Do Cats Dream?

When you see your cat twitching her whiskers and toes in her sleep it’s very likely she is revisiting that bowl of salmon she had for dinner or that backyard bird expedition from earlier in the day. Cats’ sleep patterns, just like ours, involve periods of dreaming and it turns out a cat’s dreams are not random.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an animal behaviorist and director at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, says that during sleep the mammalian brain needs to flush out and organize images from the day.

“All day long information is going into the brain, some of it is temporarily suspended on neurons. It’s like sorting at the post office,” he says. “When your cat is sleeping, its brain may be closed but the brain is sorting mail into different boxes. It conjures up images of the day. Reliving those moments may help to reinforce what happened or be helpful for the next day.”

Matthew Wilson, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and associate director at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, says the process is somewhat similar to a director working on a film.  During non-REM sleep, a slow wave or lighter sleep phrase, your cat’s brain takes pieces of images from her day and reworks or edits them to create the finished product.

“It’s like playing a video on a VCR in snippets. Memories are replayed in brief episodes, often going forward or reverse in memory,” says Wilson. “It’s an editing process with shorter sequences put together in little chunks. The content reflects experiences your cat had during his recent waking period.”

The movie watching portion of your cat’s sleep occurs during REM sleep, in which the body essentially shuts down or is paralyzed because its serotonin system is turned off.

“Serotonin’s main function is to control the large muscles that enable you to do things like back flips or throw a football,” Dodman says. “These muscles which enable you to stay upright, are limp. But fine motor control is still there. That’s why you may see your cat rotate its eyeballs or move its ears, whiskers and toes.”.

Wilson equates it to strapping a three-year-old into a car seat. “You’ve restrained him or her so they can’t express or complete movement. But the brain is still sending commands to muscles. They’re just not being listened to,” he says.

Throughout his career Wilson has studied the brain activity of rats—whose brains are similar to cats and humans—during their sleeping and waking hours. In one experiment, Wilson tracked rats while they ran through a maze as their hippocampus, the part of the brain that governs memory, was monitored with electrodes. He found that some of the patterns that their brains produced matched up with patterns observed during sleep.

“When the rat went to the left side of the maze or the right side of the maze the hippocampus recorded a pattern that it replayed during the dream state which indicated where the animal was,” explains Wilson. “We found that the hippocampus replayed sequences of spatial patterns so we can determine where the animal is dreaming of running through when it’s sleeping.”

Wilson’s research also shows that particular sequences in patterns are unique to an animal’s experience. So, if, for example, your cat experienced a particular sequence pattern of a flower, a sunset and a bear, it’s very likely it is a replay from an experience she had in her waking hours.

“If you can match patterns, then you can argue that the brain makes patterns,” says Wilson. “You might not be able to say the patterns mean anything but those things either recreate what animals already have done or predict an experience. There’s a selection process we don’t understand yet but it’s not random, some memories are selected over others.”

Short of just asking our felines about their dreams, Dodman says it’s hard to say with certainty that cats dream. But he doesn’t doubt that they do.

“Cats’ brains are similar in looks and function, both anatomically and physiologically to our brains. They also live comparable lives to ours,” says Dodman. “They’re walking around all day. They’re looking for food. They rest. They experience tiredness. We just don’t have the ability to ask. All we’re going to get is ‘meow’.”

from Pet360

Pavement is scorching! We can help those paw pads!

Dog’s feet and pads are tough, right? Most people are aware that foot pads can be injured by stepping on something sharp, but what about something hot? Dangerously hot pavement and metal surfaces are hard to avoid in the heat of summer. Walking or running on hard pavement is tough on feet, too.

Pavement, metal or tar-coated asphalt get extremely hot in the summer sun. We remember to wear sandals, walk on the grass and not sit down on these surface in the heat of the day (most of the time — I know that I have been surprised a time or two).

Harder to remember is summer heat and our dog’s feet. Unlike the obvious wounds such as lacerations, foot infections (fungal, bacterial), or foreign bodies such as cheat grass), burned pads may not be apparent to the eye, at least initially.

