The need for mental stimulation is deep and instinctual in both people and companion animals. The difference, of course, is that you can seek you own mental challenges while your dog or cat depends on you to do it for him. You already do a great job caring for your pet’s physical health needs. We encourage you to consider his need to solve problems and socialize with other people and animals as well.
A pet will quickly let you know if you’re overlooking this need by her behavior. A dog or pet who feels bored can become destructive, depressed, or both. People who don’t make the connection between their pet’s behavior and lack of mental stimulation sometimes punish their pet or even give her away. While it’s understandably frustrating to deal with behavior such as excessive barking or meowing, inappropriate elimination, biting, scratching, or chewing, try to look at the situation from your pet’s perspective and provide her with the stimulation she’s trying to tell you that she needs.
How to Stimulate the Mind of a Dog
Dogs require exercise daily and interaction with people and other dogs as often as possible. The good news is that physical exercise helps to stimulate the brain as well. For example, your dog can learn to catch a Frisbee and bring it back to you, how to hike on a trail, or how to swim. Once it’s clear that he’s caught on to a specific exercise, try to change things up a bit to prevent boredom. Exercise is also a good way to bond with you and to see other people and pets out in the community.
Providing your dog with a toy that requires her to solve a problem to get a treat is also a good idea. We carry food puzzles and other such items in our online store for your convenience. Since dogs are very motivated by treats, play a game of hiding your dog’s treat in a different location in the house each time so he has to figure out how to find it.
How to Stimulate the Mind of a Cat
Cats have a need for mental stimulation, as well. Your cat loves spending one-on-one time with you as you pet his tummy, talk to him, and play games together.
We recommend taking some time each day to play simple games with your cat that require him to use his mind. For example, place a gloved hand under a sofa cushion and move it around. Place toys in various places around your home, to help your cat feel like he's seeking out prey. Cats also enjoy treats and might like a toy like the egg-cercizer that requires batting it a certain way for the toy to release a treat.
Need more ideas to help keep your pet’s mind sharp? Just call Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474.
Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Although fleas and ticks can survive year-round, they are especially numerous in the late spring, throughout the summer, and in the early fall. Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic encourage you to provide your pet with year-round protection against these annoying and potentially deadly parasites.
Common Signs of Fleas in Companion Animals
The most likely places to find fleas on your dog or cat is on the hind end, thighs, upper portion of the paws, and tail. However, these microscopic parasites are usually too small for anyone to see. You will know your pet has fleas when he starts scratching himself with unusual intensity. Other possible indications of fleas include:
- Pus draining from the area of infestation
- Red skin abrasions, with or without bleeding
- Tapeworm in your pet’s feces
- Licking, chewing, biting, or rubbing the areas of flea infestation
Some pets are allergic to the saliva of fleas and may develop dermatitis because of it. The intense itching can cause bald patches of fur, another clue of the presence of fleas. Although this parasite is not deadly, it can cause your pet to develop tapeworm. Left untreated, tapeworm will continue growing inside of your pet’s body and possibly make her anemic due to diverting all of her nutrient sources.
What You Need to Know About Ticks
The organization Pets and Parasites states that cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are higher this year because of more ticks. The increase is attributed to the dry and hot weather conditions of the last several summers. Fever, fatigue, arthritis, and infections of the skin are the most obvious indications of a tick. This parasite cannot survive without the blood of its host.
You can help reduce the likelihood of Lyme or other tick-borne diseases by checking your pet for ticks daily. The best way to do this is to feel with your hand from head to tail as well as your pet’s underbelly, between toes, underneath the ears and armpits, and under the face and chin. Be sure to pull the tick out in a straight motion with a pair of tweezers so you don’t leave any of the body behind.
Commit to Year-Round Protection
Your pet depends on you to keep him free of parasites. If you feel unsure of which prevention product to use, just call for a recommendation or bring it us at your pet’s next check-up. You can also shop in our online store.
Prevention is simple, inexpensive, and can save your pet’s life. At the very least, it will spare her a lot of misery. Summer is short enough as it is. The last thing you want is for your pet to have to stay indoors due to illness or fear of picking up tickborne diseases or fleas. If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474.
Photo Credit: Pixabay