applied to the carpet. They work immediately and permanently, but they are rather expensive. Some of the best are Zero Odor, and CritterZone Air Naturalizer.
Oxygenators: These products cause a chemical reaction that adds oxygen to the odor molecule, changing its composition. These products break down odors into carbon dioxide and water. The process is frequently used in wastewater treatment plants and in the purification of drinking water. You can buy ready-to-use liquids or powders. One of the best oxygenation odor eliminator for carpets is Fizzion.
Disinfectants: Antibacterial agents kill the bacteria – the source of the odor. If the bacteria are destroyed, so is the odor. Most bactericides can be used on soiled spots with results in under an hour. The carpet should then be cleaned immediately and liquids extracted. Allow the floor to thoroughly dry before giving pets access. Disinfectants should not be used at full strength. Check the label and use according to directions.
Enzymatics: Enzymes are made of proteins that work like saliva, breaking down the odor molecules, but they do not digest it. Since they’re not living organisms, they are not vulnerable to chemicals and extreme heat and cold, like live bacteria. Chemicals in other products, such as detergents and pesticides, won’t affect the enzymes. Enzymes will dissolve detergent residue from earlier carpet cleanings. Enzymes are pH sensitive and pH fluctuates as the odor breaks down, working best at a neutral pH between 6 and 8. They only work when they are moist, and like bacteria, can take about 24 hours to break down odor molecules.
Deodorizer/Masking Agents: These products use fragrance to cover up a stinky molecule with pleasant-smelling molecule. The foul reality is temporarily overpowered by the fragrant smoke screen. The odor’s true nature will return when the masking perfume wears off. Deodorizers usually contain fragrances, alcohol and water, which mask the odor-causing molecules but do not change them. These products may fool your nose, but not your cat’s. He knows where to find the pee.
Detergents: Detergent cleans and odor absorbers (such as foaming spray carpet cleaners) use surfactants to loosen organic material and dirt from fabrics, but some odor may remain. They may contain cationic detergents that can burn your cat’s skin or mouth.
If your carpet is too heavily soiled, you may need to bring in a professional carpet cleaning company to completely remove urine odor. Before hiring a company, find out what kind of chemicals the company plans to use. Ask your veterinarian to see if those chemicals are pet-safe. Also, check with your local Better Business Bureau for complaints and other websites for other reviews the company may have.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Creating a safe and secure home environment for your dog is extremely important. Having tools at your disposal to provide an interactive environment for your dog is critical to good behavior. DogTV is so excited to offer a 30 day free trial to all of our pet sitting/or dog sitting clients!
Mobile K9 Enrichment for Our Clients
Dogs can become stressed, anxious, and bored when left home alone. This often leads to destructive behavior, separation anxiety and behavior issues.
For many years, leading animal rescue organizations and animal behaviorists around the world have recommended leaving some form of media entertainment for your dog when you’re away from home.
A television can potentially provide all important mental stimulation for dogs and help prevent boredom behavior, according to officials at the Petcare and Information Advisory Services (PIAS).
There are several reasons for these recommendations:
1. There are many noises outside or inside the house, which tend to stress dogs when they are left alone. Anything from an ambulance driving by to construction works to a washing machine — dogs can become overstimulated by this type of “noise pollution.”
2. Leaving the radio or TV on for the dog can give him some sort of feeling of presence, so he will feel less alone and more safe and secure.
3. DogTV provides the dog with stimulation that he can’t otherwise get while owners are away from home.
A TV Channel for Dogs?!
When DogTV was launched six years ago, people laughed at this crazy idea. “A TV channel for dogs? You must be kidding me!”
But after six years of providing stimulating and engaging content for dogs and cats, people don’t laugh anymore. Millions of homes around the world understand the benefits of DOGTV. They have discovered that providing the proper home enrichment for pets will help their dog cope with stress and anxiety. It may even help pets live a longer life with fewer cognition problems as they age.
DOGTV works — particularly with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety and other stress-related problems. No, we’re not expecting dogs to sit all day in front of the TV, become couch potatoes and eat “pup-corn” (see what I did there?). Studies show that dogs still benefit from the positive effect of programming, even if they only listen to the channel.
