Can you read your pet?

Veterinary behaviorists currently are a well-studied group of specialists. You may consult with veterinarians who have specialized research backed training in pet nods, winks and ear set. Much of this knowledge can be traced back to basic behavior of the hunter and the hunted as well as the farmer and the livestock. Today we see veterinary behaviorists involved with our pets’ well-being in addition to animal welfare groups active in providing for humane conditions for zoo animals, wildlife, laboratory animals and livestock. Doesn’t it reflect well that our American culture desires to protect animal needs?
I personally have a pretty good feel for when my beagle is happy. Imagine the Peanuts character Snoopy dancing with ears, legs and tail all flapping while jumping up and down. This is usually presented at feeding time or my return from being gone a few days. He is also happy at the end of the day when snuggling with us on the couch and his moan of contentment when petted and cuddled. My beagle is fearful when he hears thunder or gun shots (we live in a rural area where target shooting can be a past-time). He lays low or hides. His head and tail are low and he moves slowly. Anxiousness is another obvious condition in beagles. They can whine like nobody’s business. Ollie is not sure about the car. He runs to get in the car but whines and frets the whole time. I think he is like a kid overexcited. Not fearful, just excited.
I recently attended a seminar about reading cat faces for pain. It pretty much followed what we see in ourselves. Relaxed eyes with a broad eye set is good. Squinted, closed eyes with a narrow eye set means pain. Yes, it took them 30 minutes and photos to say just that. Cats show discomfort by sitting hunched and protecting themselves. This is a similar picture with weakness, orthopedic pain, stomach pain, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, high blood sugar, low blood sugar, Mondays, general grumpiness. My point being that if your cat appears grumpy it could be sick. Happy is easy in cats – head and tail up, purring, cheek rubbing, but it can be accompanied by a smug arrogant attitude that you must approach only with their terms.
This topic occurred to me as we try our best to make sure pets are happy and comfortable at the Animal Inn. We are good if we see tails wagging and cheek rubbing. If not, we take care to work with your pet to calm and sooth any worries. Sometimes we allow a hidey spot. Sometimes we just sit and eat our lunch with them. Pheromone sprays and Bach flower rescue remedy will help many pets calm and adjust. See my friend, Dr. Anna Gardner’s website about Bach Flower Remedies at Pet Synergy. I use them for my stage fright when speaking to large groups. It takes the edge off.
Monitoring and recording daily eating and eliminating is essential to make sure pets are comfortable and happy in the kennel. Each pet’s daily record is kept on its cage to catch our attention to any needs. Special notes brought in by owners are posted in the Command Central Area, the kitchen. Their presence is noted throughout the day as we prepare meals, organize play times, wash dishes, etc.
Just a last note about how we interact with the pets in our care. I once was in a bad mood when in the kennel and the pets knew it instantly. No, I didn’t bang around or curse. I was quiet and moody. A sweet elderly lab caught my eye and I truly saw concern on her face. No, I can’t describe it but I went and sat with her. After a good dose of petting and talking we both felt better. Sound crazy? You know you have done this before too. If not, you should.