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256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

Pet Exercise

Why Does My Dog Chase His Tail?

Everyone gets a kick out of their dog obsessively chasing their tail. But, did you ever wonder why they do it?

 

Boredom/Confinement

A dog chasing their tail can stem from a lack of exercise. If they haven’t been on a good walk recently or no one is playing with them, they need to entertain themselves. Chasing their tail is a way to both get exercise and have fun. If a dog is cramped in a small space for a while, they may try to get exercise such that they fit in the small space. Chasing one’s tail doesn’t take up a lot of room. In this case, it is a harmless behavior that can be stopped if you give them more exercise and attention.

 

They’re Puppies

Puppies are new to the world. They don’t fully understand how things relate and tend to be a little clueless. For this reason, they catch a glimpse of their tail out of the corner of their eye and think it’s a toy. From there, it’s a fruitless mission to catch the mysterious fluffball that’s always just out of their reach. As pups get older, they usually grow out of this when they realize this fuzzy toy is attached to them.

 

Attention

Dogs are attention snobs. They like to make you laugh and smile and they even do things to get a negative reaction out of you. So, when you crack up at your dog’s determined mission to catch their tail, this prompts them to keep going. It may start to become a habit just to get a reaction out of you, good or bad.

 

Irritation

If you notice that your dog is trying to nip at or bite their tail, there may be something else at play. If they have recently injured their tail, this can be a reaction to get it to stop itching. Another possibility is that your dog has fleas or worms on their tail that are causing this irritation. You may want to get them to a vet if their tail chasing becomes frequent and aggressive.

 

Hereditary

For some dogs, tail chasing is genetic. Although there is no real explanation for it, certain breeds, like German Shepherds or cattle dogs, are prone to tail chasing. In this case, the cause is mainly habit but, if you take them to a vet or trainer, you may be able to stop the behavior.

 

Canine Compulsive Disorder

This is a very rare condition and is seldom the culprit behind your dog’s tail chasing. Still, if you’re worried that the tail chasing has become too frequent, you can get your dog checked for Canine Compulsive Disorder. This disorder can be treated with anti compulsory medication as prescribed by a vet.

 

Note: If your dog is chasing their tail due to boredom, attention, or irritation, the behavior can turn into a habit that will be difficult for your dog to break. You may want to interject if you think that is becoming too common. If the dog is chasing their tail because they injured it, it can become a learned behavior for whenever they are scared or upset making it a psychological issue. This may require a vets help to remedy.

Contact us! 

Call to schedule an appointment today at one of our four convenient Toronto locations. Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital at (416) 915-7387, Beaches Animal Hospital at (416) 690-4040, Bloor Animal Hospital at (416) 767-5817, Downtown Animal Hospital at (416) 966-5122.

Pets That Make Seniors Lives Better

Sometimes older people feel their lives become monotonous.  They may get lonely, run down, and stuck in a rut. Fortunately, there’s is a simple solution to bring a new light to the life of a senior and that’s owning a pet. Animal companions can erase feelings of loneliness and give variety and emotional depth to one’s day. Studies show that pets reduce stress and are beneficial as one gets older, but what makes a good pet for an older person?

 

Dogs

There’s a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend.” However, dogs require more care than other pets. As long as one is willing and able to take their dog for regular walks, they make an excellent choice. Dogs require more space than most other animals, but they are the perfect all-around companion to reduce loneliness and to liven up someone’s life.

Older people tend to do better with smaller dogs because they require less responsibility. A cute no-shedding miniature poodle makes a great choice, as they are a lot of laughs and are great with kids. A playful terrier is also an excellent choice. Every day with these pups brings exercise and entertainment, not to mention an amazing friend.

 

Cats

Cats are known to reduce stress and anxiety, and they make a fantastic low-maintenance pet to keep people company throughout the day. They thrive in almost any environment be it rural or urban, and easily conform to the space provided. Most cats can live exclusively indoors if their human companions have difficulty going outside when the weather gets cold or rainy.

It’s crucial that anyone who wants a cat also have a plan to keep the litter box refreshed regularly. It’s certainly an unpleasant chore, but cleaning a litter box does provide some physical activity for the pet owner.

