53 Secrets Pets Won’t Tell You
We asked animal behaviourists, nutritionists, veterinarians, and pet groomers to shed some light on what your furry friends would tell you if they could.
Secrets of pets #1:
Just because I’m purring doesn’t mean I’m happy.
Bet you didn’t know this secret of pets: I also purr when I’m in pain or mortally afraid because it’s a self-soothing mechanism.
Secrets of pets #2:
Remember when I was little and you shoved my nose in a puddle of pee I left? Let me fill you in on this common secret of pets: I have no idea why you did that. Instead, get me outside as quickly as possible and praise me whenever I pee outdoors.
Check out the 5 Worst Mistakes We Make When Training Our Dogs!
Secrets of pets #3:
Please introduce me around when I’m young so I’m not afraid of strangers. This pet secret is important to my socialization.
Some experts say I should meet meet 100 new people of different sizes, genders, and ethnicities in my first 100 days at home, even if it’s just a quick greeting. Make sure you include people wearing hats and sunglasses, since those accessories can look awfully scary to me.
Secrets of dogs #4:
Here’s another secret your dog won’t tell you: If you leave me in the backyard when you’re not home don’t fool yourself thinking that I’m going to run around and have fun. The truth is, I’m probably going to sit in one spot and wait for you to return. Dogs are den animals, and many of us prefer to be inside, ideally with you.
Secrets of pets #5:
It would be great if you could clue into this secret dog tip. You say I’m great with kids, but…
…if I’m licking, pulling my ears back, turning my head away, or yawning (all signs of anxiety) while they play with me, I’m probably just barely tolerating them. If you keep letting them pull my tail, one of these days, I might lose it.
Pet care tips #6:
What do you mean you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? It’s no secret dogs are smart, at any age.
My owner taught me to fetch the newspaper from the driveway and take it to him when I was ten.
Secrets of pets #7:
Bet you didn’t know this little dog secret. You think my tail wagging is always an invitation for you to pet me more. Wrong!
Italian researchers found that dogs wag their tails slightly to the right when they see something they like and to the left when they’re confronted with something they want to back away from.
Cat care tips #8:
Your favourite cat game to play with me involves a laser pointer. Here’s a tip your cat can’t tell you:
I get really frustrated because I can’t catch it, and I live for the hunt. So if you’re going to use a pointer, please sub in an actual toy at the end so I have something to catch and kill. It makes the game worth it.
Secrets of dogs #9:
Here’s a great tip for potential dog owners: When you’re choosing a new furry friend, ask a vet or trainer for simple tests you can do to gauge temperament.
For example, you can try rolling me over on my back to see how I handle it. If I really struggle, I’m probably going to be tougher to train than an animal who lies there placidly.
Pet care tips #10:
Your pet will certainly not want to tell you this secret! You’re giving me too much food.
How can you tell? I don’t seem motivated by food treats when you’re trying to train me. Cut back, and I’ll start to pay attention.
Pet care tips #11:
Do you think your pet is lazy? Here’s some animal advice: Don’t let me sleep all day, but too much nap time can affect my personality.
A lot of behavioural problems can be solved by just taking your dog on a daily walk or by playing with your cat for 20 minutes every day.
Pet care advice #12:
If your pet could talk, they’d say: Please don’t rush me when I’m going to the bathroom.
There’s a reason dogs circle around before getting down to business: We have an instinct to be aligned with the earth’s magnetic field before we poop. In fact, researchers watched 70 of us engage in 1,893 defecations over a two-year period just to figure this out.
Animal advice #13:
Since I’m an old dog, I get to eat whatever I want, yes? No! This pet care tip is important to keep me healthy for my whole life.
If I have arthritis, I’ll be much happier if you give me a daily supplement that contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which protect joint cartilage. And switch me to a food formulated for an animal my age.
Pet care tips #14:
Hopefully it’s no secret that if you keep me inside and don’t let me wander the neighbourhood unleashed, whether I’m a dog or a cat, I’ll have a better chance of living a longer life.
I won’t get hit by a car, stolen, or just plain lost. But once I’ve been allowed to roam free, it’ll be hard to change me.
Pet care tips #15:
I don’t want to leave you. Here’s a pet owner’s tip just in case you lose me…
…the first thing you should do is call every animal shelter within 100 miles of home, and visit the nearest shelters every day if you can. Many animal control bureaus euthanize animals if they go unclaimed for a specific amount of time. For good measure, be sure to get me a microchip when I’m young.
Animal care tips #16:
Your female pets would love to tell you this one! If you’re getting me spayed, ask your vet if she can remove just my ovaries, not my uterus.
