Birds may be brainer than you think


Polly wants a cracker. And while you are at it, listen carefully to see if she says “please” and “thank you,” too. If you ever wondered if animals could talk, I certainly believe they can, but not the way you think. Animals communicate with each other through sounds and body language and are skilled at […]

Prepare pet for baby’s arrival


At the shelter the other day, a young couple was waiting to adopt a Labrador retriever puppy. The puppy was bouncing around and the couple was smothering him with attention. I was distraught over this possible adoption. The woman was pregnant and only a few weeks from having a baby. I guessed she was adopting […]

“Just one litter” adds to euthanasia crisis

A woman happily told me that she plans to get her cat spayed, but only after she has “just one litter,” she said smiling. “I want her to experience motherhood.” I smiled back. “That’s like saying every woman has to have a baby in order to be fulfilled as a woman.” (Some days I think […]

“Resident dogs” are usually the biters

In a sensational world, headlines about dog bites and canine aggression tend to focus on certain breeds rather than the circumstances that create these behaviors. If you really want to understand canine behavior, then you need to know there are two types of dogs living in the United State, according to the National Canine Research […]

Take the jump out of your dog

The other day while teaching a pets and babies class for new parents-to-be, I asked the group what their biggest concern was about their pets and babies interacting. On this day, the concerns were almost unanimous: Everyone who had dogs was concerned about their dog’s jumping behavior. Rambunctious pooches jump because they are excited and […]

Five ways we pick pets names

Buster and Archie are St. Bernard/Boxer mixes. Playing on the boxer side of their heritage, they were named after boxers, Buster Douglas and Archie Moore.

A few weeks ago, I asked readers to share their pets’ names. After reviewing your e-mails, I realized that a pet’s name can provide as much insight into a pet owner’s personality as it can about the pet himself. Here’s my take on the five ways we name our pets. First, there are “human names,” […]

Xylitol and a major pet emergency

When Tarin Goodnight, a student at Texas State University, ran to the store, she didn’t expect to come back home to a pet emergency. But during the short time she was away, her then 18-month-old Chihuahua, Carmen, had jumped onto her desk and eaten four pieces of nicotine gum, leaving the paper wrappers as the […]

Dogs don’t always listen? Here’s why


Letters about “stubborn dogs” that don’t seem to listen flood my e-mail. Margie G. says, “Whenever we go for walks, I say my dog’s name, but she doesn’t turn her head to look at me.” Gina says she must ask her dog to “sit” several times before her dog will even think about complying. “What […]

Why do dogs like squeaky things?

Does your dog go crazy every time you bring home a squeaky toy. Does he grab it and shake his head back and forth as if he is trying to kill it. After the squeaker stops working, does he drops the toy and never touch it again. Well, once upon a time, when dogs hunted […]

Searching for a way to use contraceptives with pets

In February 2008, Texas A&M announced the university would do a study on birth control for wild animals and eventually cats and dogs.  This would be a transformational event in the battle against animal population control. Unfortunately, in a recent conversation with Dwayne Kraemer at Texas A&M, he said “preliminary studies were not panning out the […]

How long do parakeets live?

Parakeets can live 7 to 15 years as pets. (Photo Source:

Let’s say you just bought a parakeet for your 9-year-old child. How long will this bird live? What do they like to eat? And how can you tell if the bird is a male or female? Parakeets can live 7 to 15 years, which means your bird could live until your child is 24 years old. […]

Can dogs watch TV?

A reader says her mom’s dog Jack watches TV. “He actually follows objects as they move across the screen and loves animal shows and sports shows that my dad turns on,” she says. “Is this really possible?”  Many people say their dogs watch TV and it seems they really are following some of the action on […]

Why do some cats “knead” and some do not?

Kittens knead their paws on the belly of their mother to stimulate milk production. Because this action brings immediate rewards and comfort, it’s not unusual for cats to continue this behavior with their human loved ones as adults. When a cat kneads your belly, he feels emotionally secure and happy. In fact, the action is […]

Would you perform CPR on your Pet?

In a medical emergency, would you perform CPR on your pet? Would you be willing to begin mouth-to-snout resuscitation — your mouth over his closed snout — to revive your dying dog or cat? In a poll conducted by the Associated Press and, 63 percent of dog owners and 53 percent of cat owners […]

Common sweetener can kill pets

My veterinarian told me today that three of her canine patients had died recently from xylitol toxicity. “That’s never happened before,” she said. “I don’t have three dogs that die all year from something like that.” Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute used in many human food products, especially in diabetic foods. It looks and […]

Learning how to speak dog

I get lots of questions about dogs and their so-called “bad behaviors.” Mostly, people want to know how to get their dogs to listen. Here’s the big secret about interacting with your canine companions. Dogs look to their human pack leaders for signals on how to handle every encounter and what you do impacts their […]

How many dogs and cats live in your city?


