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  • Why Does My Dog . . . Sniff the Ground Before Pooping?

    By Dr. Mary Fuller

    Weimaraner sniffing the groundEvery day, all over the world, dogs repeat the same ritual: Nose to the ground, they sniff along a dotted line of an invisible treasure map, stopping at that "X" marks the spot where they can finally get down to business. What's with all this sniffing, anyway?

    The simple answer: It's the way dogs have been communicating with one another for centuries.

    Scent Marking Is Serious Business

    Scent marking is an instinctual behavior in which a dog deposits his own odor - in the form of urine or feces - onto his environment to mark territory or make a statement.

    See Also: Why Does My Dog... Roll in Poop?

    Other dogs who come upon the scent can discern a lot about fellow canines in the neighborhood. With one whiff of urine, a pup can determine how many dogs have been there, how long ago they were in the area and, best of all, if there's a female in heat nearby.

    Anal Gland Aromas

    While urine marking is the most common form of scent marking, feces can also be

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  • 5 Pet Behavior Myths that Drive Vets Crazy

    By Dr. Patty Khuly

    One common behavior myth is that aggressive dogs are trying to dominate their owners.Veterinarians are a lot like pediatricians. Not only do our patients struggle, scream, cry, and otherwise communicate in ways that often leave much to be desired, but like "baby doctors," we also have parents to contend with. And parents come with their own set of challenges.

    Perhaps nowhere is the fact of parental influence more stressful than when it comes to talking about their pets' behavior. The preponderance of animal behavior misinformation delivered by everyone from Dr. Google and Dr. Breeder to Dr. Mother-in-Law to Dr. TV Pet Personality means that simple misconceptions can easily turn into culturally intractable myths.

    Related: 7 Things Pet Owners Do That Drive Vets Crazy

    Setting the Facts Straight

    Sadly, veterinarians are too often relegated to the final stop on the fix-this-problem bus tour of any given pet's by-now-too-serious-to-live-with behavior disorder. Which is probably why pet behavior myths drive us crazy. After all, we know too well

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  • 11 Unique Cat & Dog Names that Will Whet Your Appetite

    By Kristen Seymour

    ThinkstockWhile there are plenty of popular puppy names and popular kitten names out there, finding a totally unique (but still completely adorable!) pet name can be a bit more challenging.

    To find some of the most unusual and little-known names out there, we dug through Vetstreet's database of more than 89 million dogs and 49 million cats to find names that appeared just once. From there, we divided them into categories and selected our favorites. So, with no further ado, we present the cutest unique pet names with a food or drink theme!

    See Also: 10 Trendiest Dog Names and 10 Trendiest Cat Names of the Year

    1. Baba Ganoush

    Who'd have thought that this tasty Mediterranean dish would make such a charming name for a dog? We'll be seeing our favorite eggplant spread in a whole new light from here on out.

    2. Catpuccino

    Who needs a latte to start the day when your furry alarm clock has a name like Catpuccino?

    3. Custard Pupcake

    When your pooch is

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  • Save Your Dog's Life in 5 Easy Steps

    By Dr. Marty Becker

    ThinkstockWhen I'm in an exam room, I make it my business not just to diagnose the pet whose life is in my hands, but also to listen to his owner. While I never, ever pull back from offering what I see as the best path forward for the pet in front of me, I am well aware that many people can't do everything I recommend.

    What I do is help pet owners prioritize, working out a plan to bring their pets' health up to par as time and budgets allow. But so often I find myself wishing that I could have helped someone before there was a medical issue. Prevention really is the key to good health, and it's the one thing in every pet owner's control.

    See Also: Don't Make These 5 Cat Care Mistakes

    Following a list of pet care basics is important, but sometimes, knowing what not to do is even more useful. I've listed my five most useful "don'ts" - they're all free and can potentially save you money, and improve your dog's health, in the long run.

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  • The Stud Stopper: A Unique Form of Birth Control for Dogs

    By Nora Zelevansky

    Tina and David Moody pose with their dogs, Juicy, Dora and Little Man.When David and Tina Moody fell in love and got married, they created a kind of lopsided "canine Brady Bunch." His male Yorkies made friends with her female of the same breed and a new family unit was created. Everything was working out wonderfully - until, that is, the girl pup went into heat. "When females are in heat, all they want is to be together, and they cry and cry and cry," Tina explains. "One day, David thought of a way their dogs could still be together and simulate mating, but not actually 'connect.'" And thus was born the Stud Stopper, a nonsurgical, ultra-humane form of doggy birth control.

    See Also: Don't Make These 5 Dog Care Mistakes

    When the idea took root in 2005, David and Tina had six Yorkies living at their three-house property on a Hampton, Va., cul-de-sac - also home throughout the years to four biological children and three kids seeking a haven, as well as 10 chickens, a turtle and a stray cat. "We had a posse," Tina says proudly.

