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  • My Dog Smiles when She Greets People — is This Normal?

    By Mikkel Becker

    TheGiantVermin via FlickrQ. When my dog first greets someone, she shows all of her teeth and "smiles." Some visitors mistake this for aggressive behavior, but she's just very excited and happy. What is she doing and how can I explain it to people who visit?

    A. It sounds like your dog is displaying an appeasement gesture, called a submissive grin, to show you and others that she's no threat. Submissive grins are a way for a dog to show deference to another individual.

    Usually submissive grins are associated with increased movement and a body posture that is lower than the dog's normal stance. There are other signals your dog likely uses, along with her submissive grin, to show deference, such as lowering her tail, lifting a paw, licking you, licking her lips and looking away or squinting her eyes.

    See Also: Why Does My Dog... Stare at Me?

    Say Cheese!

    The submissive grin is a tactic dogs use to shut off aggression from another individual, either human or canine. This

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  • Leopard Takes on a Piñata

    By Amy Sinatra Ayres

    Humans aren't the only ones celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Some of the residents at Big Cat Rescue are marking the occasion too. A leopard had a grand time batting around (and tearing open) a piñata - but the tigers, as you'll see, would rather siesta.

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  • 5 Common Pet Disasters to Avoid

    By Dr. Marty Becker

    Easily preventable pet emergenciesFew things are sadder in medicine - either human or animal - than a patient sickened or even killed by something that could have easily been prevented. In my more than three decades in practice - I'm "veteran veterinarian," as I always say - I've seen many preventable catastrophes. They break my heart, every one of them. Sometimes I can save a pet, sometimes I can't. But when the day is done, I always find myself wishing the pet's owner had known enough to keep the animal out of harm's way.

    See Also: 10 Common Cat Behavior Myths Decoded

    Accidents Happen Even When You're Careful

    While I love to see pets and their owners, I'd rather see them in wellness exams. That's when I can celebrate what a pet's owner is doing right and help with suggestions for what will keep that pet in top form. Make sure that you only see your vet for nonemergency visits by minimizing your pet's risks. With a little care, it's easy to prevent many pet catastrophes. Here are five

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  • Cat Scratching Up Your Furniture? Reader Shares Tried-and-True Solution

    By Gina Spadafori |

    ThinkstockKitty loves to scratch, but how do we teach our cats to use the scratching post instead of the furniture?

    Yelling at the cat and punishing him won't work when it comes to destructive scratching. You have to use motivations that mean something to the cat. And you have to teach him where to scratch. Otherwise, how is he to know you want him to scratch the scratching post? Here are tips from KB, one of our readers, on how they've managed to keep their favorite feline in check.

    See Also: Looking for a Sweet Gentle Lap Cat? This Breed Is NOT For You

    Use the cat's favorite treats, a scratching post, a squirt bottle and some wide, double-sided sticky tape.

    • The tape goes on the spots where the cat prefers to scratch, and the sticky feel discourages scratching. I begin training by rubbing their paws on the scratching post, so their paw-scent is left on it. I immediately give the cat a treat for having his paws on the post. Usually it takes only a few tries
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  • Two "Super Mares" Spark Kentucky Derby Dreams

    By Yvonne Claire Stecher |

    Rachel Alexandra's foal, Jess's Dream, arrived a few days early on January 22, 2012, and was named after the late Jess Jackson. This Saturday, 20 sleekly muscled and finely tuned 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will leap from the starting gate at Churchill Downs, marking the running of the 139 th Kentucky Derby. Amid this display of spirit, speed and beauty, it will be hard to imagine that, not too long ago, these elite runners were adorable, fuzzy-eared foals capering around their pastures on spindly legs.

    While one part of the horse racing world gears up this week for Saturday's classic race - which is often referred to as "the most exciting two minutes in sports" - another part of it has been experiencing excitement of a different sort this spring: the birth of a new group of foals.

    Plus: 5 Former Kentucky Derby Winners - Where Are They Now?

    Away in a Manger

    Not far from the bustling, high-stakes world of the racetrack shed row is the quiet oasis of foaling barns and paddocks. About a third of the approximately 25,000 Thoroughbred foals who are registered

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  • How to Tame Your Cat's Clawing Instinct

    ThinkstockAre the arms of your furniture growing fringes where they used to be smooth? Does your cat regard them as his own personal tree? Have you reached the point where you're considering covering everything upholstered with tarps? Why can't your cat and your sofa coexist in peace?