Paws need help?  Look no further than the Barkery!  With our great selection of products from Natural Dog Company, we can help paws beat the heat.

How more than half of dog owners could make their pets ill this Christmas

Dogs are given human food at Christmas by 56% of owners even though they know the treats can make them ill. More than half of dog owners will give their pets Christmas treats that they know can make them ill, a survey shows. Turkey and gravy – fed to dogs by 71% of owners – can cause vomiting and diarrhea and fruit in pies can damage kidneys. Some 49% said they gave human food over Christmas because dogs were “part of the family”. It led to a trip to the vet for 15%, the pet food firm survey found.

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Millions of dogs owners will put their pets at risk this Christmas by feeding them harmful food, a worrying new study reveals. The research shows 61 per cent of owners will let their dogs join them round the table for Christmas dinner. Shockingly, 56 per cent will feed their pet potentially harmful human foods – despite knowing it can be severely damaging.

The survey quizzed dog owners about feeding their canines indulgent foods over the festive season. It found an alarming 15 per cent have taken their pet to the vet over Christmas because it has fallen ill from eating human food.

The research reveals 71 per cent admit feeding their dog turkey in gravy and 28 per cent give them stuffing – both of which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.Half of owners (49 per cent) say they feed them human food at Christmas because they feel their pet is “part of the family.”

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It seems people don’t want their four-legged-friends to miss out on mince pies at Christmas either. One-in-ten (nine per cent) ‘treat’ dogs to a mince pie unaware the raisins or sultanas in it can result in kidney failure for their pet. An alarming one-in-five feel it’s acceptable to feed pets human food because “Christmas is a special occasion.”

Some festive treats that should avoid the dog’s food-bowl are stuffing, gravy, raisins, and a stocking favorite – chocolate.


Dogs: Safe vs. Dangerous “People Food”

Top 10 Foods to avoid

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is a big no-no. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous, but any chocolate can kill a dog, even white chocolate.

2. Sweets, chewing gum and diet foods containing Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free foods such as sweets, chewing gum and diet foods. The Xylitol content of these products can vary widely but significant amounts can cause acute and life threatening low blood sugar as well as liver failure.

3. Grapes and Raisins

I have seen people use grapes and raisins as treats for their dog but that is a very bad idea, as a handful can be fatal.

4. Caffeine

One or two laps of a drink containing caffeine are unlikely to be poisonous but an ingested tea bag may cause death in a small dog.

5. Macadamia Nuts

Never feed macadamia nuts or foods containing them as they are toxic to dogs. Eating as few as six nuts is enough to make your dog ill.

6. Alcohol

Dogs are much smaller than humans, and so the amount of alcohol it takes to cause harm is much less than for a human. Keep it well out of their reach.

7. Fruit pips and seeds

Pips and seeds contain cyanide and can cause digestive blockage. Large pips such as avocado stones can get stuck in the oesophagus, stomach or intestinal tract.

8. Table Scraps

I have no problem with sharing table scraps that are safe and healthy for your dog, but often they contain high levels of fat. Too much fat can cause pancreatitis and obesity, which can be life threatening or have long-term consequences.

9. Cooked bones

Cooked bones should never be fed to your dog as they can perforate the oesophagus, stomach or intestines and cause blockages along the digestive tract.

10. Onions

Onions contain a chemical that can damage your dog’s red blood cells and cause anaemia, weakness and breathing difficulties. Don’t ever give your dog raw, powdered, dehydrated or cooked onions or anything containing onions.

There are some foods that are great for your dog. Here’s my top 10.

1. Egg

A boiled egg is a great source of very digestible protein, especially for dogs prone to digestive upset.

2. Fish

Oily fish is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which boosts the immune system and can be beneficial for allergies, skin and coat.

3. Kale and Spinach

Kale and Spinach are both excellent sources of antioxidant and help the liver detoxify the body.

4. Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and nutrients but only feed your dog a small amount, no more than 5% of their daily diet.

5. Carrots

A crunchy source of antioxidants and other nutrients, carrots are the most underrated vegetable. Carrots contain an array of vitamins that will help your dog’s heart function, reduce the risk of cancer and support eye health.