Ever wonder how people determine the population of dogs and cats in your city? In the past, it required some math, using a formula provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).  See the formulas section here to see how these formulas are calculated. But if you know your city’s overall population, you can now plug in that […]

Top ten wild animals that most commonly attack pets

Wild animals can and do attack our pets, leaving lacerations, bite wounds, puncture, and soft tissue trauma — and a trip to the pet emergency room for you. Snakebites, which are the most commonly reported injuries, may require anti-venom whereas scorpion stings may cause allergic reactions requiring antihistamines. Treatment may vary depending on the severity of the attack and […]

Tips on protecting pets from the heat

With unseasonably warm temperatures right now in many parts of the U.S., pet owners may not be aware that normal routines need to be adjusted to accommodate for the excessive heat.  I had a friend who lived in Phoenix who used to walk her dog at 5 a.m. every morning so that they weren’t out in the […]

Unsafe levels of fluoride found in dog food

The Environmental Working Group recently commissioned an independent study and discovered that eight national brands of dog food, marketed to puppies and adults, had unsafe levels of fluoride. In fact, the fluoride was 1.6 to 2.5 times higher than what the EPA has deemed a safe amount in human drinking water. Why is excessive fluoride a problem for […]

Lucky the elephant’s story

I live in San Antonio and write a pet column and blog for the San Antonio Express News. A reader sent me this link about a lonely, 49-year-old elephant in our local zoo who certainly deserves to live out the remainder of her days in a sanctuary that has already agreed to take her — […]

Report sheds light on pit bull attacks, a national dog bite victims’ group, released their 2008 report on pit bulls shot for public safety reasons. The 20-page report documents 373 incidences in which U.S. law enforcement officers and citizens were forced to shoot a dangerous pit bull to prevent an attack or to stop an ongoing attack. The report tracked 12 […]

Pick up after your pet; President Bush does

Former President George W. Bush appeared at a reception for high school seniors in New Mexico recently and talked about life outside the Oval Office, which including walking his dog, Barney.  “There I was, former president of the United States of America, with a plastic bag on my hand,” he said. “Life is returning back to normal.” […]

Why do dogs hump?

One day, while giving a tour to some middle school students of the shelter, two dogs began humping.  The kids giggled and pointed, whispering under their breath to each other that the dogs were having sex. Certainly, that would seem to be the case, except the dogs were both females. Here was the perfect opportunity […]

Rescue Waggin’ gives pets a guaranteed second chance

Meet Ernie. He is the 25,000th dog to take a life-saving ride on a PetSmart Charities® Rescue Waggin’® vehicle. The Rescue Waggin’ program, which celebrated its 5th anniversary this month, is a unique shelter transport program operated by PetSmart Charities, a nonprofit organization, that moves adoptable dogs from shelters with very high pet populations to shelters elsewhere […]

Fly the new “pet-friendly” skies

The best inventions come from solving personal problems.  For Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder, their dilemma was how to ship Zoe, their Jack Russell Terrier, across the country, safely. They weren’t comfortable letting their favorite pooch ride in the cargo hold of an airplane. So the two entrepreneurs have created the first pet-only airline that lets pets travel […]

Scientists study what dogs are thinking

When it comes to studying animal behavior, dogs have rarely been on the top ten list. Not since Pavlov became interested in learning the secrets of a dog’s digestive responses have scientists given much attention to canines in the animal behavior arena. But today, Harvard scientists are wondering what dogs are thinking and using a series of […]

Dogs and cats underfoot can lead to falls

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the CDC reports that there are 86,629 reported nonfatal falls annually that are associated with dog and cats. This is an average taken from 2001-2006 stats on nonfatal falls. Nearly 88 percent of those injuries were associated with dogs, and women were twice as likely to […]

You can train your fish to do tricks (no joke)

                   So your fish does nothing, but swim around the tank all day. Maybe that’s because you didn’t know that fish can actually learn to do tricks, if given the right training.  According to the R2 Fish School, tropical fish can learn tricks based on marine mammal training techniques. Using their kit, fish have been trained to play […]

Presidential legacy may be linked to pet names

Turns out, if you are a good little President, your followers may someday honor you by naming their pets after you. When historians and political pundits look back on a President’s legacy, there may something more to review than job creation or approval ratings. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health […]

Nora, the piano playing cat

While some cats get their kicks out of walking across a piano, Nora actually sits down and paws various keys over and over again, making music much to her own delight. Rubbing her head along the keys and occasionally meowing at her human admirers, she will apparently sit for hours and just paw at the piano. Nora wasn’t […]

Puppy Bowl, the “softer side” of Super Bowl Weekend

If you only watch the Super Bowl for the ads, then you also might enjoy flipping over to Animal Planet and watching Puppy Bowl V — “the ultimate puppy showdown.” (Above is the clip from Puppy Bowl IV.) Recruiting from local shelters, the Puppy Bowl features adoptable puppies on a pseudo-football grid iron battling with toys, playing tug-of-war, and committing fouls […]

FDA recall on peanut butter affects pets too

Pet treats are being impacted by the FDA’s recall on peanut butter products. Salmonella contamination has been traced to a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), a distributor of peanut butter and peanut paste – a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts. “Peanut butter is often used in small amounts as an occasional reward for dogs, […]

What does “no-kill” really mean when it comes to pet overpopulation?