It’s a much less invasive procedure, it’s the way cats and dogs are spayed in Europe, and many U.S. veterinarians have already made the switch.
Secrets of pets #17:
Here’s a clue you should know: Because I’m a creature of habit, even a subtle change in my behaviour is a red flag that I might be sick.
So if it takes me an hour to eat my food instead of 60 seconds as usual, if I’m tiring out faster when we play, if there are more urine clumps in the litter box than usual, or if I seem to be drinking more water, call the vet right away.
Dog care tips #18:
Grooming day means you bring out the big blow-dryer. Don’t! You could dry out my skin or cause a rash. Or it might just frighten me.
To make dogs like me look fluffy, shake a little cornstarch into the base of the fur and then brush. It will absorb oil and grease and detangle matted fur.
Pet care advice #19:
This health secret is one to look out for! You may think it’s cute when I rub my butt on the carpet…
…but it probably means that I’m itchy, my glands may be impacted, and I would like to see a vet.
Dog training tips #20:
Here’s a training tip: Forget the Milk-Bones or hard treats!
If you want me to really pay attention when you’re training me, use a treat that’s moist, something so gross, you don’t even want to hold it in your hand, like a piece of greasy chicken.
Pet health secrets #21:
While some of us gulp down grass only if we’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with us and we’re trying to regurgitate it…
…others of us just love to munch the lawn. So let me graze a little-just make sure the grass I’m eating is free of pesticides, garbage or other dangers.
Pet care secrets #22:
If I’m not used to strangers and you reach out toward me when you first meet me…
…your hand may as well be a meat cleaver. Instead, here’s a tip: Crouch down on one leg and look slightly away. Then let me approach you and give you a sniff.
Animal advice #23:
Please, please can I choose my own bed? If you want me to use a bed, here’s a suggestion: Let me pick it.
The most comfortable one will depend on how I sleep. Let me try out a few in a pet store. If I usually sleep with my legs sprawled out, I’ll be more comfortable on a flat bed without side bumpers. But if I like to curl up, I’ll probably love a bumper bed.
Dog care tips #25:
Here’s a tip that may help save some money: Hold those clippers!
No matter how high the mercury climbs or how long my hair is, unless I’m matted, I don’t need to be shaved. My undercoat actually insulates me from heat, so it helps me stay cool. Just make sure you keep my coat brushed and mat-free to promote good air circulation.
Secrets of pets #26:
I love to fetch and would like to learn how to catch a flying disc…
…but those hard plastic Frisbees can hurt my teeth and gums. Instead, look for a soft one at a pet store.
Animal advice #28:
Let’s get one thing straight: Declawing is not the same as cutting our nails.
It’s a painful surgery that’s much more like amputating the last two knuckles of your fingers. If my scratching is really bad, try glue-on nail caps.
Secrets of cats #29:
Excuse me, but I am not untrainable. I bet you didn’t know that I might actually enjoy it.
I can learn to sit, come, touch a target with my nose, jump through a hoop, give you a high five, and even use the toilet-as fast as or even faster than a dog. Check YouTube for some great tutorials.
Cat secrets #31:
If I stiffen every time you run a hand down my back, take the hint.
A 2013 study published in Physiology and Behavior found that cats who didn’t like the sensation but allowed their owners to stroke them anyway were more stressed-out than those who avoided touch.
What your cat won’t tell you #32:
Remember, I see the world as vertical, not horizontal.
So instead of getting mad when I knock things off the mantel, here’s a tip: Build me a cat superhighway around the room. Put up a shelf that leads up to a bookcase that leads to a mantel that leads to a chair that gets me down.
Cat care advice #33:
Thinking about getting me a buddy?
Here’s a suggestion: I’ll get along best with a cat who’s of the opposite sex and slightly younger than I am, but don’t just throw us in a room together. Talk to your vet or a trainer about how to introduce us gradually. If I’m an older cat and I’ve lived alone with you for years, I don’t need a friend. Really. I’m already too set in my ways.
Secret life of cats #34:
Excuse me for putting my bottom in your face…
…but you should actually consider it an incredibly high compliment. It harks back to when I was a kitten and would do the same thing to Mom so she could clean my bottom. It means I perceive you as a maternal figure.
Cat care tips #35:
I love the Cat Dancer and other fancy toys and gadgets, but here’s a secret — I don’t need pricey toys.
I can have just as much fun with a paper bag with the handles cut off, an aluminum foil ball, or a plain box. It’s actually quite easy to create a homemade toy that I’ll love. Anything that is shiny or that I can scratch is going to make my day.