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  • The Subtle Signs of a Cat in Pain

    By Dr. Marty Becker

    ThinkstockWe've come a long way in our understanding of pain, and that's true in veterinary medicine as well as human medicine. We know that chronic pain can suppress the immune system, making animals more susceptible to viruses and bacteria they otherwise might have no problem fighting. And, of course, pain just plain hurts, reducing the quality of life dramatically.

    See Also: An Ill Cat: Signs to Watch Out For

    While we veterinarians have advanced alongside our physician colleagues when it comes to managing pain, many pet owners have not. That's not because they don't care, but because they don't know enough to recognize the problem and get help. The problem is especially disturbing in cats, and that's what had me turning to my colleague and longtime friend Dr. Robin Downing for her expert read on the subject. Dr. Downing is an internationally recognized expert on the subject of pain and how to treat it; her work at the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in

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  • Top 10 Social Dog Breeds

    You know the type. They're happy. They love to greet people. And their smiling eyes and wagging tails always bring attention their way. Why wouldn't you love them back?

    Certain breeds are famed for their sociable dispositions - we're going to meet some of them below - but personality varies, so don't assume that every member of a certain breed will be a good-time Charlie. Early socialization, effective training, and continuing opportunities to interact with people in many different situations and places all contribute to the development of a dog who is genuinely outgoing and approachable. Here are our top 10 picks for personality-plus canines:

    Beagle1. Beagle - Cheerful Companion
    One of the world's best-known Beagles, 2008 Westminster winner Uno, traveled the country with his handler to promote pet therapy and did meet-and-greets with aplomb. The Beagle is among the top 10 most popular breeds for good reason: He has a bigger-than-life personality and a merry nature that make him a

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  • 9 Memorable Animal Pitchmen We Love

    By Margaret Bristol

    Sometimes big brands think outside the box when it comes to picking a face for their product. Sure, models and actors are great, but often companies turn to the animal kingdom to find the perfect fit. Whether it's a CGI lizard or a real-life lion, these brands' pitchmen speak to the animal lover in all of us.

    ©MGM / Courtesy of Everett CollectionLeo, the MGM Lion

    Since the Hollywood studio was formed back in the 1920s, they have counted on the king of the jungle to stand by their logo. Lovingly known as Leo, the current lion had no less than four other big cat predecessors. Leo has the shortest mane of all the other lions and can boast that his roar appears on the most films.

    Related: Movies Made These 10 Dogs Stars

    Aflac Duck

    It's hard to look at a white duck without hearing the familiar "Aflac" quack. Formerly voiced by comedian Gilbert Gottfried (who got the ax after he tweeted a distasteful joke following the 2011 tsunami in Japan), the company held a public contest to find the new voice

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  • Why Does My Dog . . . Eat His Food Away from His Bowl?

    By Colleen Oakley

    ThinkstockIt can be a peculiar sight: After you put food in your dog's bowl, he takes a mouthful, walks across the room, drops it onto your carpet and then munches away. And he repeats this curious ritual until his chow is all gone.

    It doesn't seem like an efficient way to eat - not to mention that he's getting crumbs on your rug.

    So what gives?

    Possible Reasons Behind the Curious Mealtime Behavior

    The answer to this propensity lies in two words: pack mentality.

    When dogs in the wild make a kill, the outranked animals drag pieces of food away so they don't have to fight the leader or a more dominant canine for it, says Dr. Julie Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB, an assistant professor of veterinary behavior at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

    "Fighting is obviously very risky, so most animals, especially subordinate ones, will go to great lengths to avoid an altercation," says Dr. Albright.

    See Also: Why Does My Dog... Always Seem

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  • Why Small Dogs Present Big Health Problems

    By Dr. Marty Becker

    Yorkshire TerrierThough it's always a surprise, it's no longer novel to spot a pair of eyes peeking out of a shoulder bag.

    Small breeds such as Malteses and Yorkshire Terriers have boomed in popularity, according to purebred dog registries. Those don't even take into account other, ubiquitous mixes such as Yorkipoos (Yorkie-Poodle crosses) and Maltipoos (Maltese-Poodle crosses). And Chihuahuas are in such demand that the best place to adopt one is at a shelter!

    See Also: 11 Tiny Dog Breeds With Big, Bold Personalities

    But small dogs require special care. The list of things that can go wrong with tiny dogs is a long one, and veterinarians see it all: from defective knees, hips and shoulders to heart and liver problems, collapsing cartilage in the neck, troublesome teeth, overall fragility and easily broken bones. Tiny dogs can also be hard to house-train since they have small bladders and need to go outside more often.

    Some problems can be prevented through

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