The phrase “no-kill” has been bantered about in many communities as the end goal in the game of tackling pet overpopulation. Few people, however, know what the term really means. Most people think it means the halting of all euthanasia of dogs and cats for good, but it’s meaning is quite different than that, depending on whether […]

Cat groomer recycles cat hair into purses

When Danelle German sees a Persian Cat come into her grooming salon, her heart skips a beat. That’s because  many people want their Persian cats shaved for easy maintanence and Danelle uses the leftover hair in a lucrative recycling business. She spins the cat hair into a silky yarn to produce one-of-a-kind handbags that sell for between $45 and $400. She apparently has sold […]

A simple guide to cat talk

Whenever I ask people how many words they think a cat can understand, they often guess “0” or “3”. I am amazed because some of these people actually have cats in their lives. I guess they figure cats can’t comprehend a single thing we humans are trying to say, so don’t really expect much of a […]

Adapting to the rhythms of cats

Very often, we make concessions for our feline friends that we would never consider making for dogs or even our human family members. For example, you probably can’t tell, but I am typing this column with my left hand because my cat has fallen asleep on my right arm. I don’t wake her because I […]

Elephant and dog: two unlikely animals become BFF’s

BFF — the text jargon meaning “best friends forever” — may not just be the mantra of young girlfriends, but the pledge of happy elephants too. According to a story on CBS Sunday Morning, elephants arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee seek out the special friendship of a single pachyderm at the sanctuary, a best friend they can spend most […]

New Year’s resolutions learned from dogs and cats

While everyone is pondering their New Year’s resolutions, I have decided to venture forth this year as if my dogs and cats were my closest advisors. Here’s what pets teach about the important things in life. There’s always time to stop and smell stuff. Sticking to your diet means eating only what’s on your plate, not the plate itself. Ice cubes can be good […]

Training remedies for Marley-like pups

As an animal person who has spent 20 years helping people better understand their pets, the movie Marley and Me was a bit stressful. While everyone was giggling and laughing at Marley’s on-screen antics, I found myself clutching my seat and making mental notes of what they could do to get Marley under control. I […]

10 tips for selecting the right dog – for you – at an animal shelter

You can see him through the cage door just begging for attention: cute little brown eyes, soft plushy ears, and a wagging tail, designed to pull on your heart strings. It’s so easy to lose your heart at an animal shelter. There are so many adorable animals vying for your attention that you may find yourself wanting to […]

Getting pets ready for baby

If you are expecting your first child, you probably feel excited, but also anxious, especially if you have a dog or cat in the home. You may wonder how your pet will adjust to the new baby and whether the two will get along. Well-intentioned friends and family may offer unsolicited advice, even suggesting that […]

Treating dogs fairly, important to other dogs

The very first test on dogs to see how they perceived fairness was conducted and much like primates, the results, reported in the December 8, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that dogs had a real sense of what humans would call “fair play.” Researchers asked a dog to shake a paw. The dog would […]

Poor economy hurts dogs and cats too

A poor economy means that more pets are ending up in animal shelters than ever before. Shelters all across the nation report rising populations, as people surrender their dogs and cats in record numbers. And, as people hold on tighter to their purse strings, shrinking donations are leaving animal shelters with fewer resources to care for this […]

Obama to join long list of Presidents with pets in the White House

Of all the decisions the new President-elect has before him, none has captured the American people’s imaginations more quickly than the first family’s decision to get a puppy. Following through on an early campaign promise to his girls (win or lose they get a puppy after the election), Obama has been bombarded by animal groups […]

A cat battles with new technology

Normally my cat perches on the desk leaning over the keyboard to bat my fingers as I type. Or, she stretches and then sits in front of the computer monitor, so I have to type and look over and around her to see the screen. So naturally I was amused at watching this cat try to figure […]

The truth about cat people and dog people

Among the many burning questions that perplex our society today, none is more debated in low whispering voices than whether or not you are a dog or cat person.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Cat people claim to love the independent nature of their pets, while dog people go with the loyalty factor as a reason for their partiality. Cat people hold […]

Cleaning tips for people with dogs and cats

Cleaning up after your pets has never been easier, thanks to the new pet cleaning products available today. You don’t have to settle for dark stains on the carpet, pet hair all over the house, or an obnoxious odor. In fact, many of today’s cleaning products can remove any trace “an accident” ever happened. It’s just […]

Dog rescued a mile from shore

Thinking it was an otter, two North Sea fishermen were surprised to discover a 14-year-cairn terrier paddling out at sea, just off the coast of Britain. Apparently Freddie, who dislikes water so much that he walks around puddles and avoids baths, got disoriented during a walk on the beach with his owner, 73-year-old, Jean Brigstock. Apparently, it was […]

Welcome to the Pet Pundit

For those who have visited the Pet Pundit site before, this new site probably comes as a surprise. I have decided to change everything to make the site easier to access and more relevant to your needs. I also wanted a venue where you could comment and post your thoughts as well.   For those who don’t much about […]