5. Sweet potato

Sweet potato is full of antioxidants, promotes a healthy heart and keeps your dog’s immune system strong.

6. Ricotta cheese

This is low in lactose and has a good ratio of calcium to phosphorus which is great for your dog’s health.

7. Blueberries raspberries and blackberries

These little berries are filled with great antioxidants, can aid heart function, help fight cancer and have anti-inflammatory benefits.

8. Apple

Packed with nutrients apples are thought to protect against some types of cancer but make sure you don’t feed your pet the core.

9. Quinoa

This little gluten free seed is a powerhouse of nutrients and a great replacement for grains.

10. Banana

Feeding a small piece of Banana to your dog can sooth their gastrointestinal tract and can also be used to treat a minor upset.

Source: HuffPost

Safe Canine Weight Loss Tips

Information excerpted from an article by C.C. Holland

To start your dog back on the road to slimness, start by aiming for a 10 percent weight loss – or a rate of about 1 percent of his body weight per week. A slow approach is recommended both because it allows for a more gradual change in feeding, and because studies show that rapid weight loss can increase a loss of lean body mass, which in turn can contribute to weight regain. (Lean body mass, which includes organs, are the primary drivers of basal metabolism and burn energy at far higher levels than fat mass does. Reducing the amount of lean tissue can create diminished energy requirements, so a dog can regain weight even if he’s eating less.) In other words, forget the idea of crash diets for your dog; slow and steady wins this race.

The first step: weigh your dog. Next, calculate how much your dog actually eats. Begin by listing all the food your dog gets every day, including treats and table scraps, and add up the total calorie count. Some commercial foods carry calorie information on the label; for others, you may need to take the initiative and contact the manufacturer for more details.

Make sure you take portion size into account. If the recommended ration of your kibble is two standard cups a day, but if you’re using a 16-ounce Big Gulp container to measure out the food, you’re actually feeding your dog twice the allowance – and twice the calories.

How to Curb Cat Separation Anxiety

Strange cat behavior could mean anxiety

You’ve likely heard plenty about canines with separation anxiety – but what about felines? Cheryl Lock from Pet 360 explains.

Jump to Calming Cat Products in the Barkery Store

It might be hard to believe, but that independent cat who snubs you when you try to pet her could, on occasion, suffer from separation anxiety.

“Classically defined, cats with separation anxiety exhibit distress and behavior problems when they’re left alone,” said Mark Newkirk, BS, MS, VMD, veterinarian at Saint Francis Veterinary Hospital.

According to Dr. Newkirk, the most common behaviors in cats with separation anxiety include:

  • Biting the owner
  • Howling or crying
  • Urination and defecation outside the litter box
  • Over grooming

Unlike dogs, cats with separation anxiety may become either excited or depressed, and could act out in opposite ways. For example, your cat may follow you from room to room whenever you’re home, or she could hide from you. She could display effusive greeting behavior towards you when you come home, or she may remain aloof.

Often these behaviors occur whether they are left alone for short or long periods of time, and the behaviors could continue even when you’re home. “It’s not fully understood why some cats suffer from separation anxiety and others don’t,” said Dr. Newkirk. “But it’s important to realize that biting and house soiling that often occur with separation anxiety are part of a panic response. Your cat isnot trying to punish you for leaving him alone.”

The following are common scenarios that could trigger separation anxiety in a cat:

  • You change the type of litter, the position of the litter pan or you do not have enough litter pans
  • A new cat is introduced to the household
  • A cat suffers a traumatic event (from his or her viewpoint), such as spending time at a shelter or boarding kennel
  • There’s a change in the family’s routine or structure, or the loss of a family member or other pet

The first step in tackling behavioral issues is to rule out any underlying medical problems that might be causing the cat’s behavior. “For example, if your pet is urinating in the house, he might be suffering from a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, diabetes or kidney disease, all of which can cause urinary incontinence in cats and change behavior,” says Dr. Newkirk. “So see your vet first.”