Pet training advice #36:
Here’s some advice: Don’t wait until I’m six months old to start correcting bad behaviour. I’ll have won the war.
By then, I’ll be used to drinking out of the toilet and chewing shoes. Experts say it’s easier to instill good habits from the beginning than to untrain bad habits.
Dog training tips #37:
I’m confused. When I jumped up on you earlier…
…you gave me such a nice pet. But now you’re mad at me for jumping on Aunt Martha. Am I allowed to jump up or not?
Cat care tips #38:
To stop me from scratching a piece of furniture, here’s some helpful advice: Cover the entire area with an old bedsheet, aluminum foil, or strips of double-sided tape, because those don’t feel good under my paws. Then put a tall scratching post right in front of it.
Dog training advice #40:
Want me to learn to walk by your side on a leash? Well, give me some incentive.
Try this tip: As soon as I start to pull ahead, stop walking. When I turn and look back, offer me a treat right next to your leg. I’ll quickly figure out I need to stay next to you in order to keep doing what I love most: moving and exploring.
Dog behaviour secrets #41:
It’s no secrets dogs love to play. When I bark, jump, and grab the towel off the countertop…
…I’m not trying to be bad. I’m just bored! I want your attention! Please, get off your smartphone and play with me.
Pet care secrets #42:
Whether I’m a cat or a dog, if you’re tired of finding pet hair on your sofa and want to keep me off…
…try a Scat Mat, which gives out a small, harmless electrostatic pulse when it’s stepped on. Or buy a car mat and turn it upside down on your couch, so the little rubber prongs are facing up. I hate those.
What your dog won’t tell you #43:
If I’m a dog who is scared of thunderstorms or loud noises, get me a snug-fitting Thundershirt.
Or you can make your own. Wrap an Ace bandage across my chest, cross it over the top of my body and then back under, going over and under until it’s midway down my back, and then secure it. The constant pressure against the middle of my body will help ease my anxiety and calm me down.
Pet care tips #44:
Every bag of pet food has an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the label, although you might need a magnifying glass to read it.
Here’s a suggestion: Look for one that says the food has undergone animal feeding trials rather than one that’s been “formulated” by a computer. The trials are expensive, but they indicate that real dogs actually ate the food for six months with good results.
Secrets of pets #45:
Remember, my digestive system is very different from yours.
We wish we could tell you that raisins and grapes can shut down a dog’s kidneys. Other dangerous foods include chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts, and avocado.
Pet feeding tips #46:
Raw may not be right for me. Check with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist before giving me a homemade-food diet.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, who examined 200 recipes last year for home-prepared dog food found that 95 per cent had some serious nutritional deficiencies.
Dog care tips #47:
Your pet would love for you to do some research first. If you switch me to a raw diet, I may end up with cracked teeth or a bacterial infection.
Also, exposure to my feces could put anyone with a weakened immune system at risk. That’s why the ASPCA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutions all strongly discourage raw diets.
Pet care advice #48:
Want my coat to be thick and shiny?
This is easy advice to take: Make sure my diet has plenty of essential fatty acids. Most high-quality commercial pet foods have enough, but pets on low-quality foods or homemade diets that aren’t balanced may develop a dull coat. And don’t forget to brush me often to help it shine.
Pet care tips #49:
Did you hear the hype about grain-free cat and dog food?
That’s what it is: hype. There’s nothing wrong with feeding me grains-they can actually be an important part of a balanced diet. Before you make any change, talk to your vet.
Secrets of pets #50:
You might buy any old dog-grooming brush at the pet store, but please get advice from a pro to help you pick the right one for my coat. A rubber brush will promote circulation and loosen dirt. A bristle brush removes dead hair.
Secrets of pets #51:
The dead mice and birds aren’t gifts: I just want to return my prey to my den. And if I continue to “play” with an injured critter, it’s not out of malice. Even if I’m not hungry, this behaviour engages my hunting instinct and helps me practice some motor skills (although it seems kind of mean).
Cat care tips #52:
Sometimes I seem frustrated or anxious when I’m looking out the window at something particularly interesting, like a bird, dog or other cat. If you try to pet me, I might redirect that feeling at you. Don’t get offended: it’s just that you entered my space when my hunting instincts were on high alert. Try not to bother me if you notice that I’m focused on something.
Pet care tips #53:
Consult a specialist when you decide to cook my meals yourself. According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, it’s possible for homemade food to deliver balanced, total nutrition-but this usually means sticking to a strict recipe, which many pet owners fail to do.
Check out more pet tips!