Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Does My Dog Tilt Their Head to Listen?

There’s nothing cuter than a dog tilting their head. Something about the concentration on their face as they flop their ears back and forth makes our hearts melt. They look like they’re trying their hardest to understand every word you say. No one could deny the cute factor of this behavior, but what’s the true reason behind the tilt? Research has suggested that there may be more than one surprising motivation for this type of movement.

Until recently, there was much speculation but not a lot of research on why pets cock their heads. It has been said that the tilt may help position one of their ears to hear us better, or that they simply pick up on our positive response to that behavior and continue doing it as a way to earn our smiles and rewards. 

A recent study conducted by Dr. Stanley Coren of Psychology Today’s Canine Corner Blog suggested that the motive may have more to do with vision than hearing or social cues. “We know that dogs continually scan our faces for information and to read our emotional state,” Dr. Coren states. “Hence it is likely that one reason why dogs may tilt their heads when we talk to them is because they want to see our faces better, and to compensate for the way in which their muzzles obscure part of their vision.”

Test out this theory yourself by placing your fist tight against your nose. Try looking straight ahead – your fist blocks your vision a bit, doesn’t it? Now try tilting your head to one side. Is it easier to focus on something past your fist? This may be the case for some dogs with longer snouts.

Simulating a dog's snout (Psychology Today)
Dr. Coren tested this theory by surveying pet owners and dividing them into groups based on the size of their dog’s snout. He asked these 582 people to report how frequently their dog tilted their head when being spoken to. Of the larger muzzle group, 72% of people reported that their dog often tilted their head. Only 52% of those pet owners with flatter muzzles gave the same report. Though 52% is still a large percentage, the significant difference between the groups prompted Dr. Coren to determine that vision may be a contributing factor. Even a muzzle that is on the flatter side may still get in the way.

This is not to say that hearing or the simple desire to be cute aren’t a part of the motivation behind this sweet little gesture. There may be a combination of reasons for that adorable cock of the head. Whatever the reason, there’s one thing we know for sure – it makes for some really cute photographs!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Barker Bowl "Tail-Gate" and Daycare Party

The Big Game is approaching, and at Morris Animal Inn we’re counting down to the biggest game on four legs! Our Barker Bowl & “Tail-gate” Daycare Party is on Tuesday, January 28th.

In an action-packed game of football between the Seahounds and the Barkos, participating pups will race down the field to score doggie touchdowns, become Most Valuable Pooches while playing in the arena and snack on Puppy Pretzels and non-alcoholic Bowser Beer for pets. Drop off your pet dressed in your favorite team jersey, so they can play the day away while you prepare for your own weekend of football fun.

The rest of our guests will also get in on the action; Pets scheduled for a visit to our grooming salon that day will go home with festive sports bandanas.

Owners can enjoy the game too with stadium snacks in our lobby and a chance to win a prize by guessing the number of touchdowns that pets will score by the end of the day. Our jersey-clad canines will go home with souvenir gifts, including individual trading cards for each dog.

While the Barker Bowl promises to be fun for all, we also want to use the opportunity to give back to our community. A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey. The AWFNJ is dedicated to serving animals by enforcing animal cruelty laws and protecting those in need.

Photos from our Barker Bowl will be posted to our Facebook page on January 28th. Be sure to check our page midway through the day for our exclusive kitty halftime video! To reserve your dog a spot in the four-legged lineup, call us today at 973-539-0377.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Good Health Grooming - Why a salon visit is good for your pet

For humans, grooming is a daily process. We scrub our hands, wash our faces and take frequent showers to keep ourselves clean. Although many pets, especially cats, are known for their ability to clean themselves, professional grooming for dogs and cats is essential to helping them stay squeaky clean. Grooming is about much more than just making your pet look pretty; it can also help prevent unpleasant issues from arising with their hygiene and health.

This is especially true with long-haired pets. While a dog or cat with long, luxurious fur can be beautiful, it also requires a lot of maintenance. In the December/January 2014 issue of Animal Wellness Magazine, an article on grooming by professional groomer Toni Brightman explained the pain and potential illness associated with pets whose hair gets tangled and matted.

“If you’re a woman, imagine hot rollers wound too tightly to your head,” Brightman wrote, explaining how a matted fur coat feels to your pet. The twists and tangles in their fur are much more than unpleasant to the eye; they could actually be hampering circulation, causing skin sores and infections or hiding other ailments.

Does this mean that if you have a short-haired dog or cat, you are free to let them groom themselves? Actually, there are many additional benefits to a professional groom that will help pets of all sizes and coat types:

Hygiene – keeping an animal’s back-end clean and mat-free is important to allow them to eliminate properly.

Eyes – tearing of the eyes can lead to residue build up on your pet’s face, which can pull at their
fur and become gummy and difficult to clean. Regular grooming can prevent this buildup.

Nails – Nail care is essential for any pet, even cats who may have a scratching post or other means of filing their claws. If nails grow too long, they can actually curl and begin to grow into the pads of your pet’s feet. This is extremely painful and can cause strain on joins.