If you finally do determine that your cat is suffering from separation anxiety, there are a few things to do:

  • Don’t make a big deal out of arrivals and departures. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your cat for the first few minutes, if he’s an effusive greeter, and then calmly pet him. If he’s aloof, do not seek him out.
  • Many cats can tell when their owners are about to leave, and they’ll get anxious or prevent your departure altogether. One way to tackle ‘pre-departure anxiety’ is to teach your cat that when you pick up your keys, or put on your coat, it doesn’t always mean you’re leaving. For example, put on your boots and coat and sit down and watch TV instead of leaving.
  • Consider using an over-the-counter calming product, like Pro quiet or Bach flowers, to reduce fearfulness.

More severe problems could require the use of a behavioral anti-anxiety medication, but your veterinarian would determine when/if that’s necessary.

One important thing to keep in mind: punishment is not a good idea. “This is not effective, and can make the situation worse,” says Dr. Newkirk. “Getting your cat a companion cat won’t work either. The anxiety cat’s get results from his separation from you, not just the result of being alone.”

What Happens When Your Pets Become Enemies?

We know that sometimes pets just stop getting along. This excellent article from Dr. Becker at the Mercola site can help you turn things around, or at least understand them.

About 17 percent of Americans with pets own both a dog and a cat. If you’re among them, your pets may have become fast friends, sharing their favorite cozy spots to snuggle in, playing together or, at the very least, tolerating one another without fights. If so, consider yourself lucky.

On the other hand, if both a dog and a cat call your house home, you may find yourself living in a gated community in order to keep the peace. This tactic works, but it’s not ideal, take it from me.

I have this issue in my home with my two female pitties, who will fight if given the opportunity. As a result, they must be permanently separated, which requires constant planning and coordination. Even though they’re two dogs, not a dog and cat, the issue is basically the same, as is the general solution.

To be clear, not all dogs and cats can get along; many can, but some, depending on their temperament, socialization, confidence levels, past experiences, predatory drive, age and more, will never be friends.

The Socialization Period Can Help Your Cat and Dog Become Friends

There’s a reason for the term “fighting like cats and dogs.” On a fundamental level, both dogs and cats have strong prey drives and are territorial. But because dogs tend to be much bigger than cats, if they find chasing down a cat alluring, they have the potential to seriously harm, or even kill it.

Still, some dogs and cats form deep bonds and seem oblivious to their supposedly predetermined roles as enemies. Ideally, if you want your dog to get along with cats, and vice versa, try to socialize him with cats during the sensitive period between three and 12 weeks of age (for dogs).

For cats, the sensitive period for socialization is between two and seven weeks of age, so this is the best time to expose her to dogs (in a safe manner, of course). Pets that gain this valuable exposure to other species during the sensitive period will often have no trouble adjusting to a new cat or dog in the household later on, provided their early experiences with the opposite species were positive.

How to Introduce a New Dog or Cat to Your (Now) Multiple-Pet Home

No matter what ages your pets are, the next crucial period is the initial introduction phase, which must be done carefully. Realize ahead of time that the introduction should be done gradually, over a course of hours, but more appropriately days or even weeks, depending on your pets’ personalities.

Since a cat is rarely a threat to a dog (unless it’s a small puppy), it’s generally your dog that will need to be restrained on a leash during those first crucial meetings. Although, if it’s a new cat that’s coming into your home, you’ll want to prepare a special safe room to help her get settled out of harm’s way. Here are the basic steps to introducing cats and dogs:

Introducing a New Dog to Your Cat

  • Bring your dog in on a leash. Keep him restrained and unable to lunge at or reach your cat.
  • Let your cat make the first move, either moving toward your dog or away from him.
  • Notice your dog’s reaction; if he is stiff, staring down your cat, barking or whining, or pulling to get at your cat, these are signs that his prey instinct is strong (if this happens, do not proceed to the next step, continue reading the next section on feuding pets below).
  • Be sure your cat has multiple escape routes (out of the room, onto a high-up location, or underneath a couch that your dog can’t access, for instance). If necessary, use baby gates so your cat has a safe spot to retreat to.
  • If your dog appears calm, lead him away from the cat and then take off the leash, monitoring the interaction that follows.
  • If necessary, distract your dog with a toy, treats or a short training session, giving easy commands such as “sit” and “down” (with treats, of course) or a short walk outside to get his focus off your cat.
  • Do not allow your dog to corner or intimidate your cat.
  • Reward your dog when he focuses on you rather than your cat.