FREE No-Obligation 30-day Trial for Our Clients
DOGTV is so excited about their new programming that they want to give our pet sitting/or dog walking clients here at Pet First Pet Care the opportunity to use it for free! No credit card, no account, just sign up and cast it to any device.
Contact us today for more information regarding this special offer!
By Sarah Zumhofe
Twenty-one states have staged a major crack-down on people who falsely claim their pets as service and emotional support animals so that they can bring them into supermarkets, restaurants, movie theaters and other places pets are not traditionally allowed.
The latest states include Minnesota and Arizona. In Minnesota, people passing off their pets as service animals could face a $100 fine and a misdemeanor charge. In Arizona, people who misrepresent their pets as service animals can be fined $250.
Supporters of these new laws compare people with "fake" service dogs to people who acquire handicap sings so that they can park in spaces intended for disabled people.
In an NBC News report, Republican Arizona State Senator John Kavanagh said, "I couldn't go into a store or an airport or even an office without seeing some disorderly four-legged creature dragging it's owner around, wearing a vest that said 'service animal'. I would see people in the supermarkets with animals in the cart or walking around sniffing all the food."
Currently, there is no uniform nationwide certification or registration process for legitimate service animals who undergo at least 1 year of specialized training. And, under the Americans with Disabilities Act law, business owners can only ask two questions of anyone who says they have a service dog: Is this a service animal, and what is the animal trained to do. They cannot ask for documentation or ask about the person's specific disability.
This makes it easy for people to scam the system by purchasing so-called service dog harnesses and vests online and putting them on their often ill-mannered, undertrained dogs and other pets. And, to get their doctors to sign letters declaring that their pets help them reduce depression or anxiety.
Lawmakers and officials of legitimate service animal organizations recognize that this is a growing problem, but do not keep records of people caught with illegitimate service animals or so-called support pets.
Under the ADA, support animals are not protected by this law with the exception of those trained to comfort military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It's compounded by the confusing terminology around this," said Amy McCullough, the national director of research and therapy programs at the American Humane Association to NBC-News. "People prey upon that with the purpose of gaming the system."
A Service animal is trained to be in public and to be under control and non-intrusive. They are trained to aid to perform specific functions for people who are blind, deaf, wheel-chaired bound or have other disabilities.
On average, service dogs receive up to two years of training that can cost more than $40,000. There is often a waiting time of two years for these service dogs.
The long-term goal is to create a national certification program and registry for legitimately trained service dogs – a move strongly supported by officials at the National Education for Assistance Dog Services based in Massachusetts and the National Disability Rights Network.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Being a great neighbor is all about being aware of your own impact on the environment, including cleanliness, tidiness, and noise level. When you have a dog, you have to try even harder to be conscientious. Being a good dog-owning neighbor isn’t difficult, but in some cases, it requires a little bit of extra work. Here are some fairly simple tips for how you can avoid ticking off the neighbors today.
Build a fence
If you don’t have a solid, dog-proof fence surrounding your property, then the first step to being a good neighbor is to get one built. This is certainly the most expensive and possibly time-consuming step you can take - according to Thumbtack, the average price to install a fence is $500 to $4,500 - but it’s also the most vital. Without a good fence, your dog will inevitably wander onto your neighbor’s property, which can be a problem for so many reasons. Not only that, but a fence prevents your dog’s line of sight. This can reduce their temptation to act out and misbehave.
Always leash up
It doesn’t matter how well-behaved and friendly your dog is. When you’re walking around the neighborhood, it’s just good etiquette to always have a leash on your dog. A friendly dog can be seen as aggressive, even if that “aggression” is just excitement. Some children and adults harbor a deep fear of dogs, especially ones that are large and/or rambunctious. Dogs on leashes are simply easier to control than dogs that are not. To ensure your dog doesn’t frighten someone, tear up someone’s flower bed, or discreetly poop on their lawn, just use a leash. It’s
good manners. And the benefits of keeping your dog leashed are plentiful.
If your dog has never been properly trained to walk on a leash, it’s important that you train him. He can be a danger to others and even himself, especially if he excites easily and tends to jump on people or take off running at any free opportunity. Angie’s List notes that it’s important to get the right gear
including a nylon, non-retractable dog leash and a harness or collar with ID tags. When you’re ready to start walking, Canna-Pet suggests starting inside and teaching him cues to enforce good and discourage bad behavior before taking your first stroll around the block.