Feet – Mats of fur can grow hard and become tangled and between your pet’s pads. Imagine pebbles stuck between your toes! A groomer will keep this hair short and clean.

Ears – Ear cleaning in many breeds also requires trimming the hair that can grow inside the ear canal. A regular groom will include maintenance of this fur to prevent overgrowth and infections.

Long hair or short, cat or dog, a clean and well-groomed coat will help you pet stay healthy and happy. At Morris Animal Inn, a day at our Grooming Salon and Spa means relaxation and attention from our experienced staff. Your pet will come home looking and feeling their best! Watch the video below for a taste of what your dog or cat can expect from a grooming appointment at Morris Animal Inn:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

From Freezing to Frostbite: Recognize the symptoms in your pet

An expanding polar vortex may be to blame for this January’s frigidly cold temperatures, but to your pet, the only thing that matters is getting in and out of the cold quickly. These below zero degree days have us on the watch for signs of cold or discomfort in our pets. Just like we turn up the thermostat or search for an extra blanket when we’re cold, dogs act in certain recognizable ways when they are trying hard to keep warm. Watch for these signs, courtesy of the Dog House blog, to know when your dog is feeling the chill.

Hunched up in a ball. A dog who is looking to stay warm will curl up with their head, tail and feet tucked under and around their body. This action allows them to better conserve body heat. Try a coat for the times when your pet must be outdoors in order to help them to conserve heat.

Three-legged dance. If you notice your dog standing with one foot in the air, and then shifting their weight to raise another foot, then the ground your dog is walking on is too cold for them. Try dog boots when you take your dog outside. These often takes some getting used to for pets, so allow them to wear the boots indoors for a while first.

Shivering and shaking. Although trembling can also indicate excitement in dogs, shaking that occurs while outside in the cold is usually an involuntary movement showing that their body is trying to generate more heat. A shivering pup needs a nice, warm cuddle indoors!

Lack of stretching. If your dog emerges from a sleeping or curled up position in the morning and does not stretch, they are still feeling a chill. Make sure your dog has a cozy sleeping arrangement on cold winter nights.

With temperatures this low, do not leave your dog outside for extended periods of time. Even with the proper coat and booties, your dog’s shivers could graduate to a much more dangerous kind of cold: frostbite. VCA Animal Hospitals explain how to recognize and treat this kind of tissue damage from the cold.

The parts of your dog most susceptible to frostbite are the areas of their body farthest from the heart: the ears, paws, and tail. After extended exposure to cold, check for the clinical signs of frostbite, which include discoloration, coldness or brittleness of the skin, pain or swelling of the area or blisters of any kind.

Frostbite is a serious condition that should be treated immediately. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has been overexposed to cold, and take immediate steps to warm them. DO NOT rub or massage the infected area OR use dry heat such as a heating pad or hairdryer. Instead, wrap your dog in warm, dry towels or blankets. You may begin to slowly thaw the frostbitten areas with a warm (NOT HOT) water compress. Be sure to thoroughly dry the area before exposing them again to any cold temperatures.

For more information about recognizing and treating frostbite, please visit the VCA Animal Hospitals website. The very best thing you can do, however, is prevent your dog from overexposure to cold. Limit their time outside and dress them appropriately if they show signs of extreme cold. As always, give your dog plenty of cuddle time to stay warm and dry indoors on these cold winter days!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fit & Spa Retreat: A New Year's Resolution for Pets

Losing weight and getting in shape are popular New Year’s resolutions for humans, but what about for your pet? With pet obesity rates on the rise in the United States, at Morris Animal Inn we believe now is as good a time as any to get your pet active and moving. Help your dog start 2014 off right with our Canine Cardio Fit & Spa Retreat!

From January 13-17, your dog can join us for a day, a few days or a week of fun, fitness and healthy eating. From treadmill trots to nature trail hikes, our fit camp is designed to help promote active lifestyles, plus a bit of relaxation.

After a swim in our indoor pool or a run on the “stair-muttster” with our staff, pets will participate in Doga, or dog yoga, sessions to stretch out tired muscles. We will also offer group and private playtimes, agility courses, canine massage sessions, healthy homemade treats and much more to kickstart 2014 as a happy, healthy year.

Our fit camps are specifically tailored to each and every pet participant. We make it our goal to help pets who might need to lose a few pounds on their way to a healthier weight by offering fun activities to get them motivated and moving.

Each day participants will be sent home with a healthy snack recipe and fitness-themed gift so owners can continue the healthy routine at home. Pets who attend all five days of fit camp will receive a full report card at the end of the week with starting weight, ending weight and other statistics about their week of fitness and fun.

Whether you have a pudgy pooch or your pet is fit and full of energy, this year’s Canine Cardio Fit & Spa Retreat is a can’t miss event for 2014. Call us at 973-539-0377 to reserve a spot for your furry friend today.