Introducing a New Cat to Your Dog

  • As mentioned, first prepare a safe room for your cat. Include everything she needs (litter box, bedding, toys, scratching post, food and water, along with a place to hide, preferably two or three different options, in different locations). This will be her home until she feels like venturing out into the rest of your home. Keep the door closed.
  • Bring your kitty into your home in a carrier, and take her straight to her room and close the door, so that the dog cannot immediately investigate. Open the door to her carrier and let her explore her new surroundings at her own pace. Once your cat is comfortable and relaxed in her safe room, then and only then should you introduce the dog.
  • When you can see your cat is ready to come out of her safe room, place a baby gate across the door so she feels secure but not isolated, and can come and go as she pleases. If your dog can jump over the gate, use two gates, one six inches off the ground and a second on top of the first, so that the dog can’t cross the barrier but the cat can come and go as she pleases. If you have a small dog that won’t jump the gate but can fit under the gap below it, lower the gate to the floor and cut a small hole in it to allow the cat through, but not the dog.
  • Allow your cat to get acquainted with your dog on her own terms; this may take days, weeks or even months. When she sees or hears the dog she may retreat to her safe room for many weeks, and this is ok. Make sure to not force the introduction.

Your Dog and Cat Are Feuding: Now What?

In a perfect world, your dog and cat would get along just fine. But what if they don’t? You can try to gradually introduce them to one another in a safe setting (the cat having access to her safe room), with your dog under control on a leash. While each animal is calm, reward him or her with a favorite treat and positive attention.

Repeat this frequently, gradually decreasing the physical distance between them while increasing the amount of time they spend in each other’s company. The goal is that eventually, they will be able to coexist peacefully.

Eventually, as your dog grows more familiar with having a cat around, he may lose interest in her entirely. The next step is allowing supervised interactions with your dog off-leash, and, eventually, unsupervised interactions. Obviously, the latter should only take place after a significant period of supervised interactions have occurred with no incidents of excitement or aggressive behavior.

If your dog shows any signs of aggression toward your cat – growling, lunging toward your cat, snapping – or your cat shows signs of stress when around your dog (such as growling, hissing, or swatting), you’ll need to separate them for a period before trying again. As mentioned, there will be some cases where cats and dogs will not be friends, so this should be respected.

Dogs with Bad Breath – Is it Normal?

Halitosis in Dogs

Halitosis is the medical term used to describe an offensive odor that comes from the mouth, producing bad breath. A number of causes may be responsible for this condition, notably periodontal disease, a disease resulting from bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria is also associated with plaque and cavities.

Small animal breeds and brachycephalic breeds (characterized by their short-nosed, flat-faced features; e.g., the Pug, Boston Terrier, Pekingese) are the most prone to periodontal and other mouth diseases, in large part because their teeth are close together.

Symptoms and Types

In most cases, there are no other symptoms aside from a bad odor emanating from the mouth. If the cause of the odor is a disease of the mouth, other symptoms may become apparent, including pawing at the mouth, inability to eat (anorexia), loose teeth, and excessive drooling, which may or may not have traces of blood.


A variety of conditions may lead to halitosis, including metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus (commonly known as sugar diabetes); respiratory problems such as inflammation of the nose or nasal passages (rhinitis); inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis); and gastrointestinal problems, such as enlargement of the esophageal tube, the main channel that leads from the throat to the stomach.

Other possible causes of halitosis might be traced to a trauma, like that of an electric cord injury. Viral, bacterial or fungal infections can cause foul odors to emit from within the body, and dietary problems can play a role in the emission of odor as well. For example, if your dog has been eating offensive foods, or is exhibiting a behavior called coprophagia, where it is eating feces, your dog will have correlating foul breath.

Further possibilities are pharyngitis, an inflammation of the throat or pharynx, and tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils. The presence of cancer, or the presence of foreign bodies may also result in disease of the mouth and accompanying bad breath. But, the most notable cause of halitosis is a disease of the mouth such as periodontal disease, which is due to plaque bacteria buildup.


