If Only They Could Talk: Understanding Your Pet

a puppy
16 Aug 2017

For many people, pets are treasured members of the family, and they would do anything to make sure they’re as happy and healthy as possible. However, because animals can’t talk to us, we have to try and communicate with them in other ways. Luckily though, our pets usually display lots of different behaviours that make it easier to tell how they’re feeling.

Here at Asda Money, we know that it’s difficult to suddenly become an animal behaviourist, especially if you’re a new pet owner. So, we’ve taken a look at some of the key traits displayed by cats and dogs, so that you can start to understand what they’re trying to tell you and why.


The Apology Bow: Meaning Behind the “Guilty Look” in Dogs

If your pet pooch has a “guilty look” on their face, with their head bowed and a pair of big, sad, puppy-dog eyes, you’ll usually suspect them of having done something naughty. In most cases, this is usually correct! Be prepared for your favourite pair of shoes to be chewed up, or perhaps an accident to have occurred on your brand-new cream carpet. Especially in their younger years, you’ll probably find that dogs display this face a lot.

Interestingly though, this guilty look has been developed to do much more than tug on your heartstrings. Research suggests that the “apology bow” is an evolutionary trait that has been shown in dogs long before they started to become pets. Wolves (who’re closely related to dogs) will display the bow when they’ve done something unacceptable in the pack, to get back into their leaders and friends’ good books. The bowed head and sad eyes show that they pose no threat, so they’re let back into the group.

If your four-legged friend is displaying the apology bow, then this is likely to be because you’re the leader of the “wolf pack” that needs to be won over. It’s their special way to make sure you’re still friends, even if they need a little bit of telling off along the way!


Video sourced from b/60


Signs of Pregnancy in Cats

Breeding your cat can be an exciting time, but it’s well-known to be quite hard to tell whether they’re pregnant or not. Pregnancies generally last between 63 to 67 days, but the signs don’t usually show until two or three weeks after conception. However, there are a few things you can look out for before you take them to the vets for confirmation.

Keep a close eye on your cat’s weight, as they’ll usually gain around 1-2kg throughout the pregnancy depending on how big the litter is. Their appetite is also likely to increase, although this could also be a sign of worms or illness. Behaviour wise, your cat may start acting more maternal, such as purring more and seeking lots of fuss and attention from you. She might also become more wary and intolerant of other pets in the home.

The most obvious signs of pregnancy will start at around the three-week mark, when your cat’s nipples should start to pinken and become larger. Similar to humans, they may also suffer from morning sickness as a result of hormonal changes. As the labour date approaches, she’ll start to look a lot more uncomfortable, and meow or even yowl more constantly. She’ll also be likely to pace around the house and hunt for a quiet place to have her kittens if you don’t provide somewhere comfortable.

If you do decide to breed from your cat, always make sure to do it safely and seek veterinary guidance. If you’re not keen on the idea of kittens, it’s recommended to get your cat spayed. This process can be carried out by your vet from around the four-month mark, and it’s perfectly safe to neuter older cats too.

ginger cat with kitten, outside

A Tail That Tells: Judging Your Pets Behaviour by their Tails

A tail is one of the best communication tools for both dogs and cats. By just looking at its position and movement, you can generally gauge how your pet is feeling.

Dogs are especially well-known for their wagging tails, which most people associate with happiness and interaction. Most of the time a wagging tail shows that your canine friend is engaged and ready to interact. However, a tail wag can also show psychological signs of fear or insecurity.

A dog tail’s position, speed, and movement are key things to look for when assessing the wag. A middle height will normally suggest that your pooch is relaxed, and a horizontal position shows that they’re alert. The tail moving up is a sign that a dog is becoming more threatening, and when it’s directly upright, they’re communicating a clear sign of dominance. As the tail drops lower, this can be a sign that your dog is worried or unwell, and if they tuck it between their legs, they’re most likely quite frightened.

Cats also have very expressive tails, although they don’t wag! If your cat is carrying their tail in an upright position this normally means they’re happy and content around you. When they’re feeling particularly playful the tail might thrash around more, and if it quivers they’re probably very excited to see you.

When a cat’s tail is low and straight, it can sometimes communicate anger or aggression. However, there are certain breeds of cat (such as Persians) that naturally carry their tail like this, so take note of whether this is normal for your pet. If the tail is bristled, this a sign that they might be afraid or feeling defensive, so check to see if there is anything that might be upsetting them. Unlike dogs, a tail between the legs isn’t a bad thing for cats, and is usually just a display of submissiveness.


Video sourced from eHow


General Behaviour Changes

There are many general behaviours in dogs and cats that can suggest that they might be unhappy or feeling poorly. These traits are often specific and personal to each pet, and if you know them well you’re likely to notice if they’re behaving differently. For example, if your cat or dog is usually excited or happy to go outside, but instead seems uninterested, this is an obvious sign that they’re not feeling themselves.

Changes in toilet habits are also a tell-tale sign that something isn’t quite right. If your cat or dog is usually well toilet-trained but suddenly starts having accidents in the house, this could mean they’re stressed, frightened, or unwell. Be careful not to scold them straight away if this seems out of the ordinary, as this is likely to make them more upset. Try to get to the root of the problem first, and as with any worrying behaviour change, seek advice from your vets.

When you make a trip to the vets, if your pet requires treatment there could be potentially expensive costs involved, depending on the issue. Even if your pet is usually fit and healthy, pet insurance is important for those times when things go wrong. Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance here. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.

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