Focus on proper training
There’s not a lot you can do to mitigate the misbehavior of a bad dog - so don’t have a bad dog. Improperly-trained dogs will bark, and will not stop when commanded to. Poorly-trained dogs will dig, jump at fences, and attempt to convince neighboring dogs to misbehave as well. You cannot overcome a bad dog through tricks and tips. The only way to avoid this is to focus on training.
The most annoying action a dog can take, in terms of infuriating neighbors, is to bark incessantly. How do you get your dog to stop barking? There are a variety of techniques that, if used in tandem, should make your dog relatively quiet. First, never leave your dog outside if they are barking. Second, remove the motivation. Do not reward your dog with attention when they bark. Ignore it (but ignore it inside). Finally, teach your dog to respond to the “quiet” command. You do this through positive reinforcement (praise and rewards when they are quiet).
Check here for more tips on this.
Pick up the poop
Many dog owners forget this simple fact: dog poop smells. It smells terrible. If you think that your neighbors can’t smell your dog’s waste that is left sitting in the backyard in the hot sun, you’re sorely mistaken. Being a good neighbor means scooping the poop, even if it’s just on your own property.
It’s also good for your dog’s health to clean up after them. As DogTrainingBasics.com points out, “Poop left lying around is just unsanitary. It can also lead to your dog picking up intestinal parasites.”
The key to being a good dog-owning neighbor is to remember than nobody loves your dog as much as you do. Not everyone is a dog person, and even the ones who are have trouble forgiving dog faux pas if they are committed again and again. In the end, if you focus on training, always clean up after your dog, and keep them under control at all times, you’ll be fine.
By Jessica Brody
Photo by Taylor Bryant on Unsplash
During warm months, the nose-sniffing curiosity and predatory nature of your dog could land them on the losing end in a confrontation with stinging insects in your yard or home.
And forget about trying to train an indoor cat, who is hardwired to pursue moving prey, to not chase, swat or even eat a wayward stinging insect flying inside your home.
“In regards to bees and wasps, the real issue is the number of stings the animal gets and whether he or she is allergic to the sting,” says dermatologist William H. Miller, VMD, a director of the Companion Animal Hospital at Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine.
The Buzz on Bees
Honey bees are work-driven insects on pollinating missions. They are more out and about during the heat of the day, flying from one patch of flowers and ground covers to the next to collect pollen. They tend to sting only when they’re protecting their hives or dogs or cats are aggressively stalking them.
However, killer bees can be provoked enough to inflict a swarm attack on dogs and cats.
If you can easily see the stinger on the dog or cat, slide the edge of your driver’s license or credit card against the stinger to push it out. Refrain from using tweezers or even your fingernails — you can unintentionally rupture the venom sac. Monitor the pet and if necessary, consult a veterinarian about giving the pet a pet-safe antihistamine to reduce mild swelling.
It can take hours for an oral over-the-counter medication to be effective. However, some pets can have a severe allergic reaction to insect stings. If the pet’s throat swells, cutting off his air supply, and begins breathing rapidly, wheezes, vomits, trembles, displays pale gums or collapses, immediately take him to the veterinarian. He could be going into anaphylactic shock, an emergency in which the blood circulation shuts down.
“Be prepared to do CPR if necessary, especially with swelling around the throat that may block breathing,” says Dr. Miller. “And get to the clinic as quickly as possible.”
If a bee enters your home, shuttle the pet into a closed room and then try to usher the bee back out a door. Restrict access to popular bee areas: flower beds with pollen-producing plants and yards with clover.
The Word on Wasps
Unlike honey bees, wasps, including yellow jackets, paper wasps and hornets, tend to be aggressive attackers who repeatedly sting their targets. Heed the same care advice as given for bees.
Wasps tend to make nests in holes in the ground and the eaves, under porches, sheds and even fencing. Regularly inspect these areas for signs of wasp nests, especially during summer. Contact a professional pest control company if you find multiple nests or a large one. For a small nest, don long sleeves and pants, follow the instructions on the pesticide container and spray at night when wasps are less active and more apt to be inside the nest.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Sarah Zum Hofe was born in 1987 in St. Louis, MO- and has since then had a love affair with animals!