Cats are notoriously playful creatures and this provides senior pet owners with regular activity, as well as relaxation and enjoyment. Studies indicate that seniors who have the company of an adult cat have a one-third lower risk of a heart attack.

 

Birds

Want a pet to talk to that will talk back? That can be arranged.

 

Teaching a bird tricks and training them to talk is a rewarding way to occupy a few hours each day. Birds will make one’s home seem much more full and alive with their odd calls and playful antics. Birds can become very talkative and interactive, but only take up a small amount of space as they live inside a cage.
Birds require very little care but add a splash of color and fun to a living space. They also need a home where the inside temperature is kept fairly warm at all times, so careful consideration is needed to decide if a home should be a bird habitat.

 

Fish

Fish are some of the best stress relievers that there are, especially when one considers how little work it takes to care for them. Having an aquarium of colorful fish in the living space can be unbelievably calming and provide entertainment. They are the perfect pet for owners who don’t go outside periodically or are unable to move around a lot.

Fish require little space energy but they add extra color and liveliness to a home. They do require a fair amount of research, including balancing the species inside a fish tank as well as maintaining the water chemistry. Professionals at a pet store can give great advice here.

 

Fun Water Activities for You and Your Dog

Generally, unless you’re living in the wild tundras of northern Canada or the depths of Siberia, summers have a habit of getting incredibly hot and, while we’re busy complaining about sweat and fanning ourselves dramatically with our hands, our pups are stuck in their thick winter jackets. Not wanting to shave off all of our dogs beautiful fur, it’s up to us to come up with other ways to provide some relief for our furry best friends. What better way is there then taking dip at the local beach or a nearby lake?

 

Here are six water activities to help you and your dog cool off during the summer months:

Dog in her vest learning to swim in the pool

Teach them to swim

This is both an entertaining learning experience for you and your pup and a necessary milestone for a trip to the water. It’s best to start in a shallow area so that you can walk alongside your dog as they take their first paddles. If you know that your dog is not a natural swimmer, then it might be a good idea to purchase a life vest to ensure that they keep their head above water and to ease any stress. You can even bring some toys or treats to help ease (or bribe) your pup into the water and make it more of a game for both of you.

dog at a pool

Good Old Fashioned Fetch

This one sort of speaks for itself but once your dog has reached swimming proficiency, you can start to turn swim time into more of a game! When it gets too hot for running around outside, take to the beach and bring along some water toys for you and your pet’s enjoyment. Of course, if you dog isn’t a huge fan of returning the toy to you, you’re gonna have to be prepared to get wet!

Lifeguard dog rescue demonstration with the dogs in the pool.

Towing

“What on earth is that?” you may ask, but it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of just chilling in the pool in a tube or a pool lounge while you dog watches why not teach him something that’s fun for him and way more entertaining for you. As both a game and a rescue tool you can teach your dog to tow things like giant pool floaties (or you on giant pool floaties!) around the pool.

beautiful woman on her paddle board with her dog

Paddleboarding

If your dog has got basic obedience skills down (Sit, stay, etc), or if you have the initiative to start to train them then you should try paddleboarding! Although it’s best that you, yourself, are comfortable on a paddleboard first, it’s fairly easier skill to learn and great fun for you and your pets. For your pup’s safety, be sure you have a life jacket for them in the event that they decide to jump and be aware that should you pet decide they want to go for a swim off the paddleboard, it’s quite likely that you’ll be joining soon after.

Attractive Young Woman Surfing with her Dog. Riding Wave Together in Ocean. Surfing Dog.

Wanna take it one step further? Surfing!

Although this may take some experience on your part, surfing is a great way to spend some time with your dog out on the water. It’ll take some practice to get them to stay, getting the used to the board and comfortable with sitting on it in the waves. Once you think you’re ready though, strap that life jacket on you and your pup and get out to ride the waves! Even if you’re not a surfer you can just take them out on the board and drift along through the waves with your furry buddy.

Smiley woman playing with fun and training golden retriever puppy in swimming pool - jump and dive underwater to retrieve stone. Active games with family pets and popular dog breeds like a companion.