Diagnostic procedures to evaluate periodontal disease as the most likely cause of halitosis include X-rays of the inside of the mouth, and an examination of the mouth for characteristics such as tooth mobility and sulfide concentrations.


Once the specific cause of halitosis is known, various therapies may be used to address the problem. In some cases, multiple causes may be to blame. For example, your dog may have periodontal disease along with having a foreign object present in the mouth. Treatment for the condition is dependent upon the cause(s).

If periodontal disease is to blame, treatment will include cleaning and polishing the teeth, or extraction of teeth that have greater than 50 percent loss of the supporting bone and gum tissues around them. Some medications may help to reduce odor, and help to control the bacteria that infect the gums and other oral tissues, causing bad breath.

Living and Management

You will need to continue to remain observant of your dog’s symptoms. It is important to consistently provide proper professional dental care to your dog, as well as to supplement this with at home tooth care. Daily tooth brushing can help prevent the plaque buildup that leads to related halitosis. You will also need to prevent your dog from eating bad-smelling foods, such as garbage. Cleaning the yard frequently will also avoid incidences of coprophagia.

From Petmd

Why is Your Cat Vomiting?

Sudden Onset of Vomiting in Cats

Cats will commonly vomit from time to time, often because they might have eaten something that upset their stomachs, or simply because they have sensitive digestive systems. However, the condition becomes acute when the vomiting does not stop and when there is nothing left in the cat’s stomach to throw up except bile. It is important you take your pet to a veterinarian in these cases.

While vomiting may have a simple, straightforward cause, it may be an indicator of something far more serious. It is also problematic because it can have a wide range of causes, and determining the correct one may be complicated.

Symptoms of Sudden and Severe Vomiting

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Non-stop vomiting
  • Pain and distress
  • Bright blood in the stool or vomit (hematemesis)
  • Evidence of dark blood in the vomit or stool (melena)

Causes of Sudden and Severe Vomiting

Some possible risk factors include:

  • Tumors
  • Heat stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Changes in the diet
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Gobbling food/eating too fast
  • Allergic reaction to a particular food
  • Food intolerance (beware of feeding an animal “people” food)
  • Adrenal gland disease
  • Dislocation of the stomach
  • Intestinal parasites (worms)
  • Obstruction in the esophagus
  • Metabolic disorders such as kidney disease

Diagnosis of Sudden and Severe Vomiting

If possible take a sample of your cat’s vomit to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then take the cat’s temperature and examine its abdomen. If it turns out to be no more than a passing incident, the veterinarian may ask you to limit the cat’s diet to clear fluids and to collect stool samples over that period, as the underlying cause may be passed along in the stool. Occasionally, the cat’s body may use vomiting to clear the intestines of toxins. If the vomit contains excessive amounts of mucus, an inflamed intestine may be the cause. Undigested food in the vomit can be due to food poisoning, anxiety, or simply overeating. Bile, on the other hand, indicates an inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.

If bright red blood is found in the vomit, the stomach could be ulcerated. However, if the blood is brown and looks like coffee grounds, the problem may be in the intestine. Strong digestive odors, meanwhile, are usually observed when there is an intestinal obstruction. If the obstruction is suspected in the cat’s esophagus, the veterinarian will conduct an oral exam. Enlarged tonsils are a good indicator of such an obstruction.

Treatment for Sudden and Severe Vomiting

  Treatment is dependent on the underlying cause of the vomiting; some of the veterinarian’s possible suggestions include:

  • Dietary changes
  • Medication to control the vomiting (e.g., cimetidine, anti-emetic)
  • Antibiotics, in the case of bacterial ulcers
  • Corticosteroids to treat inflammatory bowel disease
  • Surgery, in the case of tumor-caused vomiting
  • Special medications for treating chemotherapy induced vomiting

Always follow the recommended treatment plan from your veterinarian. Do not experiment with medications or food. Pay close attention to your cat and if it does not improve, return to your veterinarian for a follow-up evaluation.

From Pet 360