    From your cat's point of view, that's just what they're doing. Furniture scratching is yet another normal cat behavior that doesn't meld well with our households. Cats scratch vertical surfaces as a means of marking their territory with scent from their foot pads, as well as leaving a nice visual marker - your scarred and tattered furniture. Scratching appears to be pleasurable to cats and entails stretching and exercise.

    See Also: Why Does My Cat... Shed His Claws?

    How to Redirect Your Feline's Scratching

    You may have tried scolding, even swatting, your cat for his blatant disregard for your belongings, but chances are it did no good. Your cat may have learned not to scratch in front of you, but

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  • Tips on Living with Aggressive Dogs

    By Dr. Mary Fuller |

    ThinkstockIn the years when I had two Shiba Inus, few things unnerved me more than the sight of a playful Golden Retriever - sans leash - bounding toward us, tail shimmying side to side, tongue dangling.

    Inevitably, the owner would wave and holler, "It's OK, my dog is friendly." There was never time for me to shout, "But my dogs aren't!" before we'd be caught up in a maelstrom of fangs and claws and fur.


    See Also: 13 Largest Dog Breeds: Towering and Commanding

    On most walks, my dogs were the epitome of gentility. They'd sit calmly while toddlers swatted their faces with sticky hands. They'd roll over for belly rubs from strangers. They'd sniff the nether parts of other dogs. But a dog off leash? It was an invitation for an all-out brawl. And there were plenty of them.

    Dogs Give Us Clues

    Many things can spark aggression in an otherwise peaceful family dog: being abruptly woken from a deep sleep; manipulating a painful,

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  • 10 Reasons Pets Make Better Partners Than People

    By Dr. Patty Khuly |

    ThinkstockLast February, I penned a post for my personal blog detailing several choice reasons why pets are better than boyfriends. It's a notion I warmed to after spending many a Valentine's Day avoiding amateur night on the dining scene, basking in the delicious comforts of animal companionship instead.

    Though my cranky posts may never change anyone's mind on the wisdom of spending one's annual "day of romance" cuddling puppies instead of people, as it happens, I may not have to.

    See Also: Would You Date a Non-Pet Person?

    Turns out more Americans than ever are adopting pets. Which might not be news to you. But did you know U.S. pet ownership rates are rising fastest among the never-married, widowed, separated and divorced?

    Now that's news! Could it be that pets are replacing people as default companions of choice in our culture? Given our increased geographic isolation and the continued prevalence of other trends that reflect the

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  • Do Your Pets Ride Loose in Your Car? Why This Vet Changed His Ways — and You Should Too

    By Dr. Marty Becker |

    Dog sticking his head out the car windowI've done it, and I know better. You've done it, and you probably know better too. I've written against it and recommended products that will prevent it. But I bet the majority of pet owners still do it. In fact, I know they do.

    What am I taking about? Letting dogs ride loose in the car, or even worse, letting a dog sit on your lap in the front seat, head happily out the window. Yes, dogs like - make that love! - doing this. And yes, it's a lot easier to just let your dog hop in the back, or front, seat for a joyride than it is he to secure him properly. But you know, I would never allow my precious granddaughter to ride without her car seat, and it has been a very long time since any of my pets have ridden in the car without being safely secured, either - for a lot of the same reasons.

    See Also: Why Does My Dog... Like to Stick His Head Out the Car Window?

    Let's change this, together.

    The Old Ways Aren't Always Best

    I know

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  • Why Does My Cat... Bite Me when I Pet Her?

    By Dr. Patty Khuly |

    Cat BitesIt's a conundrum, for sure. One minute your beloved kitty is over the moon with pleasure as you scratch her favorite spot and the next thing you know you're left staring at tooth marks on your arm.

    You're not the only one suffering. Many pet owners call this common behavior "Love biting," but feline behaviorists have given it a more formal name: Petting-induced aggression-and it's a poorly understood topic.

    Typically, a friendly cat seeks out human attention, only to turn on his lavisher of attention once the affection seems to have gone on for too long. Owners describe these cats as changing from friendly to feral "like a light switch."

    See Also: Why Does My Cat... Knead Me?

    Despite the perplexing nature of this uniquely feline way of acting out, a couple of possibilities have been proposed to explain why cats might do this:

    1. It may be a manifestation of so-called status-induced aggression, in which cats seek to control a
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