Or you can just relax and swim

Even that can be a fun way for you and your pet to spend some time together in the water. Just take him out swimming. Relax floating on your back while you pup swims around you or swim alongside them, doing laps across pools or exploring around the lake. The whole point is just that you get to have fun and spend quality time with your best friend in the water where it’s cool and comfortable for both of you.

jack russell dog sitting on an inflatable mattress in water by the sea river or lake in summer holiday vacation rubber plastic toy included toy included

Your cat will love these exercises

Let’s face it, modern house cats have a weight problem. Cats are natural hunters who once roamed across a variety of terrain, stalking their prey. Today their food comes to them and they tend to live in safe, sheltered places that gives them long stretches of uninterrupted sleep. This problem is especially true for indoor cats, who are more likely to be overweight and get even less exercise.

We can design a superior diet for your cat’s individual needs, but your feline friend will still need regular exercise to keep his or her weight under control. Cats are predators and the best way to get them to exercise is to take inspiration from their nature and provide them with a form of play that will let them hunt, chase or stalk. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of active play each day, but don’t stop there if you can get them to do even more.

1) Place a bird feeder outside a large window

The sight of a moving bird stirs a cats instincts, moving it into a hunting mode. You will find your cat pacing by the window, stalking its intended prey, as birds congregate at the bird feeder, blissfully unaware of the lurking predator nearby. It may seem like a tease to your pet, but the ongoing activity and movement will be good for them.

2) Use a wand toy

Toys with mice, feathers of fluffy sacks on the end of a string held by a wand are great ways to get your cat to exercise. It’s fun for you to flick the toy back and forth while your cat swipes, leaps and bites at it. Allow them to catch the toy now and then, but don’t let them keep it for too long or they make get bored and lose interest.

3) Place a cat tower in your living room

Cats love to climb, and a carpeted cat tower gives them a comfortable surface they can travel up and down throughout the day. As an added bonus, they may decide to scratch the cat tower and not your sofa.

4) Ping pong balls

College students aren’t the only ones to rediscover the joy of ping pong balls. Cats love to chase them, and their ultralight weight will send the balls pretty far if the cat strikes them, leading to more exercise. For a fun twist drop one in a dry bathtub and see how long your cat will run in circles to catch it.

5) Use a laser pointer

Cats will interpret a bright red dot moving across the floor as a bug and try to chase it down. This is an extremely resilient cat toy that won’t get threadbare or stolen by a dog and is a lot of fun to use. For added fun, make the laser go up furniture and boxes to get your cat to climb.

6) Provide them with traditional cat toys

Cats love to chase little balls, bells, fluffy mice, jax, pebbles and other assorted shapes. These are cheap and easy to find at any pet store and your cat will love rolling around on the carpet with them. Every so often you should check under the couch or easy chair, as you may have a small collection of cat toys located underneath.

7) Dangle some string in front of them

Cats love to tug at string, yarn, ribbon, and shoelaces. It’s fun for them and it’s one of the most adorable things a cat owner can witness. Some cats outgrow their love of string, but steady play from a young age will help keep them interested. Make sure you don’t leave the string out where they can get at it unsupervised, as cats are at risk of intestinal blockage if they try to eat it.

8) Exercise wheel

There are several models of exercise wheels for cats on the market. Picture a cat running at a high speed on a large hamster wheel. These are compact items that can easily be stored and they allow cats to run for miles without leaving the living room.

Whatever form, or forms, of cat exercise you decide on, make sure you get them to engage in it daily. It will help keep your pet’s weight down to a safe level and keep them healthy so they can live a long, happy life with you.

Don’t let your dog’s winter exercise routine get stale

Dogs were not meant to live out lives of lazy indoor naps and food that comes to them.  They are descended from wolves and need to keep their blood pumping every day to stay healthy and fit. The winter snows can limit what activities are available to your pup, but don’t miss some great opportunities for outdoor winter exercise before the spring comes.

 

Walking

This is the most obvious one. You’re probably already doing this twice a day and it may be a bit stale. What’s good about walking is it requires almost no forethought, special equipment (besides a leash) or budget. Make sure your dog has a coat and boots if nature didn’t provide it with the features needed for a Toronto winter. Plan to include plenty of walking each winter, but don’t let it be your dog’s only form of exercise.

 

Swim

We’re not looking to endorse any particular indoor dog swimming business, but a quick Google search will show several year-round places in the Toronto area. Swimming is a great full-body exercise with low impact on joints and your dog will appreciate the change of pace. Wintertime swimming for dogs is a special treat that nature didn’t intend.

 

Run

This isn’t merely walking quickly. Try mixing it up by alternating a runners pace with a walkers stroll through a park with well-groomed walkways. This will be excellent exercise for dog and owner alike.

 

Fetch

If you have access to some deep virgin snow you can pack in some quick, intense exercise by tossing a brightly-colored object into the thick of it. Your dog will naturally choose a fast pace and will have more of a challenge by wading through the deep snow. As with walking and running, make sure your dog is wearing any winter gear that it needs and can warm up quickly at home.

 

Stairs

Try moving your dog up and down a set of stairs that you can freely access, be it indoors or outdoors. While younger dogs will need to slow down to head downstairs, especially if they don’t deal with them at home, most older dogs are experienced enough to run full-tilt down a set of steps. If your dog requires boots for outdoor weather, make sure there’s no traction issue to avoid causing your pup to tumble.

Don’t let your cat go stir crazy this winter

Regardless of how often your cat goes outside, your cat will need to spend a lot of time indoors this winter. Even if they are an indoor cat, the cold conditions can cause them trouble indoors that they won’t encounter in warmer weather.

First and foremost, do everything you can to make sure your home is warm enough for cat comfort. If your heating system doesn’t reach every room, try giving them a tented cat bed to retreat to for warmth. Any cat bed will lend them extra heat, and if you don’t have one on hand you can always line a cardboard box with a warm towel from the dryer. Make sure the walls are cut down enough that your cat can enter it freely.

If you want to give your cat a real treat, let them use a warming pad to set to a low temperature. Don’t swaddle them down with a towel or restrict their movement in any way in case they get too warm, and only use the warming pad when you can keep an eye on them.

If your cat has a rivalry with any other pets, be aware that heating issues may force them into the same rooms with each other. You may need to play peacemaker, keep them separated or find ways to keep distant rooms warm enough so all your pets can stay comfortable.

If your cat loses its normal daytime outdoor adventures because of snow and ice, make sure you devote some special playtime to keep your cat entertained. The old fluffy mouse on a string, laser pointer or rolling toys are easy ways to keep your cats active with minimal effort on your part.

Keep any curtains and blinds open during the day to allow warm sunbeams to splash across the floor for your pets to bask in. It’s free and they’ll appreciate the effort.

Make sure you keep indoor humidity under control. The dry winter air and heating systems can make the air in your home unbearably dry. Besides the physical discomfort your pets may feel, the dry air can increase static electricity. No cat likes being patted only to receive a big shock when they touch you with their nose.

Finally, if you do have an outdoor cat, consider using a leash and a harness to take your cat for a walk. Yes, they will look silly and some cats would rather be dragged than walked, but if your kitty is cooped up all winter it just might be enough to help them unwind for a few minutes and regain some sanity.

Does your dog need to wear winter gear?

Dog in coat and boots

 

It’s tempting to think of dog boots and winter coats the same way one does with casual pet clothing: A silly and often demeaning novelty that can amuse people and annoy animals. Dogs are descended from wolves, so surely their paws can withstand the ice and their coats can protect them from the snow.

But that assumes a few things that aren’t always true. Some breeds, like greyhounds, have lost their thick coats and are much more vulnerable to cold weather. Clearly there’s a difference between how a Siberian husky handles the cold and how a Chihuahua fares.

But even hardy breeds like labs and German shepherds can benefit a protective layer sometimes. Dogs aren’t humpback whales who are perpetually comfortable in even the coldest of climates. They may survive, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t feel better in some simple winter gear.

If you’re not convinced, maybe the experts can convince you. There’s plenty of police and rescue dogs that wear winter coats and snow boots. The famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska requires boots on all dogs.

There are dogs that can be comfortable going for a short walk in December wearing nothing but a collar and leash, while some slender animals may be miserable during a late fall day. The most important thing a pet owner can do is to observe their dog. If your pet is shivering, bring them inside to warm up and get them a warm coat and a set of dog boots to protect them from the cold and the rough texture